Down jackets are warm, but useless when wet. Synthetics have long been heavy, stiff, and bulky. North Face's proposed solution? Tiny little balls. Tiny little balls of warmth.
The problem is as follows. The perfect winter insulation should be ultra warm, extremely light and packable, and stay warm when wet. No single insulation--not the classic goose down, not the best efforts of synthetic insulation makers--has met all three of those criteria, and folks like hikers, skiers, and snowboarders have had to settle. But North Face claims its newest jacket technology, which uses ball-shaped synthetic insulation that behaves like down, is the perfect compromise.