The North Face Stolemberg 3L Dryvent Jacket review: a technical shell for cold, rugged adventures
The North Face Stolemberg 3L Dryvent Jacket: first impressions
This three-layer jacket is a step above your typical waterproof jacket for hiking, sharing some similar properties to a hardshell but with a softer, lighter fabric and is designed with harsh conditions in mind. Whether you’re trekking at high altitude, in cold weather or even looking for a shell that can suit ski days as well as hiking, this rugged shell will fend off cold, wind and moisture. An adjustable hem, cuffs and hood mean you can tailor the regular fit jacket to your needs and seal out any chilly drafts.
• List price: £260
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes available: Men’s S - XXL, Women’s XS - XL
• Materials: 100% Nylon With With Non-PFC Durable Water-Repellent (Non-PFC DWR) Finish
• Fit: Regular
• Weight: 1.3lbs / 610g
• Colors: Black, Yellow, Supersonic blue, Fiery red, Shady blue
• Best use: Hiking
If you work up a sweat in this jacket but don’t want to lose the weather protection, keep it on and unzip the pit zips to dump some heat quickly. Two zipped hand warming pockets plus an inner pocket are enough to stash all the gear you want handy. This outer layer is heavy for a waterproof jacket and isn’t built for warmer weather adventures, but when it’s going to be cold, you’ll appreciate the extra protection and even in colder weather, it provides plenty of warmth when combined with a thin fleece jacket underneath.
The North Face Stolemberg 3L Dryvent Jacket: in the field
This jacket may have arrived at slightly the wrong time, what with the weather warming up here in Scotland, however I’ve worn it up a few mountains on chilly days where a near-gale was blowing and the heavens have opened on me which has given me a decent chance to test its capabilities in the field.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
I’m a size small but I tested a medium so it was a little big on me but still wearable. That said, I wouldn’t size up with this unless you like things really loose. It has a regular fit, cutting just below my hips, and plenty of room for layers underneath. When the hood is up, I feel like my vision is a little obscured when I turn my head, though it does an excellent job of blocking the wind.
Comfort and breathability
This jacket is a little on the stiff side, and combined with mine being a little large it felt just a little bulky compared to a more typical waterproof jacket for hiking. That said, all the points that come into contact with my skin are lined with soft material.
I recently wore this up Ben Arthur on a day that was pretty mild, especially down lower, so I didn’t put it on straight away. When I reached the really steep final pitch to the summit, a strong, cold wind had picked up so I pulled it on for the climb and I was impressed by its breathability. That’s a fairly strenuous stretch of hiking and I didn’t get overly warm at all. I still wouldn’t wear this for a warmer hike, but in changeable conditions or when you’re working hard, you can sweat in it and it breathes.
Weight and packability
Tipping the scales at about the same weight as a block of cheddar, this is definitely heavy if you compare it to other waterproof jackets and more akin to a hardshell. I didn’t mind having it in my daypack, but it does take up more space than my other waterproof jackets so I wouldn’t bring it if the conditions didn’t merit this much protection.
Speaking of conditions, this really is a technical jacket that provides great protection against the elements. Thanks to good weather lately, I’ve used it more for its windproof capacities than for waterproofing, but I’ve still had it out in all weather and it gives great protection. With the hood up, I barely notice a howling gale. Overall, I’d be more likely to save this layer for winter hikes than anything else, and I think with its helmet-compatible hood it might even be a contender for skiing.
Storage and durability
With three deep zipped pockets, I can hold all the gear I want close (phone, map, gloves) and the vertical zips mean it’s all accessible even when I’m wearing a backpack, plus it has an inner pocket for items you really want to keep out of the rain.