Gear Review: The North Face Split Hardshell Jacket - Backpacker

Gear Review: The North Face Split Hardshell Jacket

A lightweight hardshell for under $200.

[lightweight bargain]

“I used this jacket for everything from hiking to skiing to bike touring, and it offered exceptional waterproofing for the weight,” reports our tester. The key to versatile performance at this price? TNF’s proprietary HyVent fabric, which repelled all precip and breathed adequately for most testers. “I wore it hiking and ski touring and never felt clammy,” reported one tester after a week of snowy weather at Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain. But another tester who’s a self-described “sweat box” gave the shell only 3 out of 5 stars for breathability; still, he credits the two mesh-lined chest pockets with providing much-needed ventilation. And TNF’s new FlashDry interior treatment accelerates wicking and improves drying time. Rubberized dots on the shoulders boost abrasion resistance and help keep pack straps in place. Fit note: The hem is well-below hip height—great for skiing or climbing, but cumbersome for testers with shorter torsos. $180; 14 oz.; m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL;