Gadling Gear Review: The North Face Jammu Jacket

gadling north face jammuWaterproof winter jackets don’t always leave you dry. Sure, they keep the rain, snow and ice out, but they often end up leaving you drenched in your own sweat. The breathability of a jacket is almost as important as how impenetrable it is to the elements. Sadly, most coats that try to combine warmth and waterproofing end up sacrificing personal climate control. If you’re going to be active throughout the winter, finding a jacket that’s comfortable, allows for a full range of motion and keeps you dry and warm is a necessity. That’s why I was so eager to try the new Jammu jacket from The North Face.There are plenty of lightweight hard shell layers that attempt to combine all of these elements and fail miserably. The Jammu features Polartec’s NeoShell technology that provides both stretch and warmth with breathability and accomplishes everything far more effectively than most of its competitors.

What struck me immediately with the Jammu is its weight. At less than two pounds, the Jammu is remarkably lightweight and, as such, comfortable. The stretch and give of the fabric makes hiking, snowshoeing and climbing easy. And, unlike other jackets with helmet-compatible hoods, the Jammu and its hood fit properly even if you’re wearing nothing on your head.

The breathability – which is noticeable the moment you start working up a sweat on the trail – is exactly what you want from a jacket made for an active winter lifestyle. I wore the Jammu hiking and was impressed that it kept me dry in a light rain while also making sure that I didn’t stew inside it.

While incredibly durable and well-made, sadly the Jammu is not as warm as I expected from a Summit Series jacket from The North Face. While it’s certainly suitable for engaging in winter sports, it lacks the insulation of other jackets of similar weights. The Polartec NeoShell does a fantastic job of keeping you dry, but it seems to sacrifice some warmth in doing so.

This is not to say that it’s not a winter jacket. So long as you’re wearing suitable base layers and staying active, the Jammu does what it promises. However, once you’re off the trail and back in town, it’s not quite warm enough to act as your only winter jacket. As with all technical gear, the Jammu is meant to be paired with an active winter wardrobe that allows for layering.

That Jammu is an impressive jacket without a doubt. It keeps you dry, allows sweat to escape, withstands the wind and is incredibly lightweight. The Polartec NeoShell is remarkably effective at keeping water out and making sure that sweat doesn’t stay in. However, it is unmistakably a technical jacket intended for use with other technical gear to ensure your total comfort.

If you’re looking for a jacket that allows you to stay active all winter, the Jammu is a great option and will handle everything that you throw at it. Just be sure to combine it with the appropriate gear so that it can do its job properly.

The Jammu is $399 and available via The North Face,