In 2015, my trusty Sierra Designs Lunatic soft-shell gave up the fight. The search for its replacement was a journey full of fleeting moments of hope that ultimately ended in disappointment. You see, the Lunatic was the perfect balance of weight, warmth and breathability.
With a down sweater as a midlayer, I could downhill ski, winter camp, snowshoe. With a heavy baselayer, it was my winter fatbiking and commuting jacket. For a softshell that wasn’t designed for cold-weather cycling, it was plenty breathable.
Then along came The North Face Apex Risor Hoodie ($170). I was optimistic but realistic. Cautious but hopeful.
What I loved
Outstanding fit without restricting movement. The Apex Risor Hoodie hits the sweet spot between a slim fit without bulk and just enough room for layering with a down sweater as a midlayer. This was critical for me because I wanted it primarily as my outer layer for snowshoeing and fatbiking on very cold days. Turns out it’s much better suited for snowshoeing and winter hiking than it is for fatbiking. The softshell material is considerably thicker, making it less breathable than my old Sierra Designs Lunatic. Still, it was plenty breathable snowshoeing and hiking in temperatures down to the mid-teens (when paired with a down sweater).
Length. I’ll just come right out and say it. I love the length. It sits mid-hip which is where I like my jackets to sit (and I’m usually disappointed). It has a fantastic drop-tail in the back that covers my bum. Even my old Sierra Designs Lunatic didn’t hit mid hip and cover my bum!
True to size. I wear a size small. The Apex Risor Hoodie sample is a size small. I layered it with a wool baselayer and an 800-fill down sweater as a midlayer and had no issues with feeling constricted. Nor did I ever wish I had gone a size up. I get a lot of questions about sizing of jackets. “Should I go with my normal size or go a size up to allow room for layering??” There’s really no hard and fast rule. For me, I have always stayed within my own size and never had issues when adding layers.
Blocks wind, drizzle and snow. It is water-resistant as long as you’re not wearing it in a deluge. But it does an amazing job of resisting harsh winds, thanks to The North Face’s Windproof WindWall knit-face DWR soft-shell fabric with fleece backer. It also fends off blowing and falling snow and light drizzle.
Warm. But then anything that says “The North Face” on it has a pretty good chance of keeping you warm. I love the longer length of the sleeves because they fully cover my wrists when not stashed in the pockets. The hood is moderately deep and cinches secure enough to protect my head and face in strong winds.
What could be better
Unfortunately The North Face Risor Hoodie performed exactly the way TNF said it would. It exceeded my expectations. So on to Final Thoughts!
I’m in love with this jacket and I’m in love with The North Face for designing my dream softshell. I will protect this jacket with my life. I will be careful with it. Respectful of it. It will not meet the same end as my old Sierra Designs Lunatic.
The North Face Apex Risor Hoodie is a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.