Pros: Warm, looks good, numerous pockets
Cons: Not wind/water proof
The North Face Denali jacket is made with Polartec's 300 weight fleece, their heaviest weight fleece. The shoulder, chest, and bottom of the forearms are covered with nylon to protect against abrasion. The main zipper has a windflap behind it. On the left side of the jacket, there is a vertical zipper opening for a pocket. This pocket is fairly large. It is large enough to fit several regular sized jewel cases. The size of this pocket depends on the size of the jacket. On the right size, there is a horizontal zipper for a smaller pocket. This pocket will fit a smaller objects like a wallet. This jacket also has pit-zips in each arm with a wind flap behind the zipper. At the bottom, there is an elastic with cinchers on the left and right size.
The Denali fleece is a standard fit, not tight, nor baggy. I have a 39in chest and the medium size is a very good fit. Some layering is possible under the fleece. The cinchers at the bottom tighten the bottom of the fleece around the waist to keep it in place and possibly to seal some elements out. With the fleece cinched around my waist, some material droops down past my waist. That way when I raise my arms, the jacket stays in place because the excess material gives some slack. The jacket is very light and allows for a lot of mobility. The jacket is fairly light. The TNF web site states 26 oz for the weight of the medium size.
The Denali fleece is very warm by itself. However, it does not offer much wind resistance. That is the downside to wearing a fleece jacket. When worn under or zipped into a shell, it well protect you to very cold temperatures. I once wore this fleece under a shell and walked about 3/4 mile while it was in the high 30s or low 40s outside and it was incredibly warm inside. Too warm in fact. When I returned home, I thought my room mate was blasting the heater on because it was just that warm.
The Denali, like most fleece jackets, do not provide much wind or water protection. There is supposed to be a water replent applied to the jacket, but it doesn't work very well in my experience. The material tends to absorb some water, although some water does bead. Wearing the fleece on windy day doesn't do much, almost all wind will permeate the material.
My TNF Denali fleece has not seen too much use. The winters here in the Mojave desert are fairly short. I have only used the fleece a handful of times during the past two winters, December through Februrary. So far, the jacket has held up very well with the little use it has seen. The workman ship on the jacket is good, even though I purchased at the TNF Outlet store. The materials and construction of the jacket are still very much in tact. For a $165 jacket, it had better be with the ammount of use my jacket has seen. My jacket is made in El Salvador of US materials if it makes any difference to anyone.
At $165, the Denali is somewhat expensive. However, it can be found at a TNF outlet for approximately 25% off. And if you visit during a sale, there will be an additional 30% discount, which brings the price down to about $87. This is true for the Berkeley, CA store where I purchased the Denali fleece. For some, $87 still seems like a steep price, however, this jacket should see many years of use. Also, there are not many jackets that can provide as much insulation with this little bulk. REI (http://www.rei.com) at one point sold their own version of the Denali, but it may be a seasonal item. The only thing is that items purchased at a TNF outlet do not carry the lifetime warranty as TNF items purchased at retail price.