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

Friendly?

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.

The North Face Point Five Jacket

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

reinforcement.

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

grammes.

Mammatus Jacket - Very

Expensive...

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.

The North Face Mammatus Jacket

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

the pockets.

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.

The North Face Mountain Guide Jacket

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 North Face Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket

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

this winter...

Fulcrum 35 Pack - unusual

climbing sac

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

your shoulders.

The North Face Fulcrum 35 pack lid

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.

The North Face Fulcrum 35 Pack

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.

The North Face Fulcrum 35 Pack

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

grammes.

Waterproof Trail-Running

Shoe

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.

The North Face Rucky Chucky GTX XCR

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.