The North Face Quince Down Jacket

Time for another First Look post from the Webtogs buying trip to The North Face HQ in November (2013). This time we move out of the realm of luggage, and into the down jackets arena, with the brand new TNF Quince Jacket!

As many of you will be aware, the current micro-baffle down jacket offerings from The North Face go by the names of Catalyst Micro (the hooded version), and Thunder Micro (the non-hooded version). Constructed from Pertex Quantum and filled with 800 fill power water-repellent ‘ProDown’, they are the latest bearers of the Catalyst and Thunder names which have been around for several years. But the North Face aren’t an overly sentimental company: they’ve scrapped both for Autumn/Winter 2014, and replaced them with… The Quince.

The ‘Black Ink Green’ and ‘Bastille Green’ Winter 2014 TNF Colourway

Interesting choice of name you’ll agree, and one that hardly conjures up images of extreme conditions, mountain sports and rugged outdoor athletes: rather that The North Face is entering a new era of fruit-inspired products. Name aside though, the Quince, which comes in hooded and non-hooded forms, actually looks to be quite good.

Women's Quince Hooded Jacket in Black Ink Green

Women’s Quince Hooded Jacket in Black Ink Green

Aside from a change in the name, the main thing that’s changed during the course of the Catalyst/Thunder’s evolution into the Quince, is baffle design. Rather than boring/functional horizontal baffles (dependent upon way you look at it) across the body, the Quince features curved baffles, split gracefully by two new seams rising upwards from the central waistline to the shoulders. There has also been a baffle redesign in the collar area, at first glance merely cosmetic, though on closer inspection there does seem to be more down retained in the collars of both the hooded and non-hooded versions, so perhaps there’s something to it?

Quince baffle Close-up

Quince baffle Close-up

Getting down to the technical details of the jacket, the fabric of the body is given as 15D ripstop nylon, compared to the Thunder and Catalyst’s 20D ripstop nylon: a slightly lighter fabric, but a minor change. The resulting loss in abrasion resistance will be marginal, and should be compensated by corresponding gain in compressibility and weight. Like its predecessors, both styles of Quince Jacket stow into their left hand pocket for ease of packing. Other features include hidden waist cinch chord at the front zip, customary DWR water-repellent finish, and elastic-bound cuffs and under-helmet style hood. The fill will continue to be water-resistant 800 fill power ProDown, we are assured by The North Face rep, Jon.

The Men’s Quince Jacket in ‘Monterey Blue’, along with the New Women’s Point 5 Jacket, and Hooded Elysium Jacket

Where the Quince Jacket does represent an improvement, is from an ethical standpoint, as its fabric is now bluesign approved. Bluesign is a system which regulates and approves sustainable textile production, eliminating harmful substances beginning to end of the manufacturing process. In short, bluesign ensures environmentally sound and safe production – great for both sustainability and consumer safety. This represents the latest step in the efforts of The North Face to forge themselves an image as an ethical manufacturer.   And that’s about all I have to say on The North Face Quince: a good-looking micro-baffle down jacket with small but meaningful improvements over its Thunder and Catalyst predecessors. We’re told that the Quince Jacket (no hood) will have an RRP of £190, and that the Quince Hooded Jacket will come in at an RRP of £210. Of course, on Webtogs we’ll offer them at the best price we can… you’ll just have to wait until Autumn 2014 to see what that is.