The North Face men’s Zephyrus hoodie
The Zephyrus hoodie is a lightweight synthetic jacket. Part of The North Face's Summit Series™ aimed at people tackling extreme weather and terrain.
The hoodie is a perfect mid-layer for when it gets cold with an outer-shell easily fitting over the top or as an outer-layer when you want to travel fast and light. The fact that an outer-shell comfortably fits over the hoodie, is a clear benefit over most down jackets, even the new thin ones. The other benefit is that the synthetic core retains it’s heat retaining qualities even when wet. According to the TNF blurb the Primaloft® ONE insulation is warmer wet or dry than any other synthetic insulation. This means the Zephyrus is perfect for the sort of damp conditions we Brits often experience in the Welsh or Scottish mountains. I've been caught out a few times in the rain and although not 'waterproof' the water resistance of the outer fabric is impressive and the hoodie still felt warm. What's more it dries quickly. The hoodie has excellent warmth to weight ratio and keeps your core toasty. It is also surprisingly breathable and I have never felt sweaty even when doing high intensity activity.
As I have found with several TNF jackets and tops the arms come up a bit short which is a shame. Also the medium I tested is tight around the back when you flex your back muscles. I find the small sizing a bit strange as the hoodie is designed for climbers who although normally skinny frequently have broad shoulders from all the time spent in the climbing gym and outside. However, the stretchy fabric means that despite this sizing issue the Zephyrus allows freedom of movement which is required for active sports such as ice climbing, ski touring etc.
I also find that the hoodie is only really comfortable if you wear a thin base layer underneath. Anything chunkier and the sleeves of your thicker base layer ride up your arms, which is annoying. This is partly due to the snug fit of the Zephyrus' arms and partly the Lycra cuffs. The cuffs do have thumb hole which is a feature I really like, however for me, this feature was let down by the Zephyrus’ short sleeves
The micro fleece lined hood is amazingly warm and keeps out any howling gale. The hood is close fitting so seems to be designed to be worn under a helmet rather than over the top. I found this no problem as my outer shell fits over my helmet. I love the styling of the jacket particularly the micro fleece lined chest pockets which are in just the right place to tuck your hands in when carrying a pack. And the internal zipped pocket is secure for storing valuable or and MP3 player / phone. I have also found that the hoodie is just as home in the high street as in the mountains, as long as you are not afraid to wear vivid blue or green.
I'm skiing in the Alps in the next month and the Zephyrus hoodie will be replacing my trusty fleece as my mid layer. It will be great to keep out the cold on those wind blown ridgelines and exposed summits.
Primaloft ® One Key Features
Dries faster than down
Wind resistant and breathable
As warm and soft as down
Excellent water resistance
Compresses like down