The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT™ Full Zip Pants: Tested

By Justin Walker 29 March 2023
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The North Face Dryzzle waterproof/breathable pants are put to the ultimate test in the wildest of weather in Antarctica.

Visiting Antarctica means drawing up a unique gear list; conditions down south dictate your apparel must be both comfortable for walking around in challenging conditions, and tough enough to withstand those same conditions (and the terrain). Outer shell garments take a beating, having to protect you from everything snow, sleet, ice, 80-knot winds, and flooded Zodiacs (yes, true), as I experienced on a 2022 White Continent expedition. I had, as it turned out, chosen wisely when it came to protecting my lower body, packing a pair of The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Full Zip Pants.

Design of The North Face Dryzzle Full Zip Pants

The North Face’s Futurelight range of apparel has gone gangbusters since its original release, back in 2019. These Dryzzle pants (primarily aimed at hiking/trekking), with full-length side zips, feature the waterproof and breathable Futurelight fabric in its three-layer format, with a non-PFC DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish. At the bottom of the pants are what The North Face terms ‘kickpatchs’ and, as the moniker suggests, these sections of a Kevlar material are designed to protect the pant leg bottoms from accidental damage from boots, crampons and abrasive terrain, such as rocks, sticks, etc. 

The fit is standard (i.e., no tapering or over-generously sized thigh section) but with ample space inside for multiple layers. The elastic waistband allows for some adjustability for the wearer, while the articulated knee sections are designed to assist freedom of movement. The pants weigh in at an average 410g.

In the field

For a continent viewed as primarily flat, there’s a lot of short vertical scrambles getting in and out of Zodiacs, plus plenty of walking. This does challenge the breathability and ease of use/comfort of the Dryzzle pants, but it was a challenge that was answered. The breathability was a stand-out; especially so considering the conditions were often very windy and cold. So, I was walking uphill, getting a bit sweaty, but not too much, and weren’t suffering from the cold wind. 

The full-length zips were much appreciated when having to fit the pants over large snow boots for land excursions in Antarctica.

The articulated knee sections were a blessing for Zodiac ingress/egress – often in choppy conditions on shore and/or when having to clamber straight up out of the Zodiac on to some stairs that had been cut into the side of a snowbank by the expedition guides. In terms of waterproof performance, this was well proved on our first day when we had to rush back to the Zodiac’s as the ocean’s swell rose quickly, with waves ending up crashing over, and into, the Zodiac’s interior. I got covered in water a few times, but the Dryzzle pants kept the water out, effectively. 

The final word on North Face Dryzzle Full Zip Pants

Waterproof pants are, by their inherent purpose, only used intermittently. You can get waterproof pants a lot cheaper than the lofty asking price of the Futurelight Dryzzle versions. If your outdoor forays only extend to day hikes and bike rides, etc., a cheaper pair will work. However, if you’re looking at potentially being in a hostile (read wet, windy, cold) environment for longer periods – over a few days or more – The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight pants start to make a lot of sense.

RRP: $350 See The North Face for more info on the Dryzzle pants and other Futurelight apparel.