User Review: The North Face Men's Denali Jacket
Fabric: Fleece Polartec
Price Paid: $100-165
(LONG review) I am hard on all of my gear and these are pretty durable all things considered. I have had two now, over the last five years, pretty rugged for what is a light jacket. I had the first generation with the copper cuff snaps and I feel the fleece has been improved in the newer model (Polartec).
The cuff snaps were more durable in the first generation models (no plastic). Both generations are very fragile with heat!! Please take this into consideration! They can easily be burned through by a cigarette. If you are thinking "Well, I don't smoke...blah blah" ... it is still something you should note. I had mine (1st one) burned in a bar, when a girl bumped into me. I had to extinguish it or it would have kept burning!
Don't go to bars either huh? Well, if you ever sit around a campfire, the embers from stirring the fire can still get you. Personally I hate to hinder my actions because my gear can't keep up.
Don't get me wrong, my Denali(s) have survived many-o-campfires and haven't burst into flames. But I do consider the jacket when I see hot embers flying, because I think my jacket is a magnet to burns. My first one was burnt within the first week and the second one also got its first burn shortly after getting it. This is an issue with any fleece, so it's not to be considered a fault unique to the Denali.
The pockets are great, my wife got one and the women's model is short one pocket; she was sad. The shoulder and elbow protection material is more durable than I expected, and has held up well. Another review stated they didn't like that part of this jacket. I think it is one of the best parts of the jacket for all the reasons they didn't like it. Water doesn't tend to get through the fabric quickly like the absorbing of the fleece. Simply wipe it off to keep it from accumulating. The rain actually 'stands' for a little while on the fabric before it is soaked through. Once it is wet it is wet, and will take longer to dry since it is not as breathable as the fleece. Scotch Guard can help with this. I have crawled through brush on my elbows and without the protection, the elbows would have disintegrated. The arm-pit zippers are great, and can take the heat down quickly when indoors. This is a great jacket to wear under a shell also. The hip cinches (when remembered) will help keep heat in when worn with a shell.
Wind cut right through the first generation fleece, but the newer Polartec is decent. This jacket will not be your best friend in a windstorm by any means. The cuff snaps are hard to operate if you use them with an outer shell. The cuffs came unstitched on my first jacket, but the other jacket seems to be holding up well. I think I have had the second one for about a year now. I didn't need the second one as my first one was still fine in my opinion, but the wife seemed to think it was starting to show its age and bought me the second one as a gift. My brother's wife loved all the pockets and now has my first Denali and is wearing it well.
I hope this helps if you are considering buying one. I would and may buy another Denali. But after having two? When my current Denali gets too tattered for my wife to be seen in public with me, I think I'll go for a Mountain Hardware fleece and try my luck with that.