BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket > Owner Review by Jacob Kokura

The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket

Owner Review
April 23, 2009

Owner Biography

Name: Jacob Kokura
Age: 26
Gender: Male
Height: 5’ 8” (1.73 m)
Weight: 205 lb (95 kg)
Email address: jacobkokura@gmail.com
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Backpacking Background: I've been camping since I was young, and I now spend about three weeks in the back-country each year on a series of two to five day trips. My packs are generally in the lightweight category, and I’ve managed to develop a stock of great gear with careful purchases. Living near the Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia has made my trips really exciting with majestic views, unpredictable weather, and challenging terrain.

Product Description

Manufacturer: The North Face
Web site: www.thenorthface.com
Product: M Apex Bionic Jacket
Size: Medium (also available in Small, Large, XL and XXL)
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $150 Canadian
Material: 90D X 90D 10.3 oz/yd2 polyester plain-weave Apex ClimateBlock with DWR
Colour reviewed: Deep Water Blue

The North Face Apex Bionic jacket (hereafter referred to as the Bionic or jacket) is a windproof soft-shell jacket with a high collar, two hand warming pockets, and one Napoleon style chest pocket. Along with a hem cord cinch, the jacket features a fleece interior, Velcro adjustable cuffs, and mesh pockets.

Jacket 1        Jacket 3             

Field Information

While the Bionic has become a staple for my everyday wear in the city, it has also become invaluable for back-country use. I use this jacket during all fall, winter and spring day-hiking and multi-day camping use. The Bionic is finding its place as an outer shell and in a layering system with a base-layer underneath and a waterproof breathable hard-shell on top during rain or snow periods. This jacket has been used on the trail at least 30 days while in the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Waterton National Park, Yoho National Park, and Banff National Park, as well as the Kananaskis Mountains and foothills located in and around Calgary, Alberta. Some examples of trails I’ve used the jacket on include Johnston Canyon and the Aylmer Lookout in Banff, Red Rock Canyon and Cameron Lake in Waterton, Landslide Lake outside Rocky Mountain House, and Turbine Canyon in the Kananaskis Mountains.

It would be impossible to list all the specific instances I’ve worn this jacket on the trail, just suffice it to say that my Bionic has seen as a plethora of weather conditions - from hot to cold, from wet to dry, from sleet to rain to snow - this jacket has seen it all. Going by the statistics that Canada’s National Weather Service releases, the jacket has seen wind speeds of upwards of 80 km/h (50 m/h). I have also worn the jacket as a part of a layering system in temps as cold as -30 C (-22 F), and have worn the jacket in high exertion exercises such as snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking with a pack.

Jacket 2

Product Review

I bought this jacket in 2007 at a small store in Waterton National Park (in Canada) because it was very windy and I had nothing with me to deal with that kind of weather. I was fortunate to find the jacket on the clearance rack. In Waterton, and all other locations I have worn this jacket, the windproof aspect of this jacket performs superbly! I could not be more impressed with how wind resistant the jacket is. I have not felt the jacket’s wind-resistance fail. From when I bought it in 2007 until now (spring 2009) this jacket has become my main jacket for everyday use fall through spring; I wear the Bionic almost daily in the months of September through April.

As far as other features go on the jacket, I was pleased to find after I had purchased the jacket how comfortable it was. Done all the way up, the collar, lined with fleece including a flap covering the zipper at the chin, is snug but comfortable, very effective at keeping snow and light rain from falling inside. The corded hem and Velcro tighteners at the wrists are durable, and easy to adjust to create a comfortable fit. The side pockets are well placed, with easy to find zippers which close by pulling up, which I prefer over pull down zippers. The chest pocket is perfect, not too big or small, it allows me to keep my iPhone and headphones within easy access while protecting it, as well as other small items like a flash drive, cash, receipts, and occasionally my wallet. The jacket is bombproof, very durable, and I love the slick feel of the outer surface.

The jacket is coated in a DWR (Durable Water Repellence) when new, and even as that DWR wears out the soft shell nature of the jacket is great for shedding snow and some water. When it rains I like to put a hard shell on over top of the Bionic, but when I have only worn the jacket in light rain I’ve found it handles it well enough. I have needed to reapply the DWR using an after market product because of the high amount of use I have put on the jacket, using it almost daily in the city. The Bionic does very well for a soft shell at repelling water and keeping me dry when it has a fresh coating of DWR. One highlight about the construction of the jacket I’ve appreciated is that even while wet the jacket does well keeping me warm, and the wind proof nature of the fabric doesn’t fail as the jacket wets out. However, I will say that this isn’t the best situation to be using the jacket in. Also, the jacket breathes better than any hard shell I’ve worn, so that when I need a wind resistant outer layer doing any high exertion activity there is no other clothing piece I would rather wear. I never have felt clammy as I wear this jacket and am exerting myself, and have loved how comfortable the jacket is while doing these kinds of activities.

In Fall and Spring this jacket shines. During those seasons, the Bionic fits perfectly as an outer-layer in dry and cool temperatures, and a mid layer in wet and cold. In warmer temps I prefer to wear a thin and light wind-shirt instead, as the extra weight and warmth doesn’t lend the Bionic to be as useful as during the late spring through late summer here in Canada. The Bionic handles light rain, snow, and wind easily, allowing me to stay very comfortable as I walk. The chest zip can be opened to help vent body heat and moisture, as well as zipping down the main zip. The jacket’s fleece lining helps as the temperature dips. I have worn the jacket in serious cold (-30C/-22F) as a mid-layer, along with base-layers and with a water resistant hard-shell, and find that it does very well, though I find it does best as an outer layer in mild to cooler conditions, down to about -10 C (15 F).


jacket 4

Summary

If I were in need of a new wind-resistant soft-shell jacket I wouldn’t hesitate seeking this exact same jacket again. I have been extremely satisfied with this jacket. The chest pocket is extremely useful, the wind-resistance is perfect, and the fit is very comfortable.

Pros: Great pockets, comfortable, high quality materials, durable, and stylish.

Cons: Expensive.


Read more reviews of The North Face gear
Read more gear reviews by Jacob Kokura

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket > Owner Review by Jacob Kokura



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson