Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $260
Pros: 3-in-1 construction. Ski features abound.
Cons: Generic style. Fiddly, uninsulated hood.
Best Uses: Resort skiing and boarding.
The North Face Headwall Triclimate is a carefully designed 3-in-1 style jacket. It kept us warm, protected us from foul weather, and delivered a multi-purpose package at a reasonable price. The North Face started out as a climbing clothing and equipment company, but has adapted nicely to the gravity powered market. The Headwall jacket offers all the expected ski feature niceties, and then some. In our testing no durability concerns came to light and comfort matched all but the best in our testing. Fashion is neutral, blending in virtually unnoticed to the lift lines and apres scene. In our test inventory, the Headwall compares best to the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1. These jackets stack up equally in ventilation and weather resistance. The North Face Headwall is more comfortable than Columbia’s offering, but Columbia earned our Best Buy award with warmer insulation, a slightly lower price, and more flattering style.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The North Face Headwall Triclimate is slightly less warm than test-category-leaders Columbia Whirlibird and Helly Hansen Enigma. This means that it is plenty warm for most people’s purposes. The multiple layers of fabric and insulation add up to a cozy package.
In an admittedly debatable move, we rated both 3-in-1 style jackets at the top of the ventilation category. It takes some more effort through the day, but mixing and matching the layers allows for fine-tuned temperature regulation. If ventilation is analogous with temperature regulation then it follows that these modular Headwall and Whirlibird jackets should score well. Additionally, the pit-zips of the shell portion of The North Face Headwall Triclimate can be opened and closed to adjust air flow.
The North Face brings mountaineering chops to the proprietary shell fabric of the Headwall Triclimate. The coating, DWR, and construction work together to give above-average weather protection. The only real chink in the jacket’s armor is short sleeves that pulled easily and frequently off the gloves of average-limbed testers. This left sensitive wrists vulnerable to wind, wet and cold. The hood, while suffering from familiar drawcord fiddliness, cinches down effectively over helmet or toque. Only the Burton AK Stagger and Patagonia Rubicon Rider had better helmet cinching. The ski jacket business as a whole can improve hood cinching construction, and more complicated solutions are not the answer.
The Headwall Triclimate brings all the bells and whistles. It will attach to pants from The North Face, store whatever you want in the various pockets, and when your goggles get fogged up you can whip out the included lens-friendly cloth.
As compared, once again, to nearest competitor Whirlibird jacket, The North Face Headwall Triclimate is quite a bit more comfortable. Similar in comfort scores to the Spyder Titan, the Headwall earns its marks in a very different fashion. It fits loosely, hanging off the shoulders almost limply. This means it stays out of the way of a gyrating boarder.
The Headwall Triclimate jacket offers a generic look. Indeed, it could be described as neutral. It will appeal equally to skiers and snowboarders. Beginner to intermediate riders won’t be making unfounded claims about their skills with the Headwall jacket. If a beginner rider is going to sport something like the Flyow BA Puffy they should be warned that expectations will be high for their abilities. Not so for wearers of the Headwall Triclimate. And that is a good thing. The “old school” nylon shell fabric hung loosely from our testers shoulders in an unflattering fashion. Additionally, and opinions were far from unanimous, but votes on the appearance of the two inner jackets in the test fell in favor of the Columbia Whirlibird.
We like the value-added benefits of a 3-in-1 jacket style. Each layer can be worn on its own, on the hill or in town, or the owner can strap them together to serve as one heavy-duty insulated jacket.
In our Women’s ski jacket test we reviewed The North Face Boundary Triclimate Jacket. It is roughly similar, with a fleece inner layer replacing the Headwall’s synthetic puffy inner.
— Jediah Porter
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: April 2, 2013
Credit: The North Face
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