The Thermoball from The North Face is a new lightweight and compressible synthetic jacket. Featuring a baffled construction and insulated with ‘ThermoBall™ clusters’ that are designed to trap and retain heat to achieve exceptional warmth in cold and wet weather. Cold and wet weather which we’ve had quite a lot of here in Chamonix with a late start to the season, we’ve been testing this jacket in a variety of conditions to see how it performed.
Comfort & Fit
With a relaxed cut the Thermoball is very comfortable, at 186cm / 73kgs the Medium is a good fit with room for extra layers underneath if needed. The thickness (or thinness…) of the jacket allows a shell to be worn over the top. We liked the flexibility of being able to add layers both under and over the Thermoball, it goes without saying the jacket makes a good layering piece because of this. The elastic cuffs and drawcord hem allow for a ‘airtight’ seal to keep the weather out, the high collar is also a good size and is not constrictive in any way.
Unlike some of it’s siblings (such as the TNF DNP), the Thermoball does not have any stretch panels to allow for unrestricted movement. Due to the relaxed fit however, it doesn’t suffer too badly here – the generous (although unflattering) upper arm cut does allow for fairly decent overhead reach.
The 15D fabric feels pretty tough for this style of jacket – others we have tested feel more ‘papery’ and thin, whereas the Thermoball feels like it can take some abuse. We wouldn’t go pulling it through hedges just yet, as with all lightweight fabrics it has a limits although we haven’t managed to break it yet – plus The North Face offers a lifetime warranty on this product.
The Thermoball features internal elastic cuffs, a hem cinch-cord system (accessible within it’s 2 zippered hand pockets) and is constructed from ‘bluesign® approved’ fabric (no nasty chemicals within). The whole jacket also stows within it’s own pocket – like a man eating his own face. The ‘Thermoball’ 100% nylon insulation (equivalent on this jacket to around 600 fill power down) also has the benefit of retaining it’s insulating properties when wet.
Often the downfall of many layers, but not so bad in this case – we found during exercise the jacket did breathe fairly well considering it’s insulation properties without any sweat or moisture build up. Overall, the breathability is perhaps not quite as good as a natural down jacket, but quite close here.
Wind & Water Resistance
For a jacket that claims to be neither wind or water proof, the Thermoball does a good job of keeping the weather out. Wind and water will eventually get through but the compact build of the jacket allows a shell to be worn over the top to create a pretty hardy system.
With an RRP of around £150, the Thermoball sits in the middle of it’s competitors price range, as far as synthetic jackets go, it’s a very good one – ultimately you need to weigh up the pros and cons of down vs synthetic, but if it’s synthetic your after the Thermoball range from The North Face is certainly worth a look. Oh and yes the jacket is also available in other colours!!!