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The North Face Summit Series FutureFleece Full-Zip Hoodie Review

A high performance option that’s one of the lightest fleece jackets on the market today
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The North Face Summit Series FutureFleece Full-Zip Hoodie Review
Credit: Zach Lovell
Price:  $170 List
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Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Zach Lovell ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 24, 2024
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 17
  • Warmth - 25% 7.0
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Breathability - 20% 8.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 7.5
  • Weight - 15% 10.0

Our Verdict

The North Face FutureFleece Full-Zip Hoodie offers excellent performance at a weight that's simply jaw-dropping. Throughout our extensive testing, we marveled at this piece's breathability when grinding uphill, keeping sweat to a minimum. On those arctic days ice climbing or skiing, this layer kept us warm and cozy when used as a second base layer, boasting excellent heat retention. The fit of this jacket won't work for everyone with its long-length slim-fit cut, but if you can find the right size, you'll be happy in any chilly season with this fleece. Don't miss our article on fleece jacket men to see how the FutureFleece stacks up against the competition.
REASONS TO BUY
Incredibly light
Impressive breathability
Decent warmth to weight ratio
REASONS TO AVOID
Fit won’t work for some
Minor pilling
Hard on the wallet

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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77
77
Star Rating
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Bottom Line A featherweight fleece that doesn’t compromise warmth for weight. This is a layer you'll always keep with youA stylish and comfortable fleece that is lightweight yet warmA year-round layer for any of your technical mountain pursuits, even in stormy conditionsThis lightweight and breathable fleece with excellent performance at a price that's hard to beatA stylish and comfy fleece that’s both functional and fashionable
Rating Categories The North Face Summ... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Rab Ascendor Summit... Outdoor Research Vi... Arc'teryx Kyanite H...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
6.5
7.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.5
8.0
Breathability (20%)
8.0
8.5
7.0
8.5
8.5
Layering Ability (15%)
7.5
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
10.0
8.5
7.9
8.5
6.1
Specs The North Face Summ... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Rab Ascendor Summit... Outdoor Research Vi... Arc'teryx Kyanite H...
Measured Weight 7.9 oz 12.8 oz 11.6 oz 13.2 oz 14.8 oz
Type Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Main Material Body: 55% polyester, 45% recycled polyester Body: 100% polyester Body: 20D Pertex Quantum Air, Thermic G fleece, polyester knit Body: 94% polyester, 6% spandex Body: 53% polyester, 38% nylon, 9% elastane
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
# of Pockets 1 3 1 3 2
Features Pre-tensioned elastic hood, seamless shoulders, stretch underarm gussets, thumb loops Slim-fit hood, quick drying Body mapped fabric positioning, flatlocked seams, wind resistant zipper, under helmet hood, thumb loops Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding Nylon face outer with a brushed polyester interior, 4-way stretch textile

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face FutureFleece is one of our favorites in the world of men's fleece. This option is a fraction of the weight of many layers and doesn't compromise warmth or breathability. If this jacket is within your budget, we highly recommend putting it at the top of your list.

Performance Comparison


the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - we tested the futurefleece across many outdoors sports including ice...
We tested the FutureFleece across many outdoors sports including ice climbing.
Credit: Danielle Cicka


Warmth


Warmth is one of the most important parts of a fleece, so we weighted it at 25% of the total score. We tested this metric by putting a bottle of boiling water into the jacket and recording the time the boiling water dropped to 150°F with an infrared thermometer. We also wore the jacket in front of a fan to examine wind resistance. Lastly, we took this layer all over the wintry mountains of the western US, making notations along the way about its warmth in various settings. This option landed in the upper middle of the pack.



When considering its weight, the FutureFleece did fairly well in the warmth metric, keeping the testing water bottle above 150°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The full-loop fabric offers decent heat retention and is a huge component of this product's phenomenal warmth-to-weight ratio. The under-helmet hood was a fantastic addition for those cold climbing days, and it stayed in the right place over our ears and head for the whole outing. This layer isn't the most wind-resistant jacket, and we'd recommend looking elsewhere if you're seeking the absolute warmest fleece.

the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - this jacket will help retain your body heat. it's easy to add more...
This jacket will help retain your body heat. It's easy to add more layers on top if more warmth is needed.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Comfort


If a jacket isn't comfortable, you're unlikely to wear it, so we gave this metric 25% of the total score. We tested the comfort of the FutureFleece by assessing the overall fit first and examining the amount of bunching found around the arms, chest, waist, and neck. We then looked at the overall coverage, stretching our arms and upper body in all directions and seeing how well the piece stayed in place. In order to better test this, we took the FutureFleece all over the mountains, climbing frozen waterfalls and skiing remote peaks. Lastly, we scored the overall feel of the fleece against our skin. The FutureFleece came in above average in this metric.


The FutureFleece offers great coverage and a next-to-skin feel, with the full-loop fabric and seamless shoulders gifting a soft hug to our upper bodies. When lifting hands overhead, the waist rode up minimally, and we could do anything from grocery shopping to ice climbing without coverage being compromised.

If this jacket's fit works for you, it'll offer great comfort.
Credit: Zach Lovell

The bunching of this layer was particularly pronounced around the wrists and stomach, ultimately lowering its score in this metric. As previously noted, the fit of this option is a bit unique, with a longer length and slimmer fit than other fleeces tested, so the bunching amount will likely vary depending on how well this fits you. Some shoppers may have a tough time finding the right sizing, which is one of this fleece's largest drawbacks.

the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - the bunching issues of this fleece solely depend on how well it fits...
The bunching issues of this fleece solely depend on how well it fits you.
Credit: Danielle Cicka

Breathability


Many of our cold weather pursuits involve physical activity, so we weighted breathability at 20% of the total score. We tested this metric by taking every fleece tested on outdoor pursuits of similar lengths and intensity, making notations along the way. We also ensured the ambient air temperatures were similar when testing each fleece to formulate the most accurate comparison. We also investigated the features of each jacket that improve its breathability. This fleece came in near the top of the charts in this metric and is one of the best aspects of this option.


The FutureFleece is a lighter-weight fleece when compared to others, ultimately making it an inherently breathable layer. In testing, we were able to sustain long periods of physical exertion without excessive sweating, making this a go-to option for high-output adventures. While there aren't a ton of breathability features, the full-loop fabric construction strikes an incredible balance between warmth and breathability and won't let you down in this metric. The chest pocket could be left unzipped for added breathability, but we often prefer putting a cell phone in that pocket.

The breathability of the FutureFleece kept us on the go all winter long.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Layering Ability


Fleeces are typically part of a layering system, so this metric makes up 15% of the total score. We tested each jacket's layering ability by putting layers under and over the fleece, formulating a comparative score. Fleece jackets are typically worn closer to the base layers for most winter recreationists, but some options work well over more layers. Jackets that scored well in this category either did well layering underneath or over other clothing. The FutureFleece came in near the front of the pack in this metric.


The FutureFleece has a slim fit, so it is naturally best as a next-to-baselayer option. We were easily able to fit jackets over this layer, though its longer length at the waist and arms sometimes made it stick out from a few over jackets. Overall, we were happy with this model's layering ability but wouldn't recommend it as an outer jacket.

the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - this was an easy jacket to layer underneath almost any jacket.
This was an easy jacket to layer underneath almost any jacket.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Weight


Weight makes up 15% of each fleece's score. This is the metric where the FutureFleece truly excelled, coming in at a fraction of some model's weight. We weighed and recorded each jacket on the same scale and compared. If weight is one of your top priorities, this fleece belongs in your shopping cart.


Coming in at 7.98 ounces, the FutureFleece is incredibly light, especially considering some models weigh over twice as much. This layer feels practically weightless and is a piece you can always keep with you.

the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - at 7.98 ounces, this layer is impressively light.
At 7.98 ounces, this layer is impressively light.
Credit: Zach Lovell

As previously noted in the other metrics, this jacket doesn't sacrifice performance to keep its weight down. We always appreciate packability, and this option easily fits in your suitcase or backpack.

the north face summit series futurefleece full-zip hoodie - the green bottle is one liter (32 ounces). this fleece is easy to...
The green bottle is one liter (32 ounces). This fleece is easy to pack.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Should You Buy The North Face FutureFleece?


If you prioritize weight and performance over price in your fleece shopping, this jacket is worthy of your consideration. With an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, this layer could likely be brought with you for most of your wintery days outside in a variety of temperatures. While the sizing of this piece is a bit odd, it's a phenomenal jacket if it fits you.

What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?


If you're hunting for a more versatile jacket, we'd recommend the Arc'Teryx Kyanite Hoody, which can be worn around town or on the mountain. If you're looking for a better fitting jacket, be sure to check out the Rab Ascendor Summit Hoody, which fit many more of our testers.

Zach Lovell