What is the The North Face ThermoBall?

The North Face developed a partnership with PrimaLoft to offer a new synthetic alternative to down. The North Face Thermoball is a revolution in insulation technology. Unlike traditional, continuous-filament synthetic insulations, the small round PrimaLoft synthetic fibre clusters closely to mimic down clusters; trapping heat within small air pockets to retain warmth.

For winter 2015 the Thermoball has been updated with streamlined baffles contoured to fit and flatter your body, the PrimaLoft ThermoBall jacket offers ultralight, highly compressible synthetic insulation to keep you warm in a variety of winter conditions. The new insulation technology features round ThermoBall clusters that trap and retain heat to achieve phenomenal warmth in cold, wet weather. Wear or pack this ultralight jacket for reliable thermal insulation while winter camping in the backcountry.

In the Field

I’ve had my T-ball for half a year now and have taken it on just about every adventure so far. Two occasions stand out for me.

We went up The Castle in the Budawangs, left our packs at the junction to the campsite to make our way up to the top light footed. I just took my T-ball thinking I might need it up on the plateau. Instead of the wind, we suddenly found ourselves in the mist and the rain set in. Was glad to have taken my puffer, because even though it’s obviously not a rain shell, it still kept me warm while admiring the ‘no-view’ up at the top. There’s something to be said for synthetic insulation – you don’t worry in the wet and this hoody still packs down to a small, light pocket sized ball.

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Claudia with a lunch time relax on the Garibaldi Range in NZ

The other critical adventure was heading up into the Garibaldi range in NZ. A 5 day trip in the wild where you’re guaranteed not to meet anyone else. It’s a spectacular high level limestone (karst) plateau with equally spectacular cliff faces to navigate around without loosing your nerves. There were many occasions where we lowered our packs with a rope and chimneyed down chutes. Our canvass packs looked decidedly worse for wear after that trip, but my T-ball stood up to the test which was more that surprising considering it was scraped down and across limestone boulders and rocks covered with needle sharp quartz. The fabric shows a little bit of abrasion in a couple of places but nowhere was it pierced or ripped and pretty much still looks like new. I was well impressed!

Claudia Lacher Paddy Pallin Apparel Buyer


In February this year I was lucky enough to escape on a month-long mountaineering & rock climbing trip to the South Island of NZ. I decided to fore-go the obvious choice of taking a down puffer & try the new Thermoball. Cold wind & rain whilst cragging near Lake Wanaka – no worries. Alpine climbing in the Aoraki Mt. Cook national park – perfect for layering with my other clothing. A rainy night spent inside a quite damp down sleeping whilst in an open bivy on the Annette Plateau – very glad I had the Thermoball!

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Selfie of Lachlan Gardiner in the NZ Alps

It was reassuring to know I’d be warm regardless how miserable the weather & I often didn’t feel the need to wear a shell over the top when the rain started falling. Double thumbs up here!

Lachlan Gardiner Paddy Pallin Photographer


The exciting news (for tech geeks like myself) about Thermoball, is that they’ve managed to take the continuous filament of primaloft (think fleece) then plucked it with tweezers to create more loft (and warmth) for the given weight. You beaut. Get it wet, throw it in your pack and it’ll still keep you warm.

James Castrission, Blackheath, Kristi Odom

James Castrission, operator of My Adventure Group in Blackheath, NSW shot by Kristi Odom

At the moment, the Thermoball is equivalent to 600 fill goose down, which is a great weight for Australian conditions. I’m sure over time as ThermoBall gathers a cult following, different weight versions will become available.

James Castrission is an adventurer for The North Face & operates My Adventure Group out of Blackheath, New South Wales. My Adventure Group is tackling the issues caused by nature deficit disorder, encouraging parents, children and corporate teams to get into the outdoors.


Features

  • Active fit
  • 15D nylon ripstop with ThermoBall™ insulation
  • Exposed molded-tooth center front zip
  • Two secure-zip hand pockets
  • Internal elastic cuff
  • Stowable in hand pocket
  • Hem cinch-cord

Specs

  • Shell: 15D 33 g/m² 100% nylon
  • Insulation: 9.5 g/m² PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ synthetic insulation
  • Average Weight: 360 g

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

One Response

  1. Norman Bradshaw

    I would love to take the ThermoBall on my upcoming trek of the Te Araroa in NZ in November. It would be perfect.

    Reply

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