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The North Face Summit L3 Hoody - Women's Review

A versatile and well-designed lightweight down jacket for a host of adventures
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Price:  $375 List | $369.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Versatile, comfortable, warm for the weight
Cons:  Less water resistant, difficult to stuff into stow pocket but includes stuff sack
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 23, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Warmth - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Compressibility - 20% 7
  • Features - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Water Resistance - 5% 5

Our Verdict

The North Face Summit L3 is a highly versatile, lightweight down jacket. Very warm for its weight and not bulky, it's toasty enough to use as a standalone down jacket in milder conditions, such as summer mountaineering, and also performs well as a midlayer under a hardshell for very cold weather adventures like ice climbing. It's also an excellent choice for your fast-and-light mountain adventures like ski touring. The 800 fill goose down and lightweight fabric make it supple and compressible while also allowing moisture to pass through the jacket. This is helpful in the event you do become warm and start to sweat a bit before you get a chance to shed a layer. The L3 is well made and at home in a variety of outdoor environments.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Summit L3 is an excellent technical down jacket built specifically for climbing. The features are well-suited to technical rock and alpine climbing, as is the fit. It's comfortable and allows for excellent freedom of movement.

The North Face Summit L3 in action.
The North Face Summit L3 in action.

Warmth


The Summit L3 down hoody from The North Face is one of the warmer models in this review. It features high quality, Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, 800 fill goose down, which is very warm for its weight, and boasts an excellent amount of high-quality down.


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.

The spacious and adjustable hood on the Summit L3 stretches easily over a helmet and cinches down to keep you warm.
The spacious and adjustable hood on the Summit L3 stretches easily over a helmet and cinches down to keep you warm.

We really like the longer length of the Summit L3. For those with shorter torsos, the back of the jacket actually dropped low enough to nearly function as a down skirt, keeping our bums warm!

Weight


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, this jacket is well worth the weight.


Compressibility


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. It can be stowed in its hand pocket and has a loop to clip it to a carabiner and attach it to your harness for multi-pitch climbs; however, stuffing the jacket into that pocket can be an ordeal. This year, North Face included a stuff sack with a clippable loop, which is much easier to stuff the jacket into, so you have options—which is nice.


The compressibility of the Summit L3 largely comes from the high quality 800 fill down but is improved by the very soft and supple 10 denier nylon. This made the jacket feel very comfortable and nimble when we had to pull a few climbing moves while wearing it to warm up.

The Summit L3 is light and compressible  and on the warmer end of jackets in this review.
The Summit L3 is light and compressible, and on the warmer end of jackets in this review.

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.

Features


The Summit L3 is designed specifically for climbing. The helmet-compatible hood adjusts with the pull of a single drawcord in the back of the head, 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 ensures that women with larger forearms will find this jacket to be comfortable. There is also an interesting seam pattern in the forearm, which seems to help the jacket articulate better at the elbow.

The Summit L3 still stuffs into its own hand pocket... barely. That was always a complaint of ours. The North Face answered that this year by giving you an appropriately sized stuff sack with a clippable loop.
The Summit L3 still stuffs into its own hand pocket... barely. That was always a complaint of ours. The North Face answered that this year by giving you an appropriately sized stuff sack with a clippable loop.

A drawcord at the bottom hem seals out the elements, and it is easily adjusted from inside the pocket, making the hem smooth. While the hem not only feels nice, it means you don't have to stretch and pull at it to find the cinch to close it tighter, which is a thoughtful design nuance.

The elastic inside pockets are great for keeping gloves warm and dry.
The elastic inside pockets are great for keeping gloves warm and dry.

Durability


The Summit L3 features lightweight 10 denier fabric, which is very light. The weave is plenty tight and keeps feathers in, and the down is of high quality, with less sharp points to poke through and escape the jacket. However, it's not the most durable in the review. We took care not to scrape against rocks or other abrasive surfaces and did not experience egregious durability issues. The jacket is well made and with good care, will last through the seasons.


Water Resistance


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. It has a durable water-repellant (DWR) coating, which proved adequate to shed light rain and snow, and the jacket has an athletic cut that makes it easy to fit under a hardshell when the weather turns grim.


Value


The Summit L3 is one of 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. In addition to exceptional down, the L3 also uses very high-quality lightweight materials that are impressively durable and supple, making it a jacket that will climb high and go far for the dollar.

Conclusion


The North Face Summit L3 is an excellent down jacket. It's warm for the weight, is soft and comfortable, and allows for great freedom of movement. It isn't a city-savvy jacket per se; 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.

A warm belayer is something we all want. Here  the Summit L3 fits the bill.
A warm belayer is something we all want. Here, the Summit L3 fits the bill.

Lyra Pierotti