Material: [shell] HyVent® Alpha 2L
Insulation: 700 fill down
Fabric Waterproof Rating: 25 PSI
Fabric Breathability Rating: 625 g/m²
Hood: yes, fixed
Venting: underarm zips and forward chest zips
Pockets: 2 hand, 2 chest, 1 biceps
Seams: fully sealed
Manufacturer Warranty: limited lifetime
MSRP: $399, USD
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin
Days Skied: 20+
Snow reports across the west haven’t exactly been epic so far this season, but that’s not to say we haven’t seen some harsh conditions. The North Face describes the Hecktic Down as the “go-to piece of arsenal for blockbuster, cold days on the mountain.” So far, the jacket has performed as advertised.
An early season day at Breckenridge brought static temperatures of about 20° F with 60 to 70 mph winds and some vicious graupel that pounded us on the chairlift. Surprised the lifts were still running, I felt completely warm while others suggested we head in to let things calm down. That was the first day with the Hecktic in conditions most specific to its design. The weather may not have been “blockbuster” by some standards, but it was clear that the jacket was capable of handling some seriously gnarly weather.
Given its substantially dense 700-fill down insulation, I’m not at all surprised by the Hecktic’s warmth. If you’re riding anywhere with a continental snowpack, you’d probably be very happy with this jacket on those brutally cold and clear days after a storm blows over. Yet after 20+ days, I’ve been far more pleased to find that due to some well designed venting, the Hecktic isn’t overkill for those less than viciously cold resort days. I comfortably wore the Hecktic in 35 degree October conditions at Arapahoe Basin, and in similar sunny conditions throughout November.
Snap to late December at Taos Ski Valley. 17° F was the day’s high, with a -10 to -15 degree wind-chill factor. Facing into the wind on Taos’ exposed Highline Ridge, I was perfectly comfortable wearing just a thin baselayer underneath. However, I had become uncomfortably warm midway through the hike up. The Hecktic has dual sets of venting zips, two located directly beneath the armpits (as you typically find on most technical shells) and two smaller ones set slightly forward on the chest. This may seem rather trivial, but the inlet and outlet orientation the dual venting creates allows a noticeabe amount of air to pass efficiently through the jacket.
With all four vents open, the slightest amount of airflow helps to cool you down (due either to ambient wind currents on a hike, or with speed on a descent).
After opening things up on our hike up Highline, I quickly cooled down, able to better dial in a suitable temperature by closing only the rear vents. While its ample venting doesn’t make the Hecktic totally suitable for slush bump skiing in May, it’s certainly more versatile than some other down jackets might be on a storm day hike.