The North Face Sierra Peak Hoody Review
Cons: Non-cinchable hem
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Sierra Peak Hoody finds itself solidly in between the ultralight style down jackets, and the thicker, high-end, bitter cold battling puffy jackets.
If you've never slipped into a modern lightweight down puffy, you are seriously missing out. We still remember that first time. The Sierra Peak Hoody is a great example of that almost absurdly light and billowy goodness that had us sold immediately. The shell and lining have some of the more buttery soft materials and are just the icing on top to make this a soft, warm, comfortable place to be!
The WindWall exterior fabric is windproof, and windchill is mostly a non-issue when wearing this jacket. The hood has elastic around its perimeter and has a single-pull elastic closure that locks off any cold air from entering around the face. The elastic cord in the hood, however, lays right across the ears and can be super uncomfortable when pulled too tight or when worn for long periods, a problem we have seen in quite a few other jackets.
This jacket is warm for sure, but something we would have liked to have seen is tighter sealing cuffs. Unfortunately, the inset elastic cuffs were only able to seal out drafts if they were pulled up to our elbows. Your results may vary depending on the size of the jacket and your wrist size. We were also slightly put-off by the lack of cinch-cord at the hem, despite The North Face website stating that it has one. The elastic at the hem just didn't quite seal off well enough and with a lack of ability to cinch it up, left this jacket vulnerable to drafts.
At 12.1 ounces for a size large, this jacket falls in between the lighter "ultralight" style jackets and the warmer puffier expedition-style jackets, but we found the warmth for the weight was really good, and we would feel great about sticking this in the backpack for backcountry warmth when every ounce counts.
This uses 800 fill-power down, the baseline for quality down jackets, to fill its sewn-through baffles. Using anything less than 800 fill, and the manufacturer has put weight as less-than utmost important. The fill-power of a down garment refers to how many ounces of down will be required to fill a specific volume of space, or how fluffy the down is for its weight. A higher fill-power will use less weight to fill the same amount of space.
The jacket also saves weight by utilizing thin ripstop nylon shell and lining fabrics. We've always been blown away by how durable these thin rip stops can be, and this one is no exception. Burly would be the wrong descriptor, and we would never squirm up into a squeeze chimney in this jacket, but for normal winter use, this shell material does a great job and should last for years.
The FlashDry used on the ripstop nylon shell has a good DWR (durable-water-resistance) that repels the rain, but with sewn-thru baffles and non-hydrophobic down (although all down has some level of resistance to water), we would never go out in a storm without a rain shell.
However, a quick downpour or a light misting won't hurt; the water beads right up, and rolls right off. Even after several months of use under heavy backpack straps and climbing harnesses, the DWR coating continued to be just as effective as when it was brand new.
The Sierra Peak Hoody has a slim cut; for our testers, there was plenty of room to layer it over a baselayer and light fleece, as well as under most winter shells. This allowed us to get the right degree of warmth, almost regardless of how cold it is outside.
While the hood wasn't perfect, as mentioned in the warmth metric, it fits around the face, sealing out cold drafts surprisingly well. It can also even stretch to accommodate a climbing helmet with no problem.
Thanks to the 800 fill-power down and thin nylon ripstop fabrics, the Sierra Peak Hoody stows loosely into its left handwarmer pocket, but you could easily cram it into a storage sack almost half the normal stuffed size. The stow pocket has a loop to clip it to your climbing harness for when you need to whip it out on those north-facing shady belays.
This jacket is small enough to fit into just about any small climbing or daypack. It can clip out of the way on the back of your harness or fit nicely in your pack to be a welcome companion on any backcountry outing.
The feature set on this jacket is decent. Too many features on a down jacket and it becomes overkill, adding excess weight and complexities. Too few, and it fails to be a functional piece of gear. This one has a decent blend, but as mentioned above is missing a couple of nice features, most notably a cinchable hem.
Not only do we like that it has an internal zippered pocket and zippered handwarmer pockets, but we appreciate that all the zippers are a YKK reverse coil of normal size. They aren't too big, but also are not too small. Some ultralight jackets will use small zippers to save weight, which ends up sacrificing long-term durability.
We love the 800 fill-power down and that it is ethically sourced, but in the industry these days, as far as down items go, that is just the new standard and doesn't warrant any extra brownie points.
This jacket is awarded a Best Buy Award, not because it's cheap, but because it has a great price for what you get. With warmth that just about competes with the highest-end down jackets in our test, but at a much lower price point, this jacket has a great value and should keep you toasty for years to come.
The North Face Sierra Peak is a great all-around hooded down jacket that will please all but the snobbiest of gearheads. All kidding aside, this jacket is a legit choice for almost any cold weather use. If you're on a budget and need a quality jacket to keep cold at bay, this would certainly be one of our go-to choices.
— Adam Paashaus