Better than naked? Naked is pretty good, so for The North Face to say anything is “better than naked” had better be an improvement on my birthday suit. The new Better Than Naked Jacket has been the perfect companion for chilly adventures this spring and has turned out to be one of my favorite running jackets ever tested.
2014 The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket Features:
- Athletic, tailored fit
- Body fabric is polyester woven diamond ripstop
- Polyester knit jacquard with FlashDry™ is used for ventilation
- Stitch-free critical seams reduces chafing from hydration packs
- Body-mapped ventilation
- 360-degree reflectivity
- Compatible with MP3 player
- Drop-tail hem
- Flight Series® running collection is athlete tested, competition proven
- Weight: 4 oz. (Medium – weighed)
- MSRP: $130
Naked is pretty good, but this jacket is better
When the Brown Santa dropped off the box of The North Face samples, my wife raised an eyebrow, “What is this ‘Better Than Naked’ stuff?” she said. After explaining that the clothes were so good, it was like being naked, but better, I still didn’t convince her. It wasn’t until I unpacked the box and showed her that she believed me. Phew! The North Face is pretty bold, but each piece in the Better than Naked Collection is proving to live up to its name — starting with the jacket.
The Better Than Naked Jacket is revised for 2014, but has retained the fit and overall function from the previous year’s design. For me, the size Medium fits perfectly (5’11” – 170 lbs) for an efficient fit without any excess. It fits well enough and snug enough that I’ve actually split my time testing this jacket between both trail running and cycling. I feel like it does a great job for both pursuits.
Underneath, I’ve worn both the Better Than Naked crew and various combinations of cycling jerseys (long-sleeve, short-sleeve, vests, etc.). No matter the base layer, the Better Than Naked Jacket has been an astounding performer. Spring in Utah is typically very breezy and cool. When a northwest wind blows, it can chill you to the bone and sap the energy right out of you. While the Better Than Naked Jacket is lightweight, it blocks the perfect amount of wind while remaining extremely breathable.
My favorite quality of this jacket is that I can comfortably wear it while I’m clipping along at a steady pace and while I’m running hard up a long singletrack ascent. In both situations, the jacket protects from wind and expels moisture so fast that there is no need to unzip it (kind of crazy actually). The addition of FlashDry further improves breathability by drying so fast that you’ll never be able to overwhelm it. In fact, it expels moisture so well that I’ve yet to find need to wash it — it remains stink-free even after a hard month’s of use.
Also tops on the good list are the perfect sleeve length and collar height/diameter. If you’ve seen my reviews in the past, you know that I’m particular about both the collar height and diameter. In this case, The North Face has nailed both. it sits below the chin for chaff-free head movement and is snug enough not to let cold air inside. Hem length also provides excellent coverage and the diameter of the body drapes perfectly without excess.
The single chest pocket has enough structure to haul my iPhone with a LifeProof Fre case (e.g. bulky) without feeling awkward and bouncing around. I’ve run several times with my phone in the front pocket and it sits well enough to quickly become invisible.
- Body-mapped design makes for ultimate breathability
- What I’ll call the “perfect fit”
- Collar height and diameter is on-the-spot
- Bright green/yellow color is well-seen (great for crowded, mixed-use trails or city streets)
- Stitch-free seams reduce weight and bulk
- Weighs next-to-nothing
- Works well trail running and cycling
- A month of use and no washing needed still (but, I probably should)
- Fits a little tight across the upper back area
The Bottom Line
I feel like The North Face has absolutely nailed the Better Than Naked Jacket. It strikes the perfect balance between weather protection and breathability in a way no other jacket has before. And, it’s versatile enough for both trail running, road running and cycling.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com