An ultralight insulated jacket with high loft down, very light shell fabric, minimal features, and weight under 14 ounces is an essential part of an ultralight or lightweight backpacking kit for summertime backpacking in the mountains or shoulder season camping most anywhere. Down insulation provides the most warmth for its weight, so it's the insulation preferred by backpackers and mountaineers in all but very wet conditions.

The hoodless North Face Thunder Jacket is part of their Summit Series intended for alpine use. According to The North Face, Summit Series products "are built to endure extremes of weather and terrain while delivering the highest level of performance from base camp to summit." In that context, the Thunder Jacket is designed as a midlayer; for alpine use the shell is not durable enough as an outer layer.

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