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July 2021 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Insulated jackets

The North Face Stretch Down



Our Rating:

 Best space saver

At a glance
Plusses: Stretch fabric, 700 loft-power down fill, looks smart.
Minuses: Heavy for a hoodless jacket, poor cuff design, no chest pocket.

Weight: 560g (m), 430g (w)

Features: A 700 fill-power down jacket with a DWR-treated stretch fabric. It can be stuffed into its own pocket and clipped to a harness. There are two hand pockets and two deep internal glove pockets, and an asymmetric cord to cinch the body hem. It is not clear whether the down is waterproofed. 

Fit: It’s labelled as slim-fitting, but I thought this fit was in the ‘comfortable’ category, with a generous upper body. For my slim, small frame, the body was roomy with ample layering space, while the arms were only just long enough, but loose-fitting. 

Comfort: Stretch fabric is always beneficial and coupled with roomy shoulders, this jacket moves well with your body. The stretch means the down is less compressed, and therefore more effective, when in hunched positions such as sitting on the ground with a stove. The neck baffles are generously filled and cosy, but there is no microfleece in the chin region. 

In use: For mountain use, I prefer down jackets with hoods for the versatility they offer, but for the weight or space-conscious, or simply as a style preference, hoodless jackets have their place. The cuffs of this jacket are poorly designed for serious outdoor use, because the elasticated portion lies three centimetres inside the sleeve, meaning there is loose fabric surrounding the hand. Functionally this helps keep your hands cosy, but it also means the fabric quickly gets dirty and wears faster. I missed having a phone pocket in the upper chest. However, the fabric is durable and the jacket’s comfort makes it one you won’t hesitate to carry or put on in a variety of circumstances.

Value: Aside from the stretch fabric, features are basic for the price.

Verdict: Stretch fabric is great for comfort, but overall the jacket is missing some key features for the price. It’s highly compressible and suitable for light duty, such as day walks and urban use.