[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has legitimately been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]
Webtogs recently sent me this item, for review by the end of the month. After wearing it virtually constantly for a fortnight, here are my first impressions:
The North Face – Men’s 100 Full Zip Fleece Top
The manufacturer’s product details and specification is provided at the foot of this posting. I do not take issue with them.
This is a standard Polartec® 100 fleece top, currently retailing at £49.00, less 10% from retailers such as Webtogs. Many readers will be familiar with the quick drying Polartec® 100 polyester fabric used in many lightweight fleeces. This particular item, manufactured in the Philippines, is made to a very high standard
- all the sewing is perfect
- there’s a good solid baffle behind the front zip
- the zipped handwarmer pockets are roomy and robust
- the feel of the fabric is soft and velvety
- the medium size fits my 38” chest with room to spare
- the fleece is comfortable without being snug
- the length is generous
- there are some curious studs on the cuffs that may be useful to retain a compass or similar - I now understand this to be needed for attachment to other compatible layers from The North Face®
- there is no drawcord, nor any elasticity to the cuffs, etc, so in time the stretchy fabric of the garment could become a little ‘loose’
- the zip on my garment is left-handed, which (not being left-handed) I find a little strange, though not inconvenient - perhaps that is needed for the 'zip-in compatible with other layers from The North Face®' feature to work
- at 275 gm out of the packet, this garment is about 40 gm heavier than the ‘smock’ style of fleece of the same material that I am used to wearing, so for lightweight summer backpacking when it may be carried for most of the time, the smock would be a little lighter to carry, but it’s really down to personal preference
- I’ve been using this fleece top as a casual top, indoors and outdoors, including several wintery walks. The Polartec® 100 fabric should be fine in most UK conditions, over a wicking base layer
- in cold weather an extra layer or a thicker fleece will be needed by most people
- from my previous experience with this fabric, I have no reason to believe that this garment won’t last for years. Indeed, whilst testing I’ve mentioned it to others who have unzipped their waterproofs to reveal an old model of the same top which has indeed lasted them for years
- numerous manufacturers make similar products, with leading producers like RAB charging similar prices
- there may be cheaper alternatives, but the price may reflect the finish, fit and durability
- if you are looking for a lightweight full zip fleece top, I doubt you’ll find one better made than this one from TNF
- the top is ideal for indoor casual use all year round, and for outdoor use between spring and autumn together with a base layer, and in winter with an extra outer layer
- I could quite happily use this garment for UK backpacking trips from May to October, if I didn’t prefer the ‘smock’ style of fleece for that purpose
- I’ll be using it for day walks, suitably layered, all year round
See foot of this posting for more.
The North Face’s own product details and specification are reiterated below.
The North Face – Men’s 100 Full Zip Fleece Top
Product Details and Specification:
Engineered for optimum thermal efficiency, the Polartec® fleece makes the Men’s 100 Full Zip a hiking essential. It’s a lightweight, warm and breathable fleece, able to retain crucial body heat in the cold while letting moisture escape through its lofted fibres. There’s durability too, making the fleece resistant to pilling, fading and shape distortion, plus soft-to-touch comfort courtesy of the brushed face. Pockets provide space to warm chilly hands or stow belongings, and a full-length zip runs up to the high neck for comprehensive insulation. Quick to dry, a cinch to care for and zip-in compatible with other layers from The North Face®, this will quickly become an essential part of your packing for outdoor adventures.
- Brushed face for soft handfeel
- Fabric resists pilling and fading and maintains shape
- Full length center front zip
- Quick drying
- set-in sleeves
- Soft, thermally efficient Polartec® Classic Micro
- Zipper hand pockets
100% Polyester - Polartec® Classic Micro
S, M, L, XL, XXL
Note: Whilst the gear was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.
1. [23/1/11] James Boulter has reviewed the equivalent NF smock (or 'pullover') here. Note that his NF fleece has no chest pocket, unlike its Rab equivalent.
2. [14/2/11] I've continued to wear my full zip fleece top for a number of day walks, and whereas the side pockets aren't easily accessible when wearing a rucksack, it's good to be able to unzip the 'Full Zip' to keep cooler on ascents, now the weather is warming up. So - chest pocket vs full zip? I suppose I'm easily pleased - happy with either.
3. [10/3/11] After another month of fairly constant use, both in and out of doors, mainly over an Icebreaker 200 Men's Oasis Crewe (long-sleeved shirt), and several washes, the garment remains 'as new'. It continues to be a delight to wear, and soon recovers from any condensation that forms inside waterproofs on wet days. By my normal standards it looks quite smart as well!