Last Updated: June 3, 2021

The North Face Thermoball Jacket Review: Worth The Money?

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The North Face Thermoball

The North Face Thermoball is a lightweight jacket with synthetic insulation. It is wind resistant, water resistant and it stuffs into one of its pockets, making it an excellent mid-layer you can carry everywhere. View Latest Deal

Thinking about getting The North Face Thermoball jacket? Then you are definitely in the right place because this detailed review will tell you everything you need to know about the North Face Thermoball!

There’s plenty of things to love about this jacket, like the recycled materials and excellent synthetic insulation. But there are also some things that The North Face could have done a lot better, including the restrictive fit and average wind resistance.

In this detailed review, we will go over all the features of this jacket, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully, that will help you figure out whether the North Face Thermoball is actually the right jacket for you!

Pros

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Warm without bulk
  • Synthetic insulation performs great in wet weather
  • Internal zippered pocket

Cons

  • Version with a hood is $20 more
  • Cuffs are elastic but not adjustable
  • Slim fitting jackets are usually restrictive
  • Pricey for a mid-layer

Product Information

  • Material: Recycled nylon/polyester depending on the color
  • Insulation: Thermoball Eco synthetic insulation
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Fit: Slim
  • Size Variety: XS-3XL
  • Pockets: Two external, one internal

Materials And Durability

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, TNF Black, Medium

The Thermoball insulated jacket by The North Face is available in several different versions, and the material depends on the color. All of the classic models are made from recycled nylon, the matte colors are made from recycled polyester and the prints are made from recycled polyester taffeta.

The lining of the classic and print models is made from recycled nylon, while the matte options have lining made from recycled polyester. The key word in all of this is recycled – the North Face Thermoball jacket is as Eco-friendly as can be, which just makes it even more appealing.

But, should you just pick a color you like, or should you choose the color based on the materials used? Generally, nylon tends to be a bit tougher and more durable than polyester. That’s why it is more often used in backpacks, suitcases, jackets and all the other items that see lots of use.

On the other hand, I seriously doubt that The North Face would allow for a huge difference in quality in the same range of jackets. I think that in this particular case, you don’t need to pay that much attention to the outer shell material of an insulated jacket. The insulation is much more important here, so let’s talk about that!

What Is Thermoball?

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, Persian Orange, S

The North Face Thermoball is a type of synthetic insulation they developed in partnership with Primaloft, the brand that is currently dominating the market of synthetic insulation. The clusters of synthetic fibers that make up this insulation are designed to mimic clusters of down by trapping heat in air pockets in order to keep you warm.

The advantage Thermoball has over down insulation is its performance in wet weather. Clusters of down clump up when they get wet, and they become unable to trap heat and retain warmth. This doesn’t happen to synthetic insulation – it is able to keep you warm even when the synthetic fibers get wet. On top of that, Thermoball is actually lighter and more compact than down, so you’re getting almost the same level of warmth but without all the bulk.

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Thermoball Eco insulation is made from post-consumer recycled polyester! So if you wind up buying this jacket, you can have some peace of mind knowing that your purchase is 100% environmentally friendly.

This synthetic insulation is equivalent in warmth to 600 fill goose down, which is pretty amazing. That’s the type of down that you usually find in proper winter parkas, so you should expect a lot from this jacket.

 

Any Water Resistance?

This North Face Thermoball jacket is made from nylon and polyester, both of which have decent water resistance on their own. On top of it, it features thorough Durable Water Repellent coating over every inch of the body, which just makes water slide off the fabric. So yes, the Thermoball jacket has pretty good water resistance.

But it is not entirely waterproof, so don’t treat it like a rain jacket. Also, the selling point of this jacket isn’t its water resistance – it is the fact that it will still be warm even if it gets soaking wet. For ultimate weatherproofing, you should wear this as a mid-layer and get a thin, waterproof rain jacket as the outer layer.

 

Decent Wind Resistance

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, Persian Orange, S

The North Face Thermoball jacket is not entirely windproof but it does have pretty good wind resistance. The center-front zipper is not covered with a storm flap, but it is a YKK VISLON zipper that offers good protection in most weather conditions.

Additionally, this jacket features an adjustable elastic hem, which is crucial for sealing the heat in and keeping the wind out. This also lets you adjust how the jacket fits around the hips, so it’s pretty easy to make it fit you just right.

The elastic cuffs also offer some wind resistance, but it’s nothing impressive. They are elastic so you can pull them over thick gloves, but they are not adjustable. There are no straps around the cuffs, meaning you can’t ever fully seal them to keep the wind out. But the elastic is pretty sturdy and comfortable, so I’m not entirely unhappy about them.

But Is It Breathable?

The North Face Thermoball jacket doesn’t have any pit zips, so you don’t get that quick and easy way of regulating your body temperature. But that’s perfectly fine – it would kind of defeat the purpose of all that insulation. It is somewhat breathable, but if you want a jacket that you can wear when jogging and feel great, this is not it.

The upside is the cinch cord elastic hem. If you ever get too hot in the jacket, you can loosen up the area around your hips and let some of that warmth escape in cold weather. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breathable outerwear, but it should do the trick.

Lightweight And Packable

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, Burnt Olive Green Waxed Camo Print, Small

The Thermoball is a seriously packable jacket. That’s one of the thing I love about it – it stuffs into one of its pockets, and it is really small when packed down. It is a great jacket to have in your backpack, in case you need that extra warm layer.

Also, this North Face jacket weigh just some 15 ounces. It is so lightweight that you won’t even notice it in your backpack, making it the perfect travel companion. And it’s a great jacket for hikers as well, especially those who prefer compact layers they can easily carry in their backpack.

Another thing worth noting is that even the lining of this jacket is coated with DWR. So, when it’s all stuffed into the pocket and packed up, it should still repel water like a champ.

How Many Pockets?

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, New Taupe Green/TNF Black, S

This North Face jacket has a total of three zippered pockets. Two are external and one is a secure internal chest pocket. It is important to mention that the zippers of the external pockets are not entirely exposed, and the items that you put inside them should be protected from the weather.

The internal pocket is just below the collar and it is surprisingly roomy. It is perfect for your most valuable items that you want to keep extra safe, and it’s one of the things I love the most about this jacket. I’m a sucker for a good internal pocket, and unfortunately you don’t get many of those on jackets that are designed to be ultralight and packable.

Another thing worth noting is that the North Face Thermoball packs into one of its external hand pockets.

And The Hood?

The North Face Men's Thermoball Hoodie - Rage Red - S

The Thermoball Eco jacket doesn’t have a hood, which means that it can keep you warm up to your neck. This is one of the main downsides for me – especially since there are versions of this jacket that have a hood. But they’re not called the Thermoball jacket; they are called the Thermoball hoodie and they cost some $20 more.

This can be a bit confusing for consumers, but I think it’s just The North Face trying to make it seem like they have so many different options in the range and not just variations of the jacket with and without the hood and the sleeves. The “hoodie” features a fixed hood with synthetic insulation and that’s it – the other features are exactly the same.

Does it make sense to pay the extra $20 just to have the hood? Maybe for some people; definitely not if you’re getting this because of the packable aspect. Just get a beanie and an umbrella and you’ll be fine.

Fit And Size Variety

The Thermoball is a slim fitting jacket, so sizing could be a bit problematic. It will heavily depend on how you want to wear this jacket. If you’re thinking this is a casual late fall jacket you can wear over thin shirts, then your usual size will do just fine. But if you want to wear it over thick sweaters and hoodies, you might want to go a size up for the right fit.

Also, bear in mind that slimmer jackets tend to be restrictive. If mobility is really important to you, you might want to look at some other options first.

But, at least the Thermoball offers plenty of different options when it comes to size variety. It ranges from XS to 3XL, which is at least one size more than you get from other mainstream brands. Plus, you can customize the fit to a degree thanks to the elastic hem, so it shouldn’t be that challenging to get a size that fits you perfectly.

Pricing And Value

The North Face is a pricey brand but their high price tags don’t always come from premium construction and materials. This is a great jacket, but I think that it could have been at least $50 cheaper. If it wasn’t for that embroidered TNF logo, it could probably be half the retail price.

Is it really worth the amount of money they are asking? No, probably not. But you’re paying for the branding and all those envious looks that come with sporting a TNF jacket. Plus, it really does feature some great materials, the insulation truly is excellent and it’s incredibly lightweight. If you plan to wear it often and you can afford it without breaking the bank, I think it’s definitely a good buy.

The North Face Thermoball: Should You Get It?

The Thermoball jacket is certainly an interesting piece of clothing, but there is nothing unique about it. Lots of other brands have their own version of this lightweight mid-layer, which means that the Thermoball has plenty of competition. So, why should you get this exact jacket, when you get a similar option for half the price?

The build quality is the number one reason. Outerwear from The North Face is known for its excellent construction and durability. They might be pricey, but they make up for it with the longevity of their jackets.

There’s also the amazing synthetic insulation that keeps you warm without the added bulk and doesn’t fail even in heavy downpours. Plus, the jacket is wind and water-resistant, so you’re getting excellent protection from the weather with just a thin 15-ounce layer. You can wear it as a standalone jacket for some extra warmth, or pair it with a waterproof outer layer for the ultimate winter jacket.

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, Summit Gold, S
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The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket - Fall or Winter Coat, Summit Gold, S
  • ECO INSULATION. Made with recycled materials, ThermoBall technology revolutionizes synthetic insulation. Developed in partnership with PrimaLoft, this innovative insulation offers a synthetic alternative to down and provides all-weather warmth.
  • PACKABLE DESIGN. This jacket creates its own compact storage pouch by packing into the hand pocket. Perfect to stow away in your backpack or throw in your luggage for a compact warm-layer on the go.

Sure, there are lots of cheaper options out there, but you just won’t get the same performance from them. If you’re not too concerned about the price, the North Face Thermoball is certainly one of the best options you could spend the money on at this time. Another one is the infamous Patagonia Nano Puff (or Micro Puff), but that is even more expensive.

Head over to Amazon to see if your favorite color is available in your size, and don’t forget to double-check the exact fabric for that color! If you would like to see some other alternatives, after all, you will find plenty of great options in our related posts!

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