The North Face Waterproof Jackets
From Rock Climbing Roots to Mainstream Success: The North Face's Rise
The North Face was founded in 1966 by Douglas and Susie Tompkins in San Francisco, CA. The married couple were inspired by the north face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and sought to create functional, durable and stylish outdoor gear. In the 1960s, rugged wilderness clothing was still a novel concept but the brand quickly gained popularity with rock climbers and mountaineers. By the 1970s, The North Face was the only supplier of sleeping bags to the United States Antarctic Research Program. The North Face pioneered the use of Gore-Tex waterproof fabric in the 1970s, becoming one of the first brands to use this innovative material. This helped their waterproof jackets gain widespread appeal. The 1990s saw the brand expand beyond hardcore exploration segments and enter the mainstream outdoor apparel market. They began making apparel for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports. Today, The North Face is a global brand that produces everything from weatherproof parkas to tents, backpacks and shoes. However, their advanced north face waterproof jacket collection remains the heart of their offering. The continued popularity of their iconic Denali fleece jackets is also a testament to the brand's reputation for quality.
How The North Face Waterproof Jackets Enhance Performance
Waterproof jackets deliver essential protection against the elements. They shield the wearer from rain, sleet, snow and wind; keeping your skin and the layers underneath dry. This prevents cold moisture from leaving you chilled. Waterproof fabric technologies prevent external moisture from seeping through while allowing internal sweat vapour to escape. These technical fabrics strike the optimal balance between waterproofness and breathability. Other key benefits of The North Face waterproof jackets include:
Versatility - Waterproof shells can be worn year-round for active pursuits or daily use. They are lighter and more breathable than a winter parka.
Packability - Many waterproof jackets are designed to compress down into their own pocket or stuff sack. This allows for easy packing and carrying.
Durability - Waterproof coatings and seam sealing help the jacket withstand regular use and abuse. These jackets are designed to last for seasons.
Wind resistance - Waterproof fabrics also act as a wind barrier. This helps lock in body heat on blustery days.
Freedom of movement - Technical engineering, like gusseted underarms and articulated elbows, allows for a full range of motion.
Built for Adventure: A Deep Dive into The North Face Jacket Features
Over 50 years of research, development and real-world testing have led to The North Face producing some of the most advanced waterproof jackets on the market. Here are some of the stand-out features and technologies integrated across The North Face waterproof jacket range:
Proprietary Waterproof Fabrics and Coatings
The North Face integrates proprietary waterproof fabrics and coatings in their jacket designs including technologies from leading manufacturers like Gore and Pertex. They also utilise their own proprietary developments like DryVent, HyVent and Futurelight. These technologies provide durable water repellency, breathable protection and weather resistance. Having options from multiple suppliers gives The North Face flexibility to engineer shells with optimal characteristics based on intended usage, from lightweight packability to rugged expedition-level performance. Their in-house fabrics also allow customisation and innovation as they continue advancing their waterproof technologies.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Finish
Many North Face jackets are treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish in addition to waterproof laminates and coatings. This DWR coating is a chemical treatment applied to the outer layer of the jacket. It causes water to bead up and roll off the surface without being absorbed. This prevents moisture saturation while maintaining breathability. However, DWR is not permanent and wears off over time with use and washing. As it degrades, moisture is more easily absorbed rather than beading up. This impacts performance. So DWR needs to be periodically reapplied to restore water beading so jackets continue shedding rain and snow effectively. Reapplication helps extend the life and weather resistance of a jacket.
Fully Taped Seams
To prevent rain leaks where seams join together, high-end North Face waterproof jackets get all seams sealed with a waterproof tape. This tape bonds to the fabric and seals any tiny needle holes made during construction that could let moisture penetrate. It provides an impermeable barrier along the seams. For increased durability on high-wear areas and for heavy duty expedition use, extra wide flat seam sealing tape may be used. This reinforces critical seam zones, such as the shoulders, with a wider strip of seam tape to prevent seam failure and maintain full weatherproofing.
While completely waterproof, North Face jacket fabrics maintain breathability and air permeability. They allow sweat vapor from your body to readily escape through microscopic pores in the fabric. This prevents an uncomfortable clammy feeling inside the jacket during activity. Different proprietary membranes and technologies are engineered to offer varying degrees of breathability. Breathability is measured in grams per square meter over a 24 hour period (g/m2/24hr). Maximum breathability provides the most comfort for aerobic activity where you sweat heavily. Choosing the right level of breathability depends on the intended use and exertion level.
Many North Face waterproof jacket styles include an adjustable hood that can be cinched down around your helmet or head. This protects your head from wind and precipitation in stormy weather. Cinch cords allow adjusting the tightness of the hood opening for optimal coverage and visibility. Some hoods incorporate a stiff visor brim which projects out slightly to keep rain or snow out of your eyes and face. Adjustable hoods and visors are key features for weather protection.
Many North Face waterproof jackets incorporate zippered underarm ventilation for temperature and climate control. These zippered vents are strategically placed in the underarms to allow quick and easy release of excess heat and sweat vapor built up during aerobic activity. By unzipping these vents while on the move, air permeability is increased and warm air can escape. This provides cooling and breathability without having to remove the entire jacket. Underarm vents offer versatility for highly active pursuits where exertion levels can fluctuate quickly. They allow rapid ventilation adjustments in changing conditions.
Bluesign Approved Materials
The North Face partners with Bluesign to source sustainable fabrics meeting rigorous standards for both environmental protection and consumer safety. Many of their waterproof jackets use Bluesign approved materials which are third party certified. These responsible fabrics are engineered using safe chemicals, clean manufacturing practices, and reduced energy and water consumption. Bluesign criteria cover the entire supply chain. Using Bluesign approved materials gives consumers peace of mind that their jacket meets the highest standards for both sustainability and safety.
Many North Face waterproof jackets are engineered with an articulated design and strategic patterning for unrestricted mobility. Articulated elbows and gusseted underarms allow a full range of arm motion. Pre-shaped cuffs ensure wrists can flex freely. This articulated construction ensures athletes and adventurers can move without restraint while wearing the jacket. The patterning eliminates any restriction or tugging when you reach, climb or work overhead. Maximum mobility empowers peak performance no matter the activity while staying dry and protected.
A number of The North Face waterproof jacket styles compress down into their own pocket or custom integrated stuff sack. This makes them conveniently packable when not in use. The thin and lightweight shell construction allows jackets to be folded, rolled or compressed into a small integrated carrying pouch. Compressibility enables easy packing into your backpack, luggage or desk drawer when weather protection isn't needed. Having a portable and compact jacket on hand means you can stash it quickly until the weather shifts and you need reliable protection.
Choose The Right The North Face Waterproof Jacket
The North Face makes waterproof jackets suitable for everything from hiking to skiing. Here is an overview of the main styles available.
The North Face Lightweight Rain Jackets
When choosing a waterproof jacket for activities like hiking or urban use, lightweight designs are often preferable to heavier shell layers or insulated coats. The North Face produces an impressive range of lightweight rain jackets that provide reliable wet weather protection while remaining breathable and easy to pack down. These minimalist shells are a versatile option suitable for everything from wilderness treks to bicycle commutes. Many of The North Face's lightweight waterproof jacket models, like the popular Venture 2 jacket, are constructed using durable yet surprisingly airy and flexible nylon ripstop fabric. Ripstop weave adds durability while reducing overall weight. The Venture 2 weighs in at just 340 grams yet resists tearing when snagged on branches or rocks on the trail. It can withstand the demands of backcountry adventures while giving you room to move freely. Other styles may use proprietary recycled nylon that has less environmental impact than virgin synthetics. Under the hood, these minimalist North Face rain jackets feature either a standard polyurethane coating or more advanced laminate technology depending on the model. Coatings like the reliable DryVent on the Venture 2 provide waterproof, windproof protection without compromising breathability. This treatment sheds light rain and snow with ease while wicking away internal condensation. For more sustained wet weather, proprietary HyVent technology offers an even higher level of moisture protection thanks to its microporous structure. But the 2.5 layer Duraseal laminate keeps the HyVent Venture 2 jacket lightweight at 385 grams The best lightweight rain jackets offer protection from the elements without restricting your mobility or comfort.
The North Face Insulated Ski Jackets
When hitting the slopes, a warm yet breathable insulated ski jacket is essential. The North Face has an array of high-performance designs engineered for snow sports, merging a rugged waterproof shell with insulation for maintaining body warmth in frigid, wet conditions. Popular models like the Dryzzle Futurelight jacket integrate lightweight 750 fill down insulation with the advanced Futurelight shell for unrestricted mobility and weather protection on the mountain. The hydrophobic nano-level pores of the Futurelight membrane prevent snow and moisture from saturating the jacket while allowing internal water vapor to readily escape. This eliminates that clammy feeling. The Dryzzle Futurelight also incorporates a helmet-compatible hood, velcro cuffs to seal out snow, and a cinch cord adjustable hem to lock in warmth. For additional convenience, zippered chest and hand pockets allow safe storage of ski pass, phone and other essentials. Other technical features like an embedded media pocket with cable routing and a removable powder skirt make this an ideal ski jacket. The powder skirt can attach to compatible ski pants to prevent snow from entering. For even greater insulation, some styles like the Lhotse Futurelight use lofty 550 fill down. This delivers reliable warmth even when wet without restrictive bulk. The North Face ski jackets are a savvy investment for avid skiers and snowboarders seeking top-tier protection.
The North Face Softshell Jackets
For dynamic activities like climbing, hiking and cycling, softshell jackets strike an optimal balance between weather protection and unrestricted mobility. The North Face builds their softshell collection with flexible woven fabrics that resist wind and light moisture but allow great freedom of movement. Materials like tightly woven polyester or polyester blends increase durability while four-way stretch construction ensures you can bend and reach without impediment. Many softshells get treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating and feature lightly insulated cores for extra warmth and wind resistance. The exterior sheds light snow or rain while the interior fleece backing traps heat. But these layers remain highly breathable to prevent overheating and interior condensation. The award-winning Apex Flex GTX 2.0 softshell uses abrasion-resistant nylon fabric reinforced with elastane for stretch. This rugged material holds up to scrambling yet won't hinder your range of motion on exposed routes. Some styles take windproofing further with an integrated WINDSTOPPER membrane like the Campshire jacket. This provides total wind resistance without compromising breathability. For aerobic pursuits where wet weather may be encountered, GORE-TEX membrane models like the Apex Flex GTX 2.0 offer durable waterproof protection with incredible air permeability. The North Face softshell jackets give you versatility across changing conditions and activities.
The North Face Insulated Rain Jackets
Wet weather doesn't need to put a damper on your favorite cold weather adventures. The North Face insulated rain jackets couple a lightweight yet toasty insulating layer with a waterproof-breathable outer shell for comfort in cold, soggy conditions. Many styles integrate high-tech ThermoBall insulation. This PrimaLoft synthetic has incredible warmth akin to 600-fill down but unlike down, it retains loft and insulating performance even when wet. The ThermoBall Eco-Rain Jacket utilises 30 grams of ThermoBall throughout the torso, arms and hood. This low-bulk insulation combats chill without adding weight or restrictive bulk. It pairs with a 2-layer DryVent shell that keeps wind and water out while allowing internal condensation to evaporate. Fully taped seams enhance weatherproofing. For even brawnier performance, some insulated rain jacket models like the Isthmus use HyVent technology rated to 25 PSI for guaranteed waterproofing in torrential downpours. Anatomical shaping allows unrestricted mobility. The North Face insulated rain jackets enable you to keep moving through hypothermic conditions. Their synthetic insulation avoids the downsides of traditional down that loses loft and warming power when saturated. Paired with a rugged exterior barrier, these jackets retain interior heat efficiently to help you power through challenging weather and stay comfortable.
The North Face Urban Commuter Jackets
Braving the elements during an urban bike commute or walk doesn’t have to mean sacrificing performance or style thanks to The North Face’s selection of technical yet attractive commuter jackets. Tailored for navigating city life in wet weather, these jackets blend weather protection with a flattering silhouette and carefully engineered features to keep you dry without impeding mobility. Designed with the needs of an urban commuter in mind, some jackets add bike-friendly details like reflective printing to boost visibility and an extra-long tail hem to keep you covered while riding. For ventilating excess heat, zippered underarm vents quickly release steam without having to shed the whole jacket. The North Face also engineers their commuter jackets with urban-appropriate styles and colors that look sharp whether biking to work or out and about. Many have a flattering regular or slightly tapered cut. The matte nylon exterior on models like the City Horizon 2 cloak dirt so they maintain a polished appearance despite daily wear and tear. For the active urban dweller who refuses to sacrifice performance or panache for weather protection, The North Face’s commuter jackets deliver.
From Fabrics to Functionality: Materials in North Face Jackets
To achieve the optimal balance of waterproofing, breathability, weight and durability, only advanced materials and technical fabrics sourced from top suppliers are used. Here are some of the key materials integrated into The North Face waterproof jacket designs:
Nylon → Nylon is a durable, abrasion-resistant synthetic commonly used as a face fabric. It's stronger and lighter than polyester. Models like the Flight Futurelight jacket use sturdy 40D nylon ripstop. Some may use recycled nylon or bluesign approved nylon.
Polyester → Polyester face fabrics have more stretch for increased comfort and mobility. It's also quick-drying. The Ventrix synthetic insulated jacket uses lightweight recycled polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating.
Gore-Tex → Gore-Tex membranes are the gold standard for breathable waterproofing. Many premium North Face waterproof jackets use Gore-Tex Pro fabric optimised for rugged and prolonged use. It has a high level of breathability (25K - 30K g/m2/24hrs).
Pertex Shield → This coating from Pertex provides lightweight waterproof protection. It's applied to face fabrics at a pressure of 1 bar to ensure uniform nanopore structure. North Face occasionally uses it for shells like the Oroshi jacket.
- PrimaLoft Synthetic Insulation → Many insulated jackets use lightweight, compressible and quick-drying PrimaLoft insulation that retains warmth even when wet. ThermoBall Eco is a form of PrimaLoft made from recycled PET plastic bottles.
- Down Insulation → Premium down insulation offers unmatched warmth for the weight. North Face responsibly sources goose down certified to the Responsible Down Standard. It has excellent compressibility and loft.
A waterproof jacket is an outdoor staple all year round, and it’s essential that your jacket stays effective at keeping water out. If you notice that your waterproof isn’t performing as well as it used to, it may be time to reproof, repair or replace it to keep you protected for many adventures to come.
Adventure doesn’t wait for the weather, and the rain shouldn’t stop you from getting outside to do what you love. Embracing the rain and heading out on a walk brings a number of unique joys – but the right kit is absolutely essential. Dressing for the weather and having the right things with you will make sure your walk is enjoyable and safe, too, so here’s our kit list for a rainy-day walk (a waterproof jacket goes without saying!):