Naked sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it? But, you know … summertime’s over, so naked probably isn’t the best way to go anymore. So what’s better than naked? How about something that keeps you a little bit warm, but feels as comfortable as a second layer of skin. It’s a tall order, but The North Face makes a pretty admirable effort with this lightweight fall jacket.

The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket Features:

  • Weight: 4.2 oz (119 g)
  • 100% nylon ripstop body panels
  • Elastene knit mesh side/rear panels
  • DWR (durable water repellent) coating
  • Adjustable hood with ear vents
  • Stitchless seam construction
  • Vertical front zipper pocket with media cord slot
  • Reflective logos and pocket trim
  • MSRP $129

The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket Review

Jerry Seinfeld said it best: there’s good naked, and bad naked. The Better Than Naked Jacket certainly has a lot of good naked to it, but there’s a little bit of bad naked as well.

This garment is part of the Flight Series, The North Face’s ultra-lightweight line of running apparel designed for high performance and maximal comfort. The Better Than Naked jacket fits that bill perfectly, weighing in at a mere 4.2oz – a number that’s even more impressive when you remember that it includes the hood – with super-thin material that feels extremely soft against the skin.

Panel construction is somewhat unorthodox, with wind-blocking ripstop material in the front, back, and most of the sides, while the breathable mesh occupies a much smaller surface area diagonally across the back and through the armpit. For this reason, the jacket tends to run warmer than you expect from something of its weight, but doesn’t ventilate nearly as well as similarly styled jackets I’ve tested, particularly through the sleeves.

The Better Than Naked includes a hood that is cleverly designed, but also somewhat cumbersome in my testing. It has an elastic drawstring opening that can be tightened around the forehead to prevent blowing off, and ear vents to improve cooling and reduce that thunderous rumbling that some hoods generate on the run.

The major downside of the hood is that there’s no easy way to stow it into into the collar when not in use, other than tucking the entire collar inside out. I also found that the weight of the hood pulls the jacket off my shoulders if I try to run with the front zipper at half-mast. Since the jacket doesn’t ventilate remarkably well, if the weather ends up being warmer than you expect, you’re almost better off stripping the jacket of completely than trying to run with it partially open.

So let’s wrap this review up using the Seinfeld rating system:

Good Naked

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Very comfortable fabrics
  • Outstanding warmth for its weight
  • Innovative hood design

Bad Naked

  • Low surface area for ventilation
  • Hood can be troublesome if not used, and …
  • There’s no hoodless option for this model

Bottom Line: The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket

If you need a lightweight, comfortable top layer and enjoy wearing a hood, The North Face Better Than Naked jacket is made to order for you. If you’re not into hoodies or if you need something highly breathable, look elsewhere.

Buy Now: Find The North Face Better Than Naked

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

2 Comments

  1. There was/is a hoodles version of this jacket. It was the 2011 spring better than naked jacket.This jacket is designed as a fall/winter jacket witch means extra focus on keeping the elements out. According to the runningwarehouse.com blog come spring 2012 there will be a better than naked cool jacket This is an even lighter version of the jacket for Spring and Summer that is very ventilated, but isn’t windproof or hooded

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