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[装备评测、使用心得] [转帖]The North Face Apex 1 Jacket

from:backpackgeartest author:Cora Shea

Reviewer Information

  • Name: Cora Shea
  • Age: 24
  • Gender: Female
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Weight: 150 lb (70 kg)
  • Email address: cahhmc "at" yahoo "dot" com
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Date: September, 2004
Backpacking Background: I began backpacking in 1997. I enjoy weekend and longer trips to the Sierras, but I also travel to Washington, Colorado, and elsewhere. I love backpacking in spring and winter snow more than anything (especially on skis) but I am also very happy scrambling off-trail in the Sierras or glacier-hiking in the Cascades. My enjoyment of backpacking also provides a basis for my additional pursuits in climbing and mountaineering.

Basic Product Information

  • Manufacturer: The North Face
  • Year of Manufacture: 2004
  • URL: http://www.thenorthface.com/
  • Listed weight: 16.8 oz (476 g)
  • Weight as delivered: 15.9 oz (451 g)
  • Size: Men's Small

Product Description

The Apex 1 Jacket is a thin softshell jacket. The North Face advertises it as having 20 CFM (or, in more layman speak, it blocks 80 percent of the wind), and very high water resistance. The Apex 1 Jacket is made of stretchy proprietary Apex fabric which has a woven outer and a lightly brushed inner which is soft but not fleecy.

The Apex 1 has two microfleece handwarmer pockets, a full length front zipper, a microfleece lining around the inner neck, hook and loop tabs to cinch the cuffs tighter, and cinch elastic around the waist. It also had a neck cinch which continually caught on my hair so I cut it off soon after I first purchased it. The hem elastic cinches down by pulling on the ends of the cords which come out inside the handwarmer pockets. All the zippers are coils, and they are reversed so the flat side is on the outside. In addition, the zippers have small YKK pulls on them as well as cord pulls extending the length. The main front zipper has a windflap on the inside which never stays put and always folds annoyingly back away from the zipper.

Field Testing

I have used the Apex 1 Jacket over four months and approximately forty field days of use. I have been all over in California with it on, from the Sierras to the beach. It has seen rain, sleet, and hail, and seen temperatures ranging from 80 F (27 C) to 25 F (-4 C).

Important Usage Points:

+ Weather Resistance: Fair Comments: My main interest in this jacket when I purchased it was that it advertised higher-end water resistance compared to other soft shells. When I first purchased it, the water beaded up quite nicely. However, this wore off within a few field days. Now, it wets out fully and soaks through easily within a half hour of average Sierra afternoon rain. This made me pretty unhappy since the other two soft shells I own are both more water resistant than that. Unfortunately I am also fairly lazy, and would rather simply constrain the Apex 1 to drier weather than treat with a third-party waterproofing or send it back to The North Face. The fact remains, however, that my Apex 1 jacket just was not made for wet weather right off the rack.

The wind resistance has proven to be excellent and more along the lines of what I expected from the advertising. The cuffs and hem elastic help a great deal in keeping out the wind, and I have not missed the neck elastic at all. After realizing that the Apex fabric was not nearly as water resistant as manufacturer claims, I began to view the Apex 1 as simply a windshirt-type soft shell, and I was much more at peace with it. It blocks the wind well without being clammy like some completely windproof membranes are for me.

Unfortunately, the Apex 1 does not dry very quickly if it does get fully wet through. If the water is just on the surface (as occurs when I am walking through thick fog, for example) then I can shake it off. But if the water wets the fabric out, it takes over an hour for the fabric to feel dry and comfortable again. Which means, it is better to simply hike in a tee-shirt in 30 minutes of rain than keep the Apex 1 on during the 30 minutes and still be wet for an hour afterwards.

The one time I encountered sleet was a disaster -- the wet soaked through and it basically ceased protecting me after about 20 minutes. Luckily, I had my hard shell with me. Needless to say, I feel that the Apex 1 will remain a summer wind item, or a luxury winter item with a niche use when the weather is dry. Soft shell materials certainly vary in their weather resistance, and the Apex fabric seems to be on the lighter-weight and less protective end.

+ Durability: Excellent Comments: This is perhaps my favorite part of the Apex 1. It feels and moves like a well fitting fleece, as I describe below, but I feel well protected against bushes, rock, and other abrasive things. I have used it many times as a seat protector and sat on it on trees, rock edges, sand, and scree. In addition, I've worn it while doing heavy-duty bushwhacking and rock scrambling and the jacket has not a single scratch. Once in awhile, the fabric catches on some bramble, but the stretch fabric seems to prevent it from tearing. Rather, it just sproings with the pull until I reach back to release it. I have always just been able to wipe away dirt, which is nice because dirt shows very easily on the black color I have. The shoulders have faded just a little bit from sun exposure over the field time, but the fade is barely noticeable. The zippers remained clean even when being sat upon, and the jacket is all around in great working order. It is, however, a little stinky because I have not washed it yet and the brushed lining absorbs some moisture.

+ Fit: Excellent Comments: I sized down from what I normally wear -- usually I am a Men's Medium. I feel this was a good choice because the Apex 1 is not really warm enough or weather resistant enough to withstand excessive rain or sleet and thus I was looking for a tighter, athletic fit for summer. This means that I cannot really layer under the Apex 1 except for maybe a thin fleece and long underwear.

The athletic fit has contributed a lot to comfort. The stretchy fabric feels nice even in very active pursuits. I can easily and comfortably lift my arms above my head, I can pull them forward and backward without binding, and I generally feel unconstrained. The Apex 1 feels like wearing a more protective fleece -- slightly crinkly but equally stretchy and soft. It feels very active and I really enjoy it when I am moving fast and it is windy.

+ Warmth: Good Comments: I would equate the warmth of the jacket to be around that of a 100-weight fleece jacket. I like this because it is not too warm, and not too cool. Instead of taking a thin fleece, I take the Apex 1. My one gripe is that despite the brushed lining the Apex 1 fabric can get quite cold. On my first few trips, I would put the Apex 1 on right over my bare skin as the cold came, but I was chilly for a while before I warmed the Apex 1 up. I found it was best to put long underwear on first, and then the Apex 1.

With the long underwear top and Apex 1 combination, however, I was comfortable down to about 55 F (13 C) -- with a warm hat, pants, and other sundries. In warmer climes, the Apex 1 does not breathe as well as in cooler weather. It feels clammy in anything warmer than about 75 F (24 C) in still weather, but in windy weather I can be pumping up switchback after switchback and feel perfectly comfortable.


The Apex 1, though it did not live up to its advertising of high water resistance, has become a nice summer luxury item. It blocks wind effectively, has a nice athletic fit, is very durable, and adds a little warmth to boot.

Upsides for me:

  • Very comfortable and athletic fit
  • Very breathable in cooler windy situations
  • Durable
Downsides for me:
  • Not as weather resistant as advertising claims
  • Cold against bare skin