By Vernon Felton
The North Face “Long Way Home” Jacket
The Long Way Home is a great choice for fall and spring conditions, when the weather is changing constantly and you need something that can fend off light rain and driving winds.
Not every rider lives in a place that gets pummeled by monsoon-style rainstorms, and if you count yourself a member of that lucky group, you should consider The North Face's Long Way Home. This jacket possesses a more pliable feel than the typical hard-shell rain jacket, and wearing it is more akin to riding in a bulletproof, long-sleeved jersey than to slogging away in a conventional rain jacket.
The body of the Long Way Home is built from Apex ClimateBlock 3L –-a knit laminate that's essentially a soft-shell material that stops the wind cold. The panels are made from TNF's FlashDry fabric, which, in The North Face's own words, "features a microporous particle additive that accelerates the removal of moisture from the skin and speeds evaporative drying." In other words, the extensive panels beneath the arms and down the back of the jacket make this a highly breatheable jacket that won't steam you alive on long climbs. If you completely misjudge the weather and find yourself riding in weather that's too warm for a long sleeve jacket, you can unzip and remove the Long Way Home's sleeves, quickly converting it into a windproof vest. Nice.
How about rain? If you also encounter showers on a ride, the Long Way Home does offer a bit of protection, thanks to its light waterproofing finish. Still, it's not intended to fend off hours of steady rain. It is more of a fall/spring-conditions kind of jacket, ideal for protecting against driving wind and light drizzle.
If you're looking for an ultra-rugged, completely waterproof jacket, the Long Way Home probably isn't your solution. While you do get some basic protection from the wind and rain, as with all soft shells, the emphasis is on comfort and warmth on cold, blustery days. Breathability and versatility are the Long Way Home's strong points. And, yes, there's the price. At $125, this is a hell of a value.
For more information, visit www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/men-39-s-lwh-jacket.html