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The North Face Denali 2 Hoody - Women's Review

This heavy fleece straight out of the 90s offers excellent stand-alone warmth
The North Face Denali 2 Hoody - Women's
Photo: The North Face
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Price:  $199 List | $178.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Great weather resistance, extremely warm, easy to layer underneath, good movement, nice comfort features
Cons:  Bulky and heavy, less flattering style, not breathable
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2020
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 10
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 3
  • Breathability - 20% 3
  • Layering Ability - 20% 3
  • Ease of Movement - 15% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 5% 10

Our Verdict

The North Face Denali 2 Hoody comes to you straight out of the 90s, with a bulky design that isn't the most "up to date". This super lofty jacket will keep you warm and cozy while you watch Netflix, take the dog for a walk, or hit the town with your roommates (or family). It's incredibly waterproof, holding its own through a light storm, and offers great room to layer underneath. It's not surprising that this jacket isn't very breathable, nor can you layer a jacket over top of it. It's quite durable as well with Nylon reinforced face fabric on all the "high wear zones" of any jacket. Unfortunately, its price is high, so only those seeking a bulky, warm fleece with excellent durability may see the value in it.

Non-Hooded Version Available
The North Face seems to have removed the hooded version of this fleece from their lineup, but they still sell a non-hooded version, which we're linking to in this review.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $178.95 at Backcountry$170 List
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$159.00 at Backcountry$99 List$38.65 at Amazon
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Pros Great weather resistance, extremely warm, easy to layer underneath, good movement, nice comfort featuresBreathable, durable, helmet compatible hood, awesome thermoregulation, high valueWarm, extremely breathable, cuts the wind, soft and cozy fabrics, stretchy and great mobilitySuper breathable, great price, wind resistant, quick to dry, long arms and torso, thumb loops, stretchySuper warm, inexpensive, cozy and comfortable
Cons Bulky and heavy, less flattering style, not breathableNot weather resistant, expensivePills after washing, style isn't for everybody, breast pocket is small and seemingly unfunctionalLacks water resistance, fit constricts under arm pits for someNot breathable, thicker for layering, pills after a few washes
Bottom Line This heavy fleece straight out of the 90s offers excellent stand-alone warmthThe reigning champion that simply can't be beat for versatilityOur go-to layer when a balance of breathability and warmth are keyHighly breathable and built for the backcountryA high value and maximum comfort fleece
Rating Categories The North Face Dena... Patagonia R1 Full Z... Patagonia R1 Air Hoody Outdoor Research Vi... Columbia Benton Spr...
Warmth (20%)
10.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
Comfort And Fit (20%)
3.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Breathability (20%)
3.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
4.0
Layering Ability (20%)
3.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
4.0
Ease Of Movement (15%)
7.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (5%)
10.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Specs The North Face Dena... Patagonia R1 Full Z... Patagonia R1 Air Hoody Outdoor Research Vi... Columbia Benton Spr...
Type Heavyweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight Midweight
Main Fabric Recycled polyester Polartec PowerGrid (93% recycled polyester/7% spandex) 100% polyester Solid color: 93% polyester, 7% spandex Polyester
Unique Features Bulkier design that's also useful as a jacket in the shoulder seasons Hidden zippered pocket, balaclava hood fits under a helmet, brick-patterned insulation balances breathability and warmth Ultra breathable and windproof face material that is stretchy and comfortable Flat lock seams, UPF 30, thumb loops Extended collar
Weight 20.95 oz 12.05 oz 10.6 oz 10.85 oz 13.4 oz
# of Pockets 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand, 1 hidden zippered pocket (right hand) 1 small chest, 1 hand 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face Denali 2 Hoody presents a great value to those seeking a full-blown wear alone coat that is incredibly warm. While it's not a complete shell, it's pretty weatherproof, offering great functionality as an outer layer at the ski resort (with other layers underneath) on a warm day, or without any layers underneath on a cool breezy day. Enjoy it while hitting the town, lounging at home, or taking the dog for an early morning walk. Just make sure you love the style…many of our testers passed at the sight of it.

Performance Comparison


The North Face Denali 2 Hoody is more of a jacket and less of a...
The North Face Denali 2 Hoody is more of a jacket and less of a midweight fleece. It's bulky, large, and rigid. But some love its functionality. It's right at home hiking on crisp days in the Spring.
Photo: Amber King

Warmth


This heavyweight jacket is well insulated throughout using polyester. Amongst its super lofty fleece are Nylon panels that offer excellent protection from abrasion and protection from both wind and water. The lofty hood is also covered in this continuous Nylon and provides incredible warmth in the coldest of weather. Unfortunately, the cuffs aren't tapered and are one of the many ways cold air can get into the jacket; however, a pair of gloves negates this problem completely. This is a super warm jacket that's suitable for super cold winter days (with additional layers) or on its own during a breezy Fall or Spring season.

Thick with a fully insulated (and protective) hood that'll keep you...
Thick with a fully insulated (and protective) hood that'll keep you super warm on the coldest days of winter.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort and Fit


This jacket offers a roomy fit that isn't fitted, but boxier in nature. While the material does stretch, the Nylon panels keep the fit feeling a little more rigid. We do, however, love curling up in this super roomy fleece, and it feels excellent on our skin. We also appreciate the massive chest and handwarmer pockets, and all the pulls that cinch down the hem and hood, in an attempt to provide a better fit. Unfortunately, it's not the most mobile fleece and one that we hardly reached for, as its boxy fit isn't the most comfortable.

The fit is bulky and boxy. We do appreciate it's massive pockets and...
The fit is bulky and boxy. We do appreciate it's massive pockets and cinch cords that help to keep air from flowing in.
Photo: Amber King

Breathability


It shouldn't be surprising that this heavyweight fleece struggles at breathing well. While the pockets offer some form of ventilation, the double layer of fleece does a better job of keeping the heat in. As a result, we'd use this jacket for warm Spring ski resort days, milling around town, and using it as a full jacket in cooler weather.

The fabrics are thick. It's not meant to be a running jacket. It's...
The fabrics are thick. It's not meant to be a running jacket. It's more of a workhorse designed for outdoor chores on a Fall day or a leisurely hike with the pup. Don't expect it to breath well.
Photo: Amber King

Layering Ability


This jacket easily accommodates layers underneath its boxy interior, and can fit a base layer or even another fleece jacket! However, it earns a relatively low score in this category because of the difficulty layering anything over the top of it. The bulky and thick materials work great as a stand-alone jacket, but we couldn't find a fitted shell or jacket that would fit over top. This really limits its functionality, making it more of a wear around town jacket and less of a midweight insulating fleece.

We manage to get an insulated jacket over the layer, but we feel a...
We manage to get an insulated jacket over the layer, but we feel a bit like a stuffed sausage with all this bulk under the coat.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Movement


The Denali easily allows movement given its boxier fit that doesn't hug the curves of your body. It moves when you put your arms up, but doesn't get stuck. It's actually a great jacket for resort skiing and the like because of how easily it moves with the body. That said, it's not one we'd use for climbing or backpacking, simply because the material is bulky.

The jacket is more rigid and does move up with our arms. However...
The jacket is more rigid and does move up with our arms. However, because it doesn't hug every curve of the body, it feels as if there's more freedom in the room it provides.
Photo: Amber King

Weather Resistance


This jacket offers incredible resistance to both rain, snow, and wind. The double construction doesn't allow cutting, cold winds to get through the fabrics. In addition, the Nylon is incredibly water-resistant. While water will sit on the thicker fleece fabric when hit with rain or snow, it won't completely absorb, keeping you dry. This makes it a great wear-alone jacket.

The medium pile fleece offers great water resistance while the...
The medium pile fleece offers great water resistance while the durable Nylon panels take some serious work to saturate.
Photo: Amber King

Value


This coat is less of a traditional fleece and more of an all-around use jacket. Yes, it's one that you can wear easily around camp, lounge, and take for leisurely stroll around town. It's also a great buy for those who want a cozy coat that'll keep them warm in a cutting wind or occasional rainstorm. However, its price is high. Unless this is exactly what you're looking for, other fleece jackets present a much better value.

While this jacket is expensive, it's also incredibly durable. If...
While this jacket is expensive, it's also incredibly durable. If you're into a retro look with a boxier fit, this may be just right up your alley.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


The North Face Denali 2 Hoody is a unique fleece that's more like a full-blown jacket than a traditional mid-layer. It's got a retro look that looks like it hasn't been updated since the 1980 or 90s. It's incredibly warm and water-resistant but seriously lacks in breathability. This is the jacket for those that want something they can wear during the colder months as a wear alone item. Otherwise, if you're seeking a simple mid-layer fleece, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.

Claire takes a winter stroll amongst the Aspens and Pines while the...
Claire takes a winter stroll amongst the Aspens and Pines while the snow quickly melts out on this Springtime trail.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King