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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Dryzzle Review
Cons: Slightly boxier cut than most, sleeves pull back from wrists at full extension, hood doesn't work with climbing or bike helmets
Bottom line: A solid all-around performer that was super effective at keeping the wearer dry but its features and design weren't quite as functionally focused.
The North Face Dryzzle is a reasonably versatile jacket featuring Gore-tex Paclite for weather resistance. Our testing team loved this fabric for its relatively low weight, excellent breathability, and long lasting weather resistance. We really liked most features of this jacket and were impressed by the functionality of its hood; however, each tester commented on the same primary downside: the Dryzzle's slightly below average mobility and range of motion. While we wouldn't say it was terrible, we do want to note that the sleeves pulled back from the wrists when we reached up or away at full extension. We experienced a little more bunching than other similar priced models like the Marmot Minimalist, Outdoor Research Foray, and Arc'teryx Beta SL.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Dryzzle is an excellent all-around jacket for hiking, backpacking or around town use. It will work for occasional downhill and backcountry ski days or summer-time mountaineering trips. Its' Gore-Tex Paclite fabric provides excellent breathability and long-lasting storm protection. Feature-wise, this contender is excellent for around town or hiking or backpacking. Its fit and mobility make it just okay for climbing or other activities that require significant movement.
This contender uses Gore-tex PacLite for its weather resistance; our testing team feels this is easily one of the best fabrics available. The Dryzzle's DWR is unbelievable good; we even struggled to take a photo with water on the jacket because it just ran off so easily. The Gore-Tex Paclite is super long lasting and near as storm-worthy as it gets. The hood offers fantastic weather protection and even while on several extended hikes on very wet days, the Dryzzle was above average at keeping its wearer dry.
Breathability and Ventilation
This rain jacket's Gore-Tex Paclite fabric offered top-notch breathability and proved more permeable than most other materials we tested. This contender impressed our review team while on real-world hiking and backpacking trips and during our side-by-side treadmill test. Besides great breathability, this rain jacket features pit-zips. While they aren't anything special and are common among similarly priced jackets, they certainly are nice when you want to dump heat and facilitate the moisture to escape.
Comfort and Mobility
We liked the overall feel of the Dryzzle. It offered decent (but not excellent) mobility. The only thing our testing team found lacking was that its arms were ever so slightly on the short side and the cut was a little boxier than most. We never had a problem with the sleeves while hiking or backpacking, but while climbing or performing other tasks with our hands above our heads, we noticed the sleeves pulled back near our wrists more than most models. This wasn't a huge drawback, rather more of a minor annoyance.
Several small features made the Dryzzle a little cozier. Some of these features include a micro-fleece fabric on the inside of the top of the zipper to keep the wearer's chin from getting caught in the zipper. There is also an internal fabric that felt among the least clammy even while working hard, as well as easy-to-grab zipper pulls. Other small features warrant us to give a subtle nod to comfort and show attention to detail.
The Dryzzle's hood was fantastic with a baseball cap or a beanie, or only just your head. It provided the wearer above-average storm protection and kept our testers dry in both real-world uses and through an array of side-by-side comparisons. This contender offers excellent features that help keep it snug around the wearer's head without limiting any peripheral vision. The only downside? The Driyzzle's hood doesn't fit over a climbing or bike helmet very well. While it does technically fit, it's much tighter than the other models we tested, and it positively does affect the wearer's comfort and peripheral vision in these scenarios.
The Dryzzle features two hand-warmer-style pockets and one chest Napoleon style pocket. The lower pockets are a nice place to put your hands but are low enough that they get covered up by a backpack waist-belt or climbing harness, making them hard to access. The one small upside of this jacket during these activities is that even with a more substantial pack, the zippers don't seem to pinch; they aren't as painful as other models in our review because of a combination of the storm flaps and lower gauge zipper.
This contender weighs 13 ounces; it's lighter than most three layer construction Gore-tex jackets but pretty average among Gore-tex Paclite models. While this jacket could be considered lightweight, there are lighter weight options, such as the Outdoor Research Helium II, which at 6.5 ounces, is half the weight. The lightest Gore-tex Paclite jacket that we tested was the Arc'teryx Beta SL, which is only two ounces lighter (11 ounces total) and also doesn't feature pit-zips (which is likely where a lot of the two-ounce weight difference went).
The Dryzzle uses a 50D face fabric which is slightly thicker than most rain jackets. Our testing team was impressed by the overall durability of the the Dryzzle and think it's plenty durable enough for most backpacking and hiking uses. It would even be a good option for occasional mountaineering or backcountry skiing applications. Overall, we think it offers comparable toughness to the OR Foray and the Arc'tyerx Beta SL, though isn't quite as tough as the Marmot Minimalist.
Similar to our weight comparison, this contender packs down reasonably small and offers better packability than most 3-layer Gore-Tex jackets. That said, it's pretty average among Gore-tex Paclite models and doesn't compress nearly as well as some Pertex or models that use a coated waterproof breathable insert. Though it's not as far off, it is likely only 10-20% larger than most of those models. It isn't a huge deal for most, but the Dryzzle doesn't compress into either of its pockets, unlike several other similar models that we reviewed.
We think the Dryzzle is a pretty versatile shell; it is breathable and packable enough for everything from day hikes to extended backpacking trips. We think it's durable enough for climbing or backcountry ski trips, but think other models like the Marmot Minimalist, Outdoor Research Foray, or Arc'teryx Beta SL offer slightly better mobility and ventilation. How so? They are better for activities where those features become more paramount. While twice the price, we do think the material and design of the Dryzzle allows it to offer better performance at backcountry activities better when compared to the Marmot PreCip, The North Face Venture 2, or the Columbia Watertight II.
At $200, this rain jacket is pretty average price wise when compared to many other Gore-Tex PacLite models on the market. It's slightly less expensive than the Outdoor Research Foray ($215) and a lot less expensive than the Arc'teryx Beta SL; it's identical in price to the Marmot Minimalist. While the Dryzzle is more expensive than nearly all models that feature a propitiatory coated waterproof-breathable fabric, the Gore-tex Paclite fabric offers superior breathability and long-lasting weather resistance (when compared to many of the less expensive coated models; we think for folks doing more than just walking around town, it's worth it.
Conclusion and the Bottom Line
The Dryzzle is an excellent all-around shell for everything from backpacking to urban rainy day adventures. At $200 it's reasonably priced. We think folks will be impressed with its' longevity and superior breathability over other options like the Marmot PreCip, The North Face Venture 2, or the Patagonia Torrentshell.
— Ian Nicholson
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