The North Face Apex Elixir Hoody ReviewJuly 22, 2012
- Close fit and innovative fabric facilitate good moisture-wicking.
- Thoughtful cordlock design.
- Big handwarmer pockets.
- Brim-less hood does little to protect user’s face from the elements.
- Technical appearance and fit limits versatility.
- Disappointing overall quality.
Too tech-looking for casual wear, yet light on some features we’ve come to expect from softshell jackets, the Apex Elixir is best for high-output users who value breathability and efficient moisture movement over weather protection and abrasion resistance.
The Apex Elixir is typical of much of TNF’s Summit Series line: its athlete-driven design is specialized, focused on moving fast, with some features that are a little different from other softshells. Though it aims to be an ideal hybrid of a sweat-wicking mid-weight polyester baselayer top and a stretch-woven nylon general use softshell, it lacks the fit and comfort of the former, and the toughness and versatility of the latter.
The Apex Aerobic textile favors breathability over wind-resistance and sacrifices some scuff-resistance in pursuit of enhanced wicking performance. The fabric employs a precise blend of fibers to help speed evaporation, and TNF’s DWR treatment defends against light rain. But overall performance could have been improved by using Apex Aerobic for most of the body panels and a more traditional soft-shell fabric in higher-wear areas.
The YKK zippers on this jacket were perfectly standard for the category, and did their duty without complaint. Zipper-pulls were lightweight and functional. My only gripe was that TNF designers wasted an ounce of material on a main zip windflap which seemed like overkill considering the air permeability of the fabric.
Close-fitting and lacking brim structure, the Apex Elixir’s hood had more in common with fleecy performance mid-layers than with other softshells. I appreciated the low profile and light wind-blocking while trail-running near 10,000 ft, but noticed later that the fit under a helmet was compromised by the mostly-unnecessary cordlock at the back of the head.
Finish and Initial Quality
I found the overall quality of construction to be slightly below average, including some sloppy and delicate-seeming stitching, visible excess glue, and the feeling that the arm seams could have been better placed.