The North Face Advanced Mountain Kit | Deep Dive - Outdoors Magic

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The North Face Advanced Mountain Kit | Deep Dive

We headed out to the Alps for the unveiling of The North Face’s most impressive alpine climbing system yet - the Advanced Mountain Kit, a six-layer system for extreme mountaineering

From FutureLight to the VECTIV carbon plate; The North Face (TNF) are no strangers to innovation. Indeed, we’ve seen it before in the Exploris shoes and the Apex Flex jacket, and we can see it again with the all new Advanced Mountain Kit (AMK). 

Coined the ‘pinnacle of mountaineering’, the AMK is The North Face’s most sophisticated alpine system to date. It sits comfortably amongst their summit series, though is more technical and specialised than ever before. This is largely due to its athlete-driven focus, having been designed and tested in collaboration with TNF alpinists David Göettler, Hervé Barmasse, Hansjörg Auer, David Lama, Andres Marin and Jess Rosskelley.

Photo: Mathis Dumas

The main idea was to create a climbing system that suits the modern mountaineer in their faster and lighter alpine pursuits. Whereas previous alpine expeditions might have taken place over a number of days, due to modern training techniques and new technologies, some athletes now tackle mountains within a matter of hours. These faster pursuits therefore require something a little less heavy than the classic Himalayan suit, but without any compromise on protection and quality. As The North Face put it, ’human exploration in the high alpine is evolving’ and the AMK is built to follow suit.

With 21 new styles, 5 new technologies and three years to develop, these guys have been working on this system since 2017. Though the release was pushed back due to the pandemic, it’s well worth the wait. Here’s a breakdown of the new technologies, what goes into each layer, as well as what we learnt at the AMK launch in Chamonix.

Five New Technologies

The AMK features five new, proprietary technologies used throughout the layering system.

Cloud Down

Cloud Down is created using offset baffles, a unique fit and 1000-fill ProDown for increased thermal performance in a lighter package. This unique construction features an asymmetrical inner and outer construction, allowing maximum space for the down to loft while keeping the lining close to skin.

50/50 Down

50/50 down-filled tubes in the L3 jacket.

50/50 Down uses a series of down-filled tubes paired with an air-permeable shell fabric, creating a less bulky and more breathable layer than your average down jacket. Heat and moisture can therefore escape more easily for enhanced temperature regulation during strenuous activities in extreme environments. 

Dot Knit

This double-knit construction helps the wearer stay dry through use of hydrophilic yarns on the interior and hydrophobic yarns on the outer. This means that as you cross glaciers and climb alpine ridges, moisture is pulled from the skin and expelled to the outside of the garment through engineered holes throughout the layer.


FutureFleece™ fabrics in the L2 pullover.

FutureFleece™ features a full-loop fabric construction made with octa-yarns, octagonal shaped yarn with hollow cross-sections for higher thermal performance. Whereas most yarns use a diamond or round shape, the hollow octagonal structure mimics the effect of down or a synthetic loft but has a more open weave for added breathability. 


To put it simply, Futurelight is The North Face’s most advanced waterproof technology and involves an ultra-thin nano-membrane that promotes air flow and comfort, whilst maintaining the utmost water resistance. More specifically, it uses a unique fabric laminate and the process of ‘nanospinning’ to increase moisture vapour transmission throughout clothing. We won’t get into all the intricate details here but check out our Futurelight technology breakdown for a more technical look.

The Layering System

The Baselayer

To begin with we have the AMK L1 Dot Fleece sweater and trousers, both utilising a dot knit construction that pulls moisture away from the skin and expels it outside of the garment. The fit is described as ‘next-to-skin’ and helps to trap body heat and wick away sweat by clinging to the contours of your body.

L1 dot fleece sweater and trousers.

Additional features include Futurelight stuff sacks, elastic-bound cuffs with thumbholes in the sweater, and an elasticated hem and waistband on the trousers. The sweater also has a pullover construction with a higher back neck for increased weather protection on the mountains.

The Midlayer

At the mid level, we have the AMK L2 FutureFleece™ sweater and trousers, both constructed using TNF’s full-loop FUTUREFLEECE fabrics which keeps you warm whilst remaining light and breathable. The ½ zip sweater features an integrated buff and hood for added protection, as well as a secure chest pocket for handy accessories like the L1 softshell gloves (recommended for this layer) and the like. With taped seams and elastic binding, the trousers are similarly cosy and at just at just 426g combined, these midlayers retain an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio too. 

L2 FutureFleece sweater and trousers

The Active Layer

The third layer adds to the insulation of the first two and is described as ‘down that breathes’. That’s all due to TNF’s 50/50 down construction which combines down-proof baffles with an air permeable face fabric helping you retain a breathable warmth when making that push for the summit.

L3 50/50 down hoodie and trousers.

This unique construction is used throughout the L3 ½ zip hoodie and the L3 50/50 down trousers, and consists of 1000-fill water-resistant ProDown. The down tubes are also sputter-coated with aluminium on the inside which adds a micro layer on the fabric’s interior to reflect heat within the tube and aid the overall heat retention of the garments. The baffled construction also helps them pack down incredibly small into their FUTURELIGHT™ stuffsacks for optimal portability on-the-move. Additional features to note include: stretch-knit cuffs on the jacket for contained warmth and an easy pull-up, an attached hood with a reflective cording and back adjustment and oversized zippers on the trousers for easy use with gloves.

The L3 insulated gloves are also recommended within the active layer and combine a long, gauntlet 10D FUTURELIGHT shell with a leather hand and PrimaLoft Gold insulation throughout for a warm glove that doesn’t compromise on dexterity. 

The Shell Layer

This layer is one of the most important in terms of weatherproofing and crucially needs to hold up against cold winds and snowy forecasts whilst still providing a route through which moisture can escape. Thanks to FUTURELIGHT technologies, however, this is no problem.

L5 FUTURELIGHT jacket and trousers.

You’ll probably have seen Futurelight featured throughout TNF products before, however its made all the more powerful here with woven-in Spectra in the L5 jacket and trousers, a lightweight, abrasion-resistant yarn that’s made to last. This means the shell layer will work great as an outer layer and will hold up against some pretty inhospitable environments. 

Useful features on the jacket include a two-way, VISLON front zip, a high Collar for extra coverage, Velcro cuff tabs and an attached, helmet-compatible hood with reflective cording and back adjustment. All at just 260g and with a 100% recycled polyester body too. The trousers, on the other hand, are just 376g and feature some two-way, polyurethane side zips with oversized zipper pulls for easy use with gloves. Handy for some alpine snacks that’s for sure.

The Outer Insulation Layer

The outer insulation layer is an essential for extremely high altitudes or resting at a basecamp in low temperatures. It’s most akin to the classic TNF Himalayan suit but with the new L6 1000-fill cloud down parka and trousers, however, the weight is considerably lower. This is achieved using the offset baffle construction of the cloud down as well as the use of 1000-fill ProDown, an extremely lightweight but incredibly warm material. This cloud down makes it very packable too so they can be quickly stashed away as and when, whilst the offset baffling gives the down optimal space to loft and keep you toasty on the mountain. The lining in both garments also uses the same aluminium splutter coating as the 50/50 down for extra protection in the cold.

L6 parka and trousers as the final layer.

Additional features on the jacket include: a two-way front zipper with a lower snap closure to keep the jacket secure around your belay device, no shoulder seams for packability, two internal mesh pockets for gloves and accessories, and an attached hood with reflective cording and back adjustment. The trousers, on the other hand, utilise a snap tab and concealed-zip closure on the waist and oversized two-way zippers throughout for easy use with gloves. 

The Verdict

Though not made with the mass market in mind, you can see how the AMK is a progressive development by The North Face. From the exciting new technologies to all the options of garments to choose from; there’s certainly a lot to work with here. That’s the beauty of a layering system too – you can mix and match to your individual tastes and body temperatures making it, all in all, a pretty versatile climbing system. In this sense, if money isn’t a question, we can also see some of the lower layers working well for non-athletes wanting a kit update too. 

“It has everything you need but leaves behind anything you can do without.”

Michael Horsch, VP of product and marketing at TNF, sees it working for less specialised activities too. ‘While it’s true purpose is in the high alpine environment, the whole concept is based on a layering system built around layers that work in perfect harmony with each other. I had the chance to use it extensively last winter in the Swiss Alps, where the modular layers allowed me to pack based on a whole variety conditions.’

Photo: Mathis Dumas

Sustainability is also important throughout the AMK. ‘FUTURELIGHT™ is a great example’, says Horsch. ‘It uses 90% recycled materials to create the fabric, ensuring a performance product that doesn’t have an impact on the planet. Cloud Down and 50/50 also utilise Responsible Down Sourcing (RDS), a stringent process that ensures down only comes from certified farms.’ In terms of future aspirations, Horsch explains how ‘by 2025, TNF is aiming to use 100% responsibly sourced apparel fabrics, focusing on recycled, regenerative and renewed materials to help us achieve this goal’.

It’s also reassuring to know that extreme alpinists like David Göettler and Hervé Barmasse have been involved in the designing and testing processes of the kit. Horsch notes that this ‘level of construction and consideration’ takes the kit to ‘a whole new level – it has everything you need but leaves behind anything you can do without’. It’s evident then, from both the athletes’ and designers’ excitement, that the AMK will be facilitating many alpine adventures and first assaults to come. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

If you’re searching for layer four (L4) by the way, it’s been allocated to some toasty extra glove options. You’ll also find some neat alpine backpacks, sleeping bags and duffel bags available too, as well as the AMK Assault tent made from FUTURELIGHT fabrics and carbon fibre poles.

With Cardinal Red and Black Cherry Purple options to choose from, check out all 21 new styles here.


Main Photo: Mathis Dumas

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