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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
Photo: The North Face
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $350 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Warm, hydrophobic down, comfortable, large pockets accommodate use while wearing a harness
Cons:  Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibility
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Buck Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 30, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Warmth - 30% 9
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Fit - 15% 9
  • Compressibility - 10% 8
  • Features - 10% 8

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $350 List
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Pros Warm, hydrophobic down, comfortable, large pockets accommodate use while wearing a harnessIncredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic downLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioInexpensive, fully featured adjustabilityInexpensive, lightweight
Cons Expensive, non-adjustable waist hem, poor compressibilityNo hood cinch, no chest pocketExpensive, not super durableModerate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pocketsMinimal features, boxy fit
Bottom Line This is a top-tier jacket with practical features and incredibly refined detailsOffers high versatility, 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 pointThis 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...
Warmth (30%)
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Fit (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
5.0
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
Hoodless Option? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison



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 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 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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Weight


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.

Water Resistance


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.

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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Fit


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.

The oversized hood easily fits over a helmet.
The oversized hood easily fits over a helmet.
Photo: Buck Yedor

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.

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.
Photo: 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 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 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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

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 cinchable hood keeps the oversized hood fitting snuggly against...
The cinchable hood keeps the oversized hood fitting snuggly against your head.
Photo: 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 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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Value


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 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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Conclusion


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.

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.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Buck Yedor