The North Face Alta Vista Review
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The North Face Alta Vista
|Price||$97.99 at REI|
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$169.00 at REI
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|Pros||Pit zips, waterproof zipper, inexpensive, stows in pocket||Stretchy material, great freedom of movement, pleasant cut, solid storm protection, lightweight, compresses into its pocket, good value||Solid weather protection, excellent hood design, relatively low weight and packed volume||Lightweight, breathable, inexpensive||Better breathability than others in its price range, decent ventilation, roll away hood, nice pit zips, affordable|
|Cons||Limited breathability, sleeves feel short||So-so breathability, hood doesn't fit very well over a helmet||Wets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two-layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interior||Zipper isn't waterproof, fabric wets out faster, thin material is less durable||No chest pocket, not quite as breathable as models that use a non-coated membrane|
|Bottom Line||This low-cost, high-value rain jacket has many of the same features as its expensive competitors at a fraction of the price||A solid all-around option for the price, with great mobility and respectable storm protection||One of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex jacket is packed full of functional features||This affordable rain jacket will keep you dry enough in most situations and has many of the same features as more expensive models||A great jacket with an excellent price tag that offers above-average breathability|
|Rating Categories||The North Face Alta...||Black Diamond Storm...||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX||Helly Hansen Loke||Marmot PreCip Eco|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Comfort and Mobility (20%)|
|Weight and Packability (15%)|
|Specs||The North Face Alta...||Black Diamond Storm...||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX||Helly Hansen Loke||Marmot PreCip Eco|
|Measured Weight||10.7 oz||11.5 oz||12.3 oz||9.5 oz||13.5 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||DryVent 2.5-layer shell with a non-PFC DWR finish||2.5-layer propriatary BD.dry||2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite||HELLY TECH||NanoPro|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 left chest zip, 2 interior drop||2 hand||2 zippered hand||2 hand||2 zippered hand|
|Hipbelt Friendly Hand Pockets?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Helmet Compatible Hood?||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Stows Into Pocket?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This 70-denier, 2.5-layer rain jacket has the hallmarks of a quality coat. It is made from recycled polyester and has a PFC-free, durable water repellent (DWR) finish.
The Alta Vista is sufficient for most situations but is not a top choice for the long haul in heavy rain. The 2.5-layer shell is hearty enough for most daily outdoor use, and we found it does best when exposure to precipitation can be limited to 30-45 minutes in moderate rain before having a chance to dry out.
Beyond that, the Alta Vista tends to wet out, making it even less breathable than it already is. We also noticed some dampness on our shoulders after a long run through the shower. However, we appreciate the waterproof main and pocket zippers, which keep out the moisture quite well.
The breathability of this jacket is somewhat limited. There are pit zips, which help dump heat, but in the middle of a storm, it's not super feasible to open them up. With that in mind, we found the inside of this jacket to feel pretty plastic-y against the skin, and when we worked up a sweat, that moisture tended to stay put rather than wicking away through the fabric.
Comfort and Mobility
The fabric of the Alta Vista is thin but static — it pulls back a bit on the wrists when reaching forward. We also found ourselves wrestling with the front pooch of fabric that appeared whenever we bent over or sat down. Though there is a zipper garage to keep the cold zipper off of the face, it's not brushed or felt lined, so it eventually gets clammy the more you breath on it. We appreciate that the two hand warmer pockets are quite deep, and this is one of the few jackets with two interior drop pockets for extra protected storage. The chest pocket is also convenient for small items (though it's the one zipper on the jacket that isn't waterproof).
Weight and Packability
We weighed the Alta Vista at 10.7 ounces — not too heavy, especially considering its price, but also no lightweight wonder. The front chest pocket also doubles as a stash pocket for the whole jacket and is reasonably packable into a medium-sized day pack with other gear.
This jacket is adequate, but its durability didn't blow us away. It comes in at a lower price point for a reason, and, in our estimation, the quality of the jacket matches what we would expect. The interior of this 2.5-layer piece is noticeably thinner than a three-layer jacket. It feels more susceptible to puncture and also more likely to break down.
Should You Buy The North Face Alta Vista?
The Alta Vista has the same features as many more expensive jackets at a fraction of the price. Though it lacks some breathability, it performs well in other metrics, making it a solid choice for car camping, casual weekend trips, or around town. It's not highly specialized, so this model is best for someone looking for an inexpensive all-purpose model without necessarily considering a specific trip.
What Other Rain Jackets Should You Consider?
The Alta Vista is all about value — decent performance at a low price. Another model that fits that bill is the REI Co-Op XeroDry GTX. For a true bargain, the Helly Hansen Loke is even less expensive with a very admirable performance. If you can go up a price tier, the Outdoor Research Foray II has superior water resistance and breathability. And for lightweight contenders, we recommend the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic.
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