The North Face HyperAir Gore-Tex Trail - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The HyperAir GTX Trail from The North Face is a cutting edge, waterproof running jacket. It is made of extremely lightweight Gore-Tex Active 2L nylon. This jacket feels more like a wind shirt, but unlike a wind shirt, it is completely waterproof. This is jacket is so thin it feels like tissue paper. We did not have any durability issues during testing, but we found it to be limited to milder temperatures and/or very high output aerobic activities. This is a great jacket for a rainy run or a fast-paced cross country ski tour.
For a hardshell that is more fully featured and versatile, but still impressively lightweight, check out the Arc'teryx Beta SL and Beta SL Hybrid. We also really appreciated the light and supple REI Drypoint.
The HyperAir is a jacket designed for fast-paced aerobic activities, notably, for running. Due to the constrictive shoulders, we found this jacket to be strictly limited to running, as we could not comfortably raise our arms above our heads. And even then, we noticed the tight shoulders on trail runs when our arm motion varied more for balance.
The Gore-Tex Active fabric used in this jacket is designed for fast-paced aerobic activities like running in the rain or cross country skiing. It is phenomenally breathable, feeling only slightly more clammy than a wind shirt, but adding the benefit of being waterproof—a great thing for the dreary months of November and December in the Pacific Northwet (not a typo).
The HyperAir is well named. It is nearly as light as air itself. At 4.5 ounces for a small, this is a stunningly lightweight waterproof jacket. We still don't totally comprehend how something so light can actually be so waterproof, but it did very well on our wet-weather runs. If weight is a priority for you, but you need a more versatile jacket, we'd recommend the Arc'teryx Beta SL or Hybrid, or the REI Drypoint.
The HyperAir is optimized for trail running. There is one zippered pocket on the lower back, a great spot for some lightweight items like your keys or an energy gel. There is reflective trim on the back, nice for running in the dark or on roads. Flaps split the hem to allow improved hip motion and keep the jacket off your hips when running. The hood is too small for a helmet but has a visor that helps keep raindrops out of your eyes. Both the hood and hem are adjustable, which really helps to customize the fit of the jacket for the various angles rain might try to penetrate.
For a more traditionally featured hardshell jacket, check out the Arc'teryx Beta AR, a true all-rounder, or the simple REI Drypoint
The HyperAir feels as thin as tissue paper, which does not inspire tremendous confidence in its durability, but as a running jacket it holds up perfectly well. This is not a shell for climbing purposes, but it can go with you into the mountains on fast-paced runs and cross country ski tours where it is not likely to brush up against rocks or sharp mountaineering equipment.
The HyperAir is really only ideal for running or perhaps cross-country skiing at a fast pace. Try this jacket on before buying it, however, because our testers found the shoulders to be too tight. The articulation of the arms was very restrictive, so even the slightly bigger arm motions involved in cross-country skiing might feel awkward.
The HyperAir GTX Trail is a running jacket. We found little application for it for anything else due to how lightweight and thin it is. If it fits well and allows your arms to move freely, it could also be useful on fast-paced cross country ski tours, but our testers had trouble with the shoulders being too narrow and the articulation of the arms feeling restrictive.
At $250, this jacket is not a bargain. For the limited use (running only) and some of the fit and articulation issues, we do not think this jacket is a great value. However, if you're an avid runner in wet weather and this jacket fits you perfectly, this could definitely be your dream come true, as we loved the materials and otherwise simple, running-specific design.
The HyperAir GTX Trail from The North Face is a running-specific shell jacket. It performed well on wet weather runs, keeping us dry and breathing well. The jacket suffered from restricted arm movement and a slimmer shoulder profile. If you fit this jacket perfectly, it might be your dream come true. Otherwise, the $250 price tag might not be worth it.
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