Expert Review: The North Face Women's Powderflo FUTURELIGHT™ Shell Jacket

Published on 12/04/2022 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the North Face Women’s Powderflo FUTURELIGHT™ Shell Jacket, which I bought with my own money in January of 2021.
Tory Dobyns, Ski Expert
By Ski Expert Tory Dobyns

All photos courtesy of Tory Dobyns

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the North Face Women’s Powderflo FUTURELIGHTShell Jacket, which I bought with my own money in January of 2021.

My take

The North Face Women’s Powderflo FUTURELIGHT™ shell jacket is an ultra-technical and durable shell jacket. This jacket is incredibly durable, waterproof, and windproof. It also has great ventilation, making this jacket a good choice for stormy, wet days and warmer days when one needs some airflow.

About the gear I own

  • Model: Women's Powderflo FUTURELIGHT™ Shell
  • Gender: Women’s
  • Size: Medium

About me

  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 115lbs
  • Experience: 20 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: December 2021
  • Days used: 100
  • Size: Medium
  • Where I’ve used it: Resorts and backcountry in Colorado, Utah, and Montana.
  • Weather: Cold days, warm days, snow storms, and rain storms.

How it performs

Waterproofing
5/5
Comfort
4/5
Durability
4/5
Style
4/5
Breathability
3/5
Warmth
2/5

What I was looking for

I was looking for a shell jacket that would keep me dry and warm in all types of weather. I wanted something both stylish and high performing and very durable. I ski over 50 days a year and wanted something to hold up over time. Additionally, I wanted a shell jacket without insulation, so I could layer underneath on cold days and stay cool when hiking in the backcountry and on warmer days at the resort.

Why I chose this gear

I chose the Powderflo FUTURELIGHT™ shell for its exceptional waterproofing and technical, reliable design. The FUTURELIGHT™ line is The North Face’s most advanced and technical line of outerwear. It is designed with performance in mind and is great for those facing the elements and skiing long days. I chose the North Face FUTURELIGHT™ shell because I knew it would keep me dry and warm and not lose its waterproofing over time. I also loved the relaxed fit and style of this jacket. Sometimes I find women's specific jackets to be too tight fitting. The North Face Powderflo shell has a relatively relaxed fit that makes layering underneath very easy.

What I love about it

  • Waterproofing: This jacket keeps me dry on super stormy, wet days.
  • Durability: I have had some issues in the past with shell jackets losing their waterproofing over time. I have not experienced this with the FUTURELIGHT™ shell. It still has great waterproofing even after about 100 days of use.
  • Comfort and Style: This jacket is both comfortable and stylish, which is always a priority. It has a relaxed fit making it comfortable and easy to layer underneath. However, it is still flattering and is designed for a woman's body. I also love the color and sporty style of the jacket.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Breathability and Ventilation: This jacket has an armpit zipper that can open for ventilation on warmer days. Sometimes I wish the zipper was just a bit longer for extra ventilation. The vent is about 8 inches long.
  • Warmth: This jacket's warmth is not an issue I have encountered; however, I included it here just to explain why I rated this category two stars. This is a shell jacket and does not have any insulation. I wear a down jacket or vest underneath on cold days. Consider sizing up if one is looking to layer under the jacket. I am 5’6” and 115lbs and wear a medium to ensure I can fit lots of warm layers underneath.

Favorite moment with this gear

I took this jacket on a spring skiing trip in Utah last year. The first few days, it snowed all day, and temperatures were in the teens. This jacket kept me dry and warm with layers underneath. However, the second half of the trip had true spring conditions with temperatures in the 40s. I just wore a light fleece underneath, and it was super comfortable and cool. It was great to be able to only bring one jacket for this trip with such varying weather conditions.

Value for the money vs. other options

This jacket retails for right around $400. This may seem expensive to some; however, the quality makes it worth the price, in my opinion. This jacket will last many seasons. If one does not get a lot of days on the mountain, one may opt for something cheaper. If someone compares this jacket to other high-quality GORE-TEX shells, they will find similar prices. Before owning this jacket, I had the Flylow Lucy shell, which also retails for approximately $400. I found the North Face to be comparable in value to the Flylow coat.

Final verdict

This is a great choice if someone is looking for a high-performance shell jacket designed to withstand tough conditions. This jacket has great wind and waterproofing capabilities. I have found that if I stay dry, I can stay warm more easily, and the FUTURELIGHT™ Shell will keep me dry. However, keep in mind one will need to layer on cold days.

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