A radical innovation: at just 200 grams, this jacket has a Gore-Tex membrane and a permanent water-beading surface. The North Face Hyperair GTX jacket is designed for all those who require ultra-light weather protection during fast-paced, high-intensity outdoor activities, especially trail runners. This is the lightest jacket on the market with Goreâ€™s latest waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable Gore-Tex Active membrane. It features zip pockets, Velcro adjustable cuffs and has a semi-rigid front hood.
NO OUTER LAYER
The most radical feature of this jacket is that it has no outer layer of fabric. The Hyperair GTX breaks away from the traditional three-layer Gore-Tex, which bonds the membrane between the shell and lining and uses a DWR finish to make water bead and run off the surface. Here, the membrane is placed on the outside and bonded to the lining. The membrane provides a permanent beading surface, so water just runs off, so this means no chemical DWR treatment is required and the beading effect of the membrane will last for the lifetime of the jacket. The result is that the outer surface is slightly rubbery and porous and has a slightly textured feel.
PERMANENT BEADING SURFACE
In use, the first thing you notice with this jacket, is that it is almost always dry. As you can see in the video, it doesnâ€™t only repel water more so than your average jacket, but it dries out extremely quickly by just giving it a shake. This treatment doesnâ€™t deteriorate and will last for the as long as the jacket itself.
This is an important step forward, because DWR treatment tends to wear off over time, which makes the fabric become waterlogged. Unless it is reapplied, the garment then becomes heavier and less comfortable. This simply doesnâ€™t happen with the Hyperair GTX. The fabric remains dry, lightweight and comfortable throughout use.
MINIMUM WEIGHT, MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY...LESS DURABLE
By removing the outer layer, the jacket is, of course, lighter. But no outer layer means it is also less resistant. This is the weak point of this jacket. Even though it is stronger than it looks, it is not made to withstand abrasion. Rocks, branches and even the shoulder straps of a heavy pack can cause wear or tear to the fabric. For this reason, itâ€™s not a great option if youâ€™re looking for a lightweight jacket for all-round use. However, it performs extremely well for runners or as a rain jacket for fast hikers.
Once you understand what itâ€™s is designed for, this jacket has a number of benefits. It is not only ultra-light, thanks to no outer fabric, but also highly flexible, which makes it as packable as your average plastic bag.
Outdoor manufacturers are certainly heading in the right direction in terms of breathability, and this jacket is a breakthrough if we compare it to products from fifteen years ago. The Hyperair GTX can be described with three key words: waterproof, breathable and windproof. It is clearly more breathable than a three-layer Gore-Tex jacket. Perspiration needs to pass through fewer layers, and it performs well for moderate running. However, for intense aerobic activity it is still far from the breathable performance of a technical running shirt.
In any case, the Hyperair GTX is certainly a great step forward and leaves us eager to discover where this will lead in the world of trail running.