The North Face Summit Down Review
Cons: Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibility
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Summit Down
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|Pros||Warm, hydrophobic down, comfortable, large pockets accommodate use while wearing a harness||Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic down||Lightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratio||Inexpensive, fully featured adjustability||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibility||No hood cinch, no chest pocket||Expensive, not super durable||Moderate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pockets||Minimal features, boxy fit|
|Bottom Line||This is a top-tier jacket with practical features and incredibly refined details||A surprisingly warm jacket that is super-light, thin, and provides excellent versatility for technical adventures||An incredibly light jacket for your trips where weight matters||This down offers the warmth and quality of more premium choices at an approachable price point||This is an inexpensive jacket that is ideal for casual hiking and wearing around town|
|Rating Categories||The North Face Summ...||Ghost Whisperer/2||Arc'teryx Cerium SL...||MontBell Superior Down||REI Co-op 650 Down...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||The North Face Summ...||Ghost Whisperer/2||Arc'teryx Cerium SL...||MontBell Superior Down||REI Co-op 650 Down...|
|Down Fill||800 fill goose down||800 fill RDS certified, down insulation||850 fill goose down||800 fill goose down||650 fill power down|
|Total Weight||14.43 oz||8.5 oz||7.6 oz||8.7 oz||10.44 oz|
|Baffle Construction||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles|
|Main Fabric||Nylon pertex||Recycled polyester ripstop, DWR finish||Arato 7 nylon||10 denier ballistic airlight nylon||Recycled nylon taffeta|
|Compression Method||Stuffs into pocket||Zips into pocket||Included stuff sack||Stuff sack||Stuffs into pocket|
|Pockets||2 hand, 2 internal, 1 chest||2 zippered hand||2 zippered hand||2 zippered hand||2 hand|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This midweight down from The North Face is built to perform. Constructed with 800-fill hydrophobic down, the Summit has an incredible weight to warmth ratio and is one of the more water-resistant options we tested. Equipped with useful features and tailored to have an athletic fit, the long cut of the torso makes it an makes an excellent belay coat. Whether you're looking for an insulating layer for skiing, cold weather backpacking, or climbing, this down will be more than capable for almost any adventure you have planned.
The 800-fill down used in this jacket makes it the warmest midweight down we tested in our review. If you're using it for touring, hiking, or any high output activity, this jacket will easily keep you warm in below-freezing temperatures. If you're going to be using it as a belay coat for ice climbing or just standing around in single-digit temperatures, you'll likely need a layer or two underneath.
While it's not the absolute warmest coat we reviewed, pound for pound, we found it had the best weight to warmth ratio in our testing lineup, making it our reviewers' first choice for cold-weather adventures.
The size medium we tested weighed in at 14.43 ounces. Given its incredible warmth and heavily featured design, we found this to be quite light compared to jackets offering similar levels of warmth and feature sets.
Weighing in at just under a pound, this jacket is great for truly cold weather activities but will probably be on the heavy side for summer backpacking and unnecessarily large for the average day at the crag. This is not the jacket you'll want for your fastpacking trip through the mountains or for any mission where eliminating every unneeded ounce is more important than the extra warmth it provides.
Down is notorious for not standing up well to moisture. Untreated down is naturally hydrophobic to an extent, but when subjected to any real kind of precipitation, it soaks up water, losing both its loft and its insulating abilities. This nylon outer shell is treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating that acts as the first line of defense against moisture, turning your down jacket into a soggy mess. In addition to the DWR coating, the down used in this jacket has also been chemically treated to be more hydrophobic. While this doesn't make you impervious to water, it will fair better than your average down jacket if you happen to be caught in the rain.
The extra water resistance makes this coat a good choice for ice climbing and skiing, where you will undoubtedly be exposed to a bit of moisture from snow and ice.
For a medium-weight jacket that straddles the line of heavyweight belay coats, the fit is surprisingly athletic. The torso tapers to a more narrow waist but gives you plenty of room in the shoulders. The jacket is by no means slim fit and provides ample room to layer underneath. The arms are on the long side, but the elastic cuffs keep them from drooping down past your hands if you don't need the extra length.
Despite the fairly athletic fit, it is still a bulky jacket that isn't ideal for actually climbing in. The bulkier fit makes layering a rain shell over the top somewhat cumbersome. This piece, like most down jackets, thrives in cold, dry weather.
Our size medium compressed down to about the size of a football.
While it compresses well for its size and easily stows into a backpack, it's much too large to clip to your harness and climb with. It does stuff into one of its zippered hand pockets, eliminating the need for a separate stuff sack.
This jacket has all the classic features most folks are looking for in a belay coat or ski jacket. It has an oversized helmet-compatible hood, extremely large zippered hand pockets, a zippered outer breast pocket, and two internal drop pockets.
The wrist cuffs are elastic and lined with an incredibly soft and stretchy material that made this one of the most comfortable jackets we tested. The zippered hand pockets extend well up your torso, making them accessible even while you are in a harness.
The only feature this jacket doesn't have is an adjustable waist hem. Our testers find that being able to cinch your waist tight is incredibly helpful for keeping drafts out and warm air in.
This coat relies on its tapered waist to achieve the same thing. While it does a fairly good job at keeping warm air from escaping, an adjustable waist would be a welcome addition.
The quality and features you get with this jacket don't come cheap. The Summit is built with the high-end mountain athlete in mind and is priced accordingly. It's incredibly warm for its relatively low weight and is exceptionally comfortable. If you need a jacket built for moving in the elements, this is worth the hefty price. If you're looking for something to knock around town in, there are better valued options.
The North Face Summit Down is one of the most comfortable midweight downs we reviewed and boasts one of the best weight to warmth ratios. With an athletic fit that also accommodates layering underneath, it makes a great insulating layer for cold weather ventures into the mountains. While it's not the absolute lightest, it comes equipped with a total of five pockets and a helmet-compatible hood. Whether you are ice climbing, skiing, or hanging out at the boulders in freezing temperatures, this jacket will keep you warm and comfortable.
— Buck Yedor