The North Face has pushed the bounds of waterproof/breathable fabrics with their new Futurelight technology which has increased breathablity without sacrificing waterproofness. This new fabric can be found on the Summit L5 LT Futurelight Jacket which is micro-thin and compact yet provides optimal protection from the elements. It’s the ideal foul weather layer for hikes in the mountains, alpine climbs and even ski touring.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The North Face is pulling out all the stops with their new FUTURELIGHT material, and the Summit Series L5 LT FUTURELIGHT jacket is one of their new pieces that showcases its functionality and versatility. This waterproof, windproof, breathable shell is designed for climbing but also works well as a ski touring and summer hiking jacket. Its slimmed-down design sheds any excess features and only includes those that are 100% essential.
The North Face has pushed the limits of what a waterproof/breathable jacket can be with their new Summit L5 LT thanks to the FUTURELIGHT fabric.
The most notable feature of the Summit Series L5 LT FUTURELIGHT jacket is the new FUTURELIGHT fabric which pushed The North Face to completely redesign their construction process; from creating the membrane, the lamination processes, to finishing the final fabric and garment production.
This new waterproof breathable membrane is produced using a process called nano-spinning which involves creating a thin layer of polyurethane by pushing a solution through over 200,000 nozzles. This process creates a matrix structure with the resulting membrane maintaining a high level of air permeability due to its porous nature. The nanostructure is able to match or surpass the performance of previous weatherproof materials while reaching reductions in weight never before achieved.
A unique lamination process allows that membrane to be joined with the face and backer materials without inhibiting air permeability so the moisture vapour transfer rate remains intact while maintaining high-level waterproofing. The face and back layers that surround the membrane are also created with 90% recycled materials.
Using a new glue pattern, the fabric maintains the North Face’s standard for durability, while pushing the limits of waterproof/breathable membranes
The result of all these new processes is a jacket that provides less bulk, lower weight, improved weatherproofing, breathability, and comfort.
The North Face Summit L5 LT Futurelight Jacket has two pockets, one internal and one external. The internal pocket is a mesh drop pocket while the external is a baffled Napolean pocket. This pocket is quite large and features an internal mesh sleeve large enough for most phones. Both pockets are at such a height that they are well suited to use while wearing a harness.
The helmet-compatible hood features a laminated wire brim and a single cord lock adjustment at the back which pulls the brim up and away from your face so you can dry and protected without the brim infringing on your line of sight.
A low profile cord lock at the waist allows you to keep the jacket tight to your body.
All this new tech comes with no sacrifice in ethics, however, throughout the entire process of creating FUTURELIGHT, The North Face has sought to produce not only one of the highest performing products ever made in the outdoor sports industry but also one with the smallest possible footprint. By carefully selecting yarn suppliers, mill partners, cut and sew partners, and chemical partners, they have gone to great lengths to maintain a standard for sustainability and social responsibility throughout their supply chain.
Last but not least, the jacket comes with a small stuff sack in case you find yourself wanting to stow it while out in the field.
20D x 30D 81 G/M² FUTURELIGHT, 100% polyester with recycled content
Putting on the L5 LT FUTURELIGHT jacket for the first time was a bit of a throwback to that classic Simpsons episode where Flanders adorns the skin-tight ski suite. While this jacket is far from skin-tight, it’s so light and comfortable that it feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. The 3D ergonomic panelling offers a super comfortable and dynamic fit, and the FUTURELIGHT material even has a little bit of stretch to make room for any and all movement.
I really like the style and fit of this jacket. It’s long and roomy enough to put a puffy underneath, but not baggy. The drop tail means your backside is covered, which is always good news in my books.
The hood adjustment works really well to keep the brim out of your face, and the wire in the brim means it’s not flopping around in the wind.
While the lack of pockets was initially a bit disappointing, it’s potentially made up for by how thoughtfully designed the existing pockets are. Since this jacket is designed for climbing, compatibility with a harness is a top priority. Handwarmer pockets are at such a low position on other jackets that they would be rendered useless while wearing a harness, so by adding two large pockets up on the chest, the interference is avoided. The exterior Napoleon pocket is really deep too, I measured it to be a full 12 inches, and the interior drop pocket is larger enough for my climbing skins (they are cut for a wide snowboard so they should accommodate any skin size). So despite not having many pockets, this jacket still offers a good deal of storage.
With how thin the FUTURELIGHT material is, I was initially concerned about durability and longevity. I didn’t go out of my way to try and rip or puncture the jacket, but overall it seems like it will stand up well to life in the mountains. It’s also comforting knowing that this material has been tested on Mt. Everest and in the first-ever descent of the Lhotse Couloir.
As for the breathability claims of the FUTURELIGHT fabric, I’ll say it’s a huge improvement over other waterproof/breathable fabrics. While FUTURELIGHT won’t stop you from sweating since your body’s physiological response to exertion is beyond the control of any garment—what it will do is allow that water vapour to escape better than any other hardshell you’ve tried before. Your underlayers may still get damp if you sweat a lot, but it’s a big improvement from the industry standards.
In conclusion, this is a really sweet jacket and I’d be happy to wear it for any activity as it is exactly what they say: lightweight, comfortable, flexible, breathable, and weatherproof.
Price: $599.99CAN / $450US
Weight: 335g / 11.8oz
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colour: Fiery Red, Meld Grey
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