A minimalist jacket with several nice features, and a few drawbacks, the North Face Blaze was a favorite among our testers. Both flattering and highly compressible, this jacket stuffs into its own pocket and is made of 22D polyester. A full-zip jacket without a hood option, the Blaze is lightweight enough to take into the backcountry and cute enough to wear around town. Our biggest complaints about this jacket are its poor quality stitching and that it's not very warm. At first we thought that the stitching on the Patagonia Nano Puff was bad (and it is), but then we took a closer look at the North Face Blaze and found its stitches to be even looser. They got snagged all over this jacket, making it look significantly worse for the wear.
The North Face Blaze Jacket - Women's ReviewPrice: $180 List Pros: Stowaway pocket with gear clip, Flattering fit
Cons: Not very warm, Stitching very poor, No hood option
Main Fabric: 22D Polyester
Insulation: 60 g Polyester FlashDry insulation
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Blaze is filled with 60 g/m2 of insulation, the standard among the lightweight insulated jackets. The jacket features polyester FlashDry thermal insulation, which is designed to improve the piece's moisture management and thus increase its warmth. Although the piece did dry more quickly, we didn't notice a significant difference between the Blaze's ability to wick away sweat. Overall, its breathability is on par with that of the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover - Women's, the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket - Women's, and the REI RevelCloud Jacket - Women's. We liked the Blaze's deep hand pockets and its ample sleeve length, both of which helped improve warmth. This piece also has a drawcord at its hemline to seal in heat.
Compressibility & Weight
This jacket it very compressible and quite light; however, because the jacket's deep left hand pocket doubles as the stuff sack, the Blaze's stowaway pocket is a bit on the large size. If the jacket had a chest pocket that it stuffed into instead, it could compress as small as the Patagonia Nano Puff. We did like the fact that the pocket has a gear loop though and appreciated that the piece was on the lighter end of the spectrum.
Comfort & Coziness
The North Face Blaze seems to have slightly more touchable fabric than that of its competitors, making it a little cozier. In terms of comfort, this jacket is missing fleecy chin guards and pocket liners, but we did like that you can adjust the tightness of the hem pull cord from inside the hand pockets.
At first we thought that the stitching on the Patagonia Nano Puff was bad…then we started using the North Face Blaze. While the Nano Puff had a few snags, the stitching on the Blaze came completely undone on several baffles, especially at the cuffs. The stitches are very wide, making them easy to snag. Frankly, tightening up stitches seems like a simple way to greatly improve the quality of this piece. While it doesn't affect the performance of the jacket, it just makes it look more worn, which is too bad for such a cute jacket. Another lightweight, but more durable jacket is the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket, which weighs less and does not have the quilted design that got torn up so quickly on the Blaze.
The North Face Blaze repelled water fairly well and we found that it dried very quickly after it got wet. Among the thin quilted jackets, the Blaze scored as well on water resistance as the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic and better than the Nano Puff and Revelcloud.
Style & Fit
Our testers really liked the fit of the North Face Blaze. It is a little loose fitting, but still remains quite flattering. This allows the jacket to easily layer over or under another piece. It has horizontally stitched baffles, which give it a sleek, simple look. The fabric is a bit shiny and the cut falls nicely at the hip.
Since it's not very warm, the North Face Blaze is better suited as a mid layer on colder days or as an outer layer on warmer days where you just need a little extra shield from the elements. This piece is suitable for general around town and outdoor use.
At $180, the North Face Blaze is one of the more affordable lightweight insulated layers in this review; however, if you're looking for a warm technical jacket, you may want to consider spending a bit more and opting for something like the Top Pick winner, the Thermostatic. On the other hand, for something more stylish consider the Helly Hansen Odin Isolator Jacket or the Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket - Women's, which won our Best Buy Award.
North Face Women's Blaze Vest, North Face Women's Red Blaze Jacket (warmer but less expensive), Men's versions
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Most recent review: September 2, 2013
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