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This wisp of a jacket at first appeared to be little more than a brightly colored garbage bag. But upon further inspection and testing, SNEWS® discovered that The North Face Hydrogen is an ideal lightweight windbreaker for running and high-intensity sports.
The Hydrogen is available for men and women, and our crew tested the women’s version. Made of ripstop nylon, the jacket weighs less than 4 ounces, and our testers report that they barely noticed they had the thing on while running. Plus, the jacket is so light and compact that you can easily tuck it into a hydration pack pocket and take along for a run, a hike, or even while traveling. In fact, it comes with a burrito-sized stuff sack with belt loops so you don’t have to carry it in your hand or tie it around your waist.
In temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 60s, The Hydrogen felt comfortable, breathed well, and excelled at blocking wind. It also repelled light precipitation, although it’s not meant to be worn in heavy rain or snow.
It is simply designed and cut in at the waist to offer flattering a silhouette to a wide variety of shapes. The piece we tested was an attractive “grotto blue,” and it is also available in orange, black and white. Our testers said the jacket fit well, and one SNEWS tester said she liked that the jacket was roomy enough that she could wear a mid-weight baselayer beneath it. It is very basic in design, but still constructed with some nice details. The collar falls just under the chin and has a zipper garage, reducing the possibility of chafing. Elastic cuffs help keep the sleeves from riding up, and a partial elastic hem at the waist keeps drafts out. A lower right hip pocket is just large enough for a credit card, keys, or an iPod Nano.
Our only gripe: With only a few patches of reflective material, it wouldn’t be the ideal choice for night running. Other than that, we’d fully recommend this jacket as a good all-around windbreaker for running in cool weather. It blocks the wind but breathes well, and it looks pretty stylin’ to boot.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $99
For information: www.thenorthface.com