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The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT Review

If you participate in activities where every ounce matters and you also need excellent weather protection and breathability, few can match this model for its weight
The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT
Credit: The North Face
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $300 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Super light, ultra compact, trim fit, great breathability, weather protection compared to others in its weight class, stuffs into a pocket, hood moves very well with its user
Cons:  Average weather protection overall, no pockets, no clip in point on stuff sack, elastic wrist loops are basic, trim/athletic cut doesn't facilitate layering
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 24, 2022
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • Water Resistance - 30% 7.0
  • Breathability & Venting - 25% 8.0
  • Comfort & Mobility - 18% 8.0
  • Weight - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 5% 5.0
  • Packed Size - 7% 8.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Flight Lightriser is our new favorite overall lightweight model topping our old favorite — the Outdoor Research Helium Rain. It performs better in every category save for weight, though the Lightriser is only 0.5 ounces heavier. The Flight Lightriser is a no-nonsense rain shell. It features a trim cut and no bells-and-whistles. It does not feature any hand pockets, but the stretchy FUTURELIGHT material offers above-average breathability, good freedom of movement, and respectable weather protection — all for an impressively low seven ounces. While it isn't a do anything rain jacket, it is more versatile than we initially gave it credit for, and it's ideal for anyone embarking on trips where every ounce matters.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
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Pros Super light, ultra compact, trim fit, great breathability, weather protection compared to others in its weight class, stuffs into a pocket, hood moves very well with its userTop-tier stormworthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness and hip-belt friendly pocketsGreat weather resistance, long-lasting DWR, breathable, pack-friendly pockets, helmet-compatible hood maintains good peripheral visionIncredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volumeUnmatched stretch, mobility, freedom-of-movement, good breathability
Cons Average weather protection overall, no pockets, no clip in point on stuff sack, elastic wrist loops are basic, trim/athletic cut doesn't facilitate layeringNo ventilation options, expensive, no easy way to clip to a harnessAverage weight and compressed size, bulky cutWets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interiorAverage weather protection, you might find the slim fit doesn't accommodate layering
Bottom Line If you participate in activities where every ounce matters and you also need excellent weather protection and breathability, few can match this model for its weightThis stormworthy and function focused model is exceptionally versatile and offers some of the best performance in our reviewTop tier weather protection and breathability, coupled with an excellent set of outdoor oriented features make this one of our favorite models for soggy excursions into the backcountryOne of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional featuresThe stretchiest rain jacket we have ever tested, it provides unmatched freedom of movement and great breathability, making it ideal for cool weather activities
Rating Categories The North Face Flig... Arc'teryx Zeta SL REI Co-op Stormbolt... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Rab Kinetic 2.0
Water Resistance (30%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Breathability & Venting (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort & Mobility (18%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
10.0
Weight (15%)
9.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
Durability (5%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Packed Size (7%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs The North Face Flig... Arc'teryx Zeta SL REI Co-op Stormbolt... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Rab Kinetic 2.0
Measured Weight (Medium) 7.25 oz 10.9 oz 14.5 oz 12.5 oz 12 oz
Waterproof Fabric Material 20D FutureLight 3L 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof breathable laminate 3-layer GORE-TEX 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite Proflex
Face Fabric and Layer Construction 100% recycled polyester, DWR finish 40-D ripstop (N40r) Gore-Tex Paclite Plus 30-D ripstop nylon Polyester 3-layer, 100% recycled polyester
Pockets 1 interior 2 hand pockets 2 hand 2 hand 2 hand
Are Lower Pockets Hipbelt Friendly? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Pit Zips No Yes Yes No No
Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight) No No No No Yes
Stows Into Pocket? Yes No No No Yes

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 even 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.

Performance Comparison


The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - our review team's new favorite "lightweight" jacket tops our old...
Our review team's new favorite "lightweight" jacket tops our old favorite, the Outdoor Research Helium Rain. The North Face Flight Lightriser is about 0.5 ounces heavier but outperforms it in all other categories, like storm protection, breathability, comfort, mobility, and durability.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Water Resistance


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 North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - while it doesn't offer the same level of storm protection that a...
While it doesn't offer the same level of storm protection that a number of heavier models provide, the DWR resists wetting out better than many jackets of similar weight.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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. While this model performs well when compared to other packable and weight-focused models, you might want to look elsewhere if you aren't counting ounces. For a similar price, you can purchase a higher-performing model like the Arc'teryx Zeta SL or the REI Co-Op Stormbolt GTX.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the dwr and overall storm protection are better than its most direct...
The DWR and overall storm protection are better than its most direct competition.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

While the Lightriser has respectable weather protection for its weight, it isn't the jacket we'd reach for if we knew we were going to spend extended periods of time in the rain. It is ideal as a just-in-case style layer or for short passing thunderstorms, as it provides respectable weather protection for its weight and nearly disappears in your pack.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - despite a minimal design, this model's hood cinches down nicely over...
Despite a minimal design, this model's hood cinches down nicely over a wide range of headwear.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Hood Design

The Lightriser has a snug-fitting hood overall that cinches down fantastically despite a minimal design. Our review team also 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. There is not a chance it would fit over a climbing or bike helmet but its low profile design makes wearing it under the helmet a more comfortable option than most.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the hood offers a respectable amount of prereferral vision.
The hood offers a respectable amount of prereferral vision.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Breathability and Venting


The FUTURELIGHT air-permeable fabric is breathable. FUTURELIGHT 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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the air-permeable futurelight material provides respectable...
The air-permeable FUTURELIGHT material provides respectable breathability.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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. Compared to other lightweight models, it's far more breathable. If you are someone who likes to embark on more aerobic outdoor activities regardless of the weather, this jacket is certainly worth considering.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the lightriser is one of the least clammy feeling models. this is...
The Lightriser is one of the least clammy feeling models. This is impressive, especially given its seven-ounce weight.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - one of this model's highlights is its stretchy fabric and athletic...
One of this model's highlights is its stretchy fabric and athletic cut, which help provide above-average mobility. It's a great option for folks who prioritize freedom of movement or engage in sports that demand a lot of mobility, such as climbing or mountaineering.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Our testing team was super impressed by both the cut and stretch of this model's fabric, which provided 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 better models out there.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the flight lightriser features a lower profile and a more athletic...
The Flight Lightriser features a lower profile and a more athletic cut.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Fit

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 needing to size 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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the fabric doesn't cut a lot of corners but it does not boast many...
The fabric doesn't cut a lot of corners but it does not boast many features. It does not have lower hand pockets; this is surely a bummer for some but for the weight-focused crowd it shaves off several ounces and also eliminates a pinch point under a pack.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Pocket Design

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


Low weight and minimal packed size are some of the biggest reasons you buy this jacket. At a scant 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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - this model weighs just over seven ounces, making it one of the...
This model weighs just over seven ounces, making it one of the lightest models in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - the flight lightriser is one of the more compact in our review...
The Flight Lightriser is one of the more compact in our review. While we loved how packable it is, its built-in stuff pocket didn't do a great job of compressing; however, it also never bothered us when against our back and under a heavy pack. Here it is shown next to a one-liter Nalgene.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Packed Size


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 about 25% 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 North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - this model, the north face lightriser (in green) is shown next to...
This model, The North Face Lightriser (in green) is shown next to some of the other more packable models in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - unlike some models that have a reversible pocket, the lightriser...
Unlike some models that have a reversible pocket, the Lightriser does not have any pockets. Instead, it has a reversible mesh pocket. It doesn't compact as well as more traditional inside-the-reversible-pocket-designed models but it gets the job done.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Durability


As you might guess, this jacket is not particularly tough; however, with its polyester, 3-layer construction, it offers more durability than we expected, particularly from a seven-ounce jacket. It isn't our first choice for wet off-trail travel, but is plenty durable enough for hiking, backpacking, or riding our bike on a rainy day.


Value


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 and is easily worth it if you are prioritizing those attributes.

The North Face Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT rain jacket - one of the lightest models on the market, this model is ideal for...
One of the lightest models on the market, this model is ideal for those participating in activities where every ounce matters. If you are willing to cut out a few features, like pockets or a robust hood adjustment, and want to obtain a weight savings, this might be the jacket for you.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


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.

Ian Nicholson
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