Thermoball was one of the first down-like synthetic insulation materials on the market and it continues to impress with its compressibility, loft, warmth and breathability. Vests are super-versatile and The North Face ThermoBall Vest keeps the good vibes rolling.

The North Face ThermoBall Vest Features:

  • Lightweight ThermoBall insulation is warm when wet
  • Compresses into its own hand pocket
  • Lightweight Vislon center zip
  • Dual toggle hem adjustment
  • Standard Fit
  • Fabric: 15D nylon ripstop with 11 g/ft² ThermoBall™ insulation throughout the body, 10 g/ft² in the side panels and 13 g/ft² in the collar
  • Weight: 230 grams (medium, actual)
  • MSRP: $149
The North Face ThermoBall Vest

The main zipper is easy to pull up/down with or without gloves.

ThermoBall Vest is a killer layering piece

When it comes to layering, it’s hard to beat insulated vests. We reviewed the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest earlier this year and have had both on-hand for head-on comparison. Each one has pro’s and con’s, but it’s hard to beat the value of the ThermoBall overall.

Something that I immediately loved about the ThermoBall Vest is the collar height and diameter. It doesn’t dig into your chin, yet the added insulation in the collar keeps drafts out and warmth in when you really need it. There is enough space in there to wear a turtleneck or a light hoodie underneath without feeling constricted. Yet, without those things, the collar still does its job quite comfortably.

The North Face ThermoBall Vest Review

A very boxy cut, but the vest still wears well.

The North Face went with a Vizlon zipper up front, but the hand pockets are different (tighter-toothed design) and the disparity between the two is a bit frustrating. It’s easy to grab the front zip up/down, but the hand pockets are not quite as smooth. The pockets themselves are of a good size to stuff larger items and the vest can be stuffed inside the left pocket. Unfortunately, there are no interior pockets here.

Something to note here is that the fit is definitely standard. It’s not an athletic fit at all and ends up being a tad boxy. It’s not huge by any means, but just keep in mind that you may want to size down if you are looking for a svelte fit. I wore the medium (5’10” 175 lbs.) and found it quite comfortable, but yes, just a touch roomy. It is nice having the adjustable hem with dual toggles to keep drafts out, but the open sleeves can let drafts in no matter how snug the hem is. Perhaps a touch of elastic there might improve things.

The North Face ThermoBall Vest Review

The obligatory Nalgene comparison. It will compress further, but you get the idea.

I’ve worn it as an outer layer on cold morning hikes or trail runs. I’ve also used it as a layering piece on the ski slopes. ThermoBall is legit and does a fantastic job of insulating under all conditions. And, until Patagonia introduced the Micro Puff, this was the most down-like insulator on the market. It’s still outstanding overall and delivers a near-down experience without the hassle of being poked by plumes.

The Good

  • ThermoBall still stands out
  • Versatile design
  • Great for layering or outerwear
  • Compressible indeed
  • Warm when wet
  • Barrel-style pulls are great with/without gloves

The Bad

  • Could use a touch of elastic at sleeve cuffs

The Bottom Line: The North Face ThermoBall Vest

With a near-down feel and outstanding all-weather performance, there’s nothing more versatile than a ThermoBall vest. The price is fantastic and wearability is as good as gold with warmth and comfort in spades. If you’re going to ditch down, this is a good one to run to.

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About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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