We’ve all seen horrible versions of reversible jackets. So, when The North Face said they had created a reversible jacket, I cringed a little inside. Little did I realize that the Illuminated Reversible Jacket would be so versatile and functional.

The North Face Illuminated Reversible Jacket Features:

  • Apex ClimateBlock fabric for versatile weather protection
  • 360-degree reflective touches
  • Reversible design for a toned-down look
  • Single back pocket in hi-vis mode
  • Double hand pockets in casual mode
  • Grey heather knit wicks away moisture
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Price: $200

The North Face Illuminated Reversible Jacket

Illuminated Jacket Makes Reversible Functional

When you hear the words “reversible jacket,” what comes to mind? Go ahead, be honest. I’ll start… I think of an awkward and oddly-forced jacket that’s supposed to be versatile, but really never is. Aside from a kids jacket that needs a clean side in a pinch, there’s little interest from me for a reversible jacket. Well, The North Face may have opened my mind with the new Illuminated Jacket.

Built as a hi-vis running jacket for inclement weather, the Illuminated also features a low-key grey look when reversed that won’t stand out around town.

Trail running in cold temperatures with snow and wind have served as the backdrop for much of the testing I’ve done with this jacket. Overall weather protection has been superb with water beading right up and staying outside during the course of my testing. Wind protection is outstanding and the knit heather lining acts as an extra half layer for next-to-skin warmth.

The North Face Illuminated Reversible Jacket Review

I wore a lightweight Merino wool base layer underneath while running in the upper-30’s and low-40’s and a midweight layer for runs in the low-30’s. In all conditions, the knit lining has done a fantastic job of distributing moisture for proper moisture flow through the outer shell. When pushing hard, the jacket can get a little overwhelmed and that’s about the only time I wished for some sort of ventilation.

While the breathability is not market-leading, it is respectable and well within my expectations for this jacket. Instead of core vents, I had to settle for unzipping the front to get extra airflow. In a stiff wind, you can feel the slight penetration, which shows that the jacket is breathing — in spite of a lack of vents.

The cut of the size medium Illuminated Jacket was perfect for my 5’11”- 170 lb. frame. I wouldn’t change a thing. Freedom of movement is excellent and the hem is cut a little long for extra coverage. When in high-vis mode, the jacket is easily seen with an obviously bright color and reflective elements for 360-degree visibility. While I primarily run on trails, the visibility is a good thing since the trails I run on are very popular and being seen is a safety feature on busy singletrack as well.

Again, in high-vis mode, the single back pocket is generously-sized and will fit any smartphone with room for gel packets to boot. Running with a phone in the rear pocket was comfortable and not bothersome at all.

The North Face Illuminated Jacket - Shown in Reverse Grey

On the reversible side, the grey color is much more subdued. When wearing it reversed, you get two hand pockets and a dose of style. On several occasions, I found myself reversing the jacket in a pinch to head into the store and such. Not that a bright yellow jacket is bad, but it is nice to be a little more low key when wandering around the grocery store.

After about 3-4 good uses, the jacket does get a little stinky, but not as bad as some jackets I’ve tested. One other note on fit… the sleeve cuffs are fairly snug. If you have large hands, you may struggle to pull off the sleeves.

The Good

  • Great cut
  • Back pocket easily fits a phone and other stuff
  • Usable reversibility — really
  • Brushed grey fabric wicks moisture
  • Hem is cut long for extra coverage
  • Asymmetrical cuffs for proper coverage while in motion

The Bad

  • Zipper pull is a tad small for use with gloves
  • Collar is too tall for me — digs into my chin when zipped up
  • I’d like to see a couple of core vents

The Bottom Line: The North Face Illuminated Jacket

Honestly, this is an impressive jacket for cold-weather running. And, the reversibility is actually a boon with it. It feels comfortable on the trail and has a nice cut for weather protection.

Buy Now: Available at REI.com

About Author

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

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