Not necessarily your go-to choice for fast and light mountain travel, but rather for stylish weather protection, The North Face Fanorak is a pull-over wind jacket built for city life. The jacket's coolest feature is that it stuffs into its kangaroo pouch and can be carried around as a fanny-pack — one that also sports an additional small, exterior-pocket. With a retail price of $79 — the most affordable among jackets in this review — the Fanorak is a fun option for the urban commuter or the trendy enduro rider.
The North Face Fanorak Review
Cons: Not very breathable, heavier and bulkier than most other options
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Fanorak
|Price||$73.98 at Amazon||$59.40 at Patagonia|
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|$75.93 at REI|
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|Pros||Low price, impressive water resistance, folds up into a fun fanny-pack||Low price, simple and effective design, tiny packed-size, impressive DWR coating||Lightest in the category, tiny packed size, larger chest pocket||Stretchy nylon, comfortable, very breathable||Great pocket space, neck snap for venting, brim gives some sun protection|
|Cons||Not very breathable, heavier and bulkier than most other options||No feature to stow-away hood, thin material can feel clammy during high-output activity||See-through material, under-performing DWR fabric||Sleeves a tad short||Hood brim is goofy looking, internal pocket low, not the best breathability|
|Bottom Line||A streetwear-inspired jacket that might also appeal to the mountain bike crowd||The best overall value and performance in a lightweight package that sets the category standard||An ultralight jacket purposefully built for fast and light mountain missions||A stretchy and hyper mobile windbreaker that breathes well.||A solid jacket at a great price. The pocket options were best in class.|
|Rating Categories||The North Face Fanorak||Patagonia Houdini||Distance Wind Shell||Outdoor Research Tantrum II||Rab Vital Windshell|
|Wind Resistance (30%)|
|Breathability And Venting (30%)|
|Weight And Packability (20%)|
|Fit And Functionality (10%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||The North Face...||Patagonia Houdini||Distance Wind Shell||Outdoor Research...||Rab Vital Windshell|
|Measured Weight, size M||9.2 oz||3.9 oz (size L)||3.5 oz||4.6 oz||4.7 oz|
|Material||100% Polyester Ripstop||100% nylon ripstop, DWR finish||100% nylon ripstop, woven w/ DWR treatment (Green Theme Technology "Breathable Water Protection Technology")||100% nylon 20D mechanical stretch ripstop||20D nylon|
|Pockets||1 velcro kangaroo w/ 2 zippered hand behind||1 zip (chest)||1 chest||1 zip (chest)||2 external hand, 1 internal zip|
|Safety Reflective Material?||No||No (company states reflective logo on left chest, too small to really be visible)||No||Yes, reflective logo||Yes, reflective logo|
|Stuffs into itself?||yes, stows in kangaroo pocket||Yes, stows in chest pocket||Yes, stows in chest pocket||Yes, stows in chest pocket||Yes|
|Adjustable Cuffs?||Elastic||Half Elastic||Elastic||Elastic||Half Elastic|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Although The North Face website lists the Fanorak as a jacket designed for an urban lifestyle, we put this jacket through its paces right alongside more technically designed pieces like the Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell and our Top Pick for Commuters, the Patagonia Tezzeron. While compared to other options this jacket is neither the most lightweight or packable, we found it comfortable to wear when running errands around town.
Where the Fanorak does impress is in the jacket's water resistance, performing similarly in our hose test to the award-winning Patagonia Houdini. This jacket does an adequate job of blocking the wind, performing slightly better than the Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody, but we found it to be hot to wear for anything more than easy-going activity.
Despite a double-layer polyester fabric over much of the jacket's body, the Fanorak was quickly penetrated by cold, gusting winds during our side-by-side testing. The extra material of the kangaroo pocket does a good job of protecting your core, and the zippered hand pockets are helpful in keeping hands warm.
But for a jacket that is even heavier than its single-layer counterpart, the Flyweight Hoodie — both which are constructed with The North Face's proprietary Wind Wall fabric — we were surprised that this jacket was noticeably colder in a consistent wind.
Breathability and Venting
With its additional material, it is no surprise that the Fanorak is not nearly as breathable as other much lighter-weight options. We found that during anything other than casual activity, such as hiking, this jacket is overwhelming.
This jacket's construction does not sport any venting, but this is not really necessary as you have the option to turn the jacket into a fanny-pack when temperatures rise past the point of comfort.
Weight and Packability
Although this jacket is heavier than many others in this review — it nearly triples the weight of the Distance — when turned into a fanny-pack we were impressed with how light it was to carry along on bike rides. On even the most technical — read: bumpy — mountain bike rides, we hardly ever even noticed the Fanorak comfortably strapped to our backs.
Fit and Functionality
The colorways of the Fanorak are clearly streetwear-inspired, and we believe it is designed with the urban-user in mind. It is super soft worn over just a t-shirt, very comfortably sized to throw on over a casual sweatshirt, and has a large hood to easily accommodate a bike helmet.
The fanny-pack is a style that is actually making quite the comeback among designers of mountain bike accessory packs — they are lightweight, less bulky than backpacks, and hold enough to support shorter-distance rides.
In this same vein, the Fanorak gains points in terms of functionality. As stated above, we found the fanny-pack option to come in super handy when wanting to ditch the jacket during the hot part of a ride, and break it back out at the end of an evening ride when the descent got too chilly.
This jacket impressed in terms of water resistance, scoring only slightly behind the Tezzeron. Water beaded up and ran off better than any other jacket, and at the end of our hose test, the Fanorak was only slightly damp across the shoulders.
As evidenced by its style, we believe the Fanorak is best suited for city life. From the casual hiker in the foothills around LA, to the bike commuter in NY, this jacket is sure to keep you looking stylish on your urban adventures.
At a retail price of $79, the Fanorak is the most affordable option we have in our review. However, if you are looking for a jacket that will keep pace in the mountains, for only $1 more we suggest looking to the Flyweight Hoodie — our Best-Buy award winner — also offered from The North Face.
A jacket with flair, the Fanorak is a great option for the price-conscious commuter who is looking for a little extra protection from the elements. It also has appeal for the enduro mountain bike crowd — those who want to carry a jacket just in case, but also don't want to unnecessarily weigh themselves down with a backpack.
— Aaron Rice