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This article was written on 16 Jul 2011, and is filled under Outdoorsmen.

How to Stay Warm In All Conditions

I absolutely love this jacket (The North Face Pamir Windstopper) I purchased on the recommendation of a redditor, and I absolutely love how he described the jacket originally, so I’m just going to belay his research to you, verbatim.

(creddit: GODZiGGA)

The “stylish” jacket that 95% of people wear are complete shit. Its purpose is to look nice but have very little actual function. The North Face makes exceptional performance gear that looks good (for the same price or cheaper as the fashion model). I live in a place where temperatures can range from 100F in the summer to -50F in the winter (read: Minnesota, this makes me a jacket expert) and own one of those said performance jackets. It is unbelievable how great it is. It’s thin, light, (more so than the fleece stylish ones) breathable, and windproof. I bought a waterproof shell that I keep in the car if it’s raining or I want to go snowboarding. Best jacket I have ever owned. It’s 50F out right now. I am wearing the same jacket as I was when it was -30F a few months ago and I am just as comfortable.

My dad was giving me shit about my jacket for years, telling me I am going to freeze to death if I got stranded. Trying to explain the technology never worked so I bought him one for Christmas and made him promise he would wear it for a week before classifying it as a fall jacket. Two days later he went to REI and bought a jacket for everyone in the family and tells everyone who will listen about it.

TL;DR: The North Face overcharge for their stylish fleece jackets that you see everywhere, but make great performance jackets at a reasonable price if you do some research (they look good too).

Edit: I have had some people ask which jacket I have. I bought mine 3-4 years ago and after scouring their website, it seems as if they don’t make it anymore. I’ve looked all over the jacket for the “model” and unfortunately other than “The North Face” logo the only other writing on the jacket is “WINDSTOPPER” (which is not the name of the jacket, but it’s main purpose) on the sleeve. (SEE EDIT 2; JACKET FOUND) I found what I think is the replacement. I have never seen this jacket and cannot speak to the quality or performance of it but it is very similar from a technical standpoint.

What I can tell you about my jacket is:

  • The shoulders and top-half of the sleeves are waterproof. The rest is a performance windproof microfleece. I mean 100% windproof, you couldn’t feel a hurricane through this bad boy. It is very thin, I was very skeptical that it would actually do what the sales guy at REI told me it would do (see below).
  • I bought it at REI. I would recommend this store 100x over. They are co-op and all my experiences with their employee’s have proven them to be knowledgeable and very friendly. If you are looking for this kind of jacket and have a REI around; start there. Tell them what you want the jacket to do: windproof, light, breathable, something that can be easily layered.

What to look for in a jacket:

  • Make sure it is windproof. This is where the power of my jacket comes from. Stop the wind and you stop most of the cold. It should say something like “rated at 0 CFM”. That means it is 100% windproof. If it is even at 1 CFM; you aren’t windproof which will let wind in and drop your core temp.
  • Make sure it is breathable. This will allow your jacket to get rid of extra heat. This sounds bad, but too much heat is actually bad because you will start to sweat. Once you start sweating you are screwed because now that you are wet, the cold will take advantage of that weakness and punish you for it. This is also what allows me to be 100% comfortable in the jacket in 50F weather.
  • LAYER, LAYER, LAYER. Both under and over. On a really, really cold day I will most likely wear sweater to work. If I don’t feel like wearing a sweater I will wear a normal hooded cotton zip-up/sweatshirt under the jacket for an extra layer. That is as much extra clothing as I have ever had to wear. Make sure you get a waterproof shell, remember wetness is your enemy.
  • Read the tags on the jacket, this will give you all the technical details: windproofing, waterproofing, breath-ability, etc. If the tags don’t tout it, it doesn’t have it. Who knew you could compare specs on jackets like you can with electronics?
  • Also, you may want to check out Mountain Hardware as they make a jacket very similar to mine as well. I was told it has the same performance as the jacket I bought and they still make it. It isn’t exactly my cup of tea as far as looks go (the black on black looks good though), but we are buying for function, not form. Right?

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