Ninja Star: The North Face Zephyrus

Being in outdoor retail allows me to purchase far more items than I will actually ever use.  The manufacturers of these products offer incredible discounts in order to get their product into the hands – and on the bodies – of the people selling it.  The discounts are often so generous that I find myself purchasing items that I do not need in order to test them out or see if they are an improvement over what I am already using. 

The fact is that I own lots of gear.  In addition to owning lots of it, I use it frequently and in different combinations.  I experiment with the hope of being better able to educate my customers on what works and what doesn’t and why, but also for my own personal gain by making myself more efficient, faster, and more comfortable.  I have been noticing that it really doesn’t matter what I wear; for example, Mountain Hardwear is not noticeably better or worse than Patagonia.  The truth is that most of this outdoor gear is the same and not many pieces truly stand out.  My feeling is that when something does stand out from the crowd, it deserves recognition and that’s what I am here to do. 

I bought The North Face Zephyrus pullover initially to use resort skiing in the winter.  I was looking for a slightly thinner version of the Mountain Hardwear Compressor Jacket (preferably in pullover form) which is how I came to find the Zephyrus.  In this application, the Zephyrus truly excelled. When paired with a shell it kept me warm on the coldest of days, and packed into its own pocket if I started to overheat and needed to ditch a layer. 

The light weight and packability of the Zephyrus led me to experiment with it in other applications.  Working on the assumption that it keeps me warm when resort skiing, I took it with me for a day of slackcountry skiing.  The Zephyrus excelled in this arena as well.  For our slackcountry ventures we rarely stop for an extended period of time, but when we did the Zephyrus was easy to pull out of my pack and pull on to fend off the chill.  Furthermore, when it comes time to descend the mountain, a warm ride to the bottom is ensured by slipping the Zephyrus on under your shell.

The more I used the Zephyrus, the more I began finding alternate applications for it.  The Zephyrus has become my go-to top layer to bring on Spring, Summer, and Fall hikes.  The Zephyrus’ high heat-to-weight ratio and supreme packability have me consistently choosing it over fleece.  I even find myself packing it as a three-season belay jacket where the same characteristics that make it great for hiking make it excellent for climbing.  Speaking of climbing, its packability makes it easy to stuff in a crash pad – as is often the case with mine – taking the chill off those shoulder season bouldering sessions.

The North Face Zephyrus is a truly exceptional piece of outerwear.  Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for almost any type of outdoor adventure.  A true testament to the quality of the Zephyrus is that the season following my purchase of the jacket, two of my most frequent partners purchased Zephyrus jackets for themselves and, much like me, it is not often you see them without it on or tucked away somewhere in their pack or pad.

Disclaimer:  All gear reviewed has been purchased with money earned through my day job at the local outdoor store.   That is not to say I am above receiving free gear for review, it is just saying that no one is giving me any (if you would like to change that, feel free to reach out).  The fact is if I did not like the piece, I wouldn’t be writing about it.