While it's not for the budget-minded individual, The North Face Apex Flex 2.0 will leave you looking stylish while pursuing your drizzly adventures around town. The Apex may be a decent fit for you, as long as you don't mind the lack of compressibility or trudging around with a bit of extra weight. Its trim design left a lot to be desired, but the soft, flexible fabric was a pleasant relief from some of the stiffer, rigid Gore-Tex fabrics.
The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0 - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy, bulky, poor fit
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0 - Women's
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|Pros||Waterproof, windproof||Water resistant, wind resistant and breathable||Incredibly stretchy, comfortable, lightweight||Exceedingly water resistant, great fit, comfortable fabric||Affordable, breathable, water resistant, packable|
|Cons||Heavy, bulky, poor fit||Expensive, sleeves a little short||Expensive, uncomfortable half-sized pit zips||No pit zips for dumping excess heat in a pinch, expensive||Short torso and arms|
|Bottom Line||This jacket would make for a better lightweight winter softshell rather than an all-around rain jacket.||Waterproof, breathable, and comfortable, the Aspire is an all-in-one marvel.||Its status as a highly functioning stretchy rain jacket sets this model apart and will suit your active lifestyle be it rain or shine.||Offering a sleek design and a genuinely comfortable fabric, this is a superior rain jacket for the hiking-oriented outdoors women.||An economical, functional rain shell for any activity.|
|Rating Categories||Apex Flex GTX 2.0||Aspire||Stretch Ozonic||Arc'teryx Zeta SL - Women's||Marmot PreCip - Women's|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Packed Size (5%)|
|Specs||Apex Flex GTX 2.0||Aspire||Stretch Ozonic||Arc'teryx Zeta SL...||Marmot PreCip -...|
|Measured Weight (oz)||21.2||11.4||9.8||9.5||8.4|
|# of Fabric Layers||3||2||2.5||2||2.5|
|Material||Gore-tex||Gore-Tex with Paclite product technology 2L, 100% polyester 50D plain weave||Dry.Q Active Stretch 40D 2.5L (100% Nylon)||40-denier ripstop (N40r) GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus||NanoPro 100% Nylon Ripstop 2.2 oz/ yd|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 chest||2 hand, 1 chest||2 hand, 1 chest||2 hand||2 hand|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stows into Pocket||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Carabiner Loop in Stow Pocket||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you are not on a budget and looking for a slim-fitting lightweight shell, this might be a good choice for you. However, as far as a versatile rain jacket goes, the Apex Flex majorly lacked in most categories we tested, especially comfort. Don't get us wrong, the stretchy ultra soft fabric is a delight, but it let us down when it came to the overall fit.
The seam-sealed Gore-Tex 3L shell is fully loaded with a soft, stretchy knit back, providing a decently waterproof barrier that moves with you. It performed fairly well in light drizzly weather and less so under high-pressure scenarios. The DWR finish did hold up throughout testing and maintained its ability to repel water.
Luckily this jacket comes equipped with pit zips, which are a great way to quickly dump heat; however, the overall breathability lagged when compared to the rest of the lot, which might be due to the bulky nature of the fabric. We've worn the Apex Flex on easygoing rainy hikes without feeling hot, but we imagine that things could become swampy as the mercury rises. It didn't breathe as well during high aerobic activities, such as bike commuting and fast-paced frolicking in the woods.
The thick composition of the jacket offered a nice swaddling of warmth for use in colder, drizzly conditions but the cramped feel of the sleeves and torso just made us feel claustrophobic. We highly recommend sizing up if you plan to wear any other layers underneath.
The Apex Flex was by far the heaviest jacket tested in the rain jacket category. Weighing in at 20 ounces, the bulkiness and low packability left us displeased, especially when compared to our Top Pick award winner, the Outdoor Research Helium II, which weighs a mere 5.2 ounces, and holds it own with functionality. If you don't plan to hike or bike with this jacket, but rather use it for around town adventures, it might be a decent fit.
The 70-denier softshell exterior is stout and can hold its own, while the interior lining is soft and comfortable, and has yet to show any vulnerability to rips or tears.
We encountered that the bulky nature of the Apex Flex during testing, which left us unimpressed. It does not pack down particularly well, but you can roll it up into its hood for storage. It was one of the largest packed jackets in the test.
This jacket is best for short strolls in the drizzly weather. The extra snug fit, especially in the arms, didn't allow us to layer comfortably. Even with the heavier fabric that added extra warmth, this tended to be a problem when it came to keeping us dry and warm in a downpour.
The Apex Flex is no bargain, ringing up at $249, making it a rather unaffordable option for a middle of the line rain jacket. If you are in the market for a decent slim-fitting, light winter shell, this might be the ticket.
A lack of packability mixed with a serious heft seemed to be this jacket's Achilles Heel, and it was definitely not one we would want to carry with us on an overnight trip or even while on a long hike with a chance or rain. Instead, this jacket would be a good fit for those less inclined to find themselves on granite slabs or summiting mountains but those who live in cities and want to take a stroll in the rain.
— Katherine Elliott