+ Extremely warm
- Thin hood
- Poor zip for outer pockets
A few years ago, I was in an outdoor store patiently listening to the salesman’s well-rehearsed infomercial about the advantages of synthetic sleeping bags over their down equivalents. He proceeded to tell me with a straight face that down was a thing of the past. By a remarkable coincidence, the store had no down products.
Outdoor manufacturers have been trying for years to develop synthetic jackets and sleeping bags which combine the advantages of down-based products – namely superb warmth and minimum weight. Despite this patience, and, presumably, huge research and development costs, they’re still trying.
Honest retailers which sell both down and synthetic products will tell you that unless you have a proven allergy against bird’s feathers, a down product is unbeatable for the extremely cold winter days.
I bought this jacket three years ago. It should have cost €150, but I bought it in a special offer for €100. Once again, before reviewing, I had to contact The North Face to find out the name of the product. LacyeJo N. from the customer service department was very helpful and answered my email enquiries within minutes! I find this outstanding even in the present-day era of instant communication.
I was first struck by the lightness of this jacket. At 782 grams (27.58 oz) it really is a featherweight. My wife and I have three other down jackets and this is easily the lightest.
The outer shell is made of nylon and the Nuptse is filled with goose down. The fillpower is 700. For those unfamiliar with this term, it basically means how much the jacket will swell to protect you against the cold. Any value over 600 is good.
The hood is thin and fairly waterproof and also has a bill, which makes it look like a cap when you’re wearing it. You secure it with stretch cords with toggles on the end.
The main zip makes a very good impression and has a tag for easy opening. There are also two zips with tags on the outer fleece-lined pockets and another one on the generous-sized inside pocket. This also has a tag with the word ‘stow’ for those who are unfamiliar with the use of inside pockets.
The Nuptse is exceptional at fulfilling its primary objective of keeping your upper body warm. It has regularly seen action in temperatures as cold as -15°C but you certainly don’t feel this. In addition, I have only ever worn one other layer under it, usually a long-sleeved shirt. Admittedly, I don’t tend to feel the cold very much so other users may have to wear a thermal vest or t-shirt, as well.
The main zip confirmed my initial impressions. It never jams and you can open it easily wearing thick gloves.
I occasionally use the inside pocket for my mobile phone, led flashlight or documents. The zip there is faultless.
The hood has both plus and minus points. The bill is quite effective at fending off snowflakes which would otherwise hit your forehead. This is particularly useful in heavy snowfall. The hood is also good when cycling as you don’t experience the tunnel vision found with other products.
For this price, though, I would have expected a down-filled hood. When the weather is very cold, it is very important that you keep your head warm. In these conditions, the Nuptse’s hood can only really be regarded as an outer shell for whatever hat you may be wearing. It certainly won’t protect you on its own.
The outer pockets warm your hands – if you have small hands. Fortunately, mine are small but it does feel like you are squashing them inside rather than sinking into fleece-lined warmth. Furthermore, the zips on these pockets snag on the overlapping nylon shell. I found this rather surprising considering that the other zips work really well.
The Nuptse has been washed once in the washing machine. It takes about three days to dry (without putting it in the tumble dryer), but this is normal for down products.
The Nuptse jacket is very light and warm and the zips are generally high-quality. The fillpower is among the highest which is currently on the market. In addition, the jacket takes the stresses and strains of the washing machine without any loss of down or feathers.
The weaknesses are tolerable. A thin hood? Some down jackets don’t even have a hood. Small fleece-lined pockets? Fleece is a luxury for pockets. However, the zips on these pockets are annoying at times when they jam.
Overall, the Nuptse is overpriced in my opinion but it is still a high-quality product.