The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Breathability, comfortable feeling internal fabric, stretchy material allows for good mobility, respectable weight and packed size
Cons: Pockets pinch under a waist belt or harness, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, slightly on the more expensive side, weather resistance
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dryzzle works well for a wide range of uses, from activities where weight and packed volume are a priority, like hiking and backpacking, to adventures where a little more durability is required, such as mountaineering. It's also stylish enough for around-town use. Its air-permeable FutureLight fabric provides excellent breathability, and its 3-layer construction facilitates long-lasting storm protection. Simply put, this is a do-everything rain jacket and it has an excellent combination of weight, stormworthiness, and durability, which will satisfy he majority of outdoor enthusiasts.
The Dryzzle uses The North Face FutureLight fabric for its storm protection. Futurelight is a polyester-based air-permeable material that is similar in design and construction to models like the Outdoor Research Interstellar and the Rab Kinetic Plus.
In our real-world use backpacking in Washington's Olympic National Park and during our side-by-side shower and garden hose tests, this jacket performed decently. The hood seals out the elements, and and its main front zipper offers a large internal storm flap which helped this model do well in our weather resistance tests. While not quite in our highest tier, it offered more than enough weather resistance to keep most hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers, happy and dry.
It wouldn't be our first choice if we knew we were going to have to do a lot of hanging around in the rain, not moving where its air permeability wouldn't allow this jacket to trap as much heat, which would leave us feeling cold.
Breathability & Venting
The FutureLight membrane is air permeable and similar in performance to other proprietary air permeable materials. The fact that FutureLight is air permeable means that air is always able to pass through the fabric, offering a relatively "steady" rate of breathability — regardless of the user's activity.
Most fabrics from Gore-Tex or eVent require a pressure difference created by building heat on the inside of the jacket, which in turn creates a pressure difference as it is warmer on the inside of the jacket than the air outside. Depending on how big of a temperature difference there is, these jackets can breathe better or worse than air-permeable ones.
The best part about air-permeable fabrics like FutureLight is that they continue to breathe even before you get hot or as you slow down and have already cooled off. The breathability rates presented by The North Face and other manufacturers is a little misleading, as they offer a static level of breathability and most ePTFE fabrics (like Gore-Tex) have a very dynamic level of breathability depending on air temperature, humidity, and user-created heat. Thus, just looking at numbers can be misleading. It is worth noting that the current FutureLight version of this jacket has no pit-zips like the previous Gore-Tex version.
This model icontinues to breathe, regardless of heat build up. It's an excellent option for more aerobic activities like hiking or backpacking but also for less aerobic ones such as simply walking the dog. If breathability is a priority for you, you'll want to give this jacket a second look.
Comfort & Mobility
All of our testers loved the interior Tricot lining, which coupled with its air-permeable FutureLight membrane, meant we didn't feel clammy. The mobility and freedom of movement were excellent, and a significant improvement over the previous version.
When we lift our arms over our head, the hem hardly moves, and when we reach forward or upward, the sleeves barely pull back from our wrists. We loved the cut, with its mobility-focused design, which, when coupled with its stretchy construction, put it near the top-tier from a freedom of movement standpoint. These attributes help this jacket excel for activities where good mobility is important, but the user is unable or unwilling to give up much in the way of stormworthiness.
The Dryzzle's hood was fantastic with a baseball cap, beanie, or only your head. It provided the wearer storm protection, sealing out the elements, and kept our testers dry in real-world uses and an array of side-by-side comparisons. This contender offers excellent features that help keep it snug around the wearer's head without limiting any peripheral vision. The only downside? The Dryzzle's hood doesn't fit over a climbing or bike helmet very well; it does technically fit, but it's much tight, and it does affect the wearer's comfort and peripheral vision.
The Dryzzle features two handwarmer-style pockets and one chest Napoleon style pocket. The lower pockets are a nice place to put your hands but are low enough that they get covered up by a backpack wais -belt or climbing harness, making them hard to access. Not only that, but the zippers are on the smaller side and the hefty storm flap feels bulky under a waist belt.
If you're aiming to do a lot of backpacking or other trips where you might be carrying a pack, we'd recommend the Arc'teryx Zeta SL, REI Drypoint GTX, or Outdoor Research Interstellar — which all have more pack-friendly pockets.
At 12 ounces, this jacket is in the middle of the road from a weight perspective, but it should be noted that most of the products we selected are on the lighter end of the spectrum. We were impressed by this product's weight, given how durable it is, and its balance of weight and durability make it an excellent contender as an all-around jacket. It's light enough to throw in the bottom of your pack for shorter day hikes but tough enough for a weeklong backpacking trip, even if it rains all week.
This model uses a 35D x 20D recycled polyester face fabric, which is thicker and more tear-resistant than average. It also uses a 3-layer construction, meaning, generally speaking, the internal waterproof membrane will be better protected on the inside from sweat and grim than a 2.5 layer jacket (and thus, will hold its water-resistance longer). We were impressed by the durability of the new Dryzzle Futurelight and think it's plenty tough enough for backpacking and hiking use.
The Dryzzle packs down reasonably small and offers better packability than most beefy 3-layer hardshell jackets. While it is easy to buy a jacket that packs down smaller, the majority won't be as versatile. It's small enough to please most backpackers, mountaineers, and day hikers as long as they know they get a little more versatility over buying a more compressible one. The Dryzzle doesn't compress into either of its pockets, unlike several other similar models that we reviewed.
Its 3-layer construction and tough 35D face fabric mean it is more long-lasting, but as a result, it only offers average weight and packed size. We do think this model strikes a nice balance of weight and durability, helping it to perform well for a wide range of applications.
The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight is a stormworthy all-arounder. While not necessarily the absolute best at anything, it's well rounded for most outdoor enthusiasts. It's light enough to disappear in your pack on a day hike but durable, breathable, and weather-resistant enough for a soggy weeklong backpacking trip where it might rain every day. The only thing outdoor-oriented folks might not love about it is its pockets, which are nearly impossible to access with a pack or harness on. If you're looking for a rain jacket for around town, thie handwarmer pockets are ideally placed, and it will get the job done.
— Ian Nicholson