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The North Face Summit L3 Hoody Review

This is our absolute favorite jacket for going fast and light when we need to be toasty at camp.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $375 List | $374.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great fit, warm, lightweight, packable, hydrophobic down
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Adam Paashaus & Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 10, 2019
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RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Warmth - 30% 10
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 9
  • Fit - 15% 9
  • Compressibility - 10% 9
  • Features - 10% 10

Our Verdict

Once again, our Editors Choice Award winner, The North Face Summit L3 Down Hoody, has some great features that are suited for some serious alpine endeavors but also perfect for just keeping you warm during a winter sunrise in the desert southwest. This jacket is light, warm, and the fit is incredible! The Summit L3 manages to be one of loftiest jackets in our comparison, and still sleek and form-fitting enough for layering over or under. It's lightweight enough for long-distance backpacking, but like other products in The North Face Summit series, it's geared towards alpine climbing. You can pack it away and clip it to your harness and pull it back out for long shady belays. This jacket proves that The North Face is still in the game of making some of the best gear available.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $374.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$339.00 at Feathered Friends$279.70 at Amazon
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$209.96 at Backcountry
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$277.38 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Great fit, warm, lightweight, packable, hydrophobic down900+ fill down, warm, lightweight, incredibly compressible, competitively pricedLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioWater resistant hydrophobic down, great DWR coating, well thought-out featuresVery warm, super light, packs small, fits fantastic
Cons ExpensiveHood a little tight to fit over a helmet, no hood adjustmentExpensive, not super durable750 fill-power down is good but not as light or lofty as othersExpensive, draw cord performance not as great as other jackets
Bottom Line This is our absolute favorite jacket for going fast and light when we need to be toasty at camp.A great choice for folks looking to go fast, light, and warm.An incredibly light jacket for your trips where weight matters.Excellent for wet weather because it has all the features to ensure the down stays dry.A great warmth to weight ratio and excellent features make the Cerium a solid choice.
Rating Categories Summit L3 Hoody Feathered Friends Eos Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody Rab Microlight Alpine Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Warmth (30%)
10
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10
10
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10
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6
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10
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8
Weight (20%)
10
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8
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8
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10
10
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6
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8
Water Resistance (15%)
10
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9
10
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7
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7
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6
Fit (15%)
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9
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7
Compressibility (10%)
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6
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7
Features (10%)
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Specs Summit L3 Hoody Feathered Friends... Arc'teryx Cerium... Rab Microlight... Arc'teryx Cerium...
Down Fill 800-fill goose down 900+ goose down 850-fill goose down 750-fill goose down 850-fill
Total Weight 13.8 oz 13 oz 8.4 oz 15.7 oz 12 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric Pertex Quantum GL (10D x 10D nylon ripstop), DWR coating Pertex Quantum Arato 7 nylon Pertex Quantum Arato 10 nylon
Compression Method Zips into its own pocket with clip-in loop Stuff sack Included stuff sack Stuff sack Zips into its own pocket with clip-in loop
Pockets 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand
Hoodless Option? No No Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Summit L3 Down Hoody isn't the lightest, warmest, or the most weather-resistant jacket in our review, but like many of the best down jackets, it has an excellent balance of all these attributes, not just by employing the latest technologies and materials, but also with a thoughtful, solid design, making it the jacket our testers fought over the most and always wanted to wear.

Performance Comparison


The high loft and perfect fit kept our tester warm in the shade at 8 000 feet.
The high loft and perfect fit kept our tester warm in the shade at 8,000 feet.

Warmth


We were unable to obtain any stats on the weight of the insulation vs. the fabric weights on this jacket. This info is usually available for down sleeping bags, and it helps us determine how much down is actually in the garment compared to the weight of the shell fabrics, giving us some hard numbers to work with when we assess the "puffiness" of each down puffy. However, we can see and feel that the down-fill is more than adequate and fully fills each baffle.


For a jacket of this quality, we were surprised The North Face didn't go with a higher fill power down for its insulation but instead opted for an 800 fill power over a 900+. This jacket must just use a couple of extra ounces of the fluff because the baffles are visually packed with it.

So much loft! This jacket uses 800 fill down  high quality for sure  but not the best available.  Still  we are really impressed with its loft and warmth.
So much loft! This jacket uses 800 fill down, high quality for sure, but not the best available. Still, we are really impressed with its loft and warmth.

Besides the amount of down, the fit adds to this jacket's warmth. The hemline comes down almost below the butt, and all that insulation around our waists really ramps up the warmth factor. Finally, the hood is also loaded with down and fits snuggly on our heads. Once we cinch the hood up, it does an outstanding job of sealing out cold air, making it clearly the best hood in our test for really cold environments.

We loved the long (and cinchable) hem for the extra coverage and for holding in the heat.
We loved the long (and cinchable) hem for the extra coverage and for holding in the heat.

Weight


Our size Large Summit L3 Down Hoody weighs 13.8 ounces. While respectably lightweight, it's not one of the lightest by any means. However the weight is relative to its warmth, and this jacket is just flat out warmer than any of the "ultra-light" variety.


In our opinion, the slight extra weight is easily worth the added warmth and comfort for when you need a jacket to perform, and this jacket has an awesome warmth-to-weight ratio.

Not a super small package  but for the warmth this coat has  it's to be expected. It also comes with a stuff sack that gets it even smaller if need be.
Not a super small package, but for the warmth this coat has, it's to be expected. It also comes with a stuff sack that gets it even smaller if need be.

Water Resistance


The (DWR) durable waterproof repellency treatment on the Summit L3 does an above-average job of protecting the down insulation from a thorough soaking, and the new ProDown technology keeps the down lofting up even if water were to make its way in through the stitching. Our shower testing confirmed that, and indeed, the down retained its loft even after water had leaked inside. While far from waterproof, the DWR treatment and ProDown fill work together to ensure that this jacket will absorb less water and have faster drying and re-lofting times if you do get caught in a surprise storm.


We would never advocate for leaving a rain shell at home if there is wet weather is in the forecast, but we love that we can trust this to not become a heavy flat mass of wet down just in case.

The TNF Summit L3 has hydrophobic down  so even if the impressive DWR were to wear out  the down should continue to keep its loft.
The TNF Summit L3 has hydrophobic down, so even if the impressive DWR were to wear out, the down should continue to keep its loft.

Fit


The Summit L3 has a fantastic fit. The long hemline contributes to its warmth, and it also fits well under a climbing harness or the waistbelt of a backpack.


We love that it has that longer hemline and a great hood that doesn't lack the loft needed to keep you super warm. Speaking of the hood, this one has the best designs in our test. The single pull-cord tensioner lays the elastic cord around the head and under the ears. One of our biggest gripes about some hoods in our test is when the cinch cord lays right across the ears, which is super uncomfortable when cinched up tightly or when worn for extended periods.

The hood fits well  plus it stretches to accommodate a climbing helmet.
The hood fits well, plus it stretches to accommodate a climbing helmet.

The hood is also awesome for fitting over a climbing helmet, giving you enough fabric to have it fit well while still allowing for a full range of movement without it feeling even remotely restrictive.

This was the best jacket in our test for fitting the hood over a helmet.
This was the best jacket in our test for fitting the hood over a helmet.

Long, articulated arms make sure the sleeves don't ride up, even when we reached above our heads. The cuffs have a flat elastic and are soft and stretchy to seals out the cold air but still able to fit over a pair of gloves. The chest and back are roomy, and we had no trouble bending, stretching, or even climbing around in this jacket, but the fit isn't bulky, so it layers well under a hardshell.

Sometimes for good climbing temps  you have to wait until its really cold. While we don't usually climb in a down jacket  its good to know we have complete freedom of mobility in this one.
Sometimes for good climbing temps, you have to wait until its really cold. While we don't usually climb in a down jacket, its good to know we have complete freedom of mobility in this one.

Compressibility


For the weight, 800 fill down is not as compressible as the fluff found in higher fill-power down garments. In our real-world testing, however, the Summit L3 is very compressible. It stuffs either into an included stuff sack or the left side handwarmer pocket, which has an integrated clip-in loop for sticking it in the back of your harness for shady belays or the off chance you, knock on wood, get benighted on the wall…


Throw it on a harness and pull it out for belays.
Throw it on a harness and pull it out for belays.

Features


This jacket has two big zippered handwarmer pockets with long zipper pulls that make them easy to operate with gloves on, a feature so simple, yet often overlooked to apparently save weight.


It has two enormous drop-in style pockets on the inside that are great for stashing your gloves, warm hat, climbing shoes, so they stay warm while you wait your turn on the boulder.

The internal stash pockets of the TNF Summit L3 were perfect for keeping our shoes warm between burns on the boulders.
The internal stash pockets of the TNF Summit L3 were perfect for keeping our shoes warm between burns on the boulders.

In previous years, the dual cinch cords for the hem were located inside the pockets. This year they changed it to use a single pull on the left hem. Now when you pull it tight, the excess cord can be clipped up to either of two loops inside the jacket to keep the cord out of the way so it won't get caught on gear or tree limbs, etc.

The hem cord can be clipped up to the inside of the jacket to keep the cord from interfering with the gear on your harness  or from getting caught on brush or branches.
The hem cord can be clipped up to the inside of the jacket to keep the cord from interfering with the gear on your harness, or from getting caught on brush or branches.

The material is cut and assembled in a "cross-cut" fashion, which utilizes a natural (slight) stretch from the weave, something we haven't seen used on a down jacket before. Kudos to TNF for this simple yet effective design idea.

Value


This jacket went up in price this year and is just about the most expensive jacket in our review. However, you get what you pay for, which is a warm, lightweight, and incredibly capable puffy that's backed by TNF's lifetime guarantee.


Conclusion


We compared the Summit L3 Down Hoody to some seriously awesome down jackets. While our testers had a difficult time agreeing which was the absolute best, this one came out on top once again. This model is highly specialized for serious adventures in the mountains, but you wouldn't be disappointed to have this for any cold, windy environment.


Adam Paashaus & Matt Bento