The North Face FUTUREFLEECE Hooded Jacket Review

© UKC Gear

Fleece is one of the most underrated items of outdoor clothing, yet it's also among the most versatile. Being tough, warm for its weight, breathable, and easy to layer with, it can be used year-round for just about everything. FUTUREFLEECE (TNF capitalise the name, but we're going to revert to lower case from now on) sits at the technical end of the fleece spectrum, with a very definite performance feel about it. It's light, very light, and features a remarkably high loft courtesy of its unique construction. As a result of this it's warm, all the more so considering its weight, but crucially it's exceptionally breathable too, so does a good job of regulating your temperature - more so, in fact, than any other fleece I've worn. In layman's terms it's a really light, really warm, and really versatile fleece. What's the catch? Well it's nae cheap.

It comes in male and female versions, so we thought we'd take a look at both.

In Use

Rob: The North Face say the Futurefleece Hooded Jacket is designed for mountaineering, but I'd actually say it's capable of much more than that. Over the last few months I've climbed in it, walked in it, and even run in it. Its low weight, coupled with its warmth and breathability, make it suitable for pretty much all outdoor activities and I certainly wouldn't limit it to mountaineering. That said, its cut does lend itself towards more technical use, with superb freedom of movement, and on me no hem lift whatsoever whilst raising your arms above your head.

Due to the way in which the fleece is constructed it's exceptionally breathable and - just as importantly after those long walk-ins - quick drying too. The latter is quite noticeable, as it doesn't seem to soak up as much sweat as a traditional fleece, and when it does it dries impressively quickly due to the high surface area of its looped yarn.

Even though I've primarily used it throughout autumn and winter, this is a layer I can see myself using year-round. In winter, it's ideal as part of a wider layering system, while on cool summer days it'd be perfect on top of a long or short sleeve base layer.

Octa-yarn  © UKC

Penny: Over the last few months I've used the Futurefleece Hooded Jacket for a blend of climbing, walking, running and day to day wear. For a fleece of this weight it's extremely warm when used on its own (over a base layer), and breathes impressively well too, but on colder days it's perfectly complimented by a wind or waterproof layer, when you can feel that warmth ramp up to another level.

Much like Rob I've been impressed by how breathable it is, and how quickly it dries, but in my opinion this comes at the cost of its feel. The 'Octa-yarn' Futurefleece lacks that plushness that fleeces tend to have and it doesn't feel quite as soft and nice against the skin as a result of this. On the flipside, it performs exceptionally well, so if it's outright performance that you're after - as opposed to creature comforts - then Futurefleece excels.


From the outside Futurefleece looks a lot like any other fleece, but from the inside you start to see where it differs. Rather than standard micro grid fleece, it features octa-yarn technology, which consists of a whole load of loops, and space between, which are designed to keep hold of as much warmth as possible, whilst also allowing moisture to pass through as quickly as possible.

Beyond this the features are pleasantly limited, including:

  • Elasticated cuffs
  • Napoleon pocket
  • Thumb Loops
  • Under Helmet Hood

Rob: If there's one feature I'm a little disappointed with it is the zip, which feels a little flimsy (I had the same issue with the TNF Casval Jacket, which I reviewed last year). Whilst I'm aware that it's designed to be lightweight, it would - in my opinion - be much better with a fractionally heavier weight zip. It'd only add a gram, possibly two, and make it so much easier to manage.

Penny: A noticeable downside for me too is the quality of the zipper. While the jacket boasts an overall durable construction, the zipper feels a bit flimsy, making it less than ideal for quick adjustments. Whilst this may be a minor inconvenience, it does raise concerns about long-term durability.


Rob: It's got an active cut, with good length around the hem (ideal for keeping out drafts) and a nice, long set of arms (with thumb loops) which are great for when you've got them above your head. When it comes to sizing I'd say it's a touch generous, with a medium feeling a little larger than I might have expected it to, but not by much. That's often the way with North American clothing. If I'd been after a snug fit I may have been tempted to try on a small, but the medium is comfortable - it's just a bit more relaxed than you might imagine.

Penny: The women's Futurefleece Hooded Jacket is true to size with a slim fit. It's got a good length in the arms and body, with minimal hem lift when raising your arms above your head (although there is a bit, as you'll see from the photos).


Weight-wise the Men's Medium Futurefleece Hooded Jacket comes in at 227g and the Women's Medium is 197g, which is light. Let's compare that with the most recent lightweight fleece I've reviewed, the Montane Protium Lite. This weighed 239g, while the Futurefleece alternative is 12g lighter. This is undoubtedly a pretty subtle weight saving, but I think the difference between the two comes through the fact that Futurefleece is also a whole lot warmer. In our experience it seems to dry faster too. That said, the Protium Lite comes in at £80 compared to £135 for the Futurefleece, a difference which would also buy you a really decent baselayer. I suspect this will be a stumbling block for most people deciding which to go for.


Rob: The Futurefleece Hooded Jacket is clearly a premium product, offering the latest in high spec technology to help keep weight down and warmth up. Performance-wise it's exceptional, and suitable for a wide range of activities, but if there were to be a caveat (aside from the zip) it is simply that it's priced according to these premium features, which means it's probably not going to be for everyone.

Penny: If you're after outright performance, the Futurefleece Hooded Jacket is great. I wasn't immediately taken by the feel of the fabric, but there's no denying how efficient it is in terms of both warmth and breathability. For such a premium jacket it would have been nice if the zip had been better quality, as that lets it down - especially considering the price, and the quality of the rest of the jacket.

For more information The North Face

24 Jan

I've never really found any fleece (as long as it doesn't have a ridiculous membrane in it) to not be breathable, particularly these days as most of my fleeces that I use regularly for climbing and walking are grid fleece which all seem to breath perfectly. So I'm interested if this TNF one is noticeably more breathable again?

On an unrelated note, Rob sometime you'll have to show me how to do that f6A arete in Little Quarry Curbar, in the pic! I've tried it and the f5+ right hand version a few times and utterly failed on both. I suspect though the answer might be train and get better! 😀

Looks really cool just an intriguing colour selection on the website, For me personally, who likes colour!, the most appealing of them all is black!

This is a very good question. Due to the way it's constructed, with these loops/yarns, it does feel like it allows more vapour to pass through, whilst at the same time trapping more heat. This, coupled with the fact that the loops/yarns have an extremely high surface area, means that it doesn't feel anywhere near as wet as some fleeces can feel when they become soaked in sweat.

This would probably have been best illustrated with a picture of the 'octa-yarn' alongside a microgrid fleece, because you'll immediately see the difference between the two, although as I highlight within the review - you'll also notice the difference in £££ too.

That arete is an absolute beauty. Maybe once the never-ending series of storms stops we could head up there. I think you'd get blown away if you were up there today!!

I'd have personally favoured something a bit brighter, if only to make it stand out more in the action shots!

Definitely. just find the blue, yellow and red a big much! needs a contrasting zip.

More Comments

Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email