Stylish enough for casual wear
Missing some ski-specific features
The North Face is a more than 50-year-old company known for its outerwear gear that doubles as fashionable winter clothing. To see if its products really hold up in the wild, we tested The North Face Arrowood Triclimate Ski Jacket—during a Rocky Mountain winter, no less. We assessed its performance over several weeks, evaluating factors such as warmth, breathability, style, wind resistance and versatility. Read on for our insights.
Style: Versatile with many color options
The mostly solid color options for the Arrowood are in line with the industry trend of moving away from loud, electric colors and patterns exhumed from the 1990s. The navy hue we tested received unsolicited compliments on- and off-trail. Some of the colorways offer the same shade for shell and fleece, while others pair complementary colors such as navy blue and light blue.
While the Arrowood is a capable outdoor garment, it wouldn’t look out of place on a city street, either. Some performance shells look far too serious for anything besides skiing or mountaineering, but the Arrowood manages to appear capable but casual. The somewhat tailored fit has drawbacks for performance—which we’ll expand on later—but makes it work as streetwear better than most ski jackets.
Comfort and Fit: True to size and comfortable
Unlike many technical shells, the Arrowood isn’t at all stiff, and the polyurethane coating leaves the outer layer flexible and actually fairly soft to the touch. While this might mean the jacket is more susceptible to tears and wear, the garment flexes more easily as a result and is more comfortable to wear.
The overall fit is average, being cut to hip length and the arms being just long enough to reach over gloves but not appear too long if worn casually. It’s a compromise sizing and some skiers may prefer longer arms and waistline to keep snow away. The large size fit our 6-foot, 185-pound tester about right, indicating that this coat doesn’t run particularly large or small.
The hood seems like a compromise size as well, meant to fit over a ski helmet snugly or over a head or winter hat with some room. If you plan to wear the jacket off the slopes, this is preferable to hoods designed for helmets specifically—which can feel absolutely cavernous without a helmet.
It’s also worth noting that the clips that hold the inner jacket at the cuff are at a single point, so when taking the jacket off, the friction of the fleece against base layers required a lot of pulling. While nothing gave out during the testing period, repeated wear and tear seems like it might damage the clip, and the need to pull so hard on the cuffs was annoying at best. You can work around this annoyance by not zipping or clipping the fleece into the outer jacket, which doesn’t affect performance in any noticeable way, but means having to take off two layers instead of one.
Warmth: Complete layering system works in all weather
One clear benefit of the Arrowood is that it’s a complete layering system (other than the base layer on your skin). Most skiers rely on layering (rather than a single, heavily-insulated jacket) to ensure they can adjust to a range of temperatures and conditions, and the Arrowood combines two essential layers: an outer shell and an inner fleece.
Unless you’re in the minority of skiers who log more than 20 ski days per year, the North Face Arrowood 3-in-1 jacket will fit your needs and can double as an around-town winter coat.
On cold days, keep the Arrowood’s 200-weight hardface fleece inner jacket zipped into the shell and you’re good for all but the coldest days on the hill. On warmer days where you’ll be generating more body heat, you can lose the inner fleece, open the pit zip venting, and let the breathability do its thing without losing the protection from wind and precipitation.
Additionally, the attached hood features the same material and coating of the rest of the jacket, which is key for keeping your head warm in rougher conditions. While warmth generally isn’t an issue when wearing a helmet, the hood is large enough to go over a normal ski helmet to block the wind on those high-alpine chairlifts and hikes.
The somewhat narrow cuffs made pulling the sleeves over even minimal ski gloves a challenge, which occasionally led to the dreaded glove-cuff gap. Employing over-the-sleeve gauntlet-style gloves might be a better pick for the Arrowood’s narrow cuffs to avoid any incursions from snow or cold air.
The Arrowood Triclimate is definitely a waterproof garment, but of course not all waterproofing is created equal. This jacket employs North Face’s proprietary DryVent weather-proofing, similar to Gore-Tex but branded specifically to North Face garments only.
The jacket’s polyurethane finish, which is what makes it repel water, is effective with one major downside: durability. Heavy use and frequent washing can render the waterproofing useless, requiring a new jacket purchase or treatment with an aftermarket waterproofing. Aftermarket solutions often don’t perform as well as a factory coating and may decrease the breathability. Do note that since the North Face’s lifetime warranty doesn’t apply to “normal wear and tear,” it likely wouldn’t apply to failing waterproofing.
Windproofing: Adequate but could be better
The Arrowood Triclimate is labeled “windproof” which generally means something, unlike “wind-resistant”. (Even a sheet of cheesecloth is technically at least a little bit “resistant” to wind.) The aforementioned DryVent technology does its job here, but compared to stiffer garments, you may feel the wind more, even if it doesn’t actually get through the jacket’s outer layer.
In terms of staying warm by blocking wind, the Arrowood performs, but if you will be using the jacket mostly at particularly windy locations (think skiing mountains above treeline or summiting peaks), you might want to spend a bit extra for a more technical coat.
Breathability: Decently breathable
The flipside of windproofing can be a lack of breathability which can lead to soggy layers when you start sweating on a hike or on the slopes. But the Arrowood Triclimate outer shell features a decent breathability rating, despite it’s 2L construction with a light layer of insulation. Wearing the fleece layer will affect your ability to literally let off steam, so it should be reserved for the coldest ski days.
Higher-end jackets featuring weatherproofing such as Gore-Tex, may have a better breathability rating, increased durability, and equal or better waterproofing. If you are a particularly hard charger on the slopes or intend to use your jacket in the warmer end of winter climates such as the Pacific Northwest, you may want to buck up for maximum breathability.
Durability: Might not be durable enough for frequent skiers
While the relatively soft DryVent fabric of the exterior jacket doesn’t feel as bulletproof as more hardcore Gore-Tex stamped shells, we noticed that the Arrowood endured several brushes with pine branches while skiing and didn’t look any worse for the wear. However, as mentioned earlier, the polyurethane coating isn’t known for durability compared to it’s tougher competitors. This distinction matters more for someone who intends to use the jacket daily rather than a once-a-year destination ski-tripper.
The North Face isn’t exactly a discount outerwear company, but the details on the Arrowood such as the zippers, stitching, and seam sealing give it the feel of a coat you’d find at Macy’s rather than a technical mountaineering outfitter or specialty ski shop.
The hardcore skier might want to look a level up to avoid buying a new jacket next year, but for a weekend warrior or vacation skier, the Arrowood should offer several years of performance on ski trips and winter outings, if properly cared for.
Features: Wish it had snow skirt
One glaring omission from this jacket for use in actual skiing is the lack of a snow skirt. This isn’t a big deal if you wear overall/bib-style ski pants, but if not, your only option is a drawstring cinch. The cinch not only looks a bit kooky fully tightened, but isn’t nearly as good at keeping snow from getting in your pants as a true snow skirt would be.
One glaring omission from this jacket for use in actual skiing is the lack of a snow skirt. The cinch looks a bit kooky fully tightened, and isn’t nearly as good at keeping snow from getting in your pants as a true snow skirt.
Like most jackets (ski or otherwise) these days, the Arrowood features a media pocket for your phone with an outlet for headphone cables.
Quality and Warranty: Solid quality with a generous warranty
The North Face is an established brand with a long history so you can assume that its customer service will be helpful if and when you run into problems with the Arrowood. The lifetime warranty North Face offers here applies to “manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship, regardless of the age of the product, but it does not cover normal wear and tear.”
Different companies interpret this type of warranty differently, but North Face has historically been relatively generous in their interpretations. If a zipper fails, you will likely get a repair or replacement. Tear a hole in a sleeve skiing past a tree and you may not get much sympathy, but even in cases where repair or replacement isn’t offered, The North Face may offer a consolation prize such as a discount coupon or gift card.
The quality of the Arrowood specifically should be considered middle-of-the-road. Technical ski jackets shells will often feature more durable fabrics, zippers, and materials used for small parts such as cinches. The weather-proofing, as discussed in detail above, is effective but not as long-lasting as more expensive options.
Price: Solid performance for the cost
Nothing in skiing comes cheap, but the Arrowood delivers solid ski jacket performance at a lower-end price with a trusted brand name behind it. Most jackets available for less will sacrifice some aspect of performance and should only be considered if price is your top concern and you don’t intend to use the jacket much for actual skiing.
Nothing in skiing comes cheap, but the Arrowood delivers solid ski jacket performance at a lower-end price with a trusted brand name behind it.
More expensive jackets generally offer more robust weather-proofing, more ski-specific, features, and increased durability, but may sacrifice somewhat in comfort and your ability to use the jacket as a casual winter coat as well.
Also keep in mind that many expensive ski jackets are shells meant to be layered underneath, so you may need to budget for additional base layers when going that route. One significant advantage of the Arrowood 3-in-1 jacket is that it makes your layering choices for you in one purchase.
Competition: Still a good value among other options
For approximately an extra $80, the Columbia Wildcard Men’s 3-in-1 Jacket offers a similar multi-layer system jacket. The biggest benefit of the Wildcard is that its removable inner jacket is thermal reflective down whereas the Arrowood features a fleece layer.
For skiers and riders in warmer climates, that added warmth might not be required, but East Coast night skiers might consider shelling out for the additional heat retention. Otherwise, the two jackets are very similar in terms of weatherproofing, warranty, and style.
Interested in reading more reviews? Check out our list of the best men’s ski jackets.
- Product Name The North Face Men's Arrowood Tri Climate Jacket
- Product Brand The North Face
- MPN A2TCN
- Price $199.00
- Weight 1 lbs.
- Back length 29.5”
- Materials: Polyester, 200-weight hardface fleece