The North Face Thermoball Hoodie (2014)

Features
What a difference a hood drawcord makes – and that’s what sets the The North Face Thermoball Hoodie apart from others. You also get elasticated cuffs where the elastication is tucked inside so the cuff is neater and potentially less draughty. The two main pockets are happily OS map-sized; but, like most, access is obscured when a hipbelt from a rucksack is in place.
4/5

Fit
It comes in men’s XS-XXL and women’s XS-XL sizes. The fit is equal to many, being neither too baggy or too tight. The hood should fit better than most as it has face drawcords; however it does lack a volume adjuster.
4/5

Comfort
The North Face’s Thermoball Hoodie, which weighs 377g (size L) doesn’t hug the body quite so naturally at first, due to the stitched-through design, but it softens with use and becomes comfortable and close-fitting and ideal for wearing under a waterproof. There are hood drawcords, which may not be quite as comfy as elastication, but the hood stays on better
5/5

Insulation
Primaloft Thermoball is used, which is small clusters of synthetic Primaloft captured in a patchwork of stitched-through boxes, rather than a sheet of insulation. This stitching makes the jacket feel a little stiff, but the insulation itself is ideal for general year-round use on camping trips, while in winter it can be used with other layers.
5/5

Value
A higher-than-average price, but you get better hood adjustment and unique insulation.
4/5

Verdict
The TNF Thermoball Hoodie offers great performance for year-round use, with the benefit of face drawcords on the hood, plus unique insulation. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.
4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2014

 


The North Face Storm Shadow (2014)

The North Face’s Storm Shadow is designed as a next-to-skin or mid layer fleece. To provide maximum comfort it’s a close-fitting top that’s extremely air-permeable while offering superior ‘wicking’ (moisture-removing) performance. All this makes it ideal when used under a waterproof jacket or when worn on its own during highly aerobic activities, or for scrambling or walking in non-windy environments.  It also works well under or over other insulation as it’s quite a thin layer. But it isn’t quite as warm as thicker options so in winter it will probably need supplementing with other layers. In terms of design it’s unusual in that it’s a thinner layer with useful pockets, which makes it ideal when a waterproof shell isn’t worn over the top. The two main pockets are OS map-sized and easily accessed while wearing rucksack hipbelts. The additional chest pocket is useful for a GPS receiver or compass. There is no hem drawcord or cuff adjustment, so it’s worth checking that these areas fit snugly to prevent draughts. But apart from that the The North Face Storm Shadow is an extremely useful year-round layer when worn on its own or combined with other layers. It would work well under some of the other jackets featured here in colder conditions.

Specifications:

Material Pontetorto heathered grid jersey fleece
Men’s/unisex sizes S-XL
Women’s sizes XS-L
Weight 378g (size M)
Hood no
External pockets 3
Website www.thenorthface.com/eu

 

Verdict

The The North Face Storm Shadow is a very useful thinner fleece that’s ideal for use with other layers. Because it has pockets it also works well when a waterproof jacket isn’t being worn.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2014

 


The North Face Iodin Jacket (2013)

Brand new for spring 2013, this is a lightweight and really stretchy jacket. The fit is simple and flattering, with hidden hem adjustment in each pocket for fine-tuning the fit, and fuss-free cuffs that rely on stretch for adjustment - they pull up really well, but check the fit because if they’re too long they’ll slip down over your hands. It has a lovely high, fleece-lined collar that traps warmth brilliantly, and two large, mesh-lined handwarmer pockets. Hard to knock performance-wise; the fabric transports moisture with ease, breathes well and keeps wind and light rain at bay.

Sizes: XS-L
Fabric: TNF Apex Aerobic/Pertex Equilibrium
Weight: 370g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: www.thenorthface.com/eu

Published in Country Walking magazine, April 2013


The North Face Radish Mid Layer (2012)

A very durable option for hard mountain use, the The North Face Radish Mid Layer has reinforced shoulder and hip zones for increased protection from rucksack straps and weighs a very reasonable 410g (size UK12). The material is a wind-resistant, polyester hard-face stretch fleece with a micro-check brushed inner side (think tiny grid-like squares of fleece) that trap air to keep you warmer, and allow moisture to wick away quickly. The TNF Radish Mid Layer is the only jacket in our test with no side pockets, so there is no chance of obstruction with a hipbelt during alpine activities, and the chest pocket is large enough for a pair of gloves, guidebook and/or snack. The North Face’s FlashDry technology should also make this jacket dry quickly. The ‘Ninja’-style hood fits well and moves well with the head, and the zip stormflap is wide with comfy brushed fleece at the chin and upper chest. The fit is great – sporty and slim with stretch panels at the sides and under the arms, and a drop tail and arms long enough to accommodate climbing and scrambling. The only downside is the stretchy thumb loops, which others may find perfect but I found a bit tight, with a bulky seam between thumb and forefinger.

Weight 410g
Pockets 1 chest
Material 92% polyester and Pontetorto Fleece with FlashDry Technology
Thumb loops yes
Hood yes
Men’s version yes
Website uk.thenorthface.com

 

Verdict

The North Face’s Radish Mid Layer is a fantastically hard-wearing, quick-drying and warm fleece with great features for walking, scrambling and alpine climbing.

Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine October 2012


The North Face Super Zephyrus (2012)

More of a hybrid than a true insulating number, the The North Face Super Zephyrus falls somewhere between a mid layer and an insulated jacket. It features a combination of Polartec Powerstretch panels and sections of PrimaLoft insulation. Because of this it’s obviously much thinner than the others on test, but then it is meant to sit closer to your body.

The panels mean movement is unrestricted and it is comfortable to wear, but when the wind picks up it certainly feels colder in the areas without insulation. It has an eleasticated hood which – while perhaps not as close fitting as others – moves with your head.

The pockets are zippable but a little narrow – I could just about fit my hands into them, but not with gloves on. There is also no hem cinch, but the stretchy panels mean this is not a big deal. The main zip has a draught-excluding fabric panel behind it and good amount of soft material around the chinguard for added comfort. The cuffs are elasticated and fit well to prevent draughts whipping up your sleeves.

If you want a great alternative to fleece for a mid layer the The North Face Super Zephyrus is ideal; but you can get something warmer with more features that is also lighter for less money.

 

Weight 345g (size S)

Outer fabric nylon ripstop with PU coat, Polartec Power Stretch

Inner fabric as outer

Insulation 40g PrimaLoft One

Women’s sizes S-XL

Men’s sizes S-XL

Website www.thenorthface.com/eu

Verdict

The North Face’s Super Zephyrus is certainly a great mid layer, and it works as an emergency warm layer too, though being the least warm option here for a higher price may put some people off.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine March 2012


The North Face Diez (2012)

This is a classic down mid-layer-style of jacket. There’s no hood so it won’t keep your head warm, but it does mean the down is less likely to get wet in a wintry shower. It has a shortish cut, built to fit under a shell layer. The lightweight Pertex shell fabric offers some water resistance, although it can’t be relied on when it’s raining properly.
Its lightweight threading does make it breathable, though, and as such although the jacket is warm inside, it isn’t sweaty. It’s so lightweight that you can see some of the darker strips of down filling through the fabric, so it can look a bit flimsy even though it isn’t. In terms of warmth-to-weight, this is the warmest of the jackets on test.

Sizes: S-XL

Weight: 444g

Women’s version: Yes

Fabric: Pertex 10D Fill: Natural 900-fill goose down

Contact: 01539 822 155 www.thenorthface.com

Review from Country Walking magazine, February 2012.


The North Face Hybrid Long Sleeve Zip Neck (2012)

A tight fitting, athletic top built for high-energy activities, and as such may frighten off more casual users. The tight fit ensures that moisture is lifted quickly away from the skin and sent to the outside. Body-mapping has also been used to provide a little extra insulation in key areas. Best of all is the seamless construction, which means a very comfortable fit and no rubbing. Against the skin, the top feels very soft too, with dimples and ridges that help create some insulation and help to draw moisture away. Although it uses man-made fibres, the top has an anti-odour treatment added that does help to keep the smell down a bit. A very deep zip collar helps cool things down when it’s very hot.

Sizes: S, ML, LXL

Fabric: 97% polypropylene; 3% elastane

Weight: 199g

Contact: 01539 822 155 www.thenorthface.com

Review from Country Walking magazine, January 2012.


The North Face Cipher

A very lightweight soft shell with no fleece lining, the Cipher feels more like a windshirt than a mid-layer. The fit is quite relaxed, with stretchy, forgiving Gore Windstopper fabric that is very easy to move around in. The fit at the cuffs and hem relies on elastic, which keeps adjustment simple and saves weight, but won’t fit everyone. There’s a mid-height collar that sits comfortably under the chin, and two deep, mesh-lined hip pockets which add a bit of extra ventilation when needed. It’s a great jacket for high-energy walking, with four-way stretch side panels made from Apex Aerobic, the lightest and most breathable of The North Face soft shell fabrics, and it does a great job of keeping out wind, breathes well, and sheds water easily.

VITAL STATS
Sizes:
XS-XL
Fabric: Gore® Windstopper® Soft Shell 3-layer
Weight (tested size): 392g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com


The North Face Warm Long Sleeve Zip Neck

This is a wonderfully soft and snug-fitting base-layer. It’s extremely lightweight too, at only 100g. In fact, the warmth feels almost invisible. The cut is long, and the arms and body easily cover the wrists and hips. It comes with a zip neck for great versatility, and the stretchiness in the fabric means the cuffs pull up easily to the elbows. It’s also got really nice feminine styling – tapered at the waist, without being too figure-hugging. This base-layer works brilliantly as a layer worn under outer layers because it feels so soft against the skin. It did far better than most in the smell test, but did get a bit whiffy after a few wears.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: XS-XL
Weight: 100g
Fabric: Polypropylene
Features: Zip neck, hypoallergenic
Contact: 01539 822 155; www.thenorthface.com


The North Face Warm Long Sleeve Zip Neck

This is a wonderfully soft and snug-fitting base-layer. It’s extremely lightweight too, at only 100g. In fact, the warmth feels almost invisible. The cut is long, and the arms and body easily cover the wrists and hips. It comes with a zip neck for great versatility, and the stretchiness in the fabric means the cuffs pull up easily to the elbows. It’s also got really nice feminine styling – tapered at the waist, without being too figure-hugging. This base-layer works brilliantly as a layer worn under outer layers because it feels so soft against the skin. It did far better than most in the smell test, but did get a bit whiffy after a few wears.

Sizes: XS-XL
Weight: 100g
Fabric: Polypropylene
Features: Zip neck, hypoallergenic
Contact: 01539 822 155; www.thenorthface.com


The North Face Catalyst 2011

The The North Face Catalyst weighs 528g (size L); 800 fill power goose down; Pertex Quantum fabric; ideal as a spare insulator in warmer weather; stuffs into its own pocket; more hardwearing shoulder and sleeve outer fabrics for durability. But hood does not get a volume adjuster and it is not removable; not as well-insulated in the body as others either. 

The The North Face Catalyst is a reasonably light duvet that would be ideal in spring to autumn, but not the warmest in winter.

First published in Trail magazine February 2011


The North Face Gritstone

The Gritstone is a traditional close-cut, short, soft shell style in a medium thickness fabric. It keeps the warmth in and the wind out whilst retaining some stretch. The hem cinches and Velcro cuffs help adjust the fit, although there is no cinch on the soft-lined collar. The chest/hip pockets are a good size and sit high on the torso for access whilst wearing a pack, and to double up as vents. The rugged exterior face of the fabric does make it a little uncomfortable for use as a mid-layer, though.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: Polartec Windbloc soft shell, 84% polyester, 16% elastane
Weight: 600g
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Kishtwar 2010

The Kishtwar is part of The North Face’s Summit Series and it’s designed for highly aerobic endeavours in foul weather. The Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric has the benefit of being far more water-resistant than standard Power Shield.

Design
The TNF Kishtwar is a very practical, mountain-orientated design. There are two chest pockets placed high on the body, plus a Napoleon pocket on the chest. There is a hood as well that gets face drawcords and a volume adjuster. The peak is not stiffened though. But the main difference between this and the other jackets in this test is the fabric, which on first appearances looks more like a waterproof fabric from the inside as there is no brushed fleece – and it feels very much like a waterproof fabric too. This means this jacket appears more like a waterproof jacket or windproof compared to other soft shells that initially look and feel like a windproof fleece.

On the hill
The fabric used in the The North Face Kishtwar is incredibly water-resistant but I was able to force water through it eventually, so a full waterproof will be needed in rain. But for snow, slush and damp conditions this would be ideal. The levels of water resistance and low air permeability reduce breathability a little, but the jacket has mesh-lined pockets, so when they are opened they provide airflow for venting. The cuffs can be vented too with Velcro tabs. The fit was a little more relaxed than other jackets here, which I prefer. However the freedom of movement in the sleeves was not quite so good as others even though the fabric is a little stretchier.  The chest pockets are the best here as they are larger than most and placed a little higher on the body so I could access them easily even while wearing a wide variety of rucksack hipbelts and harnesses. The hood fitted well and moved easily with the head, but the peak could be a little better.

In the lab
The The North Face Kishtwar provided 0.84 TOGs, making it a notch warmer than some others, which was surprising as there is no fleecy lining to the fabric. It is also very windproof at 0.74 cm3/s/cm2. This makes the jacket ideal for use in snow and alpine conditions, but not so good to wear under a waterproof in rain as it is does not allow much airflow.

Fabric Polartec Powershield Pro
Sizes S-XL
Weight 588g (size L)
Made in Thailand
Stores in the UK 15
Stockist details – tel. (01539) 738882; www.thenorthface.com

The The North Face Kishtwar features higher level of wind and water resistance; superb pockets; great hood; average warmth; ideal for icy or snowy conditions. But it is not as breathable as some,  so not ideal under a waterproof  and it is not waterproof either.
So it is superb for use when walking, skiing or mountaineering due to increased water resistance without being as restrictive as a waterproof jacket.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine September 2010


The North Face Stretch Boulder 2010

The North Face’s Stretch Boulder shirt is practical yet attractive and made from Vapourwick, which means it should cope well with the heat. It also comes with venting at the back to keep you cool, there’s a hidden zipped pocket in the seams and it’s made of 100 per cent recycled material. Sleeves can be long or short thanks to straps.

Review by Clare Savage
First published in Trail magazine April 2010

Verdict
The best long-sleeved shirt in our review.

 


The North Face Stretch Softwool Quarter zip base layer

The Stretch has the typical soft and stretchy feel of merino wool, and it performed with all the usual characteristics to make a very functional, versatile and comfortable base-layer that is hard to beat. The fit is casual and the fabric provides a useful amount of insulation when needed, yet never really feels too hot. It has a high collar – good for trapping heat and keeping sun off the back of the neck – and a long zip, which adds to its versatility. It soaks a little more sweat than the synthetic tops, but still doesn’t tend to feel cold, and it retains very little odour. Overall, a quality merino top that ticks all the boxes.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: Merino wool/nylon
Features: Flat-locked seams; monkey cuff thumbs
Contact: 01539 822155;
www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Apex Elixir

Very light, the Elixir feels more like a windshirt; it’s also cut from a very stretchy fabric (10% Elastane) which further exaggerates this lightness. Against it, it doesn’t offer much insulation as a mid-layer. On the hill, in mild conditions, it excels; keeping a reasonable amount of precipitation at bay and breathing wonderfully, but when the going gets a bit cooler, it’s left wanting. The pockets will take an OS map, and also offer venting, and the cuffs are Velcro-adjusted.

Sizes: S-XXL Fabric: Apex Aerobic
Weight: 395g
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 738882; www.thenorthface.com/eu

First published in Country Walking magazine, September 2009


The North Face Flight Series Zip 2009

The North Face Flight Series Zip base layer weighs 83g (men’s S); closer fit; supremely comfy; incredibly light; well-fitting; antimicrobial treatment; good wicking action; close-fitting with a decent length and cut; comfy seams; very fast-drying; good price. But it’s frighteningly fragile-feeling; synthetic fabric pills easily so not likely to be especially durable.

(01539) 738882; www.thenorthface.com

Verdict: The North Face’s Flight Series Zip is a very comfortable base layer for runners and walkers, but it may not be durable enough for the hard stuff.

 

Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine October 2009


THE NORTH FACE SEAMLESS LONG-SLEEVED ZIP-NECK 2009

Review: The polyester/elastane fabric is wonderfully stretchy so it doesn’t feel at all restrictive, making it about perfect for performance if a little figure-hugging for casual wear. This top worked well, drawing perspiration away from the skin quickly and providing a decent amount of insulation. The long zip made it easy to spill some heat when necessary.
VITAL STATS
Colours: Four including heather grey, TNF red heather
Sizes: S/M-L/XL
Fabric: Seamless Equilibrium (95% polypropylene 5% elastane)
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 738882, www.thenorthface.com/euVerdict: A contemporary looking base-layer that performed superbly during the test, especially beneath other layers. A lot of cash for a synthetic top, though.

The Nortgh Face Windwall 1

The zipper is on the wrong side (right instead of left) which made it difficult to do up quickly. Otherwise fitted fine, and comfortable overall. A simply styled jacket that did the job well. One of the lightest, too. It has two big pockets, which doubled as vents, and a really comfy lining. Keenly priced and looks smart.

VITAL STATS
Colours: Rubix red, bittersweet brown, deep water blue, asphalt grey, black
Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: WindWall polyester fleece
Weight: 615g
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 738882, www.thenorthface.com/eu
Verdict: A good jacket let down by a design quirk. In cold, severe conditions it’s important that gear works simply and without a second thought. The zip on this could drive you up the wall!