A short-sleeved waterproof-breathable jacket? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Some of our staff were a bit dubious about the real-world functionality of the Ultra Lite, but anyone who has run long distances in cold rain knows that doing so in even the most breathable hard shell can often suck: you steam up the inside quickly and your sweat tends to pool in the crook of the arms and elbows.
There has to be a better way, thought Mike Foote, one of the North Face’s ultra endurance athletes, so on a lark he decided to cut the sleeves off one of his featherweight race jackets. And thus the Ultra Lite was born. While it’s clearly not for everybody, and obviously won’t keep your arms dry, hardcore runners will love that it offers considerably more protection than a vest (there’s a hood), weighs just 4.9 ounces, and packs down into its pocket to a size a touch larger than a Clif Bar. Available July 2015.