The North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest review: a classic look returns and we love it

Retro looks meet great performance in The North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest

The North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest
(Image: © The North Face)

Advnture Verdict

A high-performing and effortlessly classy retro-inspired hiking vest that turns out to be a timeless classic.


  • +

    Smart retro looks

  • +

    Packaway hood

  • +

    Multiple pockets

  • +

    Packs into own pocket


  • -

    Outer pockets aren’t zippable

  • -


You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest: first impressions

Where you’re going you don’t need roads but a North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest might come in handy. In an interesting take on upcycling, The North Face’s new collection of down jackets and gilets are all inspired by the designs the brand turned out before the turn of the millennium, so you can really act out all your Back to the Future cosplays in this ‘life-saver’ body warmer. (Yeah, OK, so this design was obviously originally created over a decade after the film was released, but in this riff time is a malleable concept…)

In all seriousness, we were very impressed with the look and style of this retro gilet. While the Nuptse looks rather boxy when you first put it on, it packs down small enough to stuff into its own pocket, which is great for popping it in your backpack when you’re on the go. It’s also just about slim enough to fit under a jacket (see also: hiking layers: why layering is important). 


• RRP: $287 (US) / £210 (UK)
• Fill: Goose down
• Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL
• Waterproofing: Water resistant
• Colors: Pikes Purple & Blackberry Wine / Storm Blue & Monterey Blue / Recycled TNF Black / Faded Rose / Summit Gold
• Compatibility: Functional and fashionable from the streets to the peaks

North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest: on the trail

We very much enjoyed partying like it is was 1996 in this body warmer, but while as we loved the old-school looks of the Retro Nuptse gilet, this vest also ticked all our boxes for design when on test, too. 

It includes a hood that can be packed away into the collar when it’s not needed, roomy pockets (including handy interior zipped pockets ideal for stashing your phone or other valuables) and a bungee on the hem that helps you adjust the gilet to get a snugger fit and further trap in body heat. The hood is comfortable but is on the wide side, so might not stay put in high winds, and it’s a pity the outer pockets don’t have zips, although they’re very comfy for popping your hands in.

The Nuptse Hiking Vest is one of the few gilets we tested out that worked well as an outer layer as well as under a women's waterproof jacket. While looks aren’t the most important factor when choosing an insulated vest, the Nuptse was definitely our favorite-looking gilet on test – we love the retro feel and the boxy (but not too roomy) fit. All in all, top marks.

Sian Lewis

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog,, champions accessible adventures.