When the weather gets weird, it’s always good to have some high-quality gear in your wardrobe. We’ve praised some of The North Face’s gear in the past (like the Better Than Naked shorts), but honestly, haven’t had a chance to review some of their recent offerings. So we were excited to get some miles into their Fall 2021 collection. From rainwear (like the new FUTURELIGHT apparel) to long sleeves and shorts, there’s pretty much something here for anyone.
〉Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT™ Jacket (Men)
THOMAS: Lightweight and fully waterproof, the Lightriser FUTURELIGHT jacket is ready for running in any condition, featuring TNF’s proprietary FUTURELIGHT technology. Since it’s an active jacket, it saves weight and space by eliminating hand pockets (though it does have an internal mesh pocket and stows into an internal back pocket.
The adjustable hood locks down nicely while reflective logos give a degree of enhanced visibility. The weight and packability of this jacket are top-notch and one of the best we’ve ever reviewed. You really can just stow it within seconds and throw it into any bag to take along with you. Yes, you’re going to pay a bit more, but you’re also going to get a great piece of gear that will hold you over for years to come.
MEAGHAN: The Women’s Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT is a lightweight, waterproof, and super soft jacket. Unlike traditional rain jackets, this one isn’t noisy at all. It’s also packable so you can store it in a bag or backpack easily. While there are no exterior pockets, there’s an internal back pocket for stashing a phone or some keys. The hood is adjustable and the logos are reflective for some added visibility. I’ve been using this jacket for my office bike commutes and it’s been perfect. If you’re looking for a lightweight, waterproof jacket, this is it.
PRICE: $300Shop Lightriser – Women Shop Lightriser – Men
〉Flight Ventrix Jacket (Women)
MEAGHAN: The Flight Ventrix is the perfect jacket for those cooler 50 degree days. It features TNF’s Ventrix active insulation, which does a great job of keeping you warm without feeling heavy. The jacket is designed with breathable mesh wents in the back to prevent you from overheating, as well as a full-length front zipper. The crew neck collar is a little weird for a jacket, but I think it pairs well with a hooded shirt underneath. The reflective logos add some visibility to the jacket (we love safety at BITR) and the sleeves are designed with thumb loops, which are a must-have feature in my opinion. Overall, the Flight Ventrix Jacket is really comfortable and fits well. Though I will say, the $240 price tag feels a bit high.
TAYLOR: Mullets are famous for their “business up front, party in the back” look. The North Face applied that mantra to their latest versatile jacket to make running in all conditions a party.
The Ventrix jacket features a new style that both looks good and functions at a high level. Business is featured in the front with the brand’s signature Ventrix insulation. The whole front torso and tops of arms get this treatment to keep vital blood flow areas warm.
The party in the back comes in the form of breathability. Vented panels provide ample airflow to give an optimal balance of needed warmth and air for these cold months of running ahead. A rear pocket holds light items on the run (this means not a phone). This jacket is a little shorter than most and runs exactly hip length, providing a nice range of motion for your legs.
Some insulated running jackets feel heavy and bounce a lot on the run. The Ventrix jacket, however, doesn’t. Imagine UD’s Ventro jacket but in a lighter, more runnable package. I’ll be using this one for the fall months and add a long-sleeve layer underneath when winter starts to bite.
PRICE: $240Shop Flight Ventrix – Women
〉Flight Stridelight Short (Women and Men)
TAYLOR: I always hear so much talk about the Better Than Naked Shorts of old (@Robbe). If they’re anything like the Core Flight Stridelight Shorts, I understand the hype. These are some of the lightest and most breathable shorts I’ve ever slipped on. They actually remind me of one of my favorite pairs of trail shorts, but lighter.
A broad waistband provides a comfortable and light anchor point for the shorts. The rest is a thin Polyester/Elastane material to give that super-light feel and great stretch. A perforated rear panel ensures breathability when flying down the trail. The 3.5” inseam is just about the perfect length for me too.
The zipper rear pocket holds my phone securely. A couple of pouch-style pockets on either side are the perfect size for a gel. One more longer pocket is integrated behind the zippered pocket and is the same size for fitting a pair of gloves or buff. This multi-tiered pocketed system is exceptional for the trails when you need to maximize how much gear to bring, and comfortably.
My only complaint is that the inner liner runs pretty slim. I’m usually a medium, but these mediums seemed to have too slim of a brief for me. The shorts felt fine on the run, but standing around I felt hugged a little too tight in the wrong places.
PRICE: $75Shop Stridelight – Women Shop Stridelight – Men
〉Better Than Naked SS Shirt (Women and Men)
ROBBE: Well, if we can’t have the Better Than Naked shorts anymore, at least we get to enjoy the airy, free-flowing formula as a top. The BTN short sleeve shirt is the ultimate base layer for cold-weather runs as well as the perfect shirt for warmer days. I actually wear this shirt quite often as just general apparel, but absolutely love it for those runs in the 50-65 degree range.
FlashDry technology helps keep you cool and sweat-free for the long haul. You’ll be dryer than a desert winter in the BTN shirt, which is key regardless of temperature. This shirt features an odor-free fabric too. No sweat, no stink, this shirt is like a polyester antiperspirant (without all of that harmful aluminum, of course). While it might look wacky, we’re loving the ‘Chlorophyll Green’ colorway with the 360-degree reflective elements. Buyer beware, we’ve heard the white one is a little see-through, but based on that name of the shirt that’s kind of the point.
PRICE: $60Shop BTN Shirt – Women Shop BTN Shirt – Men
〉Flight Race Day Vest 8
TAYLOR: The Flight Race Day Vest 8 is super versatile yet simple in design. Two large front pockets hold a soft flask each (which are included), with smaller pockets on top of those with room enough for gels or keys. Those flask pockets are also compatible with a hydration bladder, which is a huge plus for runners looking to take the Race Day Vest out on a long excursion. A zipper pocket that’s secure enough for your cell phone rounds out the storage space on this water-resistant vest. The two-strap closure in the front is minimal but effective, keeping the vest secure to your body. The Flight Race Day Vest 8 has one more trick up its sleeve: a built-in whistle as an added safety measure (hoping you never need it).
PRICE: $149Shop Flight Vest 8
〉Flight Race Ready Belt
ROBBE: Sometimes a vest is a little too extra for a trail run or race. If you just need to carry your keys, a few gels and your phone, the Flight Race Ready Belt is your next go-to piece of gear. This ultra-light belt features a streamlined design with stash pockets, a more secure zipper pocket, and even shock cords to secure trekking poles at your waist. Don’t worry about uncomfortable, or even chaffing miles with this belt because the fabric is soft and airy, not to mention water-resistant. I will say, this is probably the only TNF piece I wasn’t really digging this go-around. It was somewhat awkward/difficult to get on and off, and kind of rides up from where it sits. That said, it did hold a bunch of stuff and keep things secure, so in the end, it did its job.
PRICE: $30Shop Flight Belt
Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultrarunner living in Estes Park, CO, with his wife and daughter. He and his wife both love running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. When not running, Taylor is a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, running coach, and youth leader for his church.