Lightweight, warm and stylish â€“ Neil Braidwood thinks this new jacket from The North Face has it all.
The Scottish weather is changeable at the best of times, so when youâ€™re out on the hill, whether trail running or hiking, you need to be prepared for whatever it throws at you.
The North Face worked with PrimaLoft to come up with this unique ThermoBall technology â€“ which takes the man-made filament and teases it out into a rough sphere. This â€˜ballâ€™ of insulation actually mimics down feathers, and so gives the jacket not only superior warmth, but compression, too. The pocket stitching keeps the ThermoBalls in place, keeping your core warmer. This jacket is equivalent to a 600 fill down garment.
I pretty much loved this jacket ever since I put it on. It is superlight, at around 300g (for a medium) so you barely know itâ€™s there. It doesnâ€™t feel restrictive, with the stretchy, softshell sides and arms allowing for easy movement. Plus, they come in some amazing colours.
There is a silky sheen to the fabric, and although it feels superfine, it is pretty durable, too. There is a one-way zip up the centre, which pulls right up to your chin, creating a quilted stand-up collar â€“ perfect for when it gets blowy. The hood is made from softshell material, and has a central band and two panels either side, so it fits well, but drops down naturally over your forehead. Itâ€™s not a tight fit around your face â€“ you might need some ventilation, but it comes far enough over your brow that it doesnâ€™t blow back. Itâ€™s on display all the time.
The sleeves have elasticated cuffs, and extend right up over the shoulders, so if youâ€™re carrying a pack, there are no seams to cause chafing.
There are two deep handwarmer pockets, with no zips, and two even deeper inside side pockets. Thereâ€™s a secret zipped inside chest pocket, which will carry a phone, but the entire jacket also stuffs neatly into this pocket, and when turned inside out, thereâ€™s a wee carry loop for clipping to your belt or rucksack.
Iâ€™ve been running in the Pentlands wearing this in pretty freezing, windy conditions andÂ although itâ€™s really a spring garment it still does a great job of keeping your core warm, while even the softshell areas manage to stave off the wind. I did get caught in a downpour, and the jacket coped well, but itâ€™s not fully waterproof. Still, with the insulation being PrimaLoft, it manages to retain its loft, and keep you warm â€“ unlike down in a similar situation. It also dries much quicker than a down jacket would when wet.
â€¢ Stretch soft shell sleeves, sides and hood
â€¢ Three inner pockets, one zipped
â€¢ Two handwarmer pockets
â€¢ Stand-up collar
â€¢ Stuffs into zipped pocket
RRP Â£155, available in menâ€™s and womenâ€™s styles from Black’s.