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The North Face Denali Jacket

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: The North Face Denali Jacket fleece jacket

(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 Hardwear fleece and try my luck with that.

Fabric: Fleece Polartec
Price Paid: $100-165

This is by far the warmest and most rugged fleece jacket I have ever seen or owned. Granted, you are paying $50-70 extra for that small little "The North Face Logo" on the jacket, but in many DO get what you pay far.

My wife laughed at me for two years saying that she bet her $15 Chinese slave-made Wal-Mart fleece jacket was just as warm as my Denali. After many washings, the Denali continues right on and keeps me warm. Her Wal-Mart fleece jacket became stretched out and started falling apart. She finally was convinced that this is truely the best fleece jacket you can buy and is very warm. If she goes camping with me, she will ask me if she can wear my Denali.

I paid $99 for mine. If you watch closely, The North Face allows dealers to mark them down to $99 to clear inventory out. If you cannot wait, then the $165 is the fixed price you will pay everywhere. I still think $165 is a ridiculous price and in many ways, wearing one is a looked on as a "status symbol" in the civilized urban world... but I must say that this jacket used in the backcountry has kept me warmer than any soft shell jacket I have ever owned.

Because of its high price, I am very protective of it. Campmor has some Polartec 200 fleece jackets (made for them carrying their name brand) that are very warm, but again, they will not hold up as well as the DenaIi. I highly recommend this product if you can afford it!

Fabric: Polartec 300 Fleece
Price Paid: $99

Functional features and durability outshine the peculiar trendiness of this workhorse fleece.


  • Nylon protecting fleece in high-abrasion areas
  • Durability
  • Quality fleece


  • Boxy cut makes it a great topper but hard to layer under shells
  • Ribbon pulls on zippers are flimsy
  • Ubiquitous, trendy, usurped by the lay-masses

The ubiquitous TNF Denali is a workhorse 300 weight Polartec fleece with double nylon covering the collar, shoulders and upper body, elbows, and hem. There is a vertical chest pocket and two side pockets, all zippered and featuring somewhat flimsy ribbon pulls.  The sleeve hems are slightly elastized; the bottom hem has an elastic drawcord which is useful due to the jacket's boxy shape.  

I own two Denalis (one is 7 years old, the other is 5) and can attest to their durability and smart design. The Polartec fleece wears well and doesn't pill terribly, but the areas that would show wear the soonest, elbows and shoulders abraded by pack straps, are protected by durable nylon so the fleece remains in great shape.  

I use the Denali as a topper or jacket because it is very roomy and boxy and doesn't layer easily under athletically-shaped shells. A Patagonia Down Sweater can fit underneath for extra warmth. Overall a great piece of gear with enduring design that is worth owning despite its weird "fashion item" status.

Source: bought via a "pro deal"

The iconic jacket in travel size. I bought this for my 2-year-old, and I have not regretted it.


  • Just like the big one
  • Warm
  • Durable
  • Washable

I bought the size 3 for my 2-year-old boy, hoping it would last a while. It has not let me down. He is 4 and it's now getting small on him but has remained in perfect condition. Non-piling fleece, warm, durable, washable.  Fashionable, still insulates when wet.  

I won't get into the "North Face is too commercialized" discussion. No, this is the only TNF I have. OK, my 2YO daughter has one I guess.  They do a good job. Sometimes I want to stop trying to be different then everybody else. TNF does a really good job at making jackets and gear that are at once stylish, functional, quality, and durable.  This is definitely no exception.  

I have taken it on windy, cold, and rainy trips and he's always ok. He spills grape juice on it, falls in the mud, and it always cleans up nice. I chose this over a Patagonia down poofy, for the cleansability. It doesnt matter when you're not 3 years old, but this guy has gotten worse things than grape juice on this jacket. Yay, North Face.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80

This is a decent piece. I cannot complain about price because mine was given to me for free, but after two years of use I am not sure that I would tell someone that it is worth the $165 price tag.

The one shining characteristic of this piece is the durability. I have worn this fleece day in and day out for two years and its wear and tear is minimal. I must give The North Face credit for quality construction.

In terms of functionality, it is very warm when there is little or no wind, but the Windstopper technology is not the best on the market. It works well, but not $165 well. I have a Mountain Hardware shell, and I wish that I had the money to buy their Windstopper fleece. Several of my friends have it, and they say that it is not even comparable to the Denali in terms of functionality.

In conclusion, the Denali is a great lightweight fleece for not so harsh weather, but for cool spring and fall activities it works great.

Fabric: Windblock Microfleece
Price Paid: free

This jacket provides mild warmth support. It is not meant for extreme cold temperatures. I would recommend for the fall and/or mild temperate regions, such as Atlanta-- def not Denver or Chicago.


  • Appearance
  • Simple
  • Great to layer underneath


  • Does not provide a lot of warmth
  • Not resistant to wind or rain

The look of this jacket is nice, but the inside is mediocre because it lacks any kind of fleece or other warm material. Therefore, it's great to layer underneath. If you are looking for a nice coat to throw on in the fall, go for it. But if you are legit cold, keep looking.

Source: bought it new

Good jacket, but could be better.


  • Good pocket layout
  • Color selection


  • Lightweight fleece
  • Pills
  • Zipper issue

I bought a TNF Denali fleece jacket back in 1999 when TNF was still making gear for technical use, not a fashion trends like today. While it was a good jacket (still have it and wear it frequently), it could have been better.

It has all the usual things a good fleece should have: pit zips, chest pockets, nylon panels on shoulders and elbows... but the fleece weight is a bit light. I got a few surplus US Army-issue 300 weight PolarTec fleece jackets each for less than $20 and they are way warmer and thicker than the Denali, and have better coverage on the wear panels. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $149

Not many jackets can be comfortably worn on your couch watching TV after a long day in the woods...this one can though.


  • Warmth
  • Pockets
  • Zippers
  • Weight


  • Depending on your shirt, not a quick on/off factor.

Couch comfortable. Great pocket placement. Stylish taslan wear points. Dependable zippers. No surprise USA fit.

But, like other reviews, Polartec fleece was designed for cold and fires are its kryptonite...melts like the plastic bottle it once was...yikes.


Owned different versions since the '80. My latest doesn't have pit zips...don't miss them.

Source: bought it new

I can't tell you how many different fleece coats I've had from different manufactures. I recently bought my first North Face Denali Jacket online at for $129. This fleece is out of this world. I'm an avid backpacker/outdoor sporting enthusiast and really push my gear to its limits. The Denali took everything I threw at it. Very durable to the point of almost being indestructable.

I love the underarm ventilation. You can go from feeling "as snug as a bug in a rug" to "where's that draft coming from "in two quick unzips. I also really appreciate the padding on the chest and elbows. When you are spending alot of time blowing on embers perched on your elbows, you soon realize what a plus this is. I hope this helps

Fabric: Fleece
Price Paid: $129

I love this jacket! I use it most of the year around, and it's so durable and warm (despite accidentally putting it through the dryer).


  • Warm
  • Durable


  • No hood

I love this jacket! I use it most of the year around (for about 4 years), and it's so durable and warm (despite accidentally putting it through the dryer). It's very functional and works great alone or as a layer under an even thicker coat. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $175

The North Face Denali Jacket is my all time favorite jacket!


  • Style
  • Comfortable
  • Quality
  • Color

The North Face Denali Jacket is my all time favorite jacket! It is so comfortabl, and keeps me warm at all times! Not to mention it is very cute! I will always pick North Face when I'm picking out a jacket for winter! I know I can always count on them to keep me bundled up!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $149.99

Now an old standby, the Denali Jacket by TNF remains the yardstick by which fleece jackets are measured. It has evolved slightly from its early days, and not entirely for the better, but it remains a top-notch outdoor utility fleece jacket.

My only complaint is its success. After it reached icon status, it became almost as much a fashion accessory amongst the polished-chrome-wheels-on-the-Tahoe crowd as anything else. My only other suggestion to TNF would be to revisit the sizing, as I think it tends to run a bit too large for the labeled size.

I've got two of these, and should I in the future need something similar, it's what I'd look for first again.

Fabric: Polyester with nylon abrasion patches
Fill: n/a
Price Paid: $160

This jacket is perfect for cool to cold temperatures. Surprising amount of warmth for the weight of it. Love the colors too.


  • Lightweight

I wear a small-med on top and the medium size was perfect for me. This jacket is ideal for layering in cooler temps. The quality of the construction is fantastic and fabric is very soft. The colors are also fun. A great lightweight fleece for any sort of outdoor adventure. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $180

Yes, it is expensive but it is far superior to any other fleece. Nylon reinforcements on sleeves and shoulders insure long life against abrasion. 300 weight fleece keeps me warm to 30 degrees or so depending on wind chill.

I also have a Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man fleece, and an considering having sleeve reinforcements added to this garment due to excessive matting of the material at the elbows. I have two Denali Jackets which have served in a superior way for three years. Except for possibly a gale force rain event, waterproof and wind resistant. The best fleece you can buy and worth the price.

Fabric: fleece 300 weight
Price Paid: $165

A great fleece jacket. For warmth this is the best fleece I have ever worn. Great quality. The one issue I have is with wind. The jacket is so warm, I often wear it with a short sleeve shirt on underneath. It keeps me warm, however if the wind picks up to above 10mph, you will catch brief drafts that come through the fleece. Again, normally you would have on at least a long sleeve pullover underneath and in that case, there are no issues. But high winds are an issue for the fleece. I would buy again.

Price Paid: $165

The cuff elastic is a bit uncomfortable in the 2011 model year (older version much better) and the metal glove snap can be irritating if you use your lap top or a rifle, as it will scrape, while wearing this jacket.

The other features of the jacket are up to North Face's usual polar fleece 5 star ***** rating. The best use is hiking or backpacking with the easy slide no pack strap pilling strap area fabric. Also works well with layering clothing.

The boxy fit and styling are not really my 1st choice for casual wear or car touring.

This is the best fleece jackets I've ever had. The first time I tried it on, it felt very comfortable and warm almost like I have worn it before.

The multiple pockets are very useful and I use practically every one of them, I also like the pit-zips, as they increase the breathability of an already very breathable jacket. The condura pads are great for the heavy loads I carry and doesn't feel restrictive in any ways.

Overall a very, very good fleece jacket.

Fabric: Polartec 300 Recycled Fleece
Price Paid: $165

Lucky to find this jacket at a North Face outlet. Have owned it for about four years. Wear it daily in the winter either on its own or zipped into a North Face summit series XCR shell. The Denali is warm and has shown no signs of wear in the past four years. Minimal pilling. Plenty of pockets. Underarm vents are a great feature when you have to crank up the aerobic output for whatever reason.

Price Paid: $100

I live in this fleece, love the underarm zips for ventilation and the big, tight collar, but I don't like the windproofing on the shoulders, neck and forearms. These get wet when I sweat and take ages to dry again. This defeats the object of a fleece for me. For less sweaty people or less active pusuits it's probably great, otherwise think about the other fleeces that are just that.

Fabric: Polartec fleece
Price Paid: $160

This is a great jacket. I'm not much for North Face but it gets the job done with ease. This is one of the most durable long lasting jackets I own. It is lightweight and warm and can be worn in many climates. It has everything I would look for in a jacket I would wear everyday and a jacket I would take hiking/camping with me.

The Denali is the warmest, most durable fleece I have owned. While a technical jacket, it is casual enough to wear in town. The multi- position pit zips allow variable venting on the jacket.

My only issue was the inside seams at the torso chafed my sides below the ribs. Aside from this minor issue, I would recommend this jacket to anyone who loves the outdoors.

Fabric: Polyester Fleece
Price Paid: $82

I love the Denali. I bought it almost a year ago on Ebay, new with tags, and have loved it ever since!! The classic 300 fleece keeps me very warm even in the below 0 temperatures during the Wyoming winters. I also own the North Face Apex Bionic Jacket and it's a dilemma every day of which jacket to wear!!

Fabric: Polartec Classic 300 Fleece
Price Paid: $105

Strictly for mountain usage, this jacket is too heavy and bulky. The ratio warm-per-weight is not the best. Still can be useful for car trips and probably other outdoor activities.

One final remark: this jacket is not designed to be windproof, not even wind resistant. It's just a heavyweight thermal jacket.

Price Paid: $160

A great jacket -- I recently had my first one stolen and got another right away. I have several other fleece garments (Patagonia, L.L. Bean) and this is head and shoulders above the rest. I love all the pockets!

Fabric: Fleece
Price Paid: $160

This fleece is worth every cent. Light weighted, warm, and even have zippers at the arm pit for ventalation.

Over all this fleece is extraordinary. North Face did a great job!

Still, $160 is alot. Timberland fleece same style sells for $50.

Fabric: fleece Polartec
Price Paid: $160


  • Warm
  • Durable
  • Matches everything

I love this jacket. It is perfect for anything.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $149.99

Great jacket.

No problems with anything so far. I have used it alone in subzero temps and it still kept me warm.

You are not wasting any money if you buy this jacket.

Fabric: fleece
Price Paid: $140

I bought this jacket on sale from the wonderful people at Moosejaw. The jacket is very light and performs as advertised. I would not go on another winter trip without it.

Fabric: Windstopper
Price Paid: $150

It's pretty good. It has inside liner which keeps me warm and outer parka protects me from wind and rain.

It did awesome job in withstanding New Zealand's chill weather.

Price Paid: $120

I like all the big pockets. Jacket breathes very well and is perfect for mild conditions or as a layer for extreme conditions. 6'1" 185 order Lrg.

Fabric: Fleece
Price Paid: $179

A warm comfortable fleece with nylon over shoulders so pack straps won't dig in. Keep extremely warm, lots of pockets!

Fabric: recycled polartec classic 300 weight fleece
Price Paid: $120

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