The North Face Muddy Tracks jacket – £110
The North Face’s new Muddy Tracks jacket has been with us since nearly this time last year, and in that time we’ve been hammered it through the most horrible conditions we could face riding in. Who said this was a cushy job.
While style is undoubtedly a key criteria for North Face, a sharp green coloured fabric with contrasting yellow zipper and other discrete details got the thumbs up from everybody who clapped eyes on it, performance from the company’s first fully fledged mountain bike range is right up there.
The company developed its own HyVent material. Hyvent is made from two layers with a polyurethane coating (PU) for keeping water out. It has some Elastane which gives the jacket a bit of stretch. It’s a thin material, with a soft feel between the fingers. It’s so far been completely waterproof, keeping us dry on a number of occasions where we’ve been out riding in the constant rain all day long
It’s an impressive feat and embarrasses a lot of established brands in this respect. Construction is first rate, with seams taped throughout, and has stood up to repeated drowning and it’s been through the washing machine more times than we care to remember, but still looks box fresh.
The rear of the jacket is dropped lower than the front, as is typical with jackets designed for cycling, and provided good coverage for the area just below the waistband. There are no side pockets, just one zipped chest pocket and one at the back. The collar is on the high side so the neck can be protected, and it’s lined with a soft brushed material which boosted comfort during cold rides.
So far the jacket ticks all the boxes, but there’s one area where the jacket warrants improvement: fit. We’ve been testing a medium and it comes up very large on this tester. There are draw cords at the waist which only go a short way to stem the problem, and the Velcro cuff adjustments have to be fully utilised to stop the baggy arms overtaking our hands.
So check the sizing before you buy, and preferably try one before you buy. We’d like to see North Face address the sizing for next year, as it spoils what is otherwise an excellent jacket.
The jacket has an impressive low weight and low bulk, with the Hyvent material lightweight but performing to the highest standard in a range of conditions, and is durable too. Only the sizing issue prevents us from giving it the full thumbs up.