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The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0 - Women's Review

This jacket would make for a better lightweight winter softshell rather than an all-around rain jacket.
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Price:  $249 List
Pros:  Waterproof, windproof
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, poor fit
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Katherine Elliott ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 17, 2018
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72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 5

Our Verdict

This version of the Apex Flex has been discontinued by The North Face.

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.


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.

Performance Comparison


The previously tested Apex Flex GTX 2.0 offers a sleek and fitted design and the multi-toned pannels add real color pop.
The previously tested Apex Flex GTX 2.0 offers a sleek and fitted design and the multi-toned pannels add real color pop.

Water Resistance


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.

The Apex Flex (previously tested) is equipped with a Gore-Tex three-layer waterproof membrane.
The Apex Flex (previously tested) is equipped with a Gore-Tex three-layer waterproof membrane.

Breathability


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.

From layering to tossing on over a t-shirt  every rain jacket has its best use.
From layering to tossing on over a t-shirt, every rain jacket has its best use.

Comfort


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.


Weight


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.


Durability


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.

Packed Size


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.


Best Applications


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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