The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka | Review

This super puffy, high-spec down jacket will see you through some extremely cold conditions

Why We Chose It: Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, innovative construction

There’s nothing as certain in this world as death, taxes… and The North Face pushing the envelope of technical outdoor clothing design each year. The example for 2021 is this: the North Dace Summit L6 Down Belay Parka, one of the big winners at the ISPO Awards last winter. It’s certainly one scorching belay jacket.

Who Is The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka For?

Just by taking a quick look at some of the stats of this down jacket, you’ll soon realise that it’s not been designed for the mass market. 780g, 800 fill power, an intricate baffle design and strategically placed Futurelight protection; this jacket is designed to be worn explicitly in cold climates, whether that’s standing around on frozen belay ledges in Rjuken, battling jet-stream fuelled storms in the Scottish Highlands, or bagging airy alpine summits.

Materials

The North Face Summit L6 has a lot going on in the materials department. First of all, let’s talk about the insulation that gives it it’s furnace-like warmth. You’ll find premium 800 fill power goose down towards the body, while 700 fill power has been used in the arms for compression resistance.

Photo: Chris Johnson

The North Face makes use of their welded baffle construction to fuse each seam of the baffles that hold the down together. This, compared to stitching the individual baffles together, eliminates the risk of heat escaping through gaps and prevents the down from leaking out too.

“This jacket is designed to be worn explicitly in cold climates.”

As the name suggests, the fill is wrapped up in The North Face’s waterproof and breathable Futurelight material. It’s not throughout the whole jacket but in places where the weather protection of a membrane will be of most benefit, namely the arms and shoulders. The North Face has made use of Pertex Quantum Pro fabric throughout the rest of the jacket, bringing lightweight and packable protection with a bit of durability and water resistance.

Both of these fabrics have been treated with a DWR to boost the water repellency.

Photos: Chris Johnson

The Futurelight panels also have had a bit of reinforcement applied, with tough grip zones on the face fabric to not only improve their durability (say, when you’re carrying a pair of skis), but also to keep the straps on your backpack from sliding off-kilter.

Features

Photo: Chris Johnson

We found the impressive asymmetrical baffle design gave this a very close but comfortable fit, one that really helps to maximise heat retention. That said, we also found we were able to wear a number of layers underneath it as well – without ever feeling hemmed in.

One feature that really impressed us was the draft yoke which covers the neck and shoulders to prevent any potential heat escape. Sitting above this draft yoke is a huge, fully baffled hood that’ll provide bucket loads of insulation even with a climbing helmet under it.

“The L6 is definitely a jacket for serious adventures.”

You’ll find two huge mesh pockets on the inside of the jacket that’ll work well for glove storage – or even for somewhere to stuff a warm flask. The main zip is two-way, so you can throw the jacket on over a climbing harness and still have clear access to, say, your belay device.

Finally, the whole jacket is covered in subtle, yet essential, reflective print. This will mean that you’re going to remain as visible as possible – essential when you find yourself on an alpine face at 01.00 with little communication with your partner.

Tester’s Verdict

Giles Dean, Outdoors Magic staff

“I’ve only been able to test the L6 on a few very cold snowy days in Snowdonia, but from what I’ve seen I’d say this is a jacket that can be relied on for warmth in some very testing conditions. I’m looking forward to taking it ski mountaineering as I think it will be perfect for those moments where you have to wait around at the top of the mountain in properly cold conditions.

“Due to the quality of the down in the jacket it packs really well – about the size of a summer sleeping bag – which means that you can get it into your backpack easily and have it with you on those big adventures.

“The North Face continue to lead product innovation at the top of the mountain and the L6 is definitely a jacket for serious adventures.”

The North Face

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