Screw the lycra jersey and SPD-compatible shoes, the most essential piece of gear the Pacific Northwest rider can have is a good wet weather jacket. Without a lightweight, waterproof and comfortable jacket, a coastal rider is limited to a four-month riding season at best. The shoulder seasons here will spit you out alongside the generous glacial runoff that churns from the local mountain ranges to the Pacific Ocean. The North Face Shifter jacket is that jacket.

Building on the successful launch of their mountain bike apparel launch last spring, TNF has improved what was already an impressible piece. Leaving behind the peculiar urban inspired motif of last year’s jacket, and instead utilizing a more subtle colourway inspired by the rainforest, the Shifter looks the part. Even better, it plays the part. A freeride fit allows for a lot of movement, layering, plus the all important helmet-compatible hood. Tons of mesh venting means you’ll stay regulated as you  grunt and groan up muddy climbs and negotiate the slimy, steep roots of the Shore. I’ve been using the North Face jackets for a full year now and haven’t had any complaints other than last year’s graphitti. Now that it’s gone, I can’t see how they could improve on this great piece. It continues to outperform the other two riding jackets I have been testing this past year, and I foresee it being a part of my kit until it falls apart. I’ll let you know if that ever happens. – Mike Berard


From the North Face website:

  • Water resistant, breathable
  • Bike-helmet-compatible, adjustable fixed hood
  • Zip mesh-venting chest pocket
  • Dual-zip mesh-venting hand pockets
  • Rear elbow stretch vents
  • Dual rear crossflow zip mesh venting
  • Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs
  • Elliptical adjustable hem
  • Reflective chest logo