Hands-on Gear Review

North Face Catalyst Jacket Review

North Face Catalyst Down Jacket
By: Chris McNamara and McKenzie Long  ⋅  Nov 24, 2012
Price:  $249 List
Pros:  Lightweight, durable and relatively water-resistant fabric, pack compatibility.
Cons:  Cinch on hood is hard to adjust with one hand.
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

No Longer in Production
The North Face stopped making the Catalyst. But fear not! Our constantly updated Down Jacket review is just a click away.

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.

Our Analysis and Test Results



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.

Best Application

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.

Chris McNamara and McKenzie Long

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: November 24, 2012
Summary of All Ratings

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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Apr 26, 2012 - 06:18pm
Phx_Trad · Climber · Phoenix, AZ

Took this jacket to Peru for a 12 day adventure from the Inka trail to Misti Mountain up at 19,000 ft and it performed great. i wore this as part of a layering system for the Misti mountain climb and it kept me warm down into the single digits. it was fairly water resistant on the trail with light rain and it packed down nice to be stowed when not needed.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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