The North Face has just relaunched its Summit Series collection, which represents the pinnacle of TNF products, with input from the company’s top mountaineering and climbing athletes. The new collection is six layers, from L1 to L6, with L1 the base layers and L6 an 800-fill down jacket. So the L4 jacket we have on test here is still pretty warm – described as the company’s ‘warmest synthetic mid-layer,’ and ‘a secondary mid-layer when temperatures start to drop’ – and would be one for seriously cold expeditions.
The jacket is insulated with PrimaLoft ThermoBall, a synthetic insulation that keeps its warmth while wet. The fit is sleek and athletic, while still giving a great range of movement: raising the arms above the head doesn’t move the rest of the jacket at all. There are two large main pockets, a smaller external chest pocket, an inner mesh pocket and yet another zip up inner pocket for valuables – but despite all these features the jacket is light and not bulky. There’s a hood that fits under a helmet; the sleeves are long and the hem adjustable via a drawcord in the pockets.
This is a lovely, top quality piece of kit. It might be too warm to wear as a mid-layer for many trekking and hiking trips but it will be great for seriously cold expeditions – and you could always use it as an outer layer too.
In a line: One for the coldest expeditions.
This review first appeared as part of a group test in Adventure Travel magazine issue 121.