The North Face ThermoBall ECO Snow Triclimate Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Good value, highly versatile, warm
Cons: Heavy, poor ventilation, slightly restrictive
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ECO Snow Triclimate stands out for providing warmth, weather resistance, and features on par with other single-piece ski jackets, but does so with the added versatility of a 3-in-1 modular construction.
This jacket provides plenty of warmth, on par with other warms models in our comparison. This is achieved through the use of synthetic insulation in the sweater component and a hanging mesh liner in the shell. Overall, these two pieces trap plenty of air between layers of fabric, creating a very warm system.
When worn alone, the shell jacket is warmer than the shell-only jackets on the market due to the hanging mesh liner. The synthetic puffy sweater is warm enough for chilly fall and spring days. Together, the combined jacket is right up there for warmth compared to other single-piece ski jackets.
The Thermoball ECO Snow Triclimate proved to be a very weather resistant jacket in our testing. The North Face's proprietary DryVent fabric is completely waterproof, and the seams are sealed. Such a waterproof construction is to be expected from a company that has been making mountain outerwear for so long. We also like the DWR used in this product. After an extended soaking in the shower, water still beaded up on the fabric. Considering the jacket's price, this is impressive.
The construction of the jacket also helps fend off the weather. The attached hood is large and easily fits a helmet. The adjustment cords are easy to work with gloved hands. The sleeves and hem are long enough to keep all body parts covered.
The sleeve openings feature velcro tab closures, and the hem of the jacket can be cinched tight by an elastic cord. There is also an attached powder skirt, but before you can use it, you need to separate the shell from the liner. This is a drawback that all of the 3-in-1 jackets share.
Comfort and Fit
The ECO Snow Triclimate has a neutral fit, meaning loose but not too baggy. The hem is a bit long, both contributing to the jacket's style, and also it's weather resistance. The torso is also roomy, almost a little boxy when compared to the more contoured or tailored fit of some of the high-end ski jackets on the market.
Overall, the ECO Snow Triclimate is a comfortable jacket. The inner fabric of the synthetic puffy sweater is comfortable against the ski, and a large fleece chin guard protects against abrasion from the zipper or shell fabric. After a lot of use, we noticed that the multiple layers in the 3-in-1 system rub against each other and create friction that slightly inhibits motion. Again, this is a problem shared by other 3-in-1 jackets.
As with other modular, two-piece jackets, the ECO Snow Triclimate suffers from a slight ventilation problem. The armpit vents only extend through the shell of the jacket, not the insulated liner. However, if you were to purchase a shell jacket and a synthetic liner separately, you would end up with the same problem.
The armpit vents in the ECO Snow Triclimate are long and unencumbered by mesh. This allows for lots of airflow through the vents. The outer shell fabric is somewhat breathable, but nothing special.
As far as looks, the Thermoball ECO Snow Triclimate is pretty modest and agreeable. The cut is loose but not baggy, and the length is just right. The jacket comes in a variety of colors, none of which are all that notable, no neon, just the traditional selection of earthy hues with bright red thrown in for good measure.
Our testers and style confidants thought the design of the jacket is unremarkable and will fit right in with a crowd. If you want to turn heads and make a fashion statement, look elsewhere. The majority of skiers will look good and feel good in this jacket. The inner jacket features a torso in the same color as the shell jacket, with black sleeves. We don't think the liner jacket looks all that good.
The ECO Snow Triclimate has all the features you need to enjoy a day on the slopes. Two handwarmer pockets with a comfortable fleece lining and two external chest pockets give you plenty of room to stash your trail map, snacks, wallet, car keys, lip balm, and have room to spare. We like the inclusion of a powder skirt, ski pass pocket on the sleeve, and a goggle wipe on a lanyard. The hood is highly adjustable but uninsulated.
The shell features an internal mesh pocket that can't be accessed if the liner jacket is in place. The liner jacket, if worn alone, features two handwarmer pockets that close with buttons, which is not the best system. The only features we really miss on this jacket are a RECCO reflector and a media pocket with a headphone port.
3-in-1 jackets are an inherently good value because you are buying both a shell and an insulated layer, and three ways to wear them, for a total price of less than many other single-piece jackets. The North Face has a lifetime warranty, which is always nice. The fabrics used in this jacket seem about average in strength, and after heavy testing, we tore through some fabric that got caught in the front zipper. That was more our fault than the jacket's, but other competitors didn't have issues with durability or construction. Overall, this jacket is a good value.
With great weather resistance, warmth, and features, The North Face Thermoball ECO Snow Triclimate is our Top Pick among jackets of its versatile design. The style, comfort, and ventilation of this jacket are about average, but in our view, those who are interested in this jacket will prioritize its winter utility over all else. The versatility of the 3-in-1 jacket class is unparalleled, and this is the best in that group of products.
— Jeff Dobronyi