One look at The North Face Fuse Brigandine jacket is enough to tell you it’s a high-grade bit of kit. It’s the kind of jacket that looks like it could easily be sturdy enough to be military issue. The kind of thing you’d see James Bond wearing in one of those snow scenes where he covers his face with a balaclava or helmet, and then miraculously becomes the world’s best skier.
The kind of jacket that if worn into town or to a coffee shop or bar would probably provoke the person you were meeting to ask if you were expecting the imminent arrival of the Earth’s next ice age.
All of which is hardly surprising, because this is the most technically-advanced waterproof jacket in The North Face’s line, purpose-built especially for the most extreme alpine environments you can find.
“This is the most technically-advanced waterproof jacket in The North Face’s line."
It’s part of the Steep Series collection, which was designed specifically with backcountry skiers and snowboarders in mind. The line is worn by athletes like Sam Anthamatten and Hadley Hammer, who launched this season’s collection by riding the Saint Elias mountains, “where Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon converge".
The Fuse Brigandine is something of a poster piece for the series. It features a Gore-Tex and FuseForm fabric composition, the first time that Noth Face have applied the FuseForm tech to a Gore-Tex membrane. FuseForm blends thicker tougher threads with lighter, lower-density fibers in high-wear zones to make them more durable.
The FuseForm tech is used around the hood, shoulders, sides and inner arms - the areas that will suffer the most abrasion from backpack straps or general wear and tear. What this means in layman’s terms is that you’ve got a jacket that’s tough as nails and will act as an impenetrable force whatever the snow conditions.
There are also some convenient little design details in here too; an internal goggle pocket and stash pocket, a four-way stretch powder skirt and comfortable thumb loop cuffs being just a few. At £700, this isn’t a cheap jacket by any means, but in return for a price tag you not only get a jacket that looks the business aesthetically, but one that can deliver in a practical sense like few others on the market.
If you’re planning on heading out on serious backcountry missions this winter, this is the jacket you should be wearing for the ride.
The North Face Fuse Brigandine Jacket