We popped up to the Lakes the other day for a quick look at The North Face’s new kit
both for this winter 2009
– in the shops right now – and 2010. Three new waterproof shell
jackets, a radical climbing pack and a winter-friendly version of the
popular trail-running Rucky Chucky shoe.
Point Five Jacket – UK
We told you about the new Point
Five, Gore-Tex Pro jacket yesterday, but here’s
a recap. It’s a clean-cut, waterproof shell jacket made from
tough-feeling three-ply Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric and using TNF’s
closer ‘Performance Fit’ cut.
There are no obvious gimmicks, just a pair of big, OS map-friendly
Napoleon-style chest pockets and a big, helmet-compatible hood. What we
didn’t tell you yesterday is that after years of being castigated for
their floppy peaks, the Point Five one has both seriously stiff
lamination and – cue fanfare of virtual trumpets – a wired
Of course there’s more to hood performance than a stiff peak, but we’ll
be using the jacket and letting you know how we get on. Price is £250 and
claimed weight just 460
Mammatus Jacket – Very
Also new for this winter is the Mammatus Jacket, which
comes complete with a whopping £440 price tag. Why
so expensive? It uses a Gore-Tex Stretch Pro Shell fabric which is
exclusive to The North Face for this winter season and, apparently,
costs a lot.
To put the price tag in perspective, Haglöfs is using the same
fabrc for their new Ratio
Jacket out in spring 2010 and that has a price
tag of £475, so it does seem to be par for course.
The Mammatus is a full-on alpine shell with all mod cons including four
harness-friendly pockets, big pit-zips complete with watertight zips
and a helmet-compatible hood, though this one is laminated and
stiffened rather than wired. We rather like the ingenious reflective
trim around the pocket zippers and neat, hidden hem cord adjusters in
To add versatility for skiing use, there’s a built-in powder skirt,
which you could always chop out and the performance fit is actually
pretty neat and significantly longer than previous TNF technical
jackets, long enough for some crotch protection in fact.
It’s undeniably a very handsome jacket and looks great, but
£440 is a pretty serious price tag given that we’re not sure
how much real benefit there is from having stretch in the fabric. We’ll
let you know. Weight is claimed at 500 grammes, which is pretty
impressive given the myriad features.
Mountain Guide Jacket –
Old Classic Reborn
While the Point Five and the Mammatus both use three-ply Pro Shell, the
longstanding Mountain Guide is made from two-ply Gore-Tex Performance
Shell, which means it has a drop-liner.
It’s a TNF classic though and aimed, they say, at a more mature
customer for all-round mountain use. Loads of pockets, pit-zips,
powder-skirt, helmet hood with laminated and wired brim. The advantage
of two-ply fabric is it feels more like a classic, conventional coat,
but for most mountain use, we’d opt for a three-ply fabric.
Price is the same as the Point Five at £250 and
the weight is 780 grammes – one of the downsides of two-ply material.
Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket
– Let’s Go Clubbing…
One of the strengths of TNF as a big company with lots of
resources is that they can develop the sort of innovative products that
a smaller brand wouldn’t risk. And give them ridiculous names too.
The new Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket is a mix of down insulation and
Polartec Powerstretch panels for a mix of lightness and warmth. The
jacket uses a Pertex Quantum outer fabric with 800 fill power goose
down filling. The sides and inner arms, the dark bits in the picture,
are Powerstretch giving a close fit and good breathability.
It’s designed to be ‘the ultimate summit mid-layer’ and weighs just 350 grammes – just
slightly more than something like a Rab Microlight. Price is £160 and
we suspect the unusual look means a good few will end up in the clubs
Fulcrum 35 Pack – unusual
Another example of The North Face embracing the unusual is
the new Fulcrum 35 pack. It’s aimed squarely at technical climbers and
splattered with slightly unusual features. For a start, the lid is
reversed so it hinges away from the wearer and means that if you carry
a rope under the lid, it tends to slump towards rather than away from
The main pack body is made from tough-feeling Ballistics Nylon,
but the wand pockets use a lighter fabric that’s also,
apparently, tougher. It’s actually the same material used by Honda for
car air-bags and has really high tear resistance.
There’s a massive front opening pocket with through access to the main
compartment of the pack via a second zip, should be ideal for stowing
your rack or bandolier for walk-ins, or in snowy conditions, you could
stow a rope there.
Finally the back system is smooth to minimise snow adhesion but
includes a TPU plate for support. This is pliable enough to make the
pack easily stowable for travel and yak-hauling. Interesting stuff and
priced at £90.
Capacity, as you’ve probably guessed, is 35 litres and wright 1100
Finally, just in time for winter wetness, the Rucky Chucky
trail-running shoe has a new winterised brother, the Rucky Chucky GTC
XCR, which is basically TNF’s very capable, high tec, trail runner, but
with the addition of a Gore-Tex XCR waterproof liner.
Other features include synthetic nubuck panels, TPU welded
reinforcements for support, dual-density EVA mid-sole, TPU forefoot
Snakeplate and lots more. We’ve used the Rucky Chucky standard version
and it works really well, the new version should keep your feet drier
into the bargain.
Preview of the TNF 2010 range to follow. More information at www.thenorthface.com.