The North Face's Summit Series 2015 Relaunch
Do not adjust your monitor: the top secret, newly redesigned The North Face Summit Series for this winter 2015 really does come in moody monochrome shades of black and white to make it stand out from the brightly-coloured norm, but more importantly it's the end result of an intensive development programme with the brand's top athletes.
'Cutting Edge Innovation'
The result, says TNF, is a range that's ' reimagined with cutting edge innovation and purposeful design' and aimed specifically at hardcore climbers and mountaineers. It has that in common with previous iterations of the Summit Series first launched in 2000, but the new version - back after a one-year break - uses some of TNF's new cutting-edge technologies.
The key to it all was consultation with the brand's athletes. “We went directly to our mountaineering and climbing athletes to ask them what their essentials are, and the responses from everyone were very clear,' says Vice President, Global Product Joe Vernachio. 'They needed six essential layers that they would be able to utilize in the various conditions one finds during high-alpine winter pursuits'.
To be fair, we doubt anyone specifically said, 'I need six essential layers', but that's the essential conclusion the brand's designers came to after talking in depth to those top climbers and mountaineers about their clothing systems.
That's reflected in the designation of the clothing from L1 through to L6 respectively where L1 is the baselayer through to L6 which is belay jacket-style overlayering. What's in between? Okay, at this point we're going to shamelessly cut and paste from the TNF press release, over to you PR people:
The Summit L1 Top and Pant are base layering essentials made from engineered fabric to provides zonal warmth and moisture management, as well as articulated construction for mobility.
The Summit L2 Jacket is a midlayer made with extremely durable Polartec® Thermal Pro® with Hardface® Technology fleece, and has an engineered knit back for targeted warmth and moisture management.
An ultra light down mid-layer, the Summit L3 Jacket is insulated with 800-fill RDS down. The face fabric utilizes FuseForm™ construction for targeted durability with minimal seams and a digitally printed color that uses less water than traditional dyeing process.
Our warmest synthetic mid-layer, the Summit L4 Jacket is insulated with ThermoBall™, a synthetic, proprietary The North Face insulation that retains warmth when wet. The jacket’s minimal, unibody construction reduces seams and its quilt design prevents insulation migration and cold spots.
The Summit L5 Shell and Shell Pant are the most advanced shell outerwear The North Face has ever built, utilizing a waterproof, breathable DryVent™ 3L membrane. The shell and pant have localized FuseForm™ construction for targeted durability with minimal seams and were designed with articulated, one-piece construction for alpine mobility.
The final layer of the line is the Summit L6 Jacket, an 800-fill RDS down belay jacket that uses welded, Z-baffle construction for increased warmth and weather-resistance, and FuseForm™ construction for targeted durability.
Read through that lot and those familiar will spot a lot of existing TNF technologies making an appearance: stuff like the impressive seamless FuseForm shell construction, ThermoBall synthetic insulation that gives down-like performance from a synthetic fill and welded baffles along with digital printing and more.
Without using the kit, we can't tell you how well it works, but what we can say is that our experience of The North Face over the years is that while it has a tremendously broad spread of products, the brand's resources and use of top-end fabrics and technologies mean that it's more technical products are generally very good indeed, so we have high hopes for the new Summit Series collection.
The new Summit Series has, it says here, been 'designed outside the traditional RD&D timetables' and is available for a limited time online and from selected specialist retailers from 15 October onwards. We don't have pricing details yet, but we suspect it'll fall into the 'if you have to ask' bracket.
Refreshingly for technically-minded women, the entire collection is available in both men's and women's versions. Hurrah!
In the mean time, you can view a teaser video at www.thenorthface.com/summitseries