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The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie Review

Perfect for casual and urban outings where cold wind or light rain might be expected
the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review
Credit: The North Face
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Price:  $169 List | $169.00 at REI
Pros:  Budget-friendly, warm, windproof
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, stiff fabric
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 24, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9.0
  • Breathability - 30% 3.0
  • Mobility - 25% 4.0
  • Weight - 10% 3.0
  • Versatility - 5% 4.0

Our Verdict

Both casual and athletically inspired, The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie is a great jacket that is a perfect option for mostly urban outings. While it is heavier and bulkier than more technical layers, it is an excellent option for those seeking weather protection on cold and windy commutes, featuring a large hood and deep pockets. Because of its additional weather protection, the fabric feels stiffer and bulkier than we would hope for in a mountain-ready jacket, but for those looking for an inexpensive model that will provide an escape from the elements, this is a good choice.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Budget-friendly, warm, windproofExcellent weather protection, great mobilitySuper breathable, durable, inexpensiveIncredibly light, very mobileSoftshell fit and feel, oversized storm hood, designed for freedom of motion
Cons Heavy, bulky, stiff fabricSlightly heavy, larger sizingPoor wet weather protectionLimited weather protection, few featuresExpensive, relatively heavy, odor retention
Bottom Line Perfect for casual and urban outings where cold wind or light rain might be expectedThis is a softshell ready for the worst weather you can throw at itThis budget-friendly softshell is one of our favorites for summertime rock climbingThis is one of the lightest softshells out there, perfect for cool windy days at the cragAn ultra-lightweight alternative to your normal softshell, this jacket is warmer and more comfortable than many without sacrificing breathability
Rating Categories The North Face Apex... Marmot ROM Hoody Outdoor Research Fe... Rab Borealis Black Diamond Alpin...
Weather Protection (30%)
9.0
8.0
4.0
5.0
3.0
Breathability (30%)
3.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
9.0
Mobility (25%)
4.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
3.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (5%)
4.0
7.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
Specs The North Face Apex... Marmot ROM Hoody Outdoor Research Fe... Rab Borealis Black Diamond Alpin...
Measured Weight (size medium) 27.4 oz 16.1 oz 13.4 oz 10.5 oz 7.4 oz
Material 100% polyester GORE-TEX Infinium: 92% recycled nylon, 8% elastane, plain weave, 170g/sqm 86% nylon (46% recycled), 14% spandex Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR Schoeller stretch-woven: 93% nylon, 7% Elastane, Schoeller Eco-Repel Bio DWR
Type Casual Active Active Technical Technical
Lined/Insulated? Fleece backer No Yes, lining 91% nylon, 9% spandex No No
Hood? Yes, adjustable Yes, hood compatible Yes, climbing helmet compatible, adjustable, stowable Yes, under helmet with lycra binding Yes, adjustable
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 3 (2 hand, 1 chest) 2 zippered hand, 1 zippred chest 3 (2 hand, 1 chest) 2 (external chest) 1 chest
Adjustable Cuffs? No Yes, vecro Elastic cuffs Lycra cuffs Elastic cuffs
Available Sizes XS - XXL S - XXL S - XXXL S - XXL S-XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Apex Bionic is attractive and warm, ideal for urban outings and casual undertakings. It's not a technical layer, but not everything has to be, and this long-standing jacket is popular for a reason.

Performance Comparison


the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - cold days at the beach are another perfect place to take the bionic...
Cold days at the beach are another perfect place to take the Bionic Hoodie for a walk
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weather Protection


Weather protection is one of the metrics we feel that Apex Bionic shines. It is warm and does a great job of keeping you comfortable. The fabric used in this jacket is a proprietary wind-blocking shell with a tight exterior weave to keep the icy gusts from getting inside. It's treated with a DWR water-resistant coating so that even if you forget your umbrella, you can still make it to your destination without getting soaked to the bone. A large hood provides extra coverage and is adjustable to get a tight seal on the coldest of days. Two zippered handwarmer pockets let you get your hands out of the wind. We do wish the cuffs had an adjustment to seal tighter around the wrist.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - water-resistance testing with the bionic 2.
Water-resistance testing with the Bionic 2.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Breathability


Breathability was not one of the strong suits of this jacket. It is the heaviest jacket in our review due to the thickness of the wind-blocking fabric and the fleece backing. Because of this, we did not find the Bionic to do very well at allowing perspiration to pass through, although we can forgive that based on the intended application of this jacket.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - nice and soft fleece makes this a comfortable interior lining.
Nice and soft fleece makes this a comfortable interior lining.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

This is not the softshell that you would choose to go on a strenuous hike, climb a mountain, or go ski touring. It is designed for much lower-key activity, so while it doesn't score particularly well in breathability, don't let that deter you if you are looking for a primarily in-town layer.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - cuffs are not adjustable but provide decent coverage
Cuffs are not adjustable but provide decent coverage
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Mobility


As we mentioned above, the bulkiness of the fabric used on the Apex takes away from its breathability and also affects its mobility. Wearing this jacket feels fairly stiff and cumbersome, even when worn over a very light inner layer. This has to do with the lack of stretch on the outer layer and the boxy cut. It looks great, but when you go to make athletic moves, the jacket feels constricting.

Again, the caveat is that we are looking at this jacket through the lens of athletic mountain sports. For those who need a jacket for walks and light day hikes, this softshell has an adequate amount of mobility.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - the hood adjustments are a bit wonky and difficult to use one...
The hood adjustments are a bit wonky and difficult to use one handed, scrunching up tightly around the face.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


This is not a light jacket by any metric. The Bionic Hoodie tips the scales at 27.4 ounces — almost four times the weight of the lightest jacket in our review. But let's look at why it is so heavy and why that might not matter to you.

This coat has a thick inner fleece lining that really increases the weight. Add in the burly windproof fabric and a generously cut hood, and you end up with a pretty heavy jacket. Here, that weight means extra weather protection, and if you don't plan on carrying it with you in a backpack, then the weight and bulk penalty probably won't make a difference.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - the north face bionic 2 is among the heaviest of our tested jackets.
The North Face Bionic 2 is among the heaviest of our tested jackets.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Versatility


We have sung the praises of this jacket when it comes to offering great weather protection, comfort, and warmth. Unfortunately, those attributes make it a heavy and bulky outer layer that does not do well in athletic activities, limiting its versatility to casual outings.

the north face apex bionic hoodie softshell jacket review - relaxing on the patio during a chilly spring day? a great place for...
Relaxing on the patio during a chilly spring day? A great place for the Apex Bionic to shine.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Value


This softshell jacket provides a decent value, especially for its weather protection. For the right casual user, it's a solid purchase.

Conclusion


The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie is stylish and a good option for those who require weather protection and comfort but don't plan on needing to use it for vigorous outdoor sports.

Ryan Huetter
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