“Another softshell review?” Yes. After my slight disappointment with the RAB Men’s Exodus Softshell, those awfully nice people at Go Outdoors, well, namely Adam Smith, got back in touch and asked me if i would like to try a North Face softshell without a hood as this had seemed to be the sticking point with the Rab jacket.
I ask myself, “Do bears shit in the woods?”
So with lightning efficiency I said “yes” and received an email confirming the purchase of the garment for £0.00. I can live with a price like that. After all, times are hard! I had ordered a North Face Men’s Apex Bionic Softshell, Size Large, in black. That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it?
It arrived, as promised, within the 24 hour delivery frame in sturdy plastic packaging in good shape. You should be able to click on the picture to fill your screen.
I liked this jacket immediately. First off: No big saggy hood. The second thing I liked: The backing material behind the zip is made from a sturdy material that doesn’t snag the zip, unlike that of the Rab softshell. The third thing: The jacket is made of material that is very stretchy but it also has a smooth, slightly fleecy lining, which means that putting it on and taking it off is much easier than the Rab jacket which seemed to grip your fleece. It also has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish.
In the words of TNF “the jacket “features the acclaimed TNF™ Apex ClimateBlock fabric, wind permeability rated at 0 CFM for total defence against howling headwinds” So I shall find out about that later.
There is a hem draw-cord that is quite natty: See picture below:
It’s a captive chord so that when you pull it nice and tight (presumably in “defence of the howling headwinds?”) you don’t have flailing strings banging about on your thighs, like you do with my Paramo Velez Adventure jacket – incredibly annoying after a while!.
You will see from the top picture that there is a sizable zipped chest pocket, big enough for a walking guide book. One of the two lower pockets is really really good: cavernous, in fact. It extends all the way up to almost your collar bone. I have no idea why you would want to stuff tall animals in your pocket but I am sure they would fit. Both of these lower pockets suffer slightly, from a backpacker’s perspective, of being slightly low, so that a rucksack hip belt will cut across the lower part of the pockets. All the pockets are air-permeable, which means that you can use them for venting – probably not a great idea though if you have stuff inside them?
The collar is nice and snug and is fleece lined.
The cuffs are interesting: It’s a Velcro–type closer that I have not seen before (maybe I have not been looking too closely?) Velcro is a hook and loop fastening, yet the cuffs on this jacket aren’t “hooky” in any way, so they won’t snag your fleece. They are sort of rubbery stumps very closely packed together. I don’t know how it works, but it seems to work very well. A rather neat touch, I think.
The blurb on the TNF website says the jacket weighs an “average” 837 grams. Interestingly, mine came in at 689 grams. That’s a surprising difference but a very welcome one. Though, in the cooler months when I will be wearing this, the weight is not so much of an issue.
You can find this jacket on the GO Outdoors Website where, if you have one of their discount cards, they will ensure you get the best deal (which sounds a bit ‘John Lewis?’)
You can find all Go Outdoors softshell jackets by going to THIS PAGE and having a good browse. What I particularly like about their site is the fact that there is often more information about the products on their site than on the manufacturers’ own websites! A good example of this is with their selection of waterproof jackets where the information on the Berghaus jackets is far more comprehensive than on Berghaus’s own site.
Anyway! I’m going to take this jacket away with me for a long weekend in the Dales, where, knowing my luck, it will be very cold, wet and windy. When I get back from there, I’ll let you know how I got on with it.