Posted by Chief run commuter on November 18, 2012 in Equipment, Product Reviews |

Scratch your head, try hard, and wrack your brains and you may remember my post about the North Face Hayasa Trail shoe a number of months back. Possibly my favourite off road number yet.   Well, the good folk at North Face asked that I cast my beady eye and sweaty torso over their autumn series running clothing.  And, encouraged by their Hayasa running shoe, I was more than happy to oblige.

AK Stormy Trail Jacket

AK Stormy Trail Jacket

North Face have been one of my favourite outdoors brand for years, but I had feared a recent mad dash of their’s towards major commercialism: it was getting a bit loose for my liking, and I wondered if they’d branch out into differing lines such as car insurance and aftershave. Perhaps ‘eau de sweaty sleeping bag’..

The North Face Hayasa reconfirmed my affection to North Face and their commitment to quality over numbers.  Roots, they ARE keeping to their roots :-)

I digress:  unfortunately the Summer came and went; I think I sneezed as it past me by in about one nano-second.  Anyway, I’m not that gutted ‘cos Autumn in Blighty brings its own charms:  crisp morning runs, halloween, bonfire night, autumn rugby internationals, red wine, roasts and frothy ale.

There’s nout better than a cold, dank, run followed by a cuppa and a warm shower.  But don’t get squished on route or pick up pneumonia.  Wrap warm and bright and set off sorted!

So, back to the AK Stormy Trail Jacket.  My hitherto reliable Haglof running shell has been on its last legs for some while so when the package turned up from North Face in conjunction with some seriously dodgy British weather I was counting my blessings. A running jacket, as far as I am concerned, should: a) keep me dry and warm(ish); b) not weigh so much as to be a burden; c) not cost as much as a season ticket on British Rail and d) look pretty up-to date and not like a moustachioed 118 runner would suit.

Well I’m pleased to say the North Face AK Stormy Trail Jacket delivered.  For certainly a large part.

The jacket is put out there for ‘maximum protection on runs in the foulest of weather’ and running to work this year has seen plenty of that!  So lets see how we got on…

At 6’2″ and a 40/42″ chest I flirt between a medium and large fitting, and the latter here was just right.  Maybe the North Face loyal customer is a slender soul, but the large was definitely on the cosier side of large, but I guess there’s not much call to put a jumper underneath, so extra space may not be required.

The colour wasn’t quite to my liking: a pretty unimaginative yellow and black, a bit like a dirty wasp, but I know this has been done in the name of safety so I’m prepared to bite my lip and say ‘ok’ to the colour.  There’s sufficient reflective silver piping on the trim to reflect off car headlights without making you bling like an extra in a Snoop video.

The material is very cleverly thought out, with a good ‘stretch’ to move with the runner rather than rub against your running motion.  North Face describe this as FlashDry technology.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to turn off and tune out when confronted by strap lines such as this:  I feel like I am being ‘sold to’ and have  ‘mug’ written on my forehead.

Anyway, the jacket is comfortable and malleable and after a while you barely notice it’s on.  Which in my books is a pretty good thing.   It feels rugged without being cumbersome. The material which might come into rough contact – such as on the outside of the arms – feels tougher and more resilient than the softer material on the inner arms. I can only think this is done for durability and comfort sake and feels like a pretty slick addition.

So far on half a dozen outings its lived up to its waterproof status, so I’ll be interested to see how that performs into the future.  As opposed to my shell running jacket, I’ve noticed this is breathable and I certainly don’t have to peel off my clothes post run.  I have a feeling it won’t be in my lifetime where a totally waterproof AND breathable jacket is produced, but given the technology available to-date, I think this does a very good job.

Thumb Loops: Useful

Thumb Loops: Useful

It’s warm for a thin skin jacket and has a good size hood with soft peak to keep the rain out of the eyes without being intrusive.  There’s one chest pocket which is sufficient for storing running gels, keys, or such like.  If I had a gripe on the design, I might prefer sleeves with thumb loops to keep the sleeve elongated and more waterproof and not ride up the arm.

The jacket has an RRP in the order of £160  which isn’t cheap, but I guess only serious runners will make use of a jacket that’s designed for foul weather.  Shop around on t’internet and you should be able to pick it up for about £145 or thereabouts.  And for something you’ll get a couple of seasons out of, I reckon that’s pretty good value.

Well done guys.   A cleverly thought out foul weather running jacket that does what it says on the tin.  As I say, I’m not wild on the colour, but that’s just me.  In fact, I better quit it there, cos only recently I’ve been thinking of them a triumph of style over substance. And in this case the opposite certainly is true, which is got to be good, right.

Keep up the good work :-)

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