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David's Passions

Hiking & Camping


Davidwrote a review of on July 6, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 168 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

I already have a few UL down jackets (Mont Bell, Mountain Hardwear, etc) but was looking for a synthetic jacket more suitable for active pursuits in cool/cold weather such as backpacking trips where wearing the jacket underneath a pack is required, day hikes that require the same, high-elevation/high exertion pursuits, etc. The goal was to get warmth where a down layer would wet out but keep the weight down below 10 oz. Within these criteria, the NF DNP Jacket really shines. My men's size M weighs in at just a touch over 10 oz, the Primaloft Gold insulation is VERY warm for the weight, and the over-all construction is quite good. Zipper works flawlessly and the hand-warmer pockets are a nice addition. There are stretch fabric panels (what appears to be a soft-shell type fabric) along the inside of the arms that go all the way up to the armpit and partially down the sides of the torso serving as a very nice solution for added mobility as well as ventilation when things get a bit steamy from activity. Packs down nearly as small as the above-mentioned UL down jackets. It won’t be as warm as those jackets around the camp (I plan to utilize a UL down vest and a rain jacket or wind shell to help with around-camp warmth), but in active use, the DNP is just about perfect. I also like that the insulation is quite thin and flat which makes layering very easy.

Over-all a very well thought out jacket. So why only 4 stars rather than 5? The fit. I’m 5’9” tall, have a 32/33 waist, a 42 chest and weigh approx 168 lbs. I'm a strong athlete and found the DNP is a good fit in the arm length, chest and waist sizing, but baggy in the torso/mid-section. It's as if the NF seems to be designing jackets for guys with athletic chests/arms but thick mid-sections (Mall-rat possibly??) rather than lean but athletic outdoor athletes of which I am the latter. I was able to pull in the mid-section somewhat via the cord-lock adjustment in the waist, but the stretch fabric panels are simply cut too wide which makes for a bit of a flappy fit rather than a more v-shaped profile that I was hoping for in a Summit Series jacket. It isn’t the most flattering look. At first it was a deal-breaker for me, but after fussing with the jacket a bit and wearing it with a pack (I’m buying for function, not fashion) I decided to just go with it. If the NF could get the fit dialed in better (a bit more v-shaped profile would be nice) then the DNP would get 5-stars.

Pros: Warm for weight, synthetic insulation (Primaloft Gold) will keep user warm when wet, packs down small, smart ventilation design with the stretch panels, zippered hand pockets. Deflects wind very well. Flat orientation of the insulation (rather than the puffy style of the Thermoball series) makes for easy layering.

Cons: Weighs a bit more than spec’d, awkward fit via stretch panels that are cut too wide, a bit less than flattering fit.

Conclusion: Terrific synthetic jacket for cool/cold weather athletic pursuits. Very good build quality. Somewhat awkward fit requires a test fit for sure, but with Backcountry’s terrific return policy, that is essentially no big deal. Bottom Line: Can recommend.




Davidwrote a review of on August 4, 2011

2 5

Lots of internal space for the weight and fast, reasonably easy setup, but poor ventilation (even with the hyped Drywall breathable fabric), lots of condensation, a floor that wets out and vestibules so small they are pointless, leaves the Sputnik less than ideal. Too bad, as the over-all design is intriguing. I say avoid unless you can nab one for $150 or less. The North Face Phoenix has a much better design to take advantage of the Drywall fabric technology, and if I had to choose, I'd spend the extra money and carry the extra pound over the Sputnik. Plus, you'd get two legitimate doors and vestibules you can actually use with the Phoenix.





Davidwrote a review of on July 27, 2011

4 5

Let me say straight up this is a great pack. I heard from a local outfitter that the Alteo packs from TNF were designed by the same guy who created the first Atmos packs for Osprey. If that is indeed correct, I can say without a doubt he easily out did his original designs. Feels quite a bit more comfortable than my older Atmos 50, and certainly more comfortable (to this reviewer) than the current Osprey Atmos and Exos packs. Suspension is more robust, can hold more weight and provides more back ventilation than those other packs as well. Lots of thoughtful features, including real honest to goodness side pockets you can use when the pack is full (gosh... imagine that!) and my favorite - access to the main pack via the top AND the side. This is a huge plus because now you can easily get your sleeping bag into the bottom of the pack (often the bane of "trampoline-style" backpacks) and then just zip up the side and proceed to pack as normal via the top. Very effective stuff-it pocket on the back for a rain jacket or whatever, plenty of lash points to secure more gear and straps at the bottom attach a tent or sleeping pad.

Another thing that make this pack special is that for a 35 liter pack (2100 cubic inches), it holds about as much as any 50 liter (3000 cubic inches) I've used in the past. In fact, my original intent was to purchase a 50 liter pack (looked at the Alteo 50 as well - a superb bag as well) to supplement my 65+ liter pack, but after seeing the potential of this 35 liter "little backpack that could", decided to give it a try with my gear at home.

Much to my happiness, it swallowed up all my gear for a 2+ day late summer/early fall style trip, including my 15 degree bag down bag (summer bag wasn't available at the time) which packs reasonably small, but still more volume than your typical summer sack, + 100 liters of water in the hydration sleeve, treking poles, and Ice axe (just for fun), single-person tent, air-pad, food, water filter, clothes, etc. There was still room to fill up another sack of food, clothes, or gear under the top lid as well. By the time I was done, it was stuffed and was holding more than it might have been designed for, but still it carried very nicely. Didn't have that "I'm being pulled backwards" feeling I have gotten with trampoline style packs in the past, due to their tendency to pull the center of gravity away from your back. Not sure how TNF accomplishes this, as there is still plenty of room between your back and the frame sheet for exceptional ventilation, but they did.

One thing worth pointing out is that the Alteo 35 comes in a "one-size fits all" configuration which might be problematic for some folks who are on the fringe ends of the torso spectrum. I'm a 19" torso so I fall right into the happy middle. There seems plenty of adjustment available, though, so the concern might be mute. Beyond that, the only thing I would change would to make the top lid fully floating for greater packing flexibility, and then put quick-release buckles on the bottom sleeping pad/tent attachment loops. That is about it. Seems a great pack. If it holds up over the long-haul (fabrics seem plenty tough yet still light-weight), TNF will have themselves a serious winner with the Alteo line. Glad I purchased it. FYI... I will try to post some pictures later this week, and yes - I got the Venom Yellow and it looks better (a bit more sedate) in person than in pix.