The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The North Face Flyweight Hoodie Review

With performance close to the best in our review, but available at a much lower price, this jacket presents a great value
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $80 List | $80.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Affordable, breathable and ventilated, zippered-hand pockets
Cons:  Hardly water resistant, heavier than many other jackets
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 3, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 7
  • Breathability and Venting - 30% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 6
  • Fit and Functionality - 10% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The North Face Flyweight Hoodie wins our Best Buy award for offering solid performance comparable to our top-ranking options, but at a price point that is significantly cheaper. For 2019, this jacket received a full-makeover — a change in fabric significantly increased breathability but lost a lot in terms of weather resistance. The changes made to the design of the Flyweight Hoodie have slimmed it down, and place it in the same category as other ultralight jackets, but with a little more weight. While this wasn't our favorite technical outer layer, it makes a great summer wind jacket and worked surprisingly well as a midlayer, thanks to a soft-fabric feel.


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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $80.00 at Amazon$64.93 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Affordable, breathable and ventilated, zippered-hand pocketsLow price, simple and effective design, tiny packed-size, impressive DWR coatingLightest in the category, tiny packed size, larger chest pocketStretchy nylon, comfortable, very breathableGreat pocket space, neck snap for venting, brim gives some sun protection
Cons Hardly water resistant, heavier than many other jacketsNo feature to stow-away hood, thin material can feel clammy during high-output activitySee-through material, under-performing DWR fabricSleeves a tad shortHood brim is goofy looking, internal pocket low, not the best breathability
Bottom Line With performance close to the best in our review, but available at a much lower price, this jacket presents a great valueThe best overall value and performance in a lightweight package that sets the category standardAn ultralight jacket purposefully built for fast and light mountain missionsA stretchy and hyper mobile windbreaker that breathes well.A solid jacket at a great price. The pocket options were best in class.
Rating Categories Flyweight Hoodie Patagonia Houdini Distance Wind Shell Outdoor Research Tantrum II Rab Vital Windshell
Wind Resistance (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Breathability And Venting (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Weight And Packability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Fit And Functionality (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Water Resistance (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Flyweight Hoodie Patagonia Houdini Distance Wind Shell Outdoor Research... Rab Vital Windshell
Measured Weight, size M 7.2 oz 3.9 oz (size L) 3.5 oz 4.6 oz 4.7 oz
Material 100% 20D nylon 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 2 zip (2 hand) 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 hand 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
Hood? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

While it isn't nearly as technically refined as our Editors' Choice award-winning Patagonia Houdini, this jacket has solid merit in offering a similar balance of wind resistance and breathability. The Flyweight Hoodie does a great job of managing heat and performs well when it comes to high-output activities such as ski touring or trail running. The most regrettable result of this jacket's renovation is its loss in water resistance. The jacket receives a more simple design overall, but one that still retains hand pockets, a feature that perhaps makes it more usable in everyday life than its ultralight competitors.

Savvy readers may notice that in terms of the overall score, the Flyweight Hoodie is ranked pretty low in our review. However, we must point out that this is very deceiving — in most metrics this jacket performed within one point of the major players — offering similar performance in many ways, at a price point that is more approachable.

Performance Comparison


With fabric that is soft to the touch  a slim fit and great breathability  we found this jacket to be very comfortable as a midlayer as well.
With fabric that is soft to the touch, a slim fit and great breathability, we found this jacket to be very comfortable as a midlayer as well.

Wind Resistance


We tested the wind resistance of this jacket on a cold spring day, up at 12,000 feet in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, when wind chill values were pushing zero degrees. In a side-by-side comparison, the Flyweight Hoodie blocked the wind nearly as well as the Houdini and similarly super-light Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell. It kept us significantly warmer than the Fanorak — a heavier-weight offering from The North Face, built with the same proprietary WindWall polyester — in the frigid, screaming winds.


This jacket includes thoughtful features that help bolster wind resistance, like a draft-flap behind the zipper. But designers opted to drop the waistline drawcord, and instead opted to reinforce all of the hems with elastic to ensure a tight fit. While this design isn't quite as resistant as the insulated Marmot DriClime Ether Hoody, it is on equal footing with more expensive options, like the Outdoor Research Tantrum II and KUHL Parajax.

While this jacket doesn't employ any drawcords  the draft flap behind its zipper adds a little extra core protection when facing cold headwinds.
While this jacket doesn't employ any drawcords, the draft flap behind its zipper adds a little extra core protection when facing cold headwinds.

Breathability and Venting


We often find that wind resistance and breathability work against each other when considering the tightness of a fabric weave. While this has been the case in the past, the current version of the Flyweight Hoodie does a very nice job of balancing these two contrasting attributes.


This jacket breathes just as well, if not slightly better, than the Distance Wind Shell, thanks to added open-air vents beneath each armpit. We appreciate the changes in material-design, as the previous version of this jacket left us a "swampy mess" after extended, high-output activity. With the new and improved Flyweight Hoodie — at least in terms of breathability — you can look at this jacket as a solid option for trail running.

Despite its weight  this jacket performed near the top of the charts for breathability and venting.
Despite its weight, this jacket performed near the top of the charts for breathability and venting.

Weight and Packability


Somehow, despite losing features like pull-tabs to cinch down the hood, the 2019 update of the Flyweight Hoodie gained nearly two ounces — now tipping the scales at 7.2 ounces. Without the warming quality of additional insulation, this is nearly as heavy as the Ether Hoody.

Despite slimming its overall bulky figure  this jacket has gained some weight -- nearly two ounces compared to its previous version -- bringing it a surprisingly heavy 7.2 ounces (shown here as 205 grams.)
Despite slimming its overall bulky figure, this jacket has gained some weight -- nearly two ounces compared to its previous version -- bringing it a surprisingly heavy 7.2 ounces (shown here as 205 grams.)

Despite packing down to a size much smaller than any of the three heavier jackets, what really disappoints us is the way the Flyweight Hoodie packs down. It easily stuffs into one of its hand pockets, turned inside out, and zips closed with a clip in loop if you want to attach it to the back of your climbing harness. But the entire package is loose and far larger than it needs to be — when packing down a jacket we want it to be as small as possible.


While the jacket still weighs less than half-a-pound and packs down smaller than a standard Nalgene bottle, in comparison to other similar jackets in this category, this is neither very light or very packable. We direct readers who want the smallest, and most packable wind jackets to either the Houdini or Distance Wind Shell.

New wind jacket selections  all packed up with a standard Nalgene bottle for reference. Moving down the line from largest on the top left: Patagonia Tezzeron  Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody  The North Face Fanorak  The North Face Flyweight Hoody  KUHL Parajax  Patagonia Houdini  and Black Diamond Distance Shell
New wind jacket selections, all packed up with a standard Nalgene bottle for reference. Moving down the line from largest on the top left: Patagonia Tezzeron, Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody, The North Face Fanorak, The North Face Flyweight Hoody, KUHL Parajax, Patagonia Houdini, and Black Diamond Distance Shell

Fit and Functionality


The Flyweight Hoodie has gone from being on the large-side of size recommendations — previous tests referred to it as bordering on baggy — to having a very slim-fit. For a 5'10, 165 pound, skinny-mountaineers frame, we found a medium to have a nice, athletic fit for activities like trail running. But our tester commented that the cut and colorway sometimes made the Flyweight feel like a soccer club's traveling jacket.


Notably, the Flyweight Hoodie has ditched previously included features to opt for a much more streamlined design. In contrast to the simplicity of the Houdini, this jacket does still include zippered-hand pockets. This is an incredibly valuable feature when it comes to everyday use, but one that albeit contributes to this jacket's increased weight. By comparison, the Parajax Jacket also has zippered hand pockets — and still includes cinchable drawcords — in a package that weighs two ounces less.

Although this jacket has no draw cords  elastic hems on the hood  wrists  and waist do a good job of keeping it in place while climbing  skiing or running.
Although this jacket has no draw cords, elastic hems on the hood, wrists, and waist do a good job of keeping it in place while climbing, skiing or running.

Water Resistance


A wind jacket's primary purpose is to protect you from the wind, and these lightweight designs rarely include much in the way of water protection. Although it does sport a DWR coating, unfortunately, the Flyweight Hoodie follows this generalization.


While it once sported a nearly leak-proof lining, the new update of this jacket forsakes this feature and opts for increased breathability instead — a trade-off that severely reduces this jacket's water resistance. In the snow, this jacket's DWR was substantial enough to keep us comfortably dry. But in our side-by-side hose test that is supposed to simulate a rainstorm, the Flyweight Hoodie soaked through completely.

It's impossible not to get cold and wet while building a quinzee  a perfect proving ground for testing water resistance! While this jacket did not perform highly in our hose test  we found that it does dry out on your body quickly enough to keep moving even in the dampest conditions.
It's impossible not to get cold and wet while building a quinzee, a perfect proving ground for testing water resistance! While this jacket did not perform highly in our hose test, we found that it does dry out on your body quickly enough to keep moving even in the dampest conditions.

Best Applications


With a complete redesign, the Flyweight is a solid option for any recreational activity — so long as it occurs in fair weather. With increased breathability and venting, we thought that this jacket was great for trail running and mountain biking. But with its relatively heavier weight, and missing some important features — like cinchable drawcords — this jacket wouldn't be our first choice for more technical uses, like rock climbing.

We liked this jacket for mountain biking because of its athletic fit and zippered pockets. Additional vents mean you can push yourself  even if you are only racing a pinwheel.
We liked this jacket for mountain biking because of its athletic fit and zippered pockets. Additional vents mean you can push yourself, even if you are only racing a pinwheel.

Value


The Flyweight Hoodie is certainly not the lightest, nor the most water resistant of the jackets in this review. However, it does a solid job of balancing wind resistance with breathability — the two highest-weighted attributes out of all of our testing metrics. At a retail price of $80, this is a jacket that will perform nearly as well in most applications as its ultralight competitors.

Conclusion


The North Face Flyweight Hoodie wins our Best Buy award, offering a great value for top quality performance in the metrics that count. For those who place more value on lightweight packability and water resistance, turn your attention to the more technical options, like the Patagonia Houdini. But for a jacket that is both breathable and wind resistant, there isn't a better bang for your buck.

With high ratings in terms of breathability and venting  the Flyweight Hoodie is a great option for high-output activities like ski touring.
With high ratings in terms of breathability and venting, the Flyweight Hoodie is a great option for high-output activities like ski touring.


Andy Wellman