Review: The North Face Hydrenalite Down Hoodie
There’s one thing you’ll probably need on a Life’s An Adventure pack-free guided walk and that’s a puffer jacket.
Enter The North Face’s, Hydrenalite Down Hoodie. Now the best way to test how good a puffer is is by walking in a cold and windy day and fortunately (or unfortunately depends how you look at it) the day I wrote this review was seriously cold and windy.
Most mornings I happily walk my son to school which is about 1500m from our house. However, today’s gales were bringing tree branches down, blowing leaves into the air and causing all sorts of weather-related chaos. But to school we went. And the Hydrenalite Down Hoodie was up for the task. As soon as I stepped outside and zipped the jacket up it got to work heating my body.
Down jackets keep you warm the same way goose down keeps geese warm. By trapping pockets of warm air close to the skin, keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. The Hydrenalite’s 550 fill goose down provided an excellent warmth to weight ratio.
And because it’s down it squeezes ‘down’ to a small size so you can squash it in your pack when you don’t need it and it won’t lose its shape. Part of the reason it stays in shape are the baffles – or compartments – that separate the down within the jacket. You see this on most modern puffers, but you can tell that there’s been a lot of research into the getting the baffling right in the Hydrenalite.
TNF has signed up to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) which is an internationally recognised certification showing that the down for the jacket was sourced ethically and the birds did not suffer pain or stress.
The jacket has some water-resistant qualities. I wouldn’t wear it in the pouring rain as it’s not an outershell, but you could get away with a light shower. Another thing I like are the zippers. They’re a little bit chunky and not finnicky. There’s nothing worse than cold fingers struggling with a zipper!
Also the hood is a good shape. Some hoods are an after-thought in a jacket’s design but not this one. The oval hoddie is baffled in three parts which means it keep its shape and does what it’s meant to do when you pull it over your ears. At $400 this isn’t a cheap jacket but for the money you’re getting a technically advanced piece of outdoor kit that you can wear on a pack-free guided walk, to the pub or even on a gusty walk to school.