The North Face Flight Lightriser Futurelight Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Flight Lightriser is one of the lightest jackets on the market yet it still provides a respectable level of storm protection, mobility, and breathability. Compared to models of equal or lesser weight, no model can match this one's performance for seven ounces or less. It isn't feature-rich — it doesn't have a pocket for storage, but it will keep you dry in a storm and will practically disappear in your pack when you aren't wearing it.
The Flight Lightriser uses The North Face's proprietary Futurelight membrane in a 3-layer construction.
Futurelight is a stretchy, polyester-based, air-permeable membrane that is slightly above average for its weather protection. It outperforms most other models in the sub-10-ounce range for storm protection.
The DWR and face fabric are decent for more than just short squalls, and it's higher performing than lighter models in our fleet, which tend to wet out quicker.
The Lightriser has respectable weather protection for its weight. It provides respectable weather protection for its weight and nearly disappears in your pack.
The Lightriser has a snug-fitting hood overall that cinches down fantastically despite a minimal design. Our review team found that its hood maintained some of the better peripheral vision and is among the best when it comes to moving with our heads when we turned side-to-side. It does not fit over a climbing or bike helmet, but its low profile design makes wearing it under the helmet a more comfortable option than most.
Breathability and Venting
The Futurelight air-permeable fabric is breathable. It is a polyester-based, air-permeable membrane; what that means is that it is always passing moisture, regardless of pressure differences.
This alleviates the need for the user to build up the heat (to create pressure) on the inside to get the jacket to start passing moisture.
While this model isn't the most breathable overall, it is among the better-performing options. It breathed better once we cooled off, but at maximum output, it was just a small step behind. And, compared to other lightweight models, it's far more breathable. If you are someone who likes to embark on aerobic outdoor activities regardless of the weather, this jacket is certainly worth considering.
Comfort and Mobility
The air-permeable FUTRELIGHT fabric results in a model that feels less clammy. This is especially impressive given its seven-ounce weight.
Our testing team was super impressed by both the cut and stretch of this model's fabric, which provides top-notch freedom of movement and mobility.
When we reached our arms forward or above our heads, the Lightriser's sleeves hardly pulled back, offering fantastic articulation in its arms. If mobility is a more critical factor than pure weather protection or overall durability, then the Lightriser is certainly among the best.
This model's fit is on the slim side; it's slightly snugger than many models. However, unless you plan to wear anything more than a thin fleece, we don't recommend sizing up. Its hem (or waistline) is also slightly higher; this is great for someone who is looking for a trim-fitting, athletic jacket that is not sized for lots of layering.
This jacket has no pockets save for the mesh stuff pocket located on the inside of the back of the jacket, which is not really designed to store anything while wearing the jacket. While some users might immediately dismiss a jacket with no pockets, we do want to applaud The North Face for their function-focused approach to this model's design, which has turned into several review team members' favorite model for a variety of foul weather, human-powered objectives.
Weight & Packability
Low weight and minimal packed size are where this jacket excels. At seven ounces, it's one of the lighter options out there, making it ideal for climbers, backpackers, or anyone going on a trip where every ounce matters. While this jacket is around 0.5 ounces heavier and a tiny bit less packable than the Outdoor Research Helium, it outperforms it in nearly every way.
What impressed our team so much is the Lightriser is still a 3-layer jacket with respectable weather protection and good breathability. The North Face was able to achieve such a low weight by essentially taking away anything that isn't absolutely essential to a rain jacket. It does not have pockets or Velcro wrist cuffs and features a super trim hood. It's a rain jacket — and a functional one at that — but without the extras.
Similar to weight, packed size is one of the reasons to buy this jacket. It has minimal features and a low-profile design that allows it to disappear when not in use.
While it is only 0.5 ounces heavier than the Outdoor Research Helium, the Helium packs down smaller. That isn't to say that the Lightriser isn't compact; we just saw this as the biggest difference between it and the otherwise very closely spec'd Helium.
The Lightriser packs into a small mesh pocket located along the wearer's back. We never noticed this pocket in a negative way, even while carrying heavy loads. This pocket does an okay job of compressing the jacket, but it seems like it should do a better job being that it isn't as easy to pack into as other models. We assume The North Face used mesh due to the location (along the wearer's back) as well as a way to keep the weight down. We wished there was a clip-in loop, as it can be used to stow this jacket out of the way in a nice tight package.
As you might guess, this jacket is not the toughest in the fleet; however, with its polyester, 3-layer construction, it offers an adequate amount, particularly from a seven-ounce jacket. It isn't our first choice for wet off-trail harsh travel, but is plenty durable enough for hiking, backpacking, or riding our bike on a rainy day.
This jacket is on the spendier end when compared with other models in our review. However, due to the level of stormworthiness, breathability, and mobility it brings for the weight, we find it is well worth the cost. Not everyone will find its minimal design and lack of pockets worth it; these folks may want to consider purchasing a tougher, all-around model for a similar price. However, for the gram-counting folks engaging in activities where every ounce matters, this model packs in an impressive amount of performance for the weight and size.
At a mere seven ounces, this is one of the lightest models on the market. The North Face Flight Lightriser is ideal for those partaking in activities where every gram matters, but they still want respectable breathability, mobility, and weather protection. While you can certainly purchase a model that offers a higher level of weather protection, we have not found one that is lighter in weight. The North Face achieves this low weight by stripping away all unnecessary features, like pockets. It ensures a high level of performance by constructing this jacket with a quality, air-permeable stretchy 3-layer material that is also lightweight.
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