Summit L3 Hoody Updates
The North Face made some slight changes to this down hoody since our test period, mostly in the way of fabric updates; the latest incarnation utilizes the shinier Pertex Quantum fabric shown on the orange jacket below. Additionally, the jacket now comes with its own dedicated stuff sack. Compare the latest Summit L3 to (first photo) to the version we tested (second photo).
We're linking to the updated jacket, but until we can test it out for ourselves, the review below tells our account of the previous version.
Hands-On Review of the Summit L3
The Summit L3 is an excellent technical down jacket. The features are well suited to technical rock and alpine climbing, as is the fit: it is comfortable and allows excellent freedom of movement.
The Summit L3 looks and feels great.
The Summit L3 down hoody from The North Face is one of the warmer jackets in this review. It features high quality, Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, 800 fill goose down, which is very warm for its weight. The jacket also has more down than other jackets in this review that use similarly high-quality down, such as the Ghost Whisperer.
The slightly larger baffle size on the Summit also reduces the number of seams in the jacket, reducing cold spots and allowing the down in the baffles more room to loft. This design is most similar to the Feathered Friends Eos which is another one of the warmest jackets in this review.
The Summit L3 is in the middle of the pack for weight in this review and is neither the lightest nor the heaviest. It features high quality 800 fill down and lightweight 10 denier fabric, but it is on the warmer end of jackets in this review, likely accounting for an extra ounce or two of weight. For the warmth, we think this jacket is well worth the weight.
For the lightest jackets in this review, check out the ultralight Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer or the Arc'teryx Cerium LT.
The Summit L3 quickly became one of our favorite jackets for climbing and backpacking as the overnight lows started to dip just below freezing and the shorter fall days became slower to warm up. This jacket stows easily in its right-hand pocket and has a carabiner loop to quickly clip it on the back of your harness as you swap leads on a long climb.
The compressibility largely comes from the high quality 800 fill down but is improved by the very soft and supple 10 denier nylon. This also made the jacket feel very comfortable and nimble if we had to pull a few climbing moves while wearing it to warm up.
The Summit L3 is highly compressible and great for outdoor use.
The L3 is a high-quality jacket that is easy to cram into your backpack for a long backcountry trip, or your daily commute during the colder months. If compressibility is your top priority but you don't need quite as much warmth, check out the Ghost Whisperer or the Arc'teryx Cerium LT.
The Summit L3 is a climbing-friendly down jacket. The helmet-compatible hood adjusts with the pull of a single drawcord in the back of the head and stretches easily to accommodate a helmet and still allows ease of movement.
The raglan style sleeves allow freedom of movement, and the extra spacious forearm compartment ensure climbers with big forearms will find this jacket quite comfortable. There is also an interesting seam pattern in the forearm which seems to help the jacket articulate better at the elbow.
We loved the snug, soft cuffs on the Summit L3.
There is a drawcord at the bottom hem to seal out the elements, and it is easily adjusted from inside the pocket making the hem smooth, which feels nice, and also means you don't have to stretch and pull at the hem to find the cinch to get it closed tighter—thoughtful design nuance.
The hood was simple but adjustable enough with the elastic trim and very comfy and warm.
For another climbing-friendly featured jacket, you might like the Rab Microlight Alpine or the impressively warm Arc'teryx Cerium SV.
The Summit L3 was one of our favorite warm down jackets to take on long rock climbs.
The Summit L3 features lightweight 10 denier fabric, which is very lightweight. The weave is plenty tight to keep feathers in (and it has high quality down with less sharp points to poke through and escape the jacket), but this is not going to be the most durable jacket in this review. With care not to scrape against rocks, we did not see any durability issues, and the jacket is otherwise so well made we think it will last a long time with good care.
The Summit L3 performed adequately in our weather tests. It is not waterproof, but none of the jackets in this review are designed to be. The Summit has a durable water repellant (DWR) coating which proved adequate to shed light rain and snow, and the jacket is an athletic cut that makes it easy to fit under a hard shell when the weather turns grim.
Our favorite jackets for weather resistance are the two Arc'teryx models, the Cerium LT and SV.
Keeping warm at the crag with the Summit L3.
The Summit L3 is excellent for a variety of summits—and the routes that get you there. We liked it a lot for long rock climbs in the cool temperatures of fall in the desert southwest. It is also an excellent jacket for ice climbing in milder temperatures, or as a midlayer insulating piece. This jacket looks more technical, so we were less inclined to wear it out for an evening in town, but it is well made enough to dress up for a casual night out.
The Summit L3 is among the more expensive jackets in this review. With down jackets, the price tends to reflect the quality, because high quality down is expensive, and makes a huge difference in weight and warmth. This jacket additionally uses very high-quality lightweight materials that are impressively durable and supple, so this is a jacket that will climb high and go far for the dollar.
The Summit L3 made an excellent belay jacket for cool fall conditions in the desert.
The Summit L3 is an excellent down jacket, very warm for the weight, soft and comfortable, and allows excellent freedom of movement. This is not a very city-savvy jacket; rather it is at home in the mountains on technical rock and ice routes, or as an excellent companion on a backpacking or camping trip where space and weight savings are a high priority. This jacket is well worth the higher cost and will last a long time if well cared for.