The North Face men’s Victory Hooded Jacket
by Keith Sharples
The Victory Hooded Jacket from The North Face is a mid-weight synthetic jacket designed for cool to cold conditions. Sitting within the Summit Series, the Victory Jacket is intended for the Alpine environment where performance is balanced against weight and bulk. Designed as a mountaineering-friendly jacket, the Victory Hooded Jacket comes with a number of specifically designed features including a PU coating on the hood, shoulders and arms to increase water resistance, high zipped pockets, pocket-friendly stowaway and Primaloft Silver Eco insulation which is warm if it gets wet. The hood and wrist cuffs are slightly elasticated and the hem of the jacket has an elasticated draw cord to pull the jacket in close. In addition to the two external pockets there is a single (left) internal breast pocket. The Victory comes in a choice of four colours: Salsa Red, Midnight Blue, GI Green and Asphalt Grey. The whole jacket weighs in at a lightweight 490g.
In use, the Victory Jacket seems well-suited to the ‘three season’ environment. One of the most impressive attributes of the Victory is that the combo of the outer ripstop nylon shell together with the Primaloft Silver Eco insulation seems to stop any wind dead in its tracks, which is impressive for such a lightweight jacket. That said, even when wearing the jacket during strenuous activity – such as during walk-ins – the jacket seems to remain ‘breathable’ and so avoids the user overheating.
The jacket cut seems pretty simple but suitably tailored to suit the athletic build of most climbers i.e. wide shoulders and narrow waist so the Victory achieves a good, snug fit keeping out the cold with aplomb especially when the hem is closed. Despite the lack of a drawcord, the hood fits and works well adding considerably to the protection against the elements. The ample cut of the Victory across the shoulders easily allows enough space for over-the-shoulder arm movements so if the weather does take a turn for the worse then it’s perfectly possible to pull your harness on over the Victory and climb wearing the jacket as an outer layer. The slightly longer-than-usual Victory jacket has sufficient length such that it can be ‘hitched up a bit’ if the user is going to climb in it. Also, the Primaloft Silver Eco insulation isn’t so bulky that movement is impeded. The sleeve lengths should suit most arm lengths although the cuffs might get a bit in the way if you have shortish arms.
The two external pockets are, as billed, generous and easily to use but for this reviewer they are just too close to the hem of the jacket to be of any use when wearing either a rucksack or a harness [although another tester with a different body shape didn't have that problem]. To be fully operational above a rucksack or harness the pockets would need to be a good few inches higher at the very least for me. That said, this is only a problem when wearing either a rucksack or a harness – in which circumstances it is unlikely that users will want to store much in the pockets anyway. Moving inside the jacket, the internal breast pocket is certainly big enough and positioned just right for ‘valuables’ although the lack of a draw tag or cord of any description makes closing or opening the zip a very fiddly operation indeed and one which would be totally impossible if the user is wearing any kind of gloves. A short length of cord – such as that supplied on the external two pockets – would have solved that problem easily. As is common on many lightweight jackets one of the outer pockets, in this case the right-hand pocket, also acts as a stowaway easily taking the whole jacket. This obviates the need for a stuff sack thereby saving weight but perhaps more importantly, removing the need to store the stuff sack when it’s not in use. Basically, it’s one less thing to worry about or lose. However, and as with the internal breast pocket, the absence of a draw tag or cord (on what is then the ‘outside’ of the pocket) makes opening the zip difficult at best or impossible if wearing gloves. Away from the ‘coal face’ as it were, the Victory gets a resounding ‘thumbs-up’ for knocking about the crag in or nipping down to the wall or the local during the winter months. The Victory is a great jacket for those looking for ‘three season’ thermal insulation in a compressible form which doesn’t cost the earth.