Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $249
Pros: Lightweight, durable and relatively water-resistant fabric, pack compatibility.
Cons: Cinch on hood is hard to adjust with one hand.
Best Uses: Alpine climbing, belaying, backpacking, around town.
This jacket has a great combination of features and they work well while wearing a pack or harness. It has zippered hand pockets, conveniently stuffs into a hand pocket, and the Pertex Quantum fabric is slightly more durable and water resistant compared to other fabrics used on these jackets. However, this jacket is expensive, and the MontBell Alpine Light wins our Best Buy award because you get the most for its price.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
For a lightweight down layer (12.9 oz.), the Catalyst is a comfortable, relatively durable jacket. It is made of a fabric called Pertex Quantum that is less likely to tear and more water resistant than the Nitrous Jacket or the recycled polyester that makes up the Down Sweater. It has no interior pockets, which saves some weight from an extra zipper, and stuffs into one of the hand pockets. The North Face classifies this jacket in its "Summit Series," meaning it is designed to work well while wearing a pack or a harness. The hand pockets are long, so the top opening is reachable with a pack waistband clipped, though it is still a little awkward to get into the pockets underneath a harness.
The only complaint I have of this jacket is that the cinch on the hood is a bit difficult to adjust with one hand, but this is quite minor. It only has a cinch cord around the face and not one around the back to pull tight around the circumference of your head. Overall the jacket is well constructed and functional.
Just like the Patagonia Down Sweater, this versatile jacket can be used for just about anything, from a long overnight trip to being clipped to your harness to everyday use. It is thin enough to be worn under a shell or can be used by itself as an outer layer.
The price of the Catalyst is pretty average for a jacket of this type. The hooded version is the same price as the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody.
The women's version was the North Face Catalyst Jacket - Women's (discontinued).
The North Face Nuptse jacket is in the current Down Jacket comparative review. The North Face Thunder Jacket- Women's and Thunder Jacket - Men's are comparable alternative options.
— Chris McNamara and McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 24, 2012
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