Gear Review: The North Face Radish Mid Layer Softshell

A killer softshell that performs both as an outerlayer and a midlayer.

[versatile Fleece]

Most softshells are too stiff or bulky to use comfortably as a midlayer, and most fleece midlayers aren’t weather-resistant enough to pinch-hit as outerwear. But the ultrabreathable Radish does double duty in all but the foulest weather. “Light snow just beads off the fabric, which protects from wind and moderate wet without inhibiting breathability,” our tester says. Credit the DRW-treated hard-faced fleece, which resists abrasion from pack straps: After three months of regular use, the fabric showed scant pilling. Stretchy panels under the arms (using a more open weave than the rest of the jacket) kept testers from feeling clammy during climbs in Wyoming’s Tetons. Wicking is also top-notch, thanks to the brushed, gridded interior treated with FlashDry, which speeds moisture evaporation. The hood also earned testers’ enthusiastic thumbs-up for its fitted cut and full coverage (zipped, it exposes only the eyes and cheekbones). Downside: In heavy snow and on gusty summits, testers needed the additional protection of a hardshell. $230; 15 oz. (w’s M); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL;