Thermoball – Better than down?

Behaves like down and doesn't clump

For every soul with a thirst for adventure, the North Face ThermoBall Jacket may well be the Holy Grail of comfort and versatility. This impressive piece of gear simplifies the complex, weaving cutting-edge technology into a design that's both humble and timeless.

With a pair of generously-sized zippered side pockets, your phone, keys, camera, or snacks will find a safe haven. Even a brisk gust or surprise snow flurry won't find its way up from underneath, thanks to the smart inclusion of a drawcord for cinching the jacket to your waist or hips. While this isn't a feature I find myself using daily, its value becomes apparent when Mother Nature throws a curveball.

Yet, it is the engineering wizardry of the Thermoball technology that truly places this jacket in a league of its own. Tiny puffballs of PrimaLoft insulation are cleverly positioned in rectangular pockets, preventing clumping and cold spots that can plague traditional down and synthetic jackets. It's remarkable how this design, seemingly so simple, translates into warmth akin to a 600-fill down jacket, but with less bulk, less weight, and most crucially, the ability to retain heat even when wet.

Sure, a good down jacket can feel like being wrapped in a warm, feathery cloud, but the moment it gets wet, you might as well be wearing a chandelier for all the warmth it offers. This is where the genius of ThermoBall shines, offering insulation that performs admirably, rain or shine, sleet or snow.

Whether you're scaling a mountain, exploring a forest trail, or simply taking a brisk evening walk, the ThermoBall Jacket is a reliable ally. Moreover, it compresses down and packs away into its own pocket, ensuring it's as ready for adventure as you are.

For those who prefer the extra coverage of a hoodie, or the casual style of a vest, there are ThermoBall variants to suit your fancy. All considered, this jacket seems to deliver the best of both worlds, combining the coveted warmth of down and the resilient functionality of synthetic insulation, resulting in uncompromised comfort for every adventure.

Let's break down the pros and cons of the North Face ThermoBall Jacket.


  1. Versatile: The jacket's performance across various weather conditions and activities make it an excellent all-rounder. Whether you're hiking, camping, or simply out for a walk in the city, it adapts to your needs.
  2. Insulation: With PrimaLoft ThermoBall technology, you get warmth similar to down, but unlike down, this jacket retains its insulating properties even when it's wet.
  3. Compressibility: The ability to pack the jacket into its own pocket is a fantastic feature, especially for those who value space-saving during travels or outdoor pursuits.
  4. Weight: Despite its impressive insulation capabilities, the ThermoBall Jacket is lightweight. This makes it less burdensome and more comfortable during extended wear.
  5. Style Options: The availability of hooded, non-hooded, and vest styles means you have choices to suit your style and specific needs.


  1. Lack of Features: While it provides necessities, the jacket doesn't come with a range of features that might be found on other jackets such as internal pockets or pit zips for additional ventilation.
  2. Price: Given its innovative technology, the jacket may be pricier compared to other synthetic or down jackets. Value-for-money is subjective, however, and depends on individual priorities and needs.
  3. Durability: Without specific information, it's hard to comment on the long-term durability of the jacket, including the robustness of the PrimaLoft ThermoBall insulation over time and its ability to withstand rigorous use.

Overall, the North Face ThermoBall Jacket is a strong contender in the world of outdoor jackets, providing excellent warmth, lightness, and adaptability, with the potential trade-off being price and a limited set of extra features. As always, the ultimate decision comes down to personal needs, preferences, and budget.

In light of recent updates, the original Thermoball has gracefully retired, making way for its successor, the ThermoBall™ Eco Jacket 2.0.

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