The North Face Mountain Light Jacket
This jacket is great and is #1 in my coat closet. It is super light weight when used as just a shell, and has zip-in capability. I have TNF Denali zipped in for a super warm winter jacket. I stay completely dry and warm in every weather condition I have been faced with.
Mine may be an older model because it does not have pockets for your hands. The jacket does have many pockets located throughout for storage and great arm-pit ventilation. Not having pockets located for easy access for my hands is not enough to say anything negative about this jacket.
Also, I had trouble after awhile with the zipper for the zip-in feature. I called TNF and they said they would replace all the zippers under warranty! I have had my pack sent in to TNF and they fixed zippers, sewing, etc. I am not promoting TNF, but I will say that in my experience they have stood behind their products.
Fabric: gore tex
Price Paid: $300
I have a long history with this jacket. I purchased my first one in 1992. It was a long favorite until the seam tape delaminated around 2000.
I sent it back based on North Face's lifetime warrantee and received a brand new jacket, which I still use today, with no delamination this time. This review is the 2000 model, which I gather has been updated substantially, so this review focuses more on macro issues that have not changed much over time.
I like that the front zipper has storm flaps front and back, and I like that the shoulders and elbows are reinforced. I haven't had any problems with tears or durability of the outer shell, and it has stood up well in the worst conditions, including winds in excess of 100 mph. it is cut big, so plenty of room for layering.
this is a relatively heavy shell. i have worn it in summer rainstorms but prefer lighter-weight jackets in summer.
this is a gore-tex jacket. it is breathable, but that breathability requires treatment with a wash-in DWR coating to be fully effective. when the DWR wears off, the jacket just gets wet on the outside and does not breathe as well.
the '92 version had pit zips, the later version did not. no pit zips is a shortcoming during strenuous activity.
the hood is adjustable, but it isn't one of my favorites because it tends to be hard to keep it from falling down over my eyes. perhaps that has improved. sleeve cuffs cinch with velcro, which works fine.
i can't comment on pockets because the configuration has changed so much over time.
Fabric: Gore Tex
Price Paid: $340
An all-around all-weather good jacket. I purchased this jacket back in '98. I don't recall exactly how much I paid for it but I think it was the retail price. It didn't matter, I was too excited about getting my first TNF Mountain Light Jacket. I bought a large and to this day I wish I had gotten the medium. I am 5'6" and it hangs too long as well as in the sleeves if I don't have them velcro'ed up.
I've worn the jacket everywhere from backcountry, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, around town, and plain old daily use. It is lightweight and easy enough to roll and stuff away. I don't think the jacket has ever leaked but I know it could use a gore treatment. At first I had to get used to the chest pockets and still would like some hand warming pockets down by the waist. I had to send the jacket to North Face once to have the outer zipper repaired. I find the pit zips very useful in cooling down and the interior stow pocket great for storing things away.
In '99 I purchased a Denali vest and wore that zipped in as my insulation layer. I've never had a problem with trying to remain warm alhtough I wish I would have gotten the Denali jacket instead. The interior zipper for the Denali broke off and I haven't attempted to send the jacket back. I just wear it as a two piece instead of one.
Recently I have been looking around for a replacement. I haven't decided if I will stick with buying another Mountain Light or try a Mountain Hardware or Marmot. It will probably depend on which one has a good sale price.
Fabric: 2ply. Gore Tex
Price Paid: $360 (Not On Sale)
So far I have no problems with this jacket. I have read several other reveiws and here people talking that the jacket (Denali) didn't zip in right, their other brand coat didn't zip in, or it was just a 'fancy' coat. I would have to disagree. Yes, alot of gear these days has turned into a money making skeam, but they people have to make a living somehow.
I have worn this jacket at 40 mph winds and temptratures reaching -52 (F). No problems. I know a guy who has had this same jacket for 16 years and he is still wearing it. People were complaining about it being too 'LIGHT' of a jacket. The people didn't make this for climbing Mt. Everest. The light part of the jacket means it can be used all around for skiing (Not the Really Really Extreme), backpacking, kayaking, walking around town, and stomping through rain puddles. If you want a heavier jacket, than it will get too hot to wear in the summer, and you will end up not wearing it at all.
The zipper is a minor problem, and not often is it that I have to work with it. The (TNF) Denali jacket and the Mountain Light Jacket are a perfact team to go together, either that or the Patagonia R2, R1, or R3 radiant Jacket. There is one small problem. The sleeves of the jacket don't go over gloves very well, but they do ok. That is probly the only problems that I have found.
Price Paid: $299
I don't have time for a lengthy review, however this jacket performs 100% as it claims, and continues to surpass my even my highest expectations. Some of these reviews are absolutely appalling. Returning any jacket, the day after purchasing none the less, because you don't know how to properly use a zipper is baffling to me. It should have built in heaters?? What ignorance.
As far as Gore-Tex goes, $300 is a perfectly fine price, especially considering the competition, which I dubiously have dipped a dawdled with. Generally, however, I always fork out the extra cash for technology I know to work.
Personally I don't have any sort of favor towards The North Face, but this jacket has proven just why they are such a well known and typically trusted company. Kudos.
Price Paid: Gift
I just got one as a gift. So far, this is a nice product. I have not tested it out in the rougher weather, but 0 complaints. This is the NEWER model and does not have the problems I read about in the reviews here.
I like the zip-in liner feature which works fine with my MHW Windstopper Tech Jacket. The combo of MHW and TNF is great! The 2-way pit zips are fine, the velcro around the cuffs are as good as the other "real" brands, the hood actually fits nicely and the hand pockets are fine.
Not sure of the exact price as it was a gift, but I found lots of reasonable prices out there. This jacket rocks compared to lesser quality types. Can't go wrong.
Fabric: 2-Ply Gore-Tex
Price Paid: $250 (sale '99)
I just returned from a week trip to Yosemite where it snowed nearly two feet in two days. The Mountain Light was excellent in the following categories: waterproofness (i stayed bone dry) and breathabilit (i stayed bone dry). The hood worked well but because of its use of elastic cord it felt as if you were exercising your neck on a solofex when you cinched it tight.
My concerns are these: with gloves on (not large shell mittens but simply fleece liners mind you) it became a chore to utilize the front zipper as well as the snap closure. The liner zipper continued to get in the way each time I zipped up. I suppose if you do not mind a few seconds of mild frustration it is a minor issue. Concerning the snaps, aside from the lowest and the hightest you had to press against your body to get them to close. Though it may be less durable velcro closures may be a tad more effective.
Fabric: 2 Layer Gore Tex XCR
Price Paid: $300
I researched many jackets and I feel this jacket is well worth the price. I have been wearing this jacket in snowy conditions with temps around -15 C (-25 C with wind chill). By zipping in a 200 g fleece, I stayed warm and the wind was not a problem. I really like the fleece on the interior of the collar, the velcro cuffs and removable hood - All great features. A fleece is very easy to zip in and a durable snap allows the sleeves of the fleece to stay in place when putting on or removing the jacket. This jacket packs very nicely and has been durable. I would give it a 10 out of 10. I would definitely buy this jacket again.
Fabric: 2 layer ply gore-tex
Price Paid: $345
When I bought this jacket, I thought this was gonna be one of the best buys ever. However, there are so many flaws that it totally isn't worth buying. First, the price is outrageous. For 345 dollars, this jacket should be equipped with electronic heaters or something.
Of course, about 70% of the cost is the name. Ever since they stopped making it in the USA, the quality has dramatically decreased, but the prices have stayed the same.The Mountain Light is good for rainy days, and keeps you very warm if you wear the Denali fleece inside it or a Nupste jacket inside. It's a great shell, but for the price of 345, i rather buy a no name jacket that works much better. Please send me e-mail and tell me your feedback!
Jacket has a panel which you can see through when wet with lukewarm water. White laminate underneath is partly delaminated and missing in some places. Looks awful. Adventure 16 agreed. Sent it to North Face but they said no replacement. Adventure 16 would not do a "Cross the counter" exchange even though this material was clearly defective. Interesting that when you buy one of these jackets they have lots of guarantee tags on them and yet when you have a quality problem neither the store or manufacturer stand behind the merchandise. One unhappy customer can drive away a lot of business. Sorry North Face, Goretex and Adventure 16. Better get your act together.
Price Paid: $299
I purchased the Mountain Light because of the zip-in liner feature. I returned the jacket the next day after continuously snagging the zipper (without liner zipped in) while trying to zip it up. At first I thought that this particular jacket must have the liner zipper sewed in the wrong location so I went back to the store to see if the others were the same. To my amazement they were! Sure the zipper may work fine with the liner zipped in but it should zip up snagless without the liner in as well. I'm truly amazed the jacket design made it out of the design phase!
Fabric: Gore Tex
I just received my Mountain Light Jacket from Cabelas.com and was very disappointed that there were no pockets at waist level. The only pockets were a little below chest level and ackward to put your hands in. The core zips on the chest zippers are fragile and doesn't look like it would hold back water. I also bought a Cabelas' gore-tex jacket which is made with the same outer material for the same price and it has four external and four internal pockets and a mesh lining like the TNF. Cabelas also carries a lifetime warranty on their jackets.
Fabric: 2 ply gortex
Price Paid: $279
I have owned this jacket for three years. I have mixed emotions. The downside is that it needs to be a thicker nylon. I use it for climbing and expedition canoeing. I have found that it gets puntured very easily and its waterproofness wears out very fast. It is very comfortable but is not performing well. The snaps have broken off and I have ripped the bottom because of snags on the river portages. At $225 this would be a bargain. I have seen people spend upwards to $350.
I thought this would be perfect for us "Hardcores." I was wrong.
This is a great all around jacket. It has served me well everywhere I have went. Gore-tex is a great thing that I look for in my jackets because it keeps you completely dry, and I have had to use it in a few rain showers. I also love that zip-in capabilities it has, so I can zip my 300 weight fleece into it and it keeps me extremely warm. Overall awesome jacket for any adventure.
Price Paid: $200
I've had my jacket for about a year now and it's been good to me. I've been skiing, hunting and caught in rain storms and this jacket never leaks! The hood is one of the key elements of the jacket.
Shortcomings: 1) The jacket could use pockets for hands for casual wear. 2) Ventilation moved from under the armpits to the chest. I prefer the armpit ventilation. It matches other garmetns.
Price Paid: na
This is a great jacket. I have used it for climbing, snowboarding, and general day-to-day use. I was warm on a recent trip to Jackson when it got down to -41 with the wind chill. I have kept dry in rainstorms while walking my idiot dog and took plenty of nasty snowboarding bails. This jacket is tough to beat. Mine is a Mountain Light Jacket.
Fabric: 4 ply gortex with cordura ripstop nylon
Price Paid: $420
Fell apart in about two years. I thought it was going to last a long time, yet it failed. Since then I have purchased an REI Elements Parka and it has proved to be far more superior to the North Face jacket.
an unsatisfied customer
Price Paid: $289
First season with the TNF Mountain Lite...so far so good in the Northeast. Several climbs in the Presidential Range with over 60mph wind gusts and temps in the teens...snowshoe treks in Northern Maine at -10. It's keeping me dry and warm (with proper layering).
Price Paid: $149.99
I got it at Midwest Mountaineering and it rocks. Don't believe the other reviews. This year's is better than ever. It has chest and hip pockets. I highly recommend it.