When it comes to thin, lightweight outerwear shells I’m like a butterfly collector. The more species, in more colors, the happier I am. Why the collection doesn’t get out of hand I have no idea. Perhaps other bloggers sneak them out of my closet when I’m not looking? “Hey, come back with my hoody you writing recidivist!”
A recent addition to my award winning collection of petrochemical entomology is the L4 Windstopper Hoody, by The North Face but of course. In my view, this piece is the perfect anytime layer for spring ski touring. Wear it in the morning over a fleece for your trailhead exit system, slip it on at the summit over your sun shirt for a warm descent. The way it works is the hood and upper torso are made from fully breeze blocking Gore Windstopper fabric that’s somewhat of a faux softshell, while the sleeves and lower torso are fully breathable stretchy thin-soft fabric they call WindWall. The overall effect is a form fitting shell that’s temperature versatile and light at 402 grams (men’s medium).
The L4 Hoody has three zippered pockets. A napoleon slot on the left chest is nothing unusual, and could be larger (I like mongo chest pockets). What I found interesting are two “waist” pockets located unusually high so as not to go under your waistbelt, and ostensibly provide some venting while unzipped. While these “high pockets” are made from a perforated fabric, they’re not ultra-breathing mesh, so I doubt they do much in the way of venting (which you don’t really need anyway, with this uber-breathable jacket) but they’re useful stowage that I honestly found excellent in terms of location. I found myself keeping a Buff in one, with sunscreen and ski strap in the other, obviating their use as vents. Ever organized!
The is a “climbing” jacket so the sleeves are nicely long, with simple elastic cuffs I most often prefer over hook-loop annoyance. The cuffs don’t stretch out with much diameter, making this most certainly a springtime piece as you won’t be pulling your sleeves over bulky gloves or mittens (though you could wear these cuffs inside the glove cuffs). Hood is helmet “bi” compatible, meaning it’s sleek enough to fit under if your helmet has adjustable fit, and fits over, albeit tightly.
In terms of fit, look elsewhere if you’re bulky but do look closer if you have the “cyclist” phsique. Speaking of which, with its long sleeves, stretchy feel and form fitting cut L4 Windstopper would also make a good cycling layer, I’ll be using my bright red one for exactly that purpose as well as spring skiing.
Conclusion: If you’re looking for a temperature versatile and comfortable wind layer, appropriate for spring skiing, cycling, or fit-hot-fast winter climbs, check out the L4 Windstopper Hoody – The North Face.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.