The North Face Apex Flex Futurelight Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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The North Face Apex Flex Futurelight Jacket | Review

A three-layer waterproof jacket that delivers all-day comfort and excellent breathability

Why We Chose The North Face Apex Flex Futurelight: Comfier than most hard shells, innovative technology

Futurelight is The North Face’s proprietary waterproof-breathable fabric – and they are making a big fuss about it. Their slick marketing waxes lyrical about the fabric, labelling it the “world’s most advanced” and guaranteeing that it has been “rigorously tested to withstand the harshest weather conditions”. But what is Futurelight? There’s a lot of scientific-sounding gobbledygook published about it, so here’s our attempt at summarising it simply. It’s a waterproof membrane with added air permeability thanks to the use of “nano-spinning”, a process which involves depositing a PU solution onto a surface from over 200,000 nozzles, apparently, to create a randomised matrix membrane (ok, looks like we’ve failed to describe it simply). Unlike conventional membranes, the nano structure of the Futurelight membrane allows air to pass through for better venting and breathability without sacrificing waterproofness and durability. That’s the theory, anyway. It’s a bold and interesting aim, and that’s why we’ve chosen the Apex Flex Futurelight jacket for our Outdoor 100.

Photos: Chris Johnson

Who Is The North Face Apex Flex Futurelight For?

The North Face state the Apex Flex Futurelight has been designed for hikers and we’d certainly agree. At 450g, it’s a mid-weight jacket and therefore not ideal for fast-hiking in summer or high-octane trail running, where you’ll want a far lighter jacket. But for hillwalking, scrambling and general mountain adventures anytime from spring to autumn, the Apex Flex Futurelight is a good choice: breathable, waterproof and comfy enough for all-day use.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

Construction & Fabrics

Jackets are generally categorised as 2, 2.5 or 3-layer, depending on how the waterproof layer is attached to other layers. 3-layer jackets are the most durable, with the waterproof layer sandwiched between a face fabric and inner scrim.

“Breathable, waterproof and comfy enough for all-day use.”

The Apex Flex Futurelight uses such a three-layer design. It is made from a solid 50-denier and 55-denier Futurelight fabric, with 91.2% recycled polyester and 8.8% elastane with a recycled polyester backer and DWR finish. The Futurelight fabric is breathable, waterproof and seam-sealed with a soft, recycled, stretch-woven face and a recycled, stretch-knit backer for warmth and comfort. The three-layer design is 100% windproof too.

Comfort & Breathability

A big selling point of the Apex Flex Futurelight is its comfort. The fabric is soft, tactile and has a slight stretch to it, delivering far greater comfort than a traditional hardshell – which can feel stiff, crinkly, noisy and uncomfortable. Despite being a waterproof jacket, the Apex Flex Futurelight doesn’t feel or look like a hard shell at all. It’s almost more akin to a soft shell, partly thanks to a smooth backer that, unlike traditional shell jackets, doesn’t feel cool or plastic-like on bare skin. The second biggest selling point is the jacket’s breathability, courtesy of the nano air permeability. Such an approach helps you regulate your body temperature and greatly enhances comfort, according to The North Face, particularly when you’re working hard on an ascent or powering up a ridge scramble.


Everything you’d expect from a waterproof is present with the Apex Flex Futurelight, You get sealed seams, an attached and fully adjustable hood, Velcro wrist cuffs, an internal front zip stormflap to keep wind and rain at bay, hem cinch-cord, drop-tail hem (for coverage over your backside), two hand-warmer pockets and an internal zippered pocket for valuables.

All in all, this is an impressive jacket that will keep you dry from the outside, and, from what we’ve seen, drier on the inside than standard waterproof jackets, all thanks to that Futurelight membrane. It’s durable, comfy, more eco friendly than plenty of other jackets out there and it has all the right features, So, ultimately, there’s plenty to like.

Photo: Chris Johnson

The North Face

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