The North Face Honcho Jacket is a new concept to me; it is a great layer to add to the quiver that is a ski mountaineer’s closet. Breathable hardshell material on the outside, combined with baffled 700-fill down on the inside make for excellent warmth on the downhill or those super chilly days on the climb. For downhill skiing and sledding I wore it with just a base layer underneath, in single digits temps, and it handled the cold like a champ.
This is a fully featured technical piece. The well designed hood cinches down to keep out the wind and cover the face, the handy zipper pocket on the upper left arm, zipper pocket in the inside, zipper pocket on the chest, plus the mandatory hip pockets.
Adding to the tech features, pitzips: Pitzips are one of those things that you can either do really well, or very poorly as a gear company. Some companies make them too short, so they do not allow enough air to come in. TNF designs them long enough to really get some venting for the uphill, and the obligatory seam sealed zipper was a plus as well. The Honcho comes with a cinch cord for the waist, but I’d rather forego this and have a powder skirt to really keep out the snow. Only true downside is the hood doesn’t really fit over a helmet, a deal breaker for some folks but a non-issue for others. Overall, excellent jacket!
(Please note, TNF discontinued this jacket in fall of 2009, but they’re still in the pipeline so we figured a review could be useful for bargain shoppers.)
(Guest Blogger Jordan White finished skiing all 54 Colorado fourteeners in spring of 2009. He’s a committed alpinist and ski mountaineer who always keeps his eyes on the Seven Summits. Jordan blogs here.)