We purchased this jacket for Dan to wear during a one-month trip to New Zealand, at the beginning of the country’s summer. He wore it during several days of backpacking, and days of just walking around town. He wore it during hours-long, heavy rains; in high winds on exposed mountaintops; and temperatures from just below freezing to the low 60s.
The jacket is made of Goretex PacLite material. It was dry and a good wind-breaker. The zippered armpit ventilation was essential when hiking uphill. It was lightweight and stuffed nicely into the top compartment of his backpack (along with a fleece top, down jacket, map, and snacks).
The problem was durability: the material ripped on the third day of wear, while hiking along a trail with close-in vegetation. Something grabbed the coat on the right, upper sleeve and inflicted a L-shaped tear. Dan patched it with Tear-Aid.
So, is the tear Dan’s fault, or is the jacket flimsy? To help answer that, we have a comparison performance by Jen’s jacket, made of the same material, purchased at the same time, and used under the same conditions. This jacket, made by Arc’teryx, suffered no damage at all. The material of Jen’s jacket also felt a little thicker, even though the jacket weighed less than Dan’s. This made us wonder about the material used by North Face. Jen’s jacket cost US $299, compared with Dan’s at US $199 — so maybe it’s true that you get what you pay for.
Dan’s jacket has been sent back to REI.