With all this standing around I was going to need something rather well insulated to keep me warm. The 700 fill of down found in the Prism did this brilliantly. I did get a bit chilly at times but I think this was probably mostly down to getting cold feet, drawing heat away from my core, as apposed to directly losing it. The jacket claims to have synthetic insulation in the shoulders and arms, and down in the torso. I haven't really noticed any difference between the different insulation though.
I got the jacket quite large as to allow layering underneath. This would typically cause the jacket to feel quite bulky, but surprisingly it doesn't. An interesting feature of the jacket I didn't expect were its cuffs. Typically the elastic part of a cuff is the part of the sleeve which sits furthest down the arm. In the case of the prism this is not so. Instead a cuff of insulation sits down below this. Despite initial reservations I really liked this feature. It eliminated the cold spot which could develop between a glove and the jacket. The hood was rather large and can accommodate a helmet if needed.
I thought this jacket looked pretty smart. I have it in the TNF Red colour, which is a quite pinky sort of red. It also happened to be the same colour as the Korean national team jacket, and the Koreans are quite good at ice climbing. I guess if I look the part it might transfer to my climbing as well.
Pockets are the simple little things which makes a jacket work. Their positioning, size, shape and zips, or lack of, are important things to get right. The Prism features 2 zippered hand warmer pockets, a zippers chest pocket and a cavernous internal pouch. The hand warmer pockets are even big enough to fit 2 hands in, if your girlfriend decides it's too cold! The internal pouch can be used as a stuff sack as well.
The North Face is quite well known for good build quality. This is obvious in the Prism with very little loss of down in the main torso. This is achieved mainly by having no sewed seems, which are instead welded. The fabric feels soft to the touch, but also hard wearing.
I was almost inseparable from this jacket once I returned from Europe. I even had to force myself to hang it up in a cupboard so that I didn't ruin it. Although I can hardly comment on its use for climbing or mountaineering what I can say is that it performed brilliantly for everything I asked of it.
I give this a maximum rating of 2 thumbs up.