Jacket: Men's Prism Optimus (Summit Series 700)
The North Face The Prism Optimus seems a well made, hard wearing, durable jacket which should keep you warm in most situations - and is likely to stand out from the ever increasing crowds of street-wearing puffer jacket users. This is no ‘budget-street-jacket’! The tough nylon ripstop shell is rain resistant, and the zip seems have been well finished off to ensure no leakage. The toggles around the waist are small and unobtrusive, but easy to use with gloves, to help keep the wind out and the warmth in, as can be said for the elasticated cuffs.
The zips look chunky enough to stand the test of time, and are easy to use with cold hands, or with gloves on. The fixed hood, with a laminated brim, is also filled with down (PrimaLoft) so should keep your head snug in most conditions.
If you’re a fan of pockets then this could be the jacket for you; with two outer breast pockets and two outer hand pockets, each with a handy toggle for ease of use whilst wearing gloves. There is a large zip pocket inside - ideal for safe storage - and two water bottle or stash pockets on the inside – ideal for keeping drinks from freezing, or for storing wet gloves to dry them with body heat.
The hood. The North Face praise their Summit Series range as “athlete-tested and technically-advanced apparel and equipment, designed for expedition use from base camp to summit.” I haven’t tested the rest of the Summit Series range, nor have I been on an expedition with my Prism Optimus, but if I was planning on pushing the boat out, on a personal level in the mountains, I would be reluctant to use this jacket because of it’s shortcomings whilst wearing a helmet. For most people this will not be an issue, and the fit of the hood is excellent. However, whilst wearing a few under layers - and the hood worn over a helmet – it was difficult to zip the last few cm’s of the jacket up, meaning the hood could potentially blow off in strong winds.
In a nutshell
• if you’re planning on pushing yourself hard, make sure you try the jacket on with your full winter kit, including helmet etc, to make sure you can zip it up properly.
• for everyone else, this is a fantastic jacket which is hard to fault.
• Average Weight 820g
• 700 fill goose down
Reviewed by Ben Heason.