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The North Face Meru Paclite Jacket

rated 5 of 5 stars

The Meru Paclite Jacket has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best waterproof jackets for 2024.

photo: The North Face Meru Paclite Jacket waterproof jacket

This jacket is very light, has high pockets for hiking with your hands elevated, and rolls up into a pretty small ball. The zipper is a little tough to get started and the hood tends to droop down in front of my eyes. Also, I cannot push the sleeves up to my elbows because they do not expand.


  • Very light
  • Fashionable
  • Rolls up nicely and fits in the glove compartment well.
  • Has a bill on the hood.
  • High pockets for elevating hands while hiking.
  • Stays good and dry.
  • Fits large to go over another layer.
  • long enough to cover a knife or firearm on your belt in rain.


  • Zipper is a little bit temperamental when starting.
  • Hood does not roll up into a pocket.
  • Sleeves won't push up to my elbows for cooling.
  • No pit zips.

I bought this to fill my need for a higher-end rain shell. I have worn it while hiking in two separate heavy downpours, and so far I really like it. I use a heavier North Face jacket that is only water resistant beneath it for insulation when it rains on the trail. 

The Good:

The jacket is very light and I have no problem fitting it into my pack. When rolled up, I estimate its size to be a cylinder about 4 inches across and 7 inches long. I use a rubber band to keep it in check in the pack. I like the look and the color, and the bill on the hood managed to keep the rain out of my eyes and off of my neck.

I chose this jacket over a pricey Marmot because the Marmot had low pockets, and I prefer to keep my hand elevated while hiking. This jacket has the higher pockets. During a three-hour downpour I did not experience any water soaking through the seams or anywhere else. I have a XL, and I think it's a little on the big size, but it fits nicely over my insulation layer beneath.

One added bonus I did not expect: the length of the jacket kept my pistol and knife dry on my belt, which is handy. The zipper is two way and will let you unzip from the bottom for venting purposes.

The Bad:

I went through four of these jackets at R.E.I. to find the one with the "easiest starting" zipper. Since then, it seems to be getting a little tougher to get started, though I hope the parts that are causing the hangup will wear and get easier with more use. Supposedly there is a lifetime warranty, and I have a feeling I will find out if the zipper is covered at some point.

I would have liked to have a hood that rolled away when not in use, but it is so light that it doesn't drive me crazy. Also, my North Face insulation jacket that I wear beneath this one has the same cuff-velcro, and it's stretchy material will allow me to push my sleeves up to my elbows when I get too warm. The Meru will not, as it is not stretchy and I have beefy forearms. I'm considering having it altered to remedy this, and if I do, I will amend this report as to the results.

There are no pit-zips, but the elongated pockets are intended to vent when opened...and it seems to work. In hindsight, now that I have actually tried a prolonged hike in the rain, one might consider buying a rain shell with a teensy bit of insulation, as this jacket has pretty much none. 


All in all, I'm glad I made this purchase despite the price. If I have problems with the zipper in the future and North Face takes care of it, I will be a happy camper. I recommend this for a rain shell.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $199

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