Puffy jackets often turn from warm and useful to more of an irritant when the insulation (whether down or synthetic) slides around and doesn’t provide the consistent coverage it used to. They might still be good to serve as cushy travel pillows, but when it comes to a perfomance-style jacket—not so much.
The North Face Thermoball Hoodie (and other Thermoball jackets, in general) uses the company’s Thermoball synthetic insulation, which has the warmth equivalent of 600-fill down. It’s as compressible as down, and the clusters of the round, synthetic nylon material trap and retain heat within small air pockets to keep you warm, even when wet. If your down jacket gets wet, good luck keeping warm with a bunch of soggy feathers.
On top of that, the jacket’s square stitching helps hold insulation in place to keep it evenly distributed, rather than sliding around and creating pockets of nothing. Despite all the puffiness, it’s super lightweight, and I can pack mine down to a small ball to cram in my suitcase.
The jacket’s cuffs and hood have bound edges, which keep things in place on your wrists and head. An internal hem draw cord keeps the cold wind from whistling up your back. Outside zippered pockets are plenty roomy for hands or stashing important gear. There are a couple of internal stow pockets, but they’re not zippered, so mind that jumping around.
While I haven’t yet had the chance to test the jacket in winter conditions, I wore it recently during chilly mornings and evenings in the Canadian Rockies, and it kept me perfectly warm until the temperatures rose during the day.
The North Face Thermoball Hoodie comes in passion pink, borealis blue, high rise grey, or TNF black and lists for $220 on The North Face website. It’s also available at REI or Moosejaw for the same price.
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