The Dirt Track (really?) is TNF’s Gore Windstopper softshell, with zip-off sleeves that convert it into a gilet.
First things first: fit. It’s decidedly ‘American’ in its sizing and boxy, rather than fitted. As a slim six-footer, the medium jacket came up short in body and arms, but baggier than the snug fit I’d prefer. While I’m on niggles, the collar was loose and required a Buff, and two zipped rear pockets are rendered pointless by a pack. I’d far rather have a Napoleon chest pocket. And another thing…the zip off arms. I had imagined a deft flick of the wrist would see them removed. As it was, I found myself contorting to reach the zips. I’m not the most flexible, and my attempts proved entertaining, but it was just a pain and replacing sleeves meant removing the whole jacket. Not ideal, given that you’re presumably doing so as the temperature is falling.
So given these annoyances, the jacket is terrible, right? Well, no. It actually gets on with business rather well. The weather helpfully threw everything at me during the testing period; mild sun, snow, hail, wind, rain and -8° temperatures. The DWR shrugged off the precipitation. The Windstopper certainly does what it says. Eventually I even appreciated being able to ditch the sleeves as conditions improved, keeping my core warm. And it turned out it really wasn’t that annoying removing the jacket to zip the sleeves back on.
Overall: ￡145 is a lot of money when a Windstopper gilet and Pertex layer are more flexible (although no cheaper). Having said that, if the fit is right, then this still has a whole lot going for it.
|Product:||Dirt Track jacket|
|From:||The North Face Europe, uk.thenorthface.com|
|Tested:||by Tom Hill for Four weeks and a long bike race|