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The North Face Freedom Insulated - Women's Review

A warm, stylish, and functional pant that comes at a great price
The North Face Freedom Insulated - Women's
Photo: The North Face
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $170 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, warm, stylish
Cons:  Limited use, hard to size right
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 19, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 7
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Warmth - 15% 8
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The North Face Freedom Insulated Pant is an insulated ski pant that offers solid performance at a reasonable price. Among all the models we tested, it manages price and performance better than any other, thus it is our Best Buy Award winner. For the vast majority of skiers at a resort, this pant is warm enough, while still providing some ventilation when things heat up. The waterproofing is sufficient to keep you dry as well. It comes in a wide variety of lengths and colors, and has respectable style. This is a great option for someone who wants a reliable pant while taking it easy on their wallet. However, it's not well suited for the backcountry.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on October 19, 2021 to reflect a design change to the pockets of the Freedom Insulated pants.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$261.71 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$82.49 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Affordable, warm, stylishComfortable, flexible fabric, affordable, lots of featuresComfortable, warm, RECCOStylish, stretchyPrice, warmth
Cons Limited use, hard to size rightNot completely weatherproof, gets dirty easilyNot great for backcountry use, waterproofingWaterproofing, odd fitting, pocketsNo vents, limited features
Bottom Line A warm, stylish, and functional pant that comes at a great priceTechnical yet comfortable and affordable, we recommend these pants for backcountry use with occasional resort days in betweenThis pant offers resort style with comfort and warmthThese bibs are just as comfortable for aprés as they are on the mountainThis is a basic pant that is a solid option for a first timer who isn't sure if they want to invest in the sport
Rating Categories The North Face Free... Black Diamond Recon... Patagonia Insulated... Burton Avalon Bib Columbia Bugaboo Om...
Weather Resistance (25%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
Fit And Comfort (25%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Ventilation (15%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
1
Warmth (15%)
8.0
4.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Features (10%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Style (10%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs The North Face Free... Black Diamond Recon... Patagonia Insulated... Burton Avalon Bib Columbia Bugaboo Om...
Measured weight (lbs) 1.1 lbs 1.5 lbs 1.4 lbs 1.9 lbs 1.4 lbs
Waterproofing 2-layer DryVent 3-layer BD.dry 2-layer H2No Performance Standard 2-layer DryRide Omni-Tech
Vents Inner thigh External thigh Inner thigh Inner thigh None
Insulation/Lining 60g Heatseeker None 100% polyester taffeta Living Lining 60g Microtemp XF II polyester
Main fabric 100% nylon 84% Nylon / 16% Elastane, 4-way stretch 75D 100% polyester Stretch polyester 100% nylon twill
Waistline construction Button & zip fly Button and zip fly with removable belt Button & zip fly Bib Button & zip fly
Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 cargo 2 zippered thigh 2 zippered hand 2 handwarmer, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand

Our Analysis and Test Results

Product Update Note October 2021
The North Face has changed the pockets on the Freedom Insulated pants since we tested them. The zippered hand pockets and side cargo pocket are positioned slightly differently, which can be noted in the comparison below. The version we tested pictured is on the left, with the updated version shown on the right.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge



The North Face Freedom Insulated Pant offers average performance across all metrics at an unbeatable price, making it a perfect option for someone who is unsure if they are ready to invest in a more technical and expensive pant. It is a great option for an average day at the resort, especially if you are someone who wants the additional warmth of an insulated pant. That being said, the fit of the pant can be tricky to nail down.

Performance Comparison


On-hill testing in the Freedom Insulated Pant.
On-hill testing in the Freedom Insulated Pant.

Weather Resistance


To help these pants fight the elements, The North Face implements 2L DryVent waterproofing, which boasts a waterproof rating of 25 pounds per square inch (PSI) minimum after 20 launderings. This means that the pants were designed to withstand water for at least 20 washes, and potentially longer.


We put this to the test with our two-minute shower test and were impressed with the results. We focused on seams, pockets, and zippers, testing the anticipated weaker parts of the pant. We found that they repelled liquid well, with no noticeable leaks through its zippers, seams, or fabric. It did not feel like the insulation inside of the pant was soaked through as they did not feel waterlogged. For a pant at this price point, we were impressed.

Throughout our testing period, the DWR treatment on the Freedom...
Throughout our testing period, the DWR treatment on the Freedom pants did its job well, as water beaded up and slid off the pant surface readily.

Fit and Comfort


The fit of The North Face Freedom Pant may be the hardest part of your experience if you choose these pants. We recommend trying them on in person if you have the opportunity to do so. Before ordering the pant, we read multiple reviews claiming that the sizing was difficult to perfect, with different reviews saying that they ran large and for some, small. Based on our research, we decided to downsize when ordering the pant, opting for a small instead of a medium. The small fit very well on our lead tester, but had they been any smaller, would have been too tight for us to ski comfortably in. Other women with different body types noticed them to be tight, too, in some cases too tight to get on.


In the future, we would have maybe gone true to size with a medium pant, to allow for layering underneath. We found them to feel tight along the waist rather than in the leg, and the material is not very stretchy. Thanks to generous, adjustable waist tabs, the Freedom Pant would be easier to adjust a larger pant to fit smaller than vice versa.

Ventilation


The Freedom pants come with what The North Face has dubbed Chimney Venting. Essentially, this means that these pants rely on the combination of two standard inner thigh vents, paired with each leg of the pant's mesh boot gaiter. This combination is meant to direct airflow from the boot, up the leg, and out through the vents, assisting in temperature regulation when things warm up on the hill. These vents run from below the crotch to just above the knee, offering just enough ventilation to keep one comfortable in a variety of temperatures.


These vents are not highly effective for dumping large amounts of heat created during strenuous activity but can be useful when a cold morning turns to a pleasant afternoon and temperatures increase. The vents both have an inner mesh lining which helps keep snow out while skiing with them open, but these mesh linings also mean that the vents are less effective when it comes to dumping heat quickly. Because of this, we would not recommend these pants for backcountry skiing, but rather for fun days at the resort.

These vents have a mesh liner to help keep out snow. This vent...
These vents have a mesh liner to help keep out snow. This vent design doesn't allow for the greatest amount of heat dumping.

Warmth


If keeping your legs toasty on the mountain is high on your list of priorities, then you may want to consider the Freedom Pant. The North Face implements Heatseeker insulation for these pants, aimed at providing exceptional warmth for the coldest among us. We found these to deliver upon that goal, keeping our legs warm when tested with cold temperatures and fresh snow. For those extra cold days, we would recommend pairing these pants with a base layer for optimal warmth. For the wallet-friendly price point, these pants met our expectations with ease.


That being said, the warmth generated by the Freedom Pant is not ideal for backcountry shredders who are performing more strenuous activities. This pant likes to stay warm and was built to do so.

Features


The Freedom Insulated Pant is fairly basic when it comes to features, keeping things simple with two zippered thigh pockets and one velcro cargo pocket. The cargo pocket is a nice touch and is just big enough to fit a phone, wallet, or small snacks. However, it comes with a velcro closure, meaning it is best to be wise about what one puts in it—we prefer all pockets to have a zipper closure for greater security.


The pant also comes with a mesh boot gaiter, which is part of its Chimney Venting system and was unique in the pants we tested. This allowed for ventilation from ski boots up, but also meant that if one is walking in deep powder in the pants, there is a chance snow might melt and get inside. Other than those features, the pant is fairly basic in its design.

The cargo thigh pocket is held closed by two strips of velcro...
The cargo thigh pocket is held closed by two strips of velcro. Without a zipper closure, we don't recommend securing important items here.

Style


This pant comes in a large variety of vibrant colors and sizing options (short, regular, tall), providing the opportunity to find a color that fits one's personal style. This, paired with the stylish addition of the cargo pocket, make the pants stand out from other more basic styles around their price point. We were impressed by the overall look of the pants and received multiple compliments from across the resort while putting them through testing.


We loved the pop of color these pants provided.
We loved the pop of color these pants provided.

Value


The price is right for these pants, coming in at the low end while still providing reliable features to get you on the hill. Unless you demand a truly high-performing pant for your resort skiing objectives, this pant will get you some bang for your buck. Its weatherproofing is good for the price, and is a great option for someone who is not ready to commit to something more expensive. Our Best Buy Award winner packs in a lot of value.

Conclusion


The combination of warmth, style, and impressive performance for the price make this pant a solid option for a resort skier who doesn't want to break the bank. While there are more technical pants available that perform at a higher level, they come at a much higher price. Comparatively, the Freedom Pant is priced right for what you get.

Sarah Sherman

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