The North Face Thermoball Hoodie is a synthetic down jacket from The North Face. We’ve previously reviewed the men’s version of the jacket, which you can read here.
This one’s for all you ladies out there! If you’re looking for something simple and functional, the Thermoball fits the bill. The jury is out on whether synthetic is really superior to down: we’ll explore some pros and cons.
The women’s version tapers just above the hip so it hugs into your curves instead of hanging awkwardly at your sides. It is currently offered in The North Face Black, Laurel Wreath Green with Fuchsia Pink liner, and Patriot Blue with Neon Peach Liner.
Most importantly (in my opinion) this jacket is super cozy. There’s a security and comfort in having a really dependable mid-layer; It can make the difference between winter activity being delightful or drudgery. The Thermoball is great for ski touring as it is light and breathable, keeping you warm while cutting down on dampness from perspiration. The synthetic material keeps you warm even when it’s wet; a notable advantage over down.
I’ve been testing a women’s model of the Thermoball at Whitewater and Red Mountain ski resorts, in mid and late season conditions, respectively. I am more than impressed with its warmth, light weight, breathability, and what little space it takes up in a backpack.
The Thermoball jacket compacts down to about the size of a small hand purse, accomplished by stuffing it into one of its interior pockets. It’s great to tote in your pack for unexpected cold weather conditions, as it takes up little room and weighs virtually nothing. The quilted, baffled pattern of the jacket allows it to be effectively compacted without losing its shape, as the insulation is kept securely in place, instead of bunching up in certain areas. A diehard down lover will argue that real down is comfier and compacts much smaller; but down doesn’t bounce back as well after being compacted, is less than ideal for wet weather conditions, and doesn’t breathe well for vigorous activity.
The North Face Thermoball is named for the nature of its insulation technology: Developed in partnership with PrimaLoft®, its synthetic down is said to mimic the structure of a natural down cluster. Down clusters are about the same size and shape as the head of a dandelion. Every pocket of the Thermoball’s baffled construction, pictured below are filled with hundreds of tiny balls that resemble miniature down clusters.
Traditional down jackets are stuffed in sheets, and have an inferior ability to “bounce back” after being compacted over time. The synthetic version of the fibre also stays drier in moist conditions (perspiration and snow).
The Thermoball features an elastic cuff that’s folded into the jacket about half an inch; this might prove detrimental to the material over time as the nylon will have to bear the brunt of the sleeve end’s wear and tear (rather than a tougher elastic trim). The hood is also elastic and has no adjustment strings. The bottom hem, however, has a clinch-cord to keep it snug to your waist.
- Snug fitting hood
- Simple elastic cuff
- Tapered cut for feminine shape
- Lifetime warranty
- Bluesign® approved
- Two zippable hand pockets with YKK zippers
- Stuffs into interior pocket for easy storage
- Hem clinch-cord
And here's a look at the men's version.
Fabric: body: 15D 33 g/m2, 100% Nylon
Insulation: 9.5 g/ft2 and 13 g/ft2 ThermoballTM powered by PrimaLoft® synthetic insulation.
I tested The North Face Thermoball on a late season powder day at Whitewater Ski Resort: With a light under-layer and a shell it was more than enough. I love tree skiing, and got pretty warm skiing in the deep powder. The jacket kept me warm on the lift and didn’t smother me when I really got going.
I also tested the Thermoball on a warm, bluebird day at Red Mountain Resort, and found it to be the perfect companion on those sunshiny slopes; super light, breathable, yet still comfortably warm. The snow was pretty heavy and choppy in ungroomed areas, and I worked up a bit of a sweat trying to keep my edges in line. The jacket, while it might look a bit “plasticy”, is really very breathable. The breathability factor of the synthetic is superior to that of real down.
Other than being slightly less compressible (and a tad less cozy) I would have to choose the Thermoball over a down jacket. Definitely a welcome addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s wardrobe for its versatility and comfort.
Price: $259.00 CAN
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Colours: TNF Black, Laurel Wreath Green with Fuchsia Pink liner, Patriot Blue with Neon Peach Liner.
Weight: 355g / 12.5oz
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.
We built this backcountry skiing community for you, the passionate skier, and hope you enjoy the hard work we put into all the reviews, routes, videos and posts we create. It’s been free from day one but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable resource. If you enjoy this web site and value the content we create for you, then please support Backountry Skiing Canada by donating today. Thank you!