North Face Thermoball Jacket Review

North Face Thermoball Jacket

The Thermoball is a good choice for skiers who want a stylish design with comfortable insulation that won’t weigh you down. The interior does a good job of keeping out the cold, even if the exterior doesn’t quite have what it takes to fend off the wind.

Quick Summary

  • Where to Buy: EVO, Amazon, REI
  • Best for: Skiers who want a mid-weight layer that does a good job of holding up in cold, wet environments.
  • Pros: This model packs down to nearly the size of a grapefruit, making it easy to store anywhere. It also has good pockets, looks great, and provides excellent insulation for its size. The comfortable feel goes a long way as well.
  • Cons: This jacket doesn’t quite have what it takes to stand up to heavy, biting wind. While the waterproofing is excellent, you’re going to definitely feel strong gusts. Despite its lighter construction, it’s still heavier than other similar jackets.
  • Alternatives: Arc’teryx Atom LT, Eddie Bauer Downlight, Amazon Essentials Packable Puffer

Why Trust Me

I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I have time working with, testing out, and using this jacket on different slopes in different environments.

Detailed Review

The ThermoBall is a jacket made to retain heat in colder environments. It does that through the unique Thermoball design, which uses small clusters of insulation to retain heat. That gives you all of the comfort and cushion of more traditional down jackets without the risk of getting weighed down by extra water weight. It might still be a bit thick for some, but it’s great for those who want a strong option that’s easy to pack.

Warmth and Comfort

As with so many high-end jackets, the Thermoball gives you a softer feel on top of a comfortable design. It’s easy to wear but still offers a fair amount of insulation at the same time. In my opinion, the stand out feature is the interior polyester that traps heat without adding or piling on too much weight.

Of course, you’re not going to get the same insulation quality you would get out of other heavy options, but this is an excellent choice if you need mobility. This is the jacket you want for warmer days or when you need protection when there isn’t too much snow dumping down. If you primarily ski when the going gets tough, it’s best to get something a bit more sturdy. Even so, this is quite comfortable for when it gets wet.

Durability and Ventilation

When looking at a jacket, you need to consider strength. I believe that any ski jacket, lightweight or otherwise, needs to be durable on some level. In my opinion, the Thermoball meets that mark because of its ability to stand up to moisture. I would highly recommend this for people who like to ski for long periods of time. It does also manage to cut out the wind, though it doesn’t do that as well as I would have hoped. The waterproofing is also incredibly impressive.

You’re not going to be able to stave off heavy rain with this jacket, but you will be able to repel light drizzle or snowfall with ease. On top of that, it gives you ample insulation that will keep you warm even when it gets wet, and the outer shell is tough enough to push through brush without tearing.

The continuous shell also gets high marks for how well it breathes. I’m always looking for ways to get proper ventilation in my jackets, especially when it comes to models supposed to cut down on bulk. I’m happy to report the Thermoball does that quite well, giving you a comfortable feel without compromising body temperature. However, know that it does trap in heat. This isn’t the best option for backcountry trips or heavy climbing.

The Right Size and Fit

If you’re like me, you find most of North Face’s jackets to run a little big. Luckily, this model doesn’t have that issue. It has a nice fit that’s mostly true to size. You can move around quite easily, especially in the shoulder region, and the slim trim feels good on your body.

Skiers who do want some extra insulation will also appreciate that you can easily wear a thicker base layer beneath the Thermoball. That still might not be enough when plowing through the backcountry, but it will serve you well when you want to go out on the town during a cold night or do some resort skiing.

It’s also worth mentioning that this model packs down extremely well. You can fold it down to the size of a grapefruit, allowing you to store it in a backpack with ease. That makes the transition from slopes to resort quite easy.

Price and Value

The Thermoball provides great value for several reasons. One, the price point is by no means unreasonable when compared to similar models. You get quite a lot for a decent price tag. On top of that, it also has a good amount of durability for a mid-weight jacket. I always consider how much use I’m going to get out of a product when looking at its value, and the answer here is quite a bit. As with all North Face items, it’s also covered by their lifetime warranty.

What I Like

The number one aspect that I like about the Thermoball is its insulation. Being a lighter jacket without sacrificing too much warmth is a tricky balance, but something it does quite well. The waterproofing is also nice, ensuring you never get bogged down or cold if the going gets rough.

This jacket packs down well, and is quite comfortable. You get a few different pockets too, which I’ll admit I’m a sucker for. The more places I can store my loose items, the better. The fit is nice and comfortable without being too tight or too loose.

What I Dislike

Simply put, this is not a backcountry jacket. Though the durability can stand up to off-piste environments, it just doesn’t quite give you the wind resistance you’re going to want or need out of bounds. In addition, the interior moisture-wicking leaves something to be desired. If you’re hiking or trekking uphill, you want something that will let you breathe a bit better.

There’s also something to be said about the weight. It sits firmly in the middle ground but can feel a lot heavier than similar products. For that reason, you want to make sure you need the extra strength before getting this.

The Alternatives

There’s no doubt the Thermoball excels in its role as a stylish, easy to use ski jacket, but there are quite a few other models out there if you want something a bit less intrusive. These models will give you a similar feel and weight but different characteristics:

  • Arc’teryx Atom LT – If you’re someone looking for a reliable jacket that does a bit more, the Atom LT should be more than enough. It does come in at a higher price point, but manages to stay lightweight while also providing additional features like a solid hood and extra insulation.
  • Eddie Bauer Downlight – This jacket, like the ThermoBall, packs down well and won’t hold you back as you move through the snow. It doesn’t have the same durability or water-resistance, but it stores easy and works for lighter days.
  • Amazon Essentials Packable Puffer – If you want a light-but-durable model that can protect your skin against the elements without costing an arm and a leg, this is a great choice. It’s stylish, water-resistant, and extremely easy to pack. In that way, it fills the same role as the Thermoball at a lower price. Just don’t expect it to stand on its own. You’re going to need layers.

FAQs

Does this jacket have pockets?

The Thermoball comes with an internal chest pocket as well as covered zip hand pockets.

What type of fit does this have?

This jacket has a standard fit. It might be a bit slim for some, but the sizing appears to be mostly right. You can also adjust it as you need.

Is the Thermoball durable?

Though this model isn’t as tough as heavier jackets, it is still plenty durable for the mountain. It can move through snow, brush, and rain with no issue.

Final Verdict

If you want a lighter jacket that offers a good amount of insulation, the Thermoball is a solid pick. The fill does a good job of keeping you warm on cold days, but the shell is also light enough that you won’t notice it much when you ride. I also like the quilting pattern, which adds to the general design.

This jacket is excellent for in-bounds skiers. However, as it still runs heavier than most of the competition, and because the interior isn’t the best at moisture wicking, it’s probably not the model for backcountry riders. However, if you’re planning on hitting groomers or the park, this can give you some nice protection.

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