The North Face Fuse Uno Jacket

North Face Fuse Uno on top of South Early Winter Spires - North Cascades, WA

Intro:
When it comes to outdoor gear, particularly jackets, I can't help myself using them and reviewing them. The North Face Fuse Uno was a jacket that came upon me by luck. I want to make a big shout out by saying, thank you Backcountry.com and The North Face for hand-selecting me to review this piece of gear for the benefit of the backcountry.com community! The North Face is trying to advertise the Fuse Uno jacket as, "The most technically innovative alpine climbing shell we've ever created". The real question is, does it live up to their hype?


Construction:
When I got the North Face Fuse Uno jacket in the mail I was immediately impressed by the jacket construction. The real unique thing about the fabric in this jacket is the Fuseform weave on the outer nylon of the jacket. All other manufacturers in order to place a stronger/more abrasion resistant fabric in key areas (hood, shoulders, sleeves) have to cut and sew separate fabric in those areas. This in turn requires seam tape for waterproof breathable fabric, which adds weight and potential failure points. Yet with Fuseform, The North Face worked to develop a weaving technique that allows them to weave in strong yarns (Cordura) into the areas we want to create strength/durability and lighter yarns where they can save weight. If one looks at the jacket closely you can see the two tone separation of the different yarns.

The North Face Fuse Uno jacket also uses an origami construction which refers to the jacket being made from one piece continuous of fabric, instead of multiple pieces being sewn together. This reduces the amount of seams you have, and seam tape used in construction. Using this type of construction reduces the use of seam tape almost in half; in turn it makes the jacket lighter, less prone to failure (at seams) and more breathable because seam tape reduces breathability.

How it Fits:
For a jacket that was designed from an origami construction standpoint, I was very skeptical on how the jacket would fit. The Fuse Uno jacket is actually one of the best fitting jackets I've used, much better than my Marmot Hyper lite jacket. The fit is very similar to an Arc'teryx Beta AR jacket. For those who own or have tried on an Arc'teryx Alpha SV jacket, the Fuse Uno is slightly more slim fit with a shorter center back length. Layering with the Fuse uno jacket is very easy; I've used an Arc'teryx Atom LT hoody underneath it on one trip to a Outdoor Research Centrifuge jacket on another.

Performance:
On a rainy Autumn day I took the North Face Fuse Uno jacket on a day hike to Lake Valhalla in Stevens Pass, WA. Most of the hike in was a slight drizzle with fairly moderate temperatures  forcing me to wear the jacket the entire hike to the lake. Through out the hike I switched between my friend Kyle's Arc'teryx Beta AR jacket (using the newest Gortex Pro) to compare breathability of the Fuse Uno jacket which uses North Face's proprietary Hyvent Alpha. Both of use concluded that the Fuse Uno jacket was slightly less breathable than the Beta AR but not by very much.  I think the difference in breathability would be almost negligible if the Fuse Uno jacket had pit-zips. Upon reaching Lake Valhalla, the precipitation and wind increased while I sat down to enjoy my lunch. Layering the Fuse Uno jacket with an Atom LT hoody kept me not only dry by very warm along the lake shore.

Fall Colors at Lake Valhalla.
With a solid weather window I took the North Face Fuse Uno jacket to Washington Pass in the North Cascades to climb South Early Winter Spires via the South Arete. Upon reaching the base of the climb, the wind hit us with a cold October breeze that felt more like winter than Autumn. I used the Outdoor Research Centrifuge jacket as a mid-layer underneath the Fuse Uno jacket for the entire climb.

The North Face jacket kept me comfortable by blocking out all the wind but still breathed well enough to lead easy fifth class without overheating. Through out the climb I brushed the jacket against abrasive North Cascades granite, especially in the chimneys, and the jacket came away with only a couple of small scratches. I'm really impressed by the burly face fabric but the pockets are too low that a harness blocks  them. If the pockets were moved an inch or two higher, the functionality of the pockets would be vastly improved. The Napoleon style pocket is also so small that it has limited functionality.

Brilliant Climb, Brilliant Jacket

Summary: 
While The North face advertises the Fuse Uno as an Alpine specific jacket, I feel that it's more suited for non technical adventures (hiking, backcountry skiing, non technical mountaineering, etc..) due to the hand pockets being too low. On the other hand, The North Face has come up with cleaver ways to make the Fuse Uno jacket stand out among other jackets by using an origami and FuseForm construction which creates a very durable but light weight jacket. While the North Face Fuse Uno Jacket isn't perfect, there are a lot of things to love about it which makes the Fuse Uno a very versatile jacket.

Fighting off zero degree(f) windchill on a snow-less November day on PCT,Washington State.


Pros:

  • Bomber Construction and materials
  • Superb fit 
  • Light weight
  • Jacket is very aesthetically pleasing
  • Hyvent Alpha is extremely waterproof
  • Hood works well with or without a helmet
Cons:
  • Hyvent Alpha doesn't breath as well compared to Gore-Tex Active or Pro
  • Napoleon pocket is too small to be useful
  • Hand Pockets aren't very harness compatible


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