The North Face Redpoint Optimus JacketPosted By Mark on Jan 2 '08
|Napoleon Pocket:||Yes||Handwarmer Pockets:||2|
|Sleeve Pockets:||None||Zipper Type:||Storm Flaps|
|Chin Abrasion Guard:||Yes||MSRP:||$199|
For being part of TNF’s Summit Series line of clothing and gear, the Redpoint Optimus is relatively inexpensive, at under $200. But that doesn’t mean it skimps on quality or features. An adjustable hood, seamless shoulders, stellar water resistance and the ability to stuff the jacket into its own interior pocket adds up to a solid entry for cold, wet weather wear.
The Redpoint Optimus is equipped with four pockets: two handwarmer pockets, one Napoleon pocket, and an inner stow pocket. The zippered handwarmer pockets place the wearer’s hands behind the Primaloft insulation, which makes sense; it keeps the hands warmer by keeping them closer to the core, which is more than we can say for some jackets. The Napoleon pocket is fairly large, extending to the seams on the side and near the shoulders. There’s plenty of room for a cell phone, energy bar, or other relatively small items that need to be accessed quickly. And the interior stow pocket serves two purposes: it can be used to hold the entire jacket in a pouch about the size of a 32-ounce Nalgene, or it can function as a rather large inner security pocket.
With the exception of two, the majority of the zippers on the Redpoint Optimus have a good-length zipper pull, culminating at the end in a little piece of plastic with the TNF logo on it, making for easy access to the front and pockets. No complaints here. The other two zippers are the inner stow pocket, which is just as easy to manipulate, due to another good-sized fabric zipper pull. But the final one is a bit odd. It’s just a simple YKK metal zipper pull, and it sits at the bottom of the main, front zipper. I don’t particularly understand this feature; on other, longer length jackets, this is the logical choice for those who want a little flexibility in their shells: the bottom zipper pull is used to open up the bottom of the jacket, to allow the wearer to sit down more easily. But the Redpoint Optimus is only a regular-length jacket, which makes the bottom zipper pull seem kind of irrelevant. The jacket is also equipped with an interior storm flap, and an additional nylon overlay on the flap itself, to increase water resistance.
The hood is a “snorkel”-type hood, which means that the front edges of it surround the wearer’s face pretty closely, which makes sense on this type of a jacket; thermal retention is important. The hood, apart from any adjustment, fits well around the noggin. But, TNF included a rear adjustment cord, to make it a little snugger around the circumference of the head.
The Redpoint Optimus has what is to be expected on a shell like this: dual-cinchcord hem adjustment, with a stitched square of fabric to keep the cord from getting sucked into the hem.
As was mentioned previously, the jacket is made with Primaloft, and the material is used on the entire jacket, including the hood.
The hood, seamless shoulders, and upper arms all use a nylon fabric that has been treated not only with a DWR, but also a light polyurethane coating, to increase water resistance, which is a nice touch.
The cuffs are not adjustable, but they are made of TNF’s proprietary APEX softshell fabric, providing stretch and water resistance.
The chin abrasion guard is exceptionally soft, and extends about an inch and a half past the zipper on either side, in addition to covering the zipper itself.
There are a couple of issues which could be addressed concerning the jacket’s improvement. One is the lack of pit zips. In the grand scheme of things, thermal retention is important in a jacket like this, but it’d be nice to be able to control the comfort level a little more. Another issue, arising from the snorkel-style hood, is the relatively constricting feel of being fully zipped up, and having the hood fairly snug on the back of the neck. And if you unzip a little, the zipper can be a little irritating on the skin. It’s not a huge deal, but it should be noted, all the same. It also would’ve been nice to include more of a brim on the hood, but packability would’ve been compromised.
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is a long-sleeved T-shirt, and 10 an expedition-quality mountaineering suit, I’d rate the Redpoint Optimus a 7. The superb hood and fairly athletic cut of the jacket make for a quite warm shell.
No. However, the seamless shoulders, excellent DWR, and polyurethane-“kissed” upper body will ensure that you stay dry for a long time. And, Primaloft insulates even when it gets wet, so you’ll stay warm for even longer.
The TNF Redpoint Optimus Jacket is a great choice for those who will be outside in cold weather, with a chance of rain or snow. Its windproofness helps ward off the chill, as well. The lack of pit zips and a less-than-phenomenal hood knock it down a bit, but it’s overall a good option for a fairly wide variety of weather conditions.
The Verdict: 8/10