The North Face Women’s Alloy Jacket – Climbing Gear Review

TNF Logo000_LO_A0NV-D1Q-0Earlier this year Kasia gave her first impressions on the Women’s Alloy Jacket and Pants from The North Face. She’s since had more time to test the products thoroughly and you can now read her full thoughts on the jacket below…

Performance ****

Quality****

Value for money ****

The North Face Women’s Alloy jacket is designed for ski touring and ski mountaineering. I put it through its paces during a ski holiday in Chamonix which had a good balance of glorious blue sky mountain days as well as a couple of full on snow days.

Kasia using The North Face Women's Alloy Jacket whilst ski touring in the Aiguille Rouges, Chamonix.

Kasia using The North Face Women’s Alloy Jacket whilst ski touring in the Aiguille Rouges, Chamonix.

As mentioned in my first impressions review of the jacket and matching trousers I love the material and design because it’s soft, comfortable and practical all in one. The jacket only comes in the one colour ‘Antique Moss Green’ – though I’d say it’s more yellow than green!

The jacket itself is constructed from panels of different materials, with the intention of it being waterproof and hardwearing on the hood and shoulders/top of arms and then more breathable in the back and underarm sections. Certain areas also feel a bit more padded due to it having parts that are lined – hood, shoulders, top of arms and lower back. This adds to that soft and cosy feeling.  Panels of mesh lining can be found down the centre of the back to increase airflow and at the front of the jacket which makes up the lining of the large pockets – this design feature helps to circulate air when the pockets are left unzipped.

The North Face Women's Alloy Jacket - warm enough for short stops without adding extra layers.

The North Face Women’s Alloy Jacket – warm enough for short stops without adding extra layers.

In The North Face techno speak “gender specific body mapped design delivers waterproofness and high breathability where needed. TNF Apex Universal soft shell body is highly breathable to meet aerobic back country demands. Durable, waterproof HyVent fabric on the hood and shoulders protect from the elements.”

So with this mix of materials in all the right places how did it perform on the mountain?

Whilst in Chamonix we skied on and off piste and spent some time ski touring. On the snowy days, even when the snow felt quite wet the jacket seemed to perform well and kept me dry and comfortable. As long as I kept moving I felt warm enough on the cold days with just a base layer under the jacket. When things got cooler, for example when we stopped for a break or slowed things down a notch or two, I was certainly glad that I’d packed a primaloft insulation layer. On warmer, sunny days on our Chamonix trip I found the jacket was too hot for me, and with a rucksack covering the ‘aerobic back’ not as breathable as I would have liked it to be. So when ski touring on a blue sky day I had to have the jacket tied around my waist. Whether without a backpack the jacket would have worked better I’m not sure as there aren’t many scenarios when I’m out on the hill without a pack of some sort. So I would recommend the jacket for colder, active days.

To keep out the wind there are some drawer cords for the bottom of the jacket in each pocket and these are easy enough to adjust. There is no snow skirt but I didn’t find this to be an issue. As mentioned in my previous ‘mini’ review the pockets are certainly fit for purpose and are harness friendly. The hood is also adjustable so whilst it fits over my helmet it can also be nice and snug over a beanie.

The North Face Women's Alloy Jacket - perfect for a descent of the Vallee Blanche on a cold, crisp, blue sky day!

The North Face Women’s Alloy Jacket – perfect for a descent of the Vallee Blanche on a cold, crisp, blue sky day!

Overview

I love the feel, cut and simple, functional features of the jacket. Whilst I haven’t yet tried the jacket for ice climbing I’m happy with the fit and cut and feel confident that it would be a nice jacket to climb in as well. It was certainly comfortable enough to ski in. Depending on your own ‘heating’ system you can easily layer up accordingly with this jacket and by having a medium sized jacket I could wear a primaloft layer underneath. I quite often wore The North Face Thermoball vest either under for those colder days or over as a quick warm up fix in order to help keep my core warm. So keep your layering options in mind when choosing the right size for you, you’ll know yourself whether you’re a warm or cold person. Whilst the jacket kept me dry on the damp snow Chamonix days I wouldn’t recommend this jacket for a rainy Scottish winter’s day it’s not made for that purpose and will eventually wet through. From a packability point of view it’s not a light and compact option but this didn’t bother me in my chosen uses of the jacket.

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