With Fall finally in full swing here in the Rockies, morning runs have been a bit chilly. Luckily, The North Face Animagi Jacket arrived just in time for pounding the leaf-covered trails.

The North Face Animagi Jacket Features:

  • Performance Fit
  • Hybrid construction—ultralight recycled insulation on body stretch knit panels on side torso and sleeves
  • Hand pockets
  • Thumb loops
  • Reflective logos
  • Drop-tail hem
  • Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) 30
  • MSRP: $149

The North Face Animagi Running Jacket Review

Arriving just in time for a few days of cold, wet weather, the Animagi Jacket has proven to be the perfect layer when a jacket is too much and a vest is not enough. With ultralight Primaloft ECO insulation in the body and stretchy soft-shell sleeves, it’s no wonder this jacket has gained so much praise. With a modest re-design for Fall 2011, the Animagi remains dead-set on catering to the cold-weather runner.

The day after its arrival, I took it out on a 40-degree trail run. It had been raining and snowing most of the morning, but had let up just before my run (below image was from that day). With all that moist, cold air, I decided to go long-sleeved underneath the Animagi and it worked together perfectly. As the winds picked up and my hands got cold, I was psyched to slip them deeper into the sleeves using the monkey thumbs. I got just enough coverage to maintain warmth without the need of going into glove-mode.

Speaking of wind, the nylon ripstop exterior and Primaloft insulation consistently kept my core warm without over-heating in up to 50-degree temps. The body material sheds moisture extremely-well to keep your core from getting soaked from the outside, but the sleeves aren’t quite as adept at keeping the moisture out. The sleeve material does offer some wind protection, but does little in the way of shedding moisture.

A late-fall trail run is perfect for the Animagi.

The two deep front pockets are nice for hanging out and can store a lot of stuff, but on the trail, you can’t carry much in them due to their location. I always run with my iPhone and couldn’t find a suitable storage location in this jacket — a serious oversight, methinks. If you try carrying an iPhone in one of the two front pockets, it will awkwardly bounce around. Needless-to-say, I’m wishing for a suitable iPhone pocket (inside, outside or in the side or rear).

To improve the pockets, I’d suggest placing them higher up on the jacket front or finding another location for keeping an iPhone in the upper chest or rear.

The cut and length of the jacket is perfect. I opted for the size Large, but I think I could have gone with a Medium for a more streamlined fit. As it was, it didn’t feel overly-baggy and worked well in concert with long-sleeved base layers. The collar is the perfect diameter and height (something I’m keenly picky about in all the jackets I review) for both protection and chaffe-free performance when fully-zipped.

The Good

  • Right between a vest and a jacket
  • Excellent mobility
  • Front and back sheds water well
  • Thumb loops offer extra coverage
  • Lightweight insulation is perfect
  • Ultralight and packable
  • Suitable as a mid-layer under a shell

The Bad

  • Would love a rear stash pocket that’s also iPhone-friendly
  • Wear-to-wash ratio is about 2:1 (it gets stinky after a couple of runs)

Bottom Line: The North Face Animagi Jacket

The Animagi Jacket excels at cold-weather running. It keeps your core warm, but not too warm and is built to move comfortably with you for the ultimate in restriction-free movement. I wish it had an iPhone-friendly pocket, but that’s about it. I’ve found my new Winter running companion.

Buy Now: The North Face Animagi at Backcountry.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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