EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HYBRID JACKETS
Built for activity, hybrid jackets combine different materials to create a jacket that minimises the need for constant switching between layers as your activity level or the temperature fluctuate. As such, hybrid jackets are among our most versatile.
WHAT ARE HYBRID JACKETS?
Hybrid jackets, generally speaking, are mid-layer or soft shell style over the core, with thinner, stretchier fabrics on the arms or sides or both. They are generally worn in cooler conditions where you need insulation and protection from the wind, but don’t want to compromise on movability or get too hot while you’re moving.
Most of The North Face® hybrid jackets are designed for alpine climbing, mountaineering and hiking in the mountains. The core section, over the front and back and tops of the shoulders, is the insulating part. It’s usually filled with down or synthetic down or it’s made from hard-face fleece. Commonly, the fabric harnesses WindWall™ technology that blocks harsh winds without compromising breathability too much. The fabric on the sleeves and sides usually makes good use of elastane and ripstop weaves to be both stretchy and resistant against brushes with rock – making it suitable for climbing.
The North Face Ventrix™ technology is often used on the core area for garments designed for particularly high levels of activity. This is because Ventrix™ has small perforations that ensure enhanced breathability to help you maintain an even temperature when active.
The whole garment is usually treated with a water-repellent finish to provide protection from light showers. Though when the rain starts to pour, you’re going to need a waterproof shell.
This multifaceted functionality is really useful when you’re wearing a backpack, harness and helmet and switching between layers is impractical if not impossible.
WHAT ARE MY INSULATION OPTIONS?
You can choose between down, synthetic down, Polartec® fleece and Ventrix™.
Down has exceptional insulating properties thanks to its ability to trap air in its structure. When it fills coats and jackets, it has slightly better performance than equivalent synthetic materials, weight for weight. When weight is an issue – as it often is when climbing – down is the preferred material. However, down (unless ProDown™) does not maintain its insulating power if it becomes damp. If you’re going to be exploring in wet or damp conditions, then synthetic insulation is a better option.
Synthetic down is a man-made replacement for natural down. It mimics the structure of natural down but takes up more space to do so. This means that to get the same insulating power as down more synthetic insulation needs to be used, so it becomes heavier and less compressible than natural down. However, synthetic down is also popular in the vegan community.
We should also point out that all The North Face down is certified to Responsible Down Standards (RSD) which means, among other things, we can trace it back to the source and there is absolutely no live-plucking.
Fleece, usually from Polartec®, is another form of insulation. The structure of the fabric traps air, so in a way, it acts like down, though it’s not as efficient. To get the same insulting power the fleece would have to be very thick. However, as fleece is a fabric, not an insulation fibre, it can be blended with other materials and technologies so it can be wicking and stretchy, too. It’s also incredibly lightweight.
HOW DOES SYNTHETIC INSULATION COMPARE WITH NATURAL?
It basically depends on the weather conditions. For really cold and dry conditions down is the clear winner. For cool and damp conditions then synthetic down has the edge. When it’s cool and dry fleece is fine.
However, with our hybrid jackets, you can often enjoy a combination of insulation types as well as the benefit of stretch sleeves and sides for ensuring maximum freedom of movement.