Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Looks great, fits well, inexpensive.
Cons: Odd hook and loop wrist closures, heavy.
Best Uses: Around town, alpine skiing, showshoeing.
The North Face Apex Bionic is a budget, casual softshell for around town use. Due to its poor breathability and heavy weight, we found that it performed poorly for active use outdoors. Back in 2011 the Apex Bionic was our favorite casual use softshell, but in the years since then other companies have introduced jackets that perform better in our tests. The primary example of this is the Patagonia Adze, which is similarly inexpensive and higher performance. Check out the Adze if you're dead set on a casual use softshell.
This review is of a slightly older version of the Apex and since we published this review, The North Face has re-tooled the jacket with an updated fit.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Apex uses a windproof membrane that's windproof and moderately water resistant. The quality of this membrane is significantly less than that of premium windproof softshells like the Gore Windstopper equipped Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody. These other membranes are windproof and more breathable that the Apex Bionic's membrane.
This jacket scores low here due to its stiflingly low moisture vapor transfer rate. The jacket is poorly suited to active use outdoors, like cross-country skiing and winter hiking.
Low mobility because the jacket is not stretchy, it's heavy, and it's cut is boxy and bulky.
25 oz. is very heavy for non-hooded softshell. Many backpacking sleeping bags and all ultralight sleeping bags weigh less than this jacket.
The jacket has causal features: two low handwarmer pockets that get covered by a backpack's hipbelt and one chest pocket.
The jacket looks handsome and, as a result, it scores very highly in this category.
See our Price Versus Value Chart.
Looking for the women's version? Check out the North Face Apex Bionic - Women's, $150.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 14, 2014
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