The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie Review
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The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie
$169.00 at REI
|$225 List||$129 List|
$129.00 at REI
Check Price at REI
|$99.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Budget-friendly, warm, windproof||Excellent weather protection, great mobility||Super breathable, durable, inexpensive||Incredibly light, very mobile||Softshell fit and feel, oversized storm hood, designed for freedom of motion|
|Cons||Heavy, bulky, stiff fabric||Slightly heavy, larger sizing||Poor wet weather protection||Limited weather protection, few features||Expensive, relatively heavy, odor retention|
|Bottom Line||Perfect for casual and urban outings where cold wind or light rain might be expected||This is a softshell ready for the worst weather you can throw at it||This budget-friendly softshell is one of our favorites for summertime rock climbing||This is one of the lightest softshells out there, perfect for cool windy days at the crag||An 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%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This softshell jacket provides a decent value, especially for its weather protection. For the right casual user, it's a solid purchase.
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.
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