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.
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||Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic down||Lightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratio||Inexpensive, fully featured adjustability||Lightweight, inexpensive, excellent for layering|
|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||No hood cinch, no hem cinch, loses feathers|
|Bottom Line||This is a top-tier jacket with practical features and incredibly refined details||This high scorer offers high versatility, warmth, comfort, accommodation of movement, and light weight||If you are looking for a warm, light layer for a trip where ounces count, this is a great selection||This down offers the warmth and quality of more premium choices at an approachable price point||A 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...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— James Lucas & Buck Yedor
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