The North Face Fuse Brigandine is a small step down from the The North Face Free Thinker, but is still a pretty bombproof technical shell built for the most serious skiers. The best part is that it’s about $100 less than the Free Thinker, but the performance is only slightly less impressive. The biggest difference is that The North Face Fuse Brigandine has The North Face’s Hyvent Alpha 3L instead of Gore-Tex 3L Pro. For the average rider this means absolutely nothing since both the Alpha 3L and Gore-Tex 3L pro provide a really high amount of water-proof and breathable protection. I haven’t really had the chance to compare these two fabrics side by side, but my research would suggest the Gore-Tex pro has a slight advantage in breathability. But really the difference is pretty small and only the most die-hard backcountry skiers would really notice. When all is said and done, The North Face Fuse Brigandine is a pretty bombproof shell with some great technical features. One of them is the North Faces new FuseForm construction that places a blend of mid- and heavy-weight nylon in high abrasion areas of the jacket, including the shoulders, sides, and inner arms. This helps to decrease the overall bulk and weight of the jacket, but increase the strength and durability. Similar to the Free Thinker, The North Face Fuse Brigandine has waterproof zippers, an adjustable hood, a stretch powder skirt with pant integration, wrist gators, Recco avalanche reflector, and a ton of great pockets built with back-country travel in mind. The jacket has an active fit, but there is enough room for layering. The length is pretty long, and if you’re like me you’ll enjoy the extra coverage. If you’re looking for a bombproof shell for backcountry skiing, or a highly waterproof shell for really wet conditions, then The North Face Fuse Brigandine is a great option. It’s not quite as bombproof as The North Face Free Thinker, but its features are almost identical and at $100 less it’s more approachable to the average rider. This is a bit overkill for an average resort rider, but then again you would never have to worry about being wet at the end of the day.
Jacket Size – S
Normal Specs– 5’10”, 160 lbs,
Upper Body– 34.5” Chest, Torso Length 23” (collar bone to pant button), Shoulder Width Approx 22”, Arm Length 18.5” (pit to wrist)
Lower Body– 30” Waist, 38” Hips, 30” Inseam, 22” Thigh
Turn On’s: Active fit jackets that fit well around my chest and torso, but don’t restrict movement.
Turn Off’s: Size S Jackets that are too tight, and Size M jackets that are too loose in the waist. I really don’t like a loose waist that can allow cold air in, and I don’t like having to cinch down the waist. I also don’t like jackets that ride up when I’m skiing.