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The North Face Summit Down Review

This is a top-tier jacket with practical features and incredibly refined details
The North Face Summit Down
Credit: The North Face
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Price:  $350 List | $338.10 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, hydrophobic down, comfortable, large pockets
Cons:  Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibility
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By James Lucas & Buck Yedor  ⋅  Aug 21, 2022
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Warmth - 30% 9.0
  • Weight - 20% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6.0
  • Comfort - 15% 9.0
  • Compressibility - 10% 8.0
  • Features - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Summit Down is built for the mountains. Stuffed with 800-fill hydrophobic down, a helmet-compatible hood, and large pockets that remain accessible while wearing a harness, this coat is ideal for climbers, hikers, and skiers who need a seriously warm, packable jacket. Sporting a total of five pockets, including an external zippered breast pocket, you have room to store your phone, snacks, gloves, and any other small items you want close at hand. While the torso does taper at the waist, it doesn't have an adjustable waistline, which some of our testers found to be a detractor. This jacket is best suited for serious climbers, skiers, or anyone spending extended amounts of time in cold conditions.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on August 21, 2022, to include additional information about our in-depth testing and analysis process.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $350 List
$338.10 at Amazon
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Pros Warm, hydrophobic down, comfortable, large pocketsIncredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic downLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioInexpensive, fully featured adjustabilityLightweight, inexpensive, excellent for layering
Cons Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibilityNo hood cinch, no chest pocketExpensive, not super durableModerate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pocketsNo hood cinch, no hem cinch, loses feathers
Bottom Line This is a top-tier jacket with practical features and incredibly refined detailsThis high scorer offers high versatility, warmth, comfort, accommodation of movement, and light weightIf you are looking for a warm, light layer for a trip where ounces count, this is a great selectionThis down offers the warmth and quality of more premium choices at an approachable price pointA good basic and affordable lightweight down jacket for moderately cold temperatures
Rating Categories The North Face Summ... Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... MontBell Superior Down REI Co-op 650 Down...
Warmth (30%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
Comfort (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Compressibility (10%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs The North Face Summ... Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... MontBell Superior Down REI Co-op 650 Down...
Down Fill 800-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 850-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 650-fill goose down
Total Weight 14.1 oz 8.5 oz 7.6 oz 8.7 oz 10.4 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric 100% ripstop nylon 10D ripstop nylon 100% nylon 10D nylon 100% nylon
Compression Method Zips into pocket Zips into pocket Stuff sack Stuff sack Zips into pocket
Pockets 2 hand, 2 internal, 1 chest 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hands, 1 internal 2 zippered hands, 1 internal
Hoodless Option? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face built this midweight down 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 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 any adventure you have planned.

Performance Comparison


The North Face Summit Down down jacket - we loved the long (and cinchable) hem for the extra coverage and for...
We loved the long (and cinchable) hem for the extra coverage and for holding in the heat.

Warmth


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 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.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - the long torso gives you plenty of coverage and more protection from...
The long torso gives you plenty of coverage and more protection from the elements.
Credit: Buck Yedor

While it's not the absolute warmest coat we reviewed, pound for pound, we found it has one of the best weight-to-warmth ratios in our testing lineup, making it one of our first choices for cold-weather adventures.

Weight


The size medium we tested weighed in at 14.1 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.

Water Resistance


Down is notorious for not standing up well to moisture. Untreated down is naturally hydrophobic to an extent, but when subjected to 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, which would turn 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're caught in the rain.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - whether you need a puffy for cold desert mornings or long ice...
Whether you need a puffy for cold desert mornings or long ice belays, this beefy coat will keep you toasty.
Credit: Buck Yedor

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.

Comfort


For a medium-weight jacket that straddles the line of heavyweight belay coats, the fit is surprisingly athletic, making it comfortable for casual or hard-working wear. 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.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - the oversized hood easily fits over a helmet.
The oversized hood easily fits over a helmet.
Credit: Buck Yedor

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, and that's when it will feel the most comfortable.

Compressibility


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.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - it doesn't have the best compressibility but considering how warm...
It doesn't have the best compressibility but considering how warm this jacket is, we really can't complain.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Features


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 North Face Summit Down down jacket - the two zippered hand pockets sit high enough to remain accesible...
The two zippered hand pockets sit high enough to remain accesible even while wearing a harness.
Credit: Buck Yedor

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.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - the cinchable hood keeps the oversized hood fitting snuggly against...
The cinchable hood keeps the oversized hood fitting snuggly against your head. Pictured here is The North Face Summit Down.
Credit: Buck Yedor

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 North Face Summit Down down jacket - the stretchy and plush wrist cuffs are not only comfortable but...
The stretchy and plush wrist cuffs are not only comfortable but excel at keeping the wind out.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Should You Buy The North Face Summit Down?


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. The quality and features you get with this jacket come at a price. 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.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - the internal drop pockets are ideal for keeping your skins or...
The internal drop pockets are ideal for keeping your skins or climbing shoes warm, or snacks close at hand.
Credit: Buck Yedor

What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?


While this is an incredibly high-performing jacket, we do have other options in our fleet that are worth considering. The Feathered Friends Eos is another model that we love for its exceptional warmth, as is the Rab Electron Pro and Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2.

The North Face Summit Down down jacket - the relaxed fit makes it easy to layer a base and midlayer underneath.
The relaxed fit makes it easy to layer a base and midlayer underneath.
Credit: Buck Yedor

James Lucas & Buck Yedor
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