The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Review

The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Review

This season, FlashDry can be found throughout the line of products from The North Face. I’ve been impressed with its performance thus far, but the Sub Zero Aries is the first shell I’ve tested that combines FlashDry with my all-time favorite fabric, Merino wool.

The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Features:

  • Windblock front with 65% micron merino wool, 35% polyester with FlashDry™ fiber
  • High neck collar
  • Chest pocket
  • Reflective logos
  • Colors: Bolt Blue/TNF Black, TNF Black (Tested)
  • MSRP: $110

The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries FlashDry Running Shell Review

While this jacket’s name is quite a mouthful, when all is said and done all you need to remember is awesome. When considering a versatile windblocking shell for cool weather running, this one has all the right stuff. The combination of FlashDry-infused Merino wool with a Windblock front makes an immediate case for “must-have” status.

Cold-weather running in the Wasatch Mountains is typically dry. Even when it’s snowing, we’re talking dry desert powder that doesn’t soak you to the bone like the cold wetness of the Pacific Northwest. So, the lack of DWR treatment on the back and sleeves doesn’t bother me because I don’t typically need it in this type of jacket. The Windblock front panel and shoulders are treated with DWR to keep you dry — so long as you’re moving. So, when it did rain or snow on me, it was double motivation to keep going so the front panel could do its job. In the end, the sleeves can get a little droopy when wet, but not much. I’d say the athletic cut certainly helped the occasional soggy Merino retain its shape.

In truly adverse conditions, the Sub Zero Aries fits under just about any ultralight running shell for a cold or wet-weather running system. FlashDry does an excellent job of helping moisture transfer, but Merino isn’t know as the fastest-drying material around so don’t expect miracle dry times. However, it does retain warmth really well and does dry faster than untreated Merino.

As I’ve worn the Sub Zero Aries this Fall, I’ve been able to test it in both warm and cold conditions. I’ll say that it does remain comfortable up to about 60 degrees with an ultralight running shirt underneath (like the Better than Naked Crew). I’ve also worn it trail running and mountain biking down into the upper 30′s with much success. I narrowly missed a downpour, ran in some light rain and even snow. The Windblock fabric is like wearing a vest without the added bulk and it does a heck of a job repelling moisture — it just beads up and drips right off.

When the temperatures got near 60-degrees, I felt like the zipper could be a little longer, but on colder days, I really appreciated the perfectly-cut collar with its extra height and perfect diameter that performs like another half layer of warmth.

Running with my iPhone 5 in the upper chest pocket wasn’t too bad. It stays put and isn’t too annoying. I found it easy to reach and in a good spot for carrying. It would be nice to have thumb ports and a small side pocket to stash a couple of energy packets.

Good Sub Zero Aries

  • Windblock front panel and shoulders blocks wind, rain and snow
  • Excellent DWR treatment keeps the body panels dry
  • Great Merino wool blend for comfort and warmth
  • Fits true-to-size
  • FlashDry definitely aids in dry times
  • Sleeves maintain their structure — even when wet
  • Flatlock stitching eliminates chaffing
  • Great for mountain biking too

Bad Sub Zero Aries

  • Lacks thumb ports for half gloves in a pinch
  • Front zipper could be a couple of inches longer

Bottom Line: The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Jacket

The combination of Merino wool and Flashdry is hard to beat. Add on top of that the Windblock on front and shoulders and you have the new Sub Zero Aries running jacket.

Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com

Written By

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded FeedTheHabit.com in 1999--sharing his love of mountain biking, trail running and backcountry skiing with the world. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.