Gear Review: The North Face Denali Jacket

The North Face Denali Fleece Jacket is hands down a staple item for fraternity and sorority socialites all over the states, but is it really worthy of the name Denali? 

The first thing you notice about the Denali jacket when you try it on is the fit. The Denali is one of the least fitted jackets marketed to the outdoorsmen that we can think of. The extreme relaxed fit is the first warning sign of who this jacket is really marketed to… And it’s not Denali climbers.

The Denali jacket consistently gets alarmingly great reviews from customers while maintaining a considerable amount of Cons vs. Pros. We consider that some of its charm is related to general consumer mis-education, balanced by a bit of brand loyalty. In the past, TNF has enjoyed some of the same brand loyalty in the outdoor market as Apple has seen in the technological market. And yes, TNF customers are loyal but a lot of that has to do with TNF taking care of its greater customer needs.  Now this is where the avid outdoorsman starts to break away from the general jacket consumer. Every cold weather sport needs its own type of jacket to adequately serve your needs. This is where companies like Arc’teryx make their mark on the market by offering the jacket that you need, for the sport you love, at a price that will probably scare off the general consumer. It’s when you stack the Denali up against Arc’teryx that the North Face iconic jacket starts looking like an Old Navy fleece.

Lets start with the cons of this jacket so we can end on a lighter note:

  • The extreme relaxed fit makes it really hard for a skinny athlete to properly layer anything.
  • The thickness and warmth of the Polartec 300 fleece will probably keep you from wanting to layer with anything.
  • It’s not wind resistant at all, so you’re going to want to layer it, but because of the afore mentioned issues, this will be hard.
  • It’s not waterproof, so you will need a hardshell to layer when it rains (See afore mentioned issues).
  • If you can layer it with a hard shell, while raining you’re going to sweat, so you’re getting wet either way.
  • It has zipper compatibility issues with some TNF outer shells.
  • It’s the same price as other jackets that are much better.

Now the pros:

  • Two chest pockets and two hand-warmer pockets provide plenty of storage for essentials.
  • Abrasion patches on chest, shoulders, and arms work really well.
  • Underarm vents somewhat help you regulate heat when you’re working up a sweat.
  • It is Zip-in compatible with some of TNF Jackets (not all) if you can overcome the afore mentioned issues.
  • It’s very trendy and it comes in lots of colors.
  • As far as fleece goes, it is pretty well made.
  • The jacket will last forever if even marginally taken care of.

Bottom line: We like the jacket, but not for any sport we do on a regular basis. It’s just one of those comfort jackets that we use while riding in the car for long periods of time. It’s your best friend when you go to the movies, or when the wind is still and the night is crisp. There’s actually a really dirty one lying around that is our “go to work jacket” for chopping wood, working on the barn, or whatever other dirty jobs come up. We aren’t going to climb while wearing it, but we do have one for knocking around in. If you are looking for something versatile and performance oriented, we suggest you shop around and try on a few others so that you can find the one that fits you best.

If college trend and blending in is everything to you, this fleece is for you.

 $165.00 – $199.00 TheNorthFace.com