Gadling Gear Review: The North Face Radish Mid Layer Jacket

Travelers always appreciate clothing that is versatile, lightweight, easily packable and performs well in a variety of weather conditions. It doesn’t hurt if it also happens to look good. That seems a rather apt description for the Radish Mid Layer Jacket from The North Face, a comfortable and well-designed piece of performance apparel that is equally at home on a mountain trail as it is kicking around town.

Built from a soft, yet very durable, fleece, the Radish is designed to operate as either a stand-alone jacket or part of a technical layering system. On its own, it has the styling of a form fitting hoodie with an athletic cut that allows it to easily move with the body during vigorous activities. Its fabrics include North Face’s proprietary FlashDry technology, which gives the jacket the ability to breathe warm air while also wicking away moisture in an efficient manner. As the name implies, it also dries very quickly, something that most travelers will be able to appreciate.

I found this combination of qualities made the Radish a great option for travel. I wore the jacket in temperatures ranging from 10 – 50°F and remained comfortable at all times. That was true whether I was hiking, trail running or simply meeting friends for dinner. As someone who is fairly active, I appreciate that North Face designed this jacket to move with the body, not restricting motion in any way. I also appreciated the well-designed hood, which is flexible enough to move when turning my head, keeping my vision unobstructed at all times.As good as the Radish is on its own, it performs equally well as part of a layering system. For those taking part in cold weather adventures, a good layering system is key to enjoying the experience. Those systems generally include base layers, which sit closest to the skin, a mid-layer fleece such as this jacket and an outer shell for extremely cold environments. The Radish operates very well as that mid-layer, where its ability to move unrestricted once again comes in handy and its warm fabrics make an excellent insulator.

The North Face has been making performance outdoor gear for decades and that heritage shows through here. There are small touches that aren’t readily noticeable at first but are welcome additions none the less. For instance, the Radish has reinforced fabrics on the shoulders and hips that line up quite nicely with a backpack. Those zones keep the jacket from wearing prematurely while wearing it with a pack. It also features specially tapered seams that keep abrasion to a minimum when wearing it as part of a layering system. Those are the kinds of touches that only come from years of experience and knowing your market well.

Still, there are a few things that could be improved on the Radish, not the least of which is its lack of pockets. There is a single zippered pocket on the left breast, which is nice for keeping small, important items close at hand. But there are no traditional hand pockets, which most people will instinctively reach for when the temperature starts to drop. North Face made the conscious choice to not include more pockets as it helps to keep the profile of the jacket low. This is an important design choice for the active outdoor crowd who don’t want to snag their gear while backpacking or climbing, but for the average traveler it could be a bit of a disappointment.

The other point about the Radish that is sure to give some buyers pause is the price tag. North Face has set the MSRP for the jacket at $230, although it can be found online at a discount. For the average traveler, that may be too much to pay for a jacket of this type, although I believe it is worth every penny when you consider the level of performance it delivers. For the active, outdoor traveler this is very nearly the perfect piece of gear, although not everyone needs that level of performance. Those who do will greatly appreciate what the Radish brings to the table. It is certainly the type of gear I’d want with me while trekking in the Himalaya for instance or backpacking in the Alps. This is a jacket that is so good, that the price should be viewed as an investment. One that will pay dividends for many years to come.

[Photo by The North Face]

Dramatic Everest Rescue Caught On Video

A dramatic rescue took place on Mt. Everest this past weekend where photographer and filmmaker Corey Richards had to be evacuated from the mountain by helicopter. Much of the incident was captured on film, which offers insight into high altitude mountaineering rescue operations that can be employed to save a climber’s life.

Richards was climbing the world’s tallest mountain as part of the co-sponsored National Geographic/North Face team that is preparing to tackle Everest’s seldom visited West Ridge. As part of his normal acclimatization process, he had made his way up to Camp 2, located at about 21,000 feet, and while there, he began to experience chest pains and was having trouble breathing. Fearing an impending case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), better known as altitude sickness, Corey’s teammates sprung into action to help ensure his safety. After putting him on supplementary oxygen, ten other climbers loaded him into a plastic sled and started to lower him down the mountain.

The original plan was to take him to Camp 1 where he could be picked up by a helicopter, but the weather worsened as they descended, and they were forced to assist him all the way back to Base Camp at 17,500 feet. Along the way, the 28-year-old Richards had to periodically get off the sled and walk across large crevasses on out-stretched ladders.

Upon reaching Base Camp, Richards was taken to the village of Lukla, located at a lower altitude in the Khumbu Valley. Once there, high altitude doctors were able to examine him and they determined that it was best to send him back to Kathmandu for recovery. He is reportedly there now, feeling much better and weighing his options for potentially returning to the team.

Update: The video has been changed to no longer allow us to embed it here on Gadling. To check it out for yourself click here.

Gadling Gear Review: The North Face Jammu Jacket

Waterproof 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,

New travel gear from Outdoor Retailer

Last week, Salt Lake City played host to the latest Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a bi-annual event that gives outdoor gear and travel companies the opportunity to unveil their latest creations. The expo is jammed packed with row upon row of backpacks, boots, climbing gear, and other items for the outdoor enthusiast and world traveler. Here are five great items that debuted the show that may find their way into your pack the next time you hit the road.

CamelBak All Clear Water Purification System
CamelBak, the company that specializes in hydration systems and water bottles, has introduced a new water purification system that uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.9% of the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that lives in water. The device connect to the top of the included bottle, and with the touch of a button, it goes to work, making your drinking water safe to consume. The All Clear operates on rechargeable batteries that are good for 70 uses between charges, cleaning up .75 liters at a time. The lamp is rated for 10,000 cycles as well, meaning it will last for years before needing to be replaced.

The All Clear will be available next February with an MSRP of $99 and is ideally suited for travelers headed to destinations with tainted water or backpackers hiking through the backcountry on an extended trek.

Adventure Medical Kits World Travel
Adventure Medical Kits have long set the standard for lightweight, yet well equipped med kits designed for all occasions. They offer ultra lightweight and waterproof kits that are perfect for adventure racers, and they have a line of med kits for the world traveler too. The kits are recommended for travel in remote, developing countries, where travelers have the potential to be hours away from a doctor, and they come equipped for nearly any situation. There are a wide variety of bandages, treatments for blisters and burns, medications for stomach ailments, and so much more. In fact, they’re so well stocked, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.

The World Travel medical kit is available now with an MSRP of $70.
Adidas Terrex Fast R Solo
One of the surprises for me at Outdoor Retailer was the impressive line-up of gear coming from adidas. The company that is well known for its athletic shoes is moving into the outdoor market in a big way, beginning with their Terrex Fast R Solo hiking boot. The design on the Fast R is so impressive, it looks like it was sent back in time from the future. It is lightweight, rugged, and comfortable, and perfect for hikers looking to go fast on the trail. With a specially designed sole that was built for performance, even in wet conditions, and a Gore-Tex lining, the Fast R is poised to become a favorite amongst travelers and backpackers alike. Depending on your destination, this may be the only shoe you’ll need to take with you.

The Fast R Solo is due out this fall with an MSRP of $195.

The North Face Havoc Performance Layer
As you would expect from a company like The North Face, there was a lot of gear on display in their OR booth. But what really caught my eye was the new Havoc jackets for both men and women. These versatile mid-layer garments are designed to move with you, whether you’re on the trail or just hanging around town, giving you the comfort and temperature control you need. Both versions of the Havoc will keep you warm and dry in inclement weather, but are also built to breathe and offer ventilation when needed as well. This is a lightweight, highly packable, technical jacket that will work well on it’s own over a base layer or as a mid-layer under a shell.

The new Havoc for men and women will be available next spring for $70.

Brooks-Range Foray 3-Season Tent
Brooks-Range came to Outdoor Retailer looking to show off their new line of four tents, each of which was very impressive for backpackers, mountaineers, and cold weather explorers. Perhaps most impressive of all however, was the new Foray, a two-person, three-season shelter that weighs in at just 2 pounds, 10 oz. That’s extremely light for a tent of this quality and design. The freestanding tent takes just minutes to assemble and comes with an optional rain fly for when the weather turns especially bad. This is the kind of shelter that is perfect for any backcountry escape and will serve you well in all but the coldest of conditions.

The Foray is due to hit stores in the spring of 2012 with an MSRP of $475.

This is just a sample of some of the many things that were on display at Outdoor Retailer. Expect more information and gear reviews in the weeks ahead.

Outdoor Retailer gear expo begins today

Today is the start of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, held bi-annually in Salt Lake City, Utah. The OR show is a gathering of outdoor and travel gear manufacturers who come together to show off their latest tents, backpacks, clothing, and other products to industry buyers, as well as the media. Over the next four days, companies like The North Face and Patagonia will unveil new products that will be hitting stores over the next few months and eventually find their way into our suitcases and gear closets.

Two of Gadling’s intrepid reporters will be on hand at Outdoor Retailer, and they’ll be sharing updates from the show floor via Twitter. If you’re a gear junkie, you won’t want to miss their tweets from the event, which will offer a glimpse of where the gear industry is headed in the near future. Follow Pam Mandel at @nerdseyeview and Kraig Becker at @kungfujedi for the latest gear news directly from the show, and be sure to tweet back if you have questions or want more information on a product.

Both Pam and Kraig write gear reviews for Gadling as well, and much of what they see over the next few days will be appearing on the site in the months ahead. We’ll be letting you know which items deserve a place in your travel collection and which items are best left on the store shelf.