The North Face – Kishtwar Jacket

A small number of outdoor products have a reputation that proceeds them and the Kishtwar jacket is one of them. It’s won more awards than Avatar and I felt like I should be calling it ‘Sir’ and talking in hushed tones when the box arrived.

So, it was with a mix of British cynicism (“It can’t possibly be that good, can it?”) and schoolgirl groupie like excitement (“Oh. My. God. It’s a Kishtwar!”) that I gently prised open the box revealing the jacket packed inside.

And only now, after a couple of weeks of wearing, am I calm and balanced enough to give GearWeAre a proper review.

I’m afraid that I’ll have to disappoint the cynically British amongst our readers and tell you that the Kishtwar is indeed as good as its reputation foretells.

Made from Polartec’s Power Shield Pro material, which is a cutting-edge softshell that is waterproof (in light rain*) and breathable, windproof and quite importantly… comfortable, the Kishtwar is warm to the touch and not plasticcy or coated like a hardshell jacket.

The sample size (which I think is a medium) fitted me like a glove; not too baggy to allow cold air to whip around you, but not so snug that a couple of layers underneath would be a problem. And the material has a degree of natural stretch which makes activities like running, cycling and throwing sticks for manic dogs easy and tear-risk free.

A simple but elegant design is completed by some nice touches you’d expect on a £250 jacket:

  • Waist tightening bungee in the pockets (no cold hands needed for adjustment)
  • Soft material on the chin area to stop chafing
  • Adjustable hood with stiffened peak (to keep rain off your face)
  • Velcro wrist closures

But back to the material which is the main party-piece of the Kishtwar.

99% windproofing. That’s a big number, and significantly more windproof than other softshells (Polartec’s own Power Shield is 95% windproof) with the exception of Gore Windstopper. But that isn’t anywhere near as breathable so not as suitable for use during potentially sweaty activities. As for breathability, it’s not quite as good as the less windproof Power Shield, but everything’s a compromise and unless you’re doing some pretty gnarly activity then you’ll probably not be able to distinguish a difference.

And as far as waterproofing goes, the material will hold off pretty heavy rain with complete ease. You can see how the water just beads and runs off the jacket on the left. The only flaw with the Kishtwar’s manufacture is that The North Face hasn’t taped the seams (sewing holes through waterproof material lets in leaks), so there’s a potential for damp spots in very wet conditions where a proper hardshell or taped jacket would keep you drier.

And lastly, the material is abrasion resistant. I winced as I stumbled into a bush full of thorns and was pleased to see no visible damage to the jacket. I did manage to snag it on a rusty nail and pull a thread out but I’m pretty sure that a hardshell would have holed completely and I don’t seem to have damaged the inner surface.

So, Sir Kishtwar is made from impressive stuff, styled elegantly, crafted well and designed with activity in mind. It makes for a great piece of outdoor gear, whether you’re walking a dog in the rain or trekking a snowy mountain.

SUMMARY: The Kishtwar is made from Polartec’s very impressive Power Shield Pro, which is waterproof, windproof and abrasion resistant. It’s a great looking jacket with nice, simple design and all the features you’d expect. Except taped seams, which is a bit odd, but clearly TNF aren’t aiming this at very rainy experiences. Comfortable, un-restrictive for arm movement and pretty hard-wearing it would be good for climbing, running, cycling or general outdoor use. At £250 it’s priced realistically compared to its competition from high-end brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia.

Price: £250 (can be found for £200 online)
From: Google Shopping

Tags and search info for this review: This is a waterproof jacket review. tests and reviews waterproof jackets, waterproof coats, softshells, outdoor gear and camping equipment.

  • Connie

    Great info! I have already been trying to find something like this for a time now. Thanks for the tips!

  • david bailey

    Another winner from Northface. Great design and just exactly what I need. Ta

  • P Callcut

    North Face stuff is Divs!

  • T

    my arcteryx softshell with the older powershield held off constant rain for 20 min before it started coming through at the seams, so without seams being sealed i cant see this being any improvement on the old powershield.

  • T

    btw the picture most probably shows the dwr coating beading the water and not the fabric itself which would just wet out if the dwr wasnt there.

    • Yep, beading is caused by the dwr (durable waterproof repellent) treatment applied to the jacket. The Kishtwar is still repelling water 8 months later, save for a few small areas at the cuffs, under the hood and by the chin, where you can seewatersoaking into the fabric. I’m yet to experience a serious fail from the untaped seams though,

      • T

        sounds good, i would be interested to know if it still breathes once the material has been wetted out.

        looking forward to tnf neoshell jacket which should be a further improvement and with taped seams.