Just In - The North Face Superhype Jacket
Just in for review is the new Superhype Jacket from The North Face, a trim, lightweight waterproof shell aimed specifically at walkers and hikers, but unusual in that it uses the latest Gore-Tex Active fabric which is usually reserved for 'fast and light' kit aimed at runners and bikers.
We're big fans of Gore-Tex Active for fast-moving stuff, because of its good breathability and lightness, but the shorter, closer cut and minimal features of most jackets made from the fabric don't really suit walking use. Which is where the Superhype different, it's been designed as a pure walking jacket.
That means that while it's still reasonably light at 380g for our medium sample, the jacket is cut longer and less snug than typical Gore-Tex Active shells aimed at runners, bikers and adventure racers. So there's more protection overall, a more developed hood, proper pockets and space to layer an additional insulating layer underneath
Also promising are the clean lines of the jacket - look at the pics and you can see what look like pit-zips, but they're actually in two sections. The lower part of the zip is the opening to a mesh-lined, venting pocket, while the continuation under the arm-pit is a conventional pit-zip vent. Much neater than using separate zips for both and should give good added ventilation when needed.
There's no chest pocket inside or out. Adjusters are tucked into the pockets for faff-free tightening of the drop-tailed hem and up top, the hood adjusters are also squirrelled neatly away. The hood itself fits nicely on the tip of the head and moves with your direction of gaze, though there's limited facial coverage - think lower chin.
It also lacks a wired peak, though the laminated construction of the brim means it has reasonable stiffness even so and should cope with most rain. Time will tell.
So if the upside of using Gore-TexActive is weight saving and improved breathability - and we do think there's a genuine advantage to the material - are there likely to be any downsides?
On paper, Active isn't as full-on durable as the heavier duty Gore-Tex Pro fabric, so may not cope as well with sustained, abrasive use like heavy duty load-hauling for example.
Having said that, we've been thrashing a couple of jackets made from the fabric for a couple of years now and they're still going strong, so we're reasonably optimistic on that front particularly if you're looking at the Superhype as a summer waterproof which will only be used intermittently.
Other points to be aware of are the lack of chest pockets and reinforcement on wear points, which on paper would make sense, though it may also not be permitted under Gore's strict construction guidelines.
Trim No-nonsense Walking Jacket
Overall though the Superhype strikes us as a trim, non-nonsense, lightweight walking shell that's not only made from one of the most breathable fabrics out there, but also gives you some serious ventilation options if things do get a little hot and sweaty via that combined pocket/pit-zip arrangement.
And finally, while at a suggested £200 the jacket isn't exactly cheap, it's not insanely expensive either and would make an ideal summer walking jacket or a great option for trekking and travel use too.
It's available in both men's and women's versions, both with the same price-tag. More information at www.thenorthface.co.uk.