The North Face Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie: Review

The week before last I said that I would be taking a closer look at some of my favourite Winter 2013 The North Face products over the following weeks, to share in my excitement over the arrival of the new TNF stock in the Webtogs/SWMS warehouse. Although I dived straight in with the Point Five NG Jacket, I’ve not had chance to do another post since as I keep getting sidetracked with other things. As promised though here’s my next one, and in my opinion it’s a cracker: The North Face Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie. It’s also available in both Men‘s and Women‘s versions, which is obviously great.

The North Face Women's Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie - all the Alpine-style features you need, complete with a more tailored feminine fit
The North Face Women’s Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie – all the Alpine-style features you need, complete with a more tailored feminine fit.

Starting off with the basics, it’s a lightweight, Primaloft-insulated jacket for use as a mid or top layer in cold weather. This sort of garment has long been popular amongst climbers (my long-standing climber friends anyway), who being chilled-out bohemian sorts, love the rugged, ‘stuff it/soak it/leave it in the back of the van’ appeal of Primaloft insulated jackets. In the past those garments have been mostly Rab or Berghaus ones and the like, but in recent years The North Face have joined the Primaloft party. The Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie is their latest such offering.

The North Face Men's Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie - all the Alpine-style features you need, complete with a... manly fit
The North Face Men’s Zephyrus Optimus Hoodie – all the Alpine-style features you need, complete with a… manly fit.

 

The Zephyrus’ face fabric is Pertex Endurance, which incorporates a super-thin, highly breathable surface coating with a high water repellency (1,000mm water column). It’s also 100% windproof, soft to the touch and extremely light – so all in all a pretty awesome material to make a lightweight insulated jacket with. It’s tough too, with nylon micro-ripstop weave throughout, which will help resist snags and prevent tears from spreading. Beneath the Pertex there is of course Primaloft; in this case 60 grams of flagship ‘Primaloft One’ insulation. This is a lightweight synthetic hollow-fiber that as I alluded to above, does not degrade with repeated compression like down, will endure a soaking whilst retaining its insulating properties, and is a great all-round solution to keeping warm on the mountain. If you’re interested you can check out Primaloft One in more detail on the Primaloft website – www.primaloft.com/en/performance/products/primaloft-one

Across the top of the shoulders and arms of the jacket there is the additional protection of a PU layer, which The north Face have added to boost the water repellency of these exposed areas even further. As a result it would have to rain for some time for you to need to throw a shell over the Zephyrus, and even if you forgot your waterproof shell altogether (not advisable), thanks to the fill being an insulator when wet, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

The water-repellent PU coating on the shoulders and arms is marked by a subtle colour difference. Here we also see the Summit Series logo, showing that the Zephyrus is "athlete tested, expedition proven". Great!
The water-repellent PU coating on the shoulders and arms is marked by a subtle colour difference. Here we also see the Summit Series logo, showing that the Zephyrus is “athlete tested, expedition proven”. Hooray!

 

Extra little details which add appeal to the jacket include elasticated polyester cuffs, which have been treated with ‘Flash Dry’, a chemical treatment which accelerates dry-time. They give a lovely snug fit around the wrists to lock out chills and prevent the sleeves from riding up too far while you climb. The Zephyrus Hoodie has similarly elasticated trim around the aperture of the hood, again forming a seal that’s great for windy conditions, either under a helmet or stand-alone. The Zephyrus comes with three pockets: 2 hand pockets, large enough to hold a map or guide book and positioned high enough to access when wearing a harness, and one chest pocket for your extra bits and bobs.

Detail of the napoleon/chest pocket on the Women's Zephyrus.
Detail of the napoleon/chest pocket on the Women’s Zephyrus.

 

This sort of lightweight, synthetic insulated jacket is something that everyone who regularly participates in outdoor pursuits should consider getting. It’s an ideal weight and warmth for the British climate in Autumn through to Spring, and ideally equipped to cope with the unpredictability of British downpours (unlike more temperamental down). Synthetic insulation technologies have also been getting more and more advanced over the past decade, their warmth-to-weight and compressibility getting closer and closer to that of quality down. I believe this is why this sort of jacket has risen in popularity, and as our climate threatens to get more unpredictable in the future, the only way is up for Primaloft and similar synthetic insulators (i.e. Polatec Alpha – as seen in the Rab Strata line). Why not ride the wave and get some for yourself? If you appreciate great fit and function like we do here at Webtogs, you’ll be impressed.

Check out our great range of insulated jackets here – Insulated Jackets: Webtogs

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