© Ian Corless
This season The North Face have launched a set of waterproofs that will help trail and mountain tackle the elements with confidence. Here Ian Corless reviews the AK Stormy Trail Jacket and Pants…
As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understands the needs of every runner when embarking on an epic Alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and a hard place.
Look at the history of the UTMB race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.
Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary.
© Ian Corless
To this end, The North Face have created two new items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow
It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduce excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.
The AK STORMY range does all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow. Expect to pay £160 for the jacket.
The North Face Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. It features FlashDry technology, which has microporous particles to improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin. This means a drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions.
© Ian Corless
The jacket has a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood with an adjustable hood cinch at the rear. It has a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. It has minimal ‘additional’ features to ensure that 100% weather protection is guaranteed. It has a small pack size and low weight and can be rolled up so that you can store the jacket in its own hood.
The jacket is a snug fit. I am a 38”/40” chest and I have a small. It is perfect. The important thing is to try this jacket with the anticipated under clothes you will use when running. I wore a TNF long sleeve run top, as this would probably be my normal under garment when wearing a jacket like this.
I also then added a TNF thermal layer. The AK Stormy allowed room for both underneath without restrictions. Under the arms have been tailored to allow for movement. A big plus. It is a no frills jacket, so, don’t expect pockets! It has a small chest pocket, which has been glued in place again reducing any possibility of leaks.
Gluing means no seams. No seams, no leaks. The zippers are fully waterproof and the neck goes high but not too high. The hood has a brim and an adjustable toggle on the rear to get a good fit.
I personally found the hood was most comfortable when wearing a peaked cap underneath. This is a personal thing. The addition of a peak stops the hood working forward and offers additional protection.
© Ian Corless
I have been out in the wind, rain and snow and the AK Stormy has been spot on. Full comfort and 100% protection. It is most definitely designed for rough weather but not at the compromise of additional weight. A difficult balance to get right. As such, this jacket will always be in my pack when heading out for longer days or most definitely when heading to the mountains.
It has no ventilation but I was extremely surprised that I never found the jacket too hot. If you are racing in the UK when our weather is extremely unpredictable, I couldn’t recommend this jacket enough. Certainly, it would be the perfect kit for the Lakeland 50 or 100.
It goes without saying that The North Face have designed this jacket (and additional over trousers) with the UTMB in mind and without doubt it would be at the ‘top of the list’ when full weather protection and light weight is required.
▪ Reflective brimmed hood