The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket review: a formidable, packable waterproof

The super-lightweight The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight is a packable running jacket offering excellent breathability and protection from the elements

DWR coating of theThe North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket
(Image: © Craig Taylor)

Advnture Verdict

An incredibly lightweight, waterproof running jacket with above-average breathability and an impressively small pack size, the Summit Superior FutureLight jacket is perfect for stashing in your bag on longer trail runs.


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    Very packable

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    Looks great

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    Eco-friendly manufacturing practices

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    Adjustable hem and hood


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    Expensive when compared with similar competing models

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The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight: first impressions

The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket is a great-looking, slim-cut waterproof. As a part of the brand’s Summit Series line, it’s a jacket designed with the clear intention to solve the age-old issue of keeping runners dry in the rain. And while that means it comes with all of The North Face’s leading technology – a FutureLight membrane, for example – it still delivers on the type of optics you’d expect from a brand that’s as renowned in the outdoor space as it is in the fashion world. 


• List price: $290 (US) / £270 (UK)
• Weight (Men’s medium): 230g / 8.1oz
• Sizes: XS-XXL
• Fabric: Three-layer seam-sealed FutureLight shell from recycled polyester ripstop with durable water-repellent (DWR) coating
• Colors: TNF Black / Deep Grass Green / Optic Blue / Summit Gold

The result? The Summit Superior is an excellent piece of kit that performs valiantly out on the trails, offering best-in-class waterproofness and mind-blowing breathability. Unlike many of the best running jackets, however, it does all of this while still looking sleek and trendy, making it an ideal option for wearing on both the gnarliest of trail runs or your rainy morning commute.

When bought directly from The North Face, the Summit Superior FutureLight costs £270 at the time of writing. Naturally, this puts it very much at the top end for trail running jackets and well out of the bounds of affordability for many. But as the Summit Superior is made using a three-layer FutureLight waterproof shell with fully taped seams, comes with an adjustable hood and hems and stashes down to the size of a grapefruit, you really do get an incredibly high-quality product for your money.

The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight: on the trails

Man running in The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket

Running in the North Face Summit Superior on a long run in the Swiss Alps (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

To test the jacket, I’ve worn this thing pretty much daily for weeks. I took it out during short runs in summer storms, wore it on some longer trail runs in the Alps, and even wore it in the rain at the zoo. I’ve used it on Zone 2 runs on days where the mercury almost peaked out at 30º celsius and wore it on early morning runs in single-digit temperatures. Aside from snow, I’ve managed to test this thing in practically every condition imaginable – and it excelled every time. 

The thing I like most about the jacket is the material it’s made from. This was my first time using FutureLight and I have to say, I’m impressed. FutureLight is The North Face’s own proprietary waterproof technology, much like Gore-Tex, Pertex or eVent – find out more in our guide to breathable waterproof fabrics. Unlike those other fabrics, however, I found the material to be so soft and quiet that I kept forgetting I was even wearing a coat. The breathability also felt superior to other jackets I’ve used in the past, though this is just one chubby trail runner’s unscientific opinion based on little more than anecdotal observations (and running in a gray t-shirt).

Man wearing The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket

The inside of the Summit Superior FutureLight, complete with taped seams and an internal stash pocket (which also functions as a stuff pouch for the jacket) (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

As the breathability is so good and the material so soft, the Summit Superior really feels more like some sort of a soft mid layer rather than a waterproof shell. Even when you're properly sweating under this thing, there’s no clamminess or feeling of stickiness whatsoever; the material continues to feel soft and gentle against your skin, even if you’re just wearing a short-sleeve t-shirt.

For me, having run in a variety of Gore-Tex jackets (and having used a Marmot Precip as my go to wet-weather running jacket for the last few years), it was an incredibly nice surprise not to feel like your arms stick to the inside of it.

Regarding waterproofness, The North Face haven’t released any official hydrostatic head ratings for FutureLight yet. That being said, I can speak to the effectiveness of the Summit Superior: I ran in this thing in numerous summer deluges, and not a drop got through. The hood can be pulled tight to prevent any rain getting inside, and it even comes with a nice duck-bill style hood that allows rain to run off away from your face. The cuffs on each sleeve are elasticated, though not overly tight, and the hem along the bottom of the jacket can be cinched in tight to cut out the weather and to stop the jacket flapping in the wind.


Man wearing The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket

The fit of the Summit Superior is “slim”, which means it’s less boxy than many jackets from other brands (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight comes in a slim fit that sits close to your body during running and training. I used it in a size medium, which – despite the slimmer cut – is the size I tend to wear in most other t-shirts, jumpers or jackets. I found the fit to be tight but not restrictive, ideal for moving quickly. 

Is it worth the price?

The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight trail running jacket on white

Expensive, but it’ll last a long while and you can wear it when you’re not exercising too (Image credit: The North Face)

For me, The North Face Summit Superior FutureLight is a jacket that I’ll wear on so many different trips that I’d have to say yes; it’s worth the high price tag. Thanks to the lightness of the material, you definitely shouldn’t wear this under a heavy pack, but for single day-hikes, long trail runs or even dashes into town in the rain, the Summit Superior FutureLight is ideal. 

Craig Taylor

Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot, or visit for more info.