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The North Face Apex Bionic 2 - Women's Review

For simple outings where you're not working up a sweat and just want to stay warm, this is a good layer to consider.
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Price:  $149 List | $148.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, soft and comfortable fleece on chin guard and sleeve cuffs, windproof and very water resistant
Cons:  Not very flexible or breathable, heavy, no hood
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 5
  • Mobility - 20% 6
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Features - 5% 5
  • Style - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is a straightforward and competent windproof softshell. It's a solid choice for simple windy and cold activities. It repels water quite well, has a soft plush lining, and delivers clean, classic lines. For chilly day hikes or urban outings, this is a smart pick at a fair price. We don't suggest this jacket for technical endeavors due to its weight, stiffness, and lack of critical features like a hood. And while this windproof shell is warm, it suffers in the breathability department.

For a more balanced jacket, be sure to read about our Editors Choice, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody. While not quite as warm, it is lighter with far superior mobility, breathability, and features.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Apex Bionic 2 is a simple softshell with a warm, windproof exterior and soft lining. There's nothing technical or hardcore about this piece, but for the right applications, it's perfectly adequate.

Performance Comparison


The Apex Bionic 2 out for a simple day hike on a chilly fall day.
The Apex Bionic 2 out for a simple day hike on a chilly fall day.

Weather Protection


This is the one category where this softshell performs well. It's thick, lined, and windproof, so it can keep you quite warm even in low temperatures. The lack of a hood, however, means it's not as ideal for more serious wind or moisture, though the material is decently water resistant. Overall, we find this to be quite good protection from the elements as long as you don't get into anything too serious.

The Apex Bionic 2 kept us quite warm while hiking on a cold day  though we had to supplement our own hood since it doesn't have one.
The Apex Bionic 2 kept us quite warm while hiking on a cold day, though we had to supplement our own hood since it doesn't have one.

Breathability


You will notice a common theme across our softshell review — fully windproof jackets don't breathe very well. It's a tradeoff that you need to consider when deciding on your purchase. The Apex Bionic 2 is no exception — while it kept us quite warm in cold and wind, we wouldn't want to wear this thick jacket for anything aerobic.

While this layer is great for simple chores and casual time in the chilly outdoors  it's not a layer we would choose for anything requiring much exertion.
While this layer is great for simple chores and casual time in the chilly outdoors, it's not a layer we would choose for anything requiring much exertion.

Mobility


Once again we see that, as a general rule, a thicker lining and windproof exterior translate to less mobility. The Apex Bionic 2 is a bit stiff and devoid of any real stretch, placing it pretty firmly in the casual, low-exertion category and not in the sweaty-and-technical category.

This softshell is flexible enough to have casual fun and not feel overly restricted in  but it's certainly not what we would reach for when climbing or snowboarding.
This softshell is flexible enough to have casual fun and not feel overly restricted in, but it's certainly not what we would reach for when climbing or snowboarding.

Weight


The Apex Bionic 2 weighs in at a hefty 21.1 ounces. This is just barely the lightest of the windproof models we tested, in large part due to the lack of a hood. Its weight and stiffness mean storing this shell on your coatrack at home or the passenger seat of your car are fine, but it's not ideal for stowing in a backpack when space is limited and keeping ounces down is crucial.

Features


Features on this jacket are pretty minimal. The windproof material has a DWR-finish to aid in repelling water. This jacket has an invisible pocket on the chest and two hand pockets. All close with zippers. It also has a cinch cord around the hem.

The most unique feature is the jacket's the curved cuffs, which have a secondary inner cuff that is soft and stretchy. While they are cozy and comfortable, they cease to be quite as lovely if and when you get them wet. At that juncture, they stick to the skin and take much longer to dry than the rest of the jacket.

The additional soft inner cuffs of the Apex Bionic 2 are nice  but a bit impractical  especially in wet situations.
The additional soft inner cuffs of the Apex Bionic 2 are nice, but a bit impractical, especially in wet situations.

Style


Clean lines and a classic sporty look sum up the Apex Bionic 2. This is a decently good-looking layer, though nothing to write home about.

While this jacket fits in seamlessly in Colorado  it may be overly sporty for many other places and situations.
While this jacket fits in seamlessly in Colorado, it may be overly sporty for many other places and situations.

Best Application


The Apex Bionic 2 is best suited for strolling through chilly mountain towns, walking the dog to the park on windy days, or simple trail hikes that don't get too difficult. It's warm and windproof but lacks the kind of mobility and breathability needed for more serious endeavors. The lack of a hood also means that the jacket is best suited for non-technical excursions.

The plush lining of this jacket helped keep us cozy warm on chilly and windy days.
The plush lining of this jacket helped keep us cozy warm on chilly and windy days.

Value


At $149 this is a decently priced piece. If you're searching for something casual and warm, this is a logical choice that won't break the bank.

Conclusion


For someone new to the outdoors or looking for a smart city layer to add to their wardrobe for the fall, the Apex Bionic 2 might be the perfect solution. It's windproof, warm, and decently stylish, though the lack of full mobility and breathability mean it's not what we would suggest for technical undertakings such as climbing or skiing. But for the price point, this is a perfectly acceptable layer for a lot of applications.

Out on a chilly day hike with the Apex Bionic 2 we stayed warm and protected from the wind.
Out on a chilly day hike with the Apex Bionic 2 we stayed warm and protected from the wind.


Penney Garrett