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.
The North Face Morph Hoodie Review
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
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
The Morph Hoodie was about average in our comparative overall rankings, as you can see in the chart above.
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.
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.
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 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. 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 because we can't ignore our own experiences.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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