Soft shell jackets emerged sometime in the early to mid 2000s as part of an outdoor equipment trend that stressed layering to help keep you dry and comfortable over the more traditional raincoat or parka. Most soft shell jackets use a soft, semi stretchable material that allows for a high degree of wind and water resistance, and more breathability than a traditional hardshell jacket.

In recent years, almost every big name manufacturer of outdoor equipment and clothing have introduced their own lines of soft shell jackets, all complete with proprietary coatings and features. Many people are unaware of the benefits and versatility of soft shell jackets, which breath well without leaving you chilled and damp on the inside of your jacket. Soft shell jackets aim to prevent the misery of being dry from the rain or thunderstorm, while still being damp and chilled from sweat trapped by the jacket.

The North Face Company has been making outdoor gear for more than 40 years, and much of their gear is seen in the kit bags of the world’s most extreme mountaineers and skiers. This week we will be taking a look at one of their most popular soft shell jackets, the Apex Bionic Jacket. The Apex Bionic is just one of the ten styles of soft shell jackets that The North Face produces.

North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell

 

Name: Apex Bionic Jacket

Type of Clothing: Soft Shell Jacket

Colors Available:

  • Black/Blue
  • Grey/Acid Yellow
  • Sage Grey/Asphalt
  • Moonstruck Grey/Heather Grey
  • Adder Green/Sage
  • Red/Grey
  • Black
  • Outer Space Blue
  • Monster Blue/Black

Sizes Available:

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Extra Large
  • 2X Large
  • 3X Large

Weight: 21.87 Ounces

Material:

Fit and Sizing:

  • The Apex Bionic saw a refitting process in 2014. New jackets have a more athletic cut and hug closer to the body. I went one size larger than I normally wear so I could wear heavier shirts under it.

MSRP: $149-$169, but you can get it from $134.99 on Amazon.

Unique Features:

  • Uses The North Face Company proprietary blend of materials for wind blocking and maximum heat retention
  • Two large zippered pockets on front along with napoleon style pocket on wearers left breast
  • Fleece Backer
  • Hem cinch cord around the bottom edge of the jacket
  • Velcro wrist closures

Application: Camping, hiking, skiing, daily wear

Pros: Quality construction, Good insulation qualities, lifetime warranty, large outside pockets.

Cons: Cost, new style pattern makes fitting a little more difficult. Strange color names, no inside pocket.

North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell

Overall Performance: The Apex Bionic is an impressive jacket for the money. It is well made by a top company with good quality control and features The North Face lifetime warranty. The only drawback is that it’s tighter fitting since a design change in 2014, which I think is a mistake on their part.

The North Face Company hasn’t altered the basic features of this jacket in many years, and the change in the cut of the jacket to a tighter fit is one of the only real downsides. The only other thing that I could criticize about this jacket is the color naming convention. The colors themselves are fine, but without looking at the color pallet it can be confusing. The Bionic comes in three different shades of grey which is a bit excessive, in my opinion.

The Apex Bionic is more expensive than I would have like it to be, but I feel its a great value for the money when you put it up against its competition.

North Face Apex Bionic Soft Shell - View of large side pockets
View of large side pockets

If you are in the market for a new lightweight, three season, weather repellent jacket, you should consider The North Face Apex Bionic. If you want a soft shell with a hood attached, I would suggest the Nimble Hoodie Soft Shell, which is very similar to the Apex Bionic but with a hood and a lower price point.

Thanks for stopping by. If there is a piece of gear or equipment you would like to see reviewed, let us know in the Comms Check.

Rick D

(Images Courtesy: TheNorthFace.com)