Just in time for fall, The North Face ThermoBall™ Vest has become my “go to” outer layer. It’s all I need over a long-sleeved shirt for most days, and its DWR coating has been very effective at keeping me dry and warm even after an hour in drizzle. Most important, the vest is thin and lightweight, providing excellent insulation without bulk. (Available in women’s and men’s styles.)

I’m not usually a vest person because most women’s vests are either too short, too bulky, or too snug for my extra long torso and 6′ tall frame. Men’s vests don’t usually work for me, either, because I have a large chest. I’m also carrying an extra 30 pounds these days. So, I was quite surprised that the The North Face ThermoBall™ Vest fit me and felt comfortable. It’s 26″ from collar to hem, so it covers my torso and hits just below the waist of my pants (of course, I’d love it if the vest was 28″ long). Even more shocking (but comforting), the vest conformed to my curves but still felt loose enough to accommodate something thicker than a cotton t-shirt underneath it. I can’t stand wearing tight vests or jackets. I love that I can wear a vest with an active fit that still looks trim on me. Bonus.

Light colored vest pictured here not an accurate representation of true fabric color.

There was something else about The North Face ThermoBall™ Vest I liked, but I couldn’t quit put my finger on it. Then, after I’d worn it several times, I noticed how small the armholes were. Plenty of room to allow me freedom of movement but designed to keep out the cold. Sweet. The vest has two zippered side pockets, a toggle to cinch the bottom hem tighter, and two deep, flat pockets on the inside. I like that the vest can be packed into one of the inside pockets. Compressible and packable means I toss it in my bag or suitcase whenever I leave the house or travel.

I’m actually looking forward to colder weather so I can wear the vest over a mid-weight merino shirt instead of a jacket for all types of outings this fall.  Since it rarely gets much colder than 40 degrees F in the winter where I live, I’ll be making trips to the mountains to find colder weather and to escape the constant rain. I’m glad that The North Face ThermoBall™ Vest fits perfectly under my rain shells and my soft shell jackets because I prefer wearing layers rather than a single warm jacket so that I have options to cool down when I get too warm.

The North Face ThermoBall™ Vest is made out of a nylon shell and insulated with synthetic PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ insulation, which is designed to act like down and keep heat under the garment. According to The North Face website, “Independent clo testing by Kansas State University has shown that ThermoBall has warmth equivalent to 600 fill goose down.” I’m allergic to down, so I’ve been a PrimaLoft® fan for a long time. The average weight among women’s vests is a mere 7.4 ounces. The lighter, the thinner, the better.

Sizes: Women’s and men’s sizes XS-XXL. The fact that a size L fit me when I’m overweight tells me that this vest runs a bit big. Women’s vest available in Black and Fjord Blue. Men’s vest available in Mid Grey and Black. Last season’s vests available in several additional colors. (Note: the women’s Fjord Blue vest looks like it’s a very pale lavender color on the North Face website. In reality, the vest is a cool dark blue/steely periwinkle color.)

Manufacturer’s Site: thenorthface.com

$149 at Moosejaw, Amazon