Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Morph Hoodie Review

If you can find the proper fit, this is a solid jacket worthy of any outdoor enthusiast.
By: Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 18, 2017
Price:  $279 List  |  $278.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Quite warm, pretty light, awesome hem draw cords and buckles, responsibly sourced down
Cons:  Very poor fit is super tight in the shoulders, under arms, and across the top of the back and chest
Manufacturer:   The North Face
67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Warmth - 30% 7
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Fit - 15% 4
  • Compressibility - 10% 6
  • Features - 10% 8
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Our Verdict

The North Face Morph Hoodie offers great warmth at a low cost in weight due to its 800-fill power responsibly sourced down. It also has some of the best functioning features in this review, including deeply recessed sleeve cuffs that easily accommodate gloves, and recessed hem drawcord pulls and buckles that ensure no cord will be left dangling below your waist. We really appreciated these features in a jacket that is described by The North Face as being designed specifically for climbing in the winter. We also think it works just fine for most other activities as well, not to mention as an around-town warmth layer. That said, we found it to be cut with a prohibitively constricting fit, a bummer considering the other worthy attributes of this jacket.

Looking for Hoodless?
The North Face also sells this same down hoodie in jacket form — the Morph Jacket. It is essentially the same design, without the hood, and comes for $30 less than the Morph Hoodie.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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Despite having one of the best sets of features of any jacket in this review combined with a very respectable warmth-to-weight ratio, the elephant in the room with this jacket is the fit. The North Face claims that this jacket is designed as a winter climbing garment, but we found it to be very tight in the shoulders, armpits, chest, and upper back, to the point where we found it frustrating to wear. We tested a men's size medium on the recommendation of the Fit Finder app found on The North Face's website, and with past experience in size large from The North Face typically fitting our head tester much too loose and baggy. The sleeves are plenty long and we love the extra length in the drop hem, suggesting that we did indeed order the correct size, but unfortunately for a climbing specific jacket, the Morph Hoodie does not very well fit a climber's body. Needless to say, we recommend trying this one on carefully before committing to a purchase.

Performance Comparison


The Morph Hoodie was about average in our comparative overall rankings, as you can see in the chart above.

The North Face Morph Hoodie is a warm down jacket that scored roughly average in our comparative review. Here contemplating testing its water resistance in a cave behind the Cascade Falls.
The North Face Morph Hoodie is a warm down jacket that scored roughly average in our comparative review. Here contemplating testing its water resistance in a cave behind the Cascade Falls.

Warmth


The Morph Hoodie uses 800-fill power responsibly sourced down in medium thick sewn-through baffles. We found this combination provided a fair amount of loft for a lightweight down jacket, making it in many ways similar to the construction style of the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody. While our torso was kept toasty warm, we noticed that the high collar is pretty wide, and there is no way to tighten it down, which allows some cold to infiltrate around our face and neck, in contrast to the way our Editors' Choice award-winning Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody managed to close this area off. Similarly, we noticed that the drop hem had a tendency to ride up a bit when we were active, also compromising a perfect seal at the bottom of the jacket. Realistically, these are minor complaints and we found this to be a pretty warm jacket, worthy of 7 points.

Once the sun goes behind the mountain the air gets really cold. The Morph Hoodie did a good job keeping us warm on this evening hike near Ouray.
Once the sun goes behind the mountain the air gets really cold. The Morph Hoodie did a good job keeping us warm on this evening hike near Ouray.

Weight


Our size men's Medium Morph Hoodie weighed 13.9 ounces fresh out of the box, making it the fourth lightest in our review, but the third lightest jacket that included a hood. As a pretty darn warm jacket that is also fairly lightweight, we felt this jacket did fairly well in the most important categories for a down jacket, propelling it into the upper half of our comparative rankings despite the potentially difficult fit. It was a shade lighter than two similar jackets, the Rab Microlight Alpine and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody. 7 out of 10.

Water Resistance


We felt that this jacket had one of the best DWR coatings that we tested. Despite conducting our testing for this metric at the end of an intensive three-month review period, the DWR coating stayed nearly perfectly intact, causing water to quickly bead and fall off, without absorbing into the nylon face fabric. In this regard, it was equal to the performance of the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded. However, it does not use hydrophobically treated down, like that found in the Marmot Tullus Hoody. The end result is that we gave it a highly respectable 8 out of 10 for water resistance, but would still baby it a bit in wet conditions or climate.

As you can see  the DWR coating on the outside of this jacket is doing a great job of causing the water to bead up without letting it absorb into the nylon face fabric. This was one of the better jackets when it came to water resistance.
As you can see, the DWR coating on the outside of this jacket is doing a great job of causing the water to bead up without letting it absorb into the nylon face fabric. This was one of the better jackets when it came to water resistance.

Fit


As we have already mentioned, for us the fit of this hoody was simply off. It was far too tight in the shoulders, chest, underarms, and upper back. While this was an inconvenience around town, it proved to be very frustrating in the mountains, to the point where we didn't want to wear it. On The North Face's website, a small percentage of people submitted comments suggesting they had a similar experience with the Morph Jacket, a hoodless version of the same garment, but there were not enough comments about the Morph Hoodie to substantiate these claims. For us, the fit was not unlike that of the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded, although even tighter. We felt that the sleeves were plenty long, and likewise, the hemline was also plenty long enough, so perhaps this was a jacket that simply didn't suit our head tester well. However, we chose to award only 4 points for fit, the lowest score along with the overly baggy REI Co-op Magma 850, because we can't ignore our own experiences.

Although slightly accentuated in this photo  you can clearly see how this jacket is quite tight across the chest and in the armpits and shoulders. We thought it had one of the most restricting fits of any jacket we tested.
Although slightly accentuated in this photo, you can clearly see how this jacket is quite tight across the chest and in the armpits and shoulders. We thought it had one of the most restricting fits of any jacket we tested.

Compressibility


We like that this jacket stuffs into its own hand pocket that has a zipper with an easy to grab pull tab, but lament that the stuffed package remains rather large, not unlike the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody. It scored lower than the similarly compressed Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody because it didn't have a clip-in loop on the outside once stuffed, a minor inconvenience, and also leaves a hem drawcord tab exposed. While it was certainly more easily compressible than any of the jackets that didn't stuff into a pocket, such as the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold, we only gave it 6 out of 10 for this metric.

The three middle sized jackets when stuffed. On the left is the Rab Microlight Alpine  stuffed into its included stuff sack. In the middle is The North Face Morph Hoodie  stuffed into its hand pocket. On the right is the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody  stuffed into its internal chest pocket. While these jackets compressed easily  they were not among the very smallest compressed jackets.
The three middle sized jackets when stuffed. On the left is the Rab Microlight Alpine, stuffed into its included stuff sack. In the middle is The North Face Morph Hoodie, stuffed into its hand pocket. On the right is the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, stuffed into its internal chest pocket. While these jackets compressed easily, they were not among the very smallest compressed jackets.

Features


The Morph Hoodie features the best hem drawcord and buckle setup of any jacket in this review, and for that, we give it serious props. The combination of pull tabs that live inside the handwarmer pockets so that loops of bungee cord are not left hanging below the waist when tightened is key for winter climbing, lest a crampon catches the cord while climbing or hiking. We also love the recessed, easy to release buckles that live within the fabric of the hem, offering a super clean look and function. Unfortunately, the hood has no way to tighten it and does not have an elastic liner like that found on the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded. Similarly, while we appreciated the super high collar, it was also fairly loose with no way to tighten. One other feature we liked is the super recessed elastic cuffs for the sleeves, which easily allowed for overlap with gloves, negating any chance of exposed skin. While this jacket was worthy of a solid 8 points for its features, it didn't quite live up the standard of the OR Transcendent Hoody.

One of the features we liked about this jacket was the recessed elastic cuffs at the wrists  which allowed for easy overlap when wearing gloves.
One of the features we liked about this jacket was the recessed elastic cuffs at the wrists, which allowed for easy overlap when wearing gloves.

Shown here on the Morph Hoodie is the hem pull cord that lives inside the front handwarmer pockets  and has a recessed release buckle that lives inside the fabric  and releases by being pinched  as our other hand is doing. This was the single most optimal combination of hem draw cord location and buckles on a jacket that we tested.
Shown here on the Morph Hoodie is the hem pull cord that lives inside the front handwarmer pockets, and has a recessed release buckle that lives inside the fabric, and releases by being pinched, as our other hand is doing. This was the single most optimal combination of hem draw cord location and buckles on a jacket that we tested.

Best Applications


The North Face advertises this jacket as being designed for winter climbing, and it will serve one well for this purpose as long as it fits properly. Despite being pretty warm, it is still lightweight, meaning it is a good piece for active people on cold days, but will need to be used as a warmth layer in conjunction with other outer garments if it is truly bone-chilling out or one is not moving frequently. This jacket will also serve for most other winter activities, such as skiing in a resort or backcountry.

The Morph Hoodie is designed for winter climbing  and we found it to be a great belay jacket for cold autumn days where the temps are perfect for sending  but a bit cold while hanging out around the base of the crag.
The Morph Hoodie is designed for winter climbing, and we found it to be a great belay jacket for cold autumn days where the temps are perfect for sending, but a bit cold while hanging out around the base of the crag.

Value


The Morph Hoodie retails for $279. This price seems to be about average for a lightweight down jacket, and since this one scores in the upper half of our overall ratings, we think it most likely presents a good value.

Lightweight down jackets are ideal as active layers when out on hikes in cold seasons  here wearing the Morph Hoodie while looking for wildlife and enjoying the late fall sunshine in Ironton  San Juan Mountains.
Lightweight down jackets are ideal as active layers when out on hikes in cold seasons, here wearing the Morph Hoodie while looking for wildlife and enjoying the late fall sunshine in Ironton, San Juan Mountains.

The one caveat is that it needs to fit well to get your money's worth, so be sure to wear it around a bit before chopping all those tags off.

As long as the fit is good for your body  we found the Morph Hoodie to be a quality down jacket  testing it here on a dog walk through the aspens  waiting for some snow to arrive.
As long as the fit is good for your body, we found the Morph Hoodie to be a quality down jacket, testing it here on a dog walk through the aspens, waiting for some snow to arrive.

Conclusion


With a solid warmth-to-weight ratio thanks to its responsibly sourced 800 fill-power down, The North Face Morph Hoodie is a good jacket to consider for winter active wear. Combined with a solid feature set, this jacket was one of the better ones in our review and comes at a fairly reasonable price. That said, the fit literally gave us fits, so we strongly recommend trying it on before purchasing.

Andy Wellman

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