There was something different, something I didn’t quite understand at first. I was on a hike near my house, and a brisk wind was coming off a lake. It was so dark I couldn’t see my border collie mix walking next to me, and then the rain picked up. Reports about 30-degree weather? Depressingly accurate that night. Yet, I wasn’t feeling the wind. Or the rain. Or really feeling anything except the soft tug of the leash from my pup.
One reason: I’m used to the cold (and so is she). Another reason: I’m testing a new jacket from The North Face called the Summit L5 Futurelight. I wasn’t climbing a mountain, which is the intended purpose of this series with matching pants and gloves. (A less expensive version for trail running is the Flight Futurelight jacket.) I was quite warm, though. That’s when I knew something was different. I told my wife later: “Look at how thin this material is and yet I never felt cold out there.” She rolled her eyes.
As a product tester, you don’t really know what to expect with new gear. Thin material usually means no protection from the elements. You wonder about the marketing talk, even though it’s quite convincing. Then FedEx shows up. I unboxed the Summit L5 jacket and immediately called for Abby, my 12-year old canine companion.
What makes the jacket so effective is that it seals up nicely. A drawstring holds the Summit tight around the waist, the hood seals up, and the sleeves tighten. Any true rain shell will stay 100% enclosed, but the Futurelight is made using a process called nanospinning. The idea is that designers can customize the fabric for the activity (say, summit climbing or trails). The stitch is different for the Summit compared to the Flight jacket.
The result is that wind and rain didn’t seep through. Yet, the Summit is light enough that I didn’t feel loaded down as the rain finally subsided, I loosened up the cinches (head, arms, waist) and felt like I could go for a jog. Abby, not so much. | Shop at Backcountry >
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