Ultralight Wind Shell
The North Face Apex Lite Jacket
$130, 6 oz. (men’s medium).
Sizes: men’s and women’s XS-XL.
An ultralight wind shell can save you from a serious chill and is all but mandatory gear for a long trail run or ride, especially in damp, windy, and cool spring and fall weather. Problem is, many of these wafer-thin, compact nylon shells breathe about as well as a stone, building up moisture inside that ultimately makes you cold, defeating the purpose of the jacket. That’s where the Apex Lite stands out.
On long trail runs in the Boise Foothills and Idaho’s City of Rocks, in gusty winds, cool temperatures, sun shifting in and out of clouds, and spitting rain—just the sort of weather that’s makes staying dry and warm so challenging—this stretchy, water-resistant jacket moved moisture out very efficiently. Even on long uphill climbs of 30 minutes or more, when I’d build up a good sweat, my base layer would get only damp, not soaked, and then start to dry out as I went downhill—allowing me to stay comfortable. Credit the mesh fabric behind the shoulders and lighter, even more breathable fabric across the back and under the arms. Throw in a chest pocket with an MP3-compatible cord hole, reflective logos, and that the Apex Lite compresses to the size of a large orange, and you have a nice piece for runs and hikes in mixed weather.