The North Face Enzo Jacket

2011-2012 The North Face Enzo Jacket

Weight (size Large): 590 grams / 20.8 oz

Zipper Length: 30 inches / 76.2 cms

FEATURES

  • Waterproof, breathable, fully seam sealed The North Face Enzo jacket, displayed
  • Know Boundaries Snow Safety label
  • Recco® avalanche rescue reflector
  • PU (polyurethane) asymmetrical front zip
  • PU (polyurethane) waterproof, laser-cut, bonded zips
  • Adjustable, helmet-compatible fixed hood
  • Pit-zip vents
  • Wrist accessory pocket with goggle cloth
  • Zip hand pockets
  • Zip chest pocket
  • Internal media security pocket
  • Internal goggle pocket
  • Zip integration powder skirt
  • Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs
  • Detachable powder skirt

MSRP: $449, USD

Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Taos Ski Valley, A-Basin, Wolf Creek, the dog park, downtown Chicago, my living room.

Days skied (updated): 17 (Days worn:  35+)

The North Face hadn’t really been on my radar for a while. I knew they were still making some excellent price-point products (and on behalf of broke skiers and riders everywhere, thank you for making that stuff, TNF), but if I was looking for high-end, best-in-class technical pieces, I was going to look elsewhere.

But I’d seen the Enzo jacket, and I was intrigued. The North Face was plugging it as one of their “Athlete’s Recommended Products,” I was in the market for a versatile, light weight, four-season, waterproof shell, and, to be honest, I wanted to see for myself whether the product lived up to its price tag. (By which I mean, I was skeptical that the product would live up to its price tag.)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

The first time I put on the Enzo, my immediate reaction was panic. I thought, This thing is paper thin, weighs NOTHING, and I’m going to tear it in half just walking around the house.

Given that I was coming from wearing a TREW Bellows jacket that is made of just about the burliest fabric I’ve ever seen on a coat, the Enzo felt terribly insubstantial. I was certain that I would destroy it.

After I reined in my amazement/disbelief, I took off the Enzo and inspected the thin, ripstop fabric. I hoped it would hold up. Then I went skiing.

It was mid-October up in Summit County, Colorado, and I got on the chairlift with BLISTER’S resident outerwear expert, Sam Shaheen. (If you haven’t read Sam’s Outerwear 101 article, you should. Then you’ll know why I like to pick Sam’s brain about the technical features of this stuff.)

Sam: “So, what do you think of the Enzo?”

Me: “I’m terrified that I’m going to shred it to pieces. What do you think of it?”

For the next three minutes, Sam broke down the Enzo jacket in detail. His concluding words were, “That jacket is sick.”

First and foremost, Sam was impressed with the front construction of the Enzo. The pockets are framed with a tricot-laminate-tricot fabric (as opposed to the tricot-laminate-face fabric on the outside of the jacket). This lamination saves weight.

Plus, he appreciated how the front pocket construction (the pockets go all the way up to the raglan sleeve seam) minimizes exterior seams while allowing for fully functional interior pockets.

Photo of the inside of The North Face Enzo jacket

Beyond that, Sam also dug the Enzo’s minimal, simple and effective one-piece hood design; its weight-saving zip-out powder skirt; and the fact that the jacket’s RECCO device is hidden to prevent snags when doing things other than skiing.

I had owned an Arc’Teryx Theta AR jacket that was made of GoreTex Pro shell, like the Enzo, but the Theta AR fabric was thicker and withstood many a tree branch, scraping up the fabric and leaving marks, but never tearing. So I told Sam of my concerns about the Enzo’s durability.

He said, “A lot of the Gore Pro shells feel pretty thin, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it ripping. Gore puts some serious R&D into their face fabrics, and that ripstop should do its job and minimize the damage if, by chance, something does tear. 3-Layer stuff is usually pretty thin because the fabric is pretty stiff by nature. Because you add that third layer as a laminate instead of a lining, you get a lot of structure to the fabric. Heavier face fabrics can be very stiff and uncomfortable to wear (especially with the more athletic fit of the Enzo).”

Cool.

After fifteen days of skiing in the Enzo, I’ve finally stopped worrying each time I throw my skis up on my shoulder. To date, there are no rips or marks from sharp ski edges. I’m not willing to call any jacket that only weighs 590 grams, “burly,” but the durability—to date—combined with the Enzo’s low weight is pretty remarkable.

BREATHABILITY:

The breathability is first rate, as was my experience with other Gore Tex Pro Shell products. In warmer days, when the snow is dumping and pit zips are closed, the thin fabric and Pro Shell membrane/coating breathe nicely.

Plus, it’s got nice, long, functional pit zips, so when it’s dry and warm out, open the zips and you’ll stay dry, too.

10 Comments

  1. Phillip January 25, 2012 Reply

    Have to be honest, i was in the same boat as you when looking for a new shell this year.

    North face has long been off my list since the advent of the Denali fleece.

    However, when shopping for a new shell, North Face’s pricing for industry employees made it too good to pass up. So i gave it a shot, hoping Helly Hanson would have the shell i really wanted in stock soon.

    I’ve now put 27 days on ski’s on this shell so-far this year, and I can safely say, I won’t be buying the other one anytime soon!

    I agree on all counts, it’s light, surprisingly durable, and breathes like all Pro-Shell products. I with the Zipper was more offset as well.

    If you like the jacket, You might like the Skull Horn Bib’s also. They have become my go-to pants for all my deep adventures.

    Phill

    • Author

      Thanks for the feedback, Phil. It’s always good to hear when other users have had similar – or disimilar – experiences. I’ve only come to like mine more and more. And thanks for the Skill Horn bibs suggestiion. We’ll try to check them out.

  2. Patrick January 31, 2012 Reply

    I received my Enzo jacket today and like your first impression was Wow this is crazy thin. But like you said in the review this is their top of the line product so it’s going to hold up . Two other things I noticed; there’s no loop to hang up the jacket . Not a huge deal , but wonder if this was a weight cutting thing or overlook. The zipper on the sleeve does not have a small flap at the top to cover the zipper itself when it’s closed. The other front zippers have that little piece of fabric at the top to tuck the zipper in . Not sure if the lack of the flap with allow water in at the top of the zipper. I am stoked to test the jacket out .

    • Author

      I have trouble believing that they overlooked those elements, it just seems like TNF was looking to keep this jacket light and minimal. Personally, I hadn’t missed the loop, but I can see how others might.

      As for the toughness of this jacket, though, I continue to be very impressed. On a fast backcountry traverse through VERY tight trees a few weeks ago, my left should tagged a thick, jagged branch – well, a thick tree limb, really. It was a hell of an impact, and I was certain that I’d shredded the jacket. My shoulder was bruised and bleeding pretty good from the impact and slash, but the jacket didn’t tear. At all. You can see two faint marks where the tree caught and tore up my shoulder, but the jacket is okay. Still can’t believe it.

  3. Jeff March 23, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan

    Great review of this jacket. I’m 5’10 175lb do you recommend the large? I also have the patagonia down sweater or the redpoint optimus, how will does this jacket layer?

    Also, how does the rad green color look in person?

    Thanks
    Jeff

    • Author

      Hi, Jeff – if you’re going to be layering the Enzo with the Down Sweater or the Redpoint Optimus, then yes, go Large. The Enzo is definitely designed to accomodate underlayers, and I actually own both the Down Sweater and TNF Redpoint (not the Redpoint Optimus), and both easily layer under my size Large Enzo. I’m still extremely impressed with this jacket.

      As for color, I’m a really big fan, but your opinion may vary. But there are quite a few photos up on the site (e.g., the most recent photo gallery from Alta & my 11/12 Line Influence 115 review) that show this thing off pretty well. What you see is what you’ll get.

  4. Jeff March 26, 2012 Reply

    Those pics of you in the Enzo look absolutely sick with all that powder.
    I got a chance to try on both Medium and Large this weekend at my local shop. The Rad green color grew on me. I brough along my patty down sweater hoody to try on as a mid layer. Since I”ll be snowboarding mainly in the East Coast VT and NY, I wanted to make sure the jacket can accommodate a decent mid layer without any restrictions. The Large felt nice and roomy even with the down sweater on but not overly big or flappy of extra materials like the Free Thinker Large I also tried on. The length of the sleeves and waist seems good as it gives me pretty good coverage all the way below my waist and the sleeve cuffs should cover the gloves nicely too. The Medium on the other hand felt pretty snug with the down sweater on, sleeves and waist length felt a bit short also.I think the medium felt and look more form fitting and would work for me if I were to wear no layers or only a thin light layer. So, the decision for me seems to be a Large.

    In terms of pants, I wanted to get the matching Enzo pants in Lantern Green color (which is more a bright yellow) however, I couldn’t find any shops in the US that have this color available. There is a cheaper alternative, The North Face Slasher Hyvent pants, also available in the lantern green color I like and seems to look pretty cool. (more a snowboard look) compare to the Enzo pants skier look. Do you recommend these pants? If not what pants and color would you recommend to match the Enzo jacket in the green color?

    • Author

      Jeff – we haven’t tested the Enzo pants or the Slasher pants, though I have used TNF’s Park Cargo and Freedom pants previously, both with Hyvent. But I don’t think it’s safe to draw conclusions from those.

      But if you’re looking for versatile, insulated pants, I’m currently writing up a review of the Arc’Teryx Micon pants (should post tomorrow), which are fantastic, fully waterproof, and my blue Micon’s look pretty sweet with the green Enzo….

  5. Eric March 24, 2013 Reply

    Hey jusy looking for some sizing help. I am about 6’2″ and 185lbs.
    I’m thinking the XL would be good but I want to make sure it will be long enough for me.
    Any thoughts?

    • Author

      Hey, Eric – you’re not going to get a park fit out of an Enzo XL, but I think the length of the XL will be fine (the size Large is 30″ long). If you’re worried about it, though, you might check out the Lethal Descent 3L Eagle, which is 2″ longer length than the Enzo.

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