The North Face Women's Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket
The North Face Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket is aiming at two sophisticated markets. It has been designed with warmth and sport in mind, but it is also aimed at the fashion conscious woman who wants to look good. "Does the jacket manage to meet both aims?" I asked as I opened the bag (actually I said, "Wow it looks fantastic, is it really going to be warm enough with those stretchy bits?").
The down panels are 800 fill which is as warm as it gets. The high collar, well fitting stretch sleeves add to the jackets cosiness. The polartec powerstretch panels on the side panels, underarms and reverse forearms allow for more movement than other down jackets which makes it much better for outdoor winter sport. I feel no restriction in movement whatsoever when wearing the jacket. The powerstretch panels are also good when I'm active as they allow some ventilation when I'm sweating but still need a warm front and back. The Pertex shell is heavy-showerproof and windproof, although in really stormy conditions I have worn a waterproof shell on top as the powerstretch does not keep out the wind.The mobility of the jacket is a real advantage when I have been climbing in particular.
The aim of the hybrid to also appeal to the fashion market. The colour range is great, the sheen is lovely, the slim fit means I can be warm without looking like the michelin man and it is the best looking down jacket I have worn. I have had loads of compliments about it. I feel great in it.
So, have North Face managed to meet both the sport requirements of a down jacket and the style of fashion jacket successfully in the Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket? In the fashion aim, definitely. In sport I would say yes, but with the comment that in the real cold it needs to be part of a layering system. The polartec lets the wind through and takes away from the warmth of the jacket in areas that you might want warmth such as side panels and underarms. This is ideal if you are in cold conditions but still exercising, but makes the jacket less suitable as a base camp jacket for very cold conditions. I don't think this is a big disadvantage, as the jacket is so light and packs down so small that an extra layer on those few occasions is not a big deal.
The best testament to this jacket is how much I have worn it. It has been my winter coat daily when I have been going to the pub, work, bouldering, biking, trekking in the mountains and snow, on before and after a fell race, and it packs lightly in my rucksack. I have washed it in a machine on the gentle wash three times now and it is still as good as new except for the sleeve logos rubbing off. I also caught the powerstretch on barbed wire and the little hole has stayed little. Its a good durable jacket. Hybrid? I reckon so.