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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 | $104.25 at Amazon
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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58
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 4
  • Mobility - 25% 6
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Versatility - 5% 4

Our Verdict

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is a straightforward and competent windproof softshell. It's a solid choice for simple activities when it's windy or cold. 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 decent pick at a fair price. We don't suggest it, however, for technical endeavors due to its weight, stiffness, and lack of critical features like a hood. And while the windproof material provides a lot of warmth, it drastically impedes breathability.


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 the Apex 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 usually breathe very well. This is a tradeoff that you need to consider when deciding on your purchase. The Apex Bionic 2, while it kept us quite warm in cold and wind, is not a layer you would want to be wearing for anything remotely 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 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 — especially heavy when you consider that it doesn't even have 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 throwing in a backpack when space is limited and keeping ounces down is crucial.

The plush lining of this jacket helped keep us cozy warm on chilly and windy days  but it also adds noticeable weight and heft.
The plush lining of this jacket helped keep us cozy warm on chilly and windy days, but it also adds noticeable weight and heft.

Versatility


This isn't a highly versatile jacket. Features are pretty minimal, and it's not meant for anything very technical or aerobic. The most unique feature is 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. But with clean lines and a classic sporty look, this is a decently good-looking layer for urban outings, though nothing to write home about.

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.

Value


If you're searching for something casual and warm, this decently priced piece is an acceptable 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 fine. It's windproof, warm, and decently stylish, though the lack of full mobility and breathability means it's not what we would suggest for technical undertakings such as climbing or skiing.

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