in my quest for perfection, i end up replacing my shell every year or two. well, the Exum is my best purchase so far. its not only constructed very well, it fits the way a piece of clothing designed for athletic activity should. The North Face always has way too much extra fabric in the body and arms. in general, TNF is trying way too hard to look fashionable. the Exum LOOKS like a technical shell, and comes with the backing details to prove it. all zippers slide very easily (but not too easily as to come undone.) the large hood will accommodate any size helmet, yet cinches down very nicely without one. the hood also moves with your head across a full 180 degree plane (which is something no TNF jacket has ever done.) the only fault i can find so far is with the wire brim on the hood - it works, but should've had a slightly thicker gauge wire (my Eider Commodore had the best hood ever.) the pit zips do not bulk up at all, in fact you can't even feel them, and they have one-way zippers which makes so much more sense to me. i was concerned about the large storm flap on the front zipper, but low-tack Velcro-brand fasteners is used minimally and strategically to keep the flap closed, and it won't get stuck to your glove liners. the Gore-tex Pro is lighter and packs better than XCR, yet doesn't seem flimsy. long story short: if you're looking for a super-minimalist storm-proof shell, this will probably suit your needs. i've been bashing on North Face and for good reason, their quality is going down the crapper (except for their Freedom Pants, they still rock.) see my review for the misnamed Antigravity jacket; the Exum is superior in every way, including weight. Outdoor Research has top quality gear too, definitely check them out.