Personally, as a runner, the worst thing I can be is wet. Most of the time, the battle is wicking away sweat – avoiding getting wet from the inside. However, there are also those times when moisture attacks from the outside. Add cool temperatures to this and it’s a recipe for my least favourite running condition. Seems like the solution should be simple, keep precipitation away from the body and all is well. Unfortunately, this simple solution often tends to trap the inside moisture in. Outdoor clothing companies have tried many fabrics to balance moisture in versus moisture out, and arguably GORE-TEX has long been the leader in this technology.
I have been running in, and reviewing, Arc’teryx products since the beginning of this website. I was a big fan of their Visio FL Jacket and had high hopes for the latest lightweight, GORE-TEX waterproof breathable offering, the Norvan jacket from their Endorphin Line.
The Arc’teryx Norvan has a lot to like. It has been stripped down even more than the Visio FL to make it quite lightweight. Rather than Velcro straps and elastic cinches, the asymmetrically cut cuffs and waist provide a constant trim fit without needing adjustment. The Norvan has a single flat interior pocket (with headphone port) on the chest, suitable for an ATM card, iPod, phone, or a key but not much else. I like this as I find jackets are rarely places that I want to carry heavier items, and never down low where jacket pockets are often found. I ran with an iPhone in this chest pocket and didn’t ever notice it bouncing. Jackets tend to be slightly looser than other clothing I run in, and pocketed items tend to bounce. Bouncing is only slightly below being wet in terms of things I avoid when running! One added feature on the Norvan was a hood. I am a big fan of hoods, as even if I don’t wear it, I like having the option and the security of it – the feeling of it hugging my neck.
The overall feel of the fabric in the Norvan jacket is great. It feels slightly more robust than the ultralight windproof fabric in a jacket like the Arc’teryx Incendo, but not much heavier. The fabric and seam tape is soft and smooth, a far cry from the original heavy, stiff GORE-TEX fabrics from years ago. The softness comes from something called C-Knit backer, which is what you feel against your body on the inside of the jacket. It’s so silky smooth that you could likely wear it without a baselayer (though I haven’t tried that yet!). In terms of breathability, the Norvan was very good. Any time you don a jacket, you are bound to trap moisture, but this one definitely kept the rain and the snow out, keeping the sweat moving away from my body.
One thing that this jacket doesn’t offer is the capability to stuff it into it’s own zippered pocket. None the less, it is light and soft enough to fold or roll up and easily carry in hand, stuff into a pocket of a hydration pack or even handheld bottle.
I wouldn’t ever wish for cold, wet running weather, but those inevitable days will be a little easier to face knowing that I’ve got the Norvan jacket in my closet.
This jacket will be available Fall 2015.