The North Face Turning 55
Behind The Brand
We are named for the coldest, most unforgiving side of a mountain. We have helped explorers reach the most unfathomable heights of the Himalayas. But The North Face ® legend begins, ironically, on a beach. More precisely, San Francisco’s North Beach neighbourhood, at an altitude of only 150 feet above sea level. It was here in 1966 that two hiking enthusiasts resolved to follow their passions and founded a small mountaineering retail store.
Soon thereafter, that little shop became known as The North Face, a retailer of high-performance climbing and backpacking equipment. In 1968, The North Face moved to the other side of San Francisco Bay, to the unbridled possibilities of the Berkeley area, and began designing and manufacturing its own brand of technical mountaineering apparel and equipment.
Through the 1960s, The North Face brand cherished a following amongst avid outdoor athletes and began sponsoring expeditions to some of the most far-flung, still largely untouched corners of the globe. This launched a proud tradition that continues in full force today and constantly reinforces The North Face mantra, Never Stop Exploring™.
By the early 1980s, The North Face was taking exploration to the outer limits of the ski world, adding extreme skiwear to the product offering. These were the days of pastels, neons, hair dye, and mohawks; they laid the groundwork for today’s free-spirited snowsports athletes. By the end of the decade, The North Face became the only supplier in the United States to offer a comprehensive collection of high-performance outerwear, skiwear, sleeping bags, packs and tents.
The 1990s ushered in an era during which The North Face further broadened the outdoor world it helps athletes to explore. The decade saw our debut in the sportswear market with the launch of Tekware™, an innovative collection designed to provide rock climbers, backpackers, hikers, trail runners, and outdoor enthusiasts with the ultimate fit and function. The North Face half dome logo began to appear with greater regularity on ultramarathon courses, high-country trails, and big walls. And, as the calendar clicked toward a new millennium, The North Face launched its own line of trekking and trail-running shoes to ultimately address the head-to-toe needs of those always striving for the next horizon.
Now, 50 years after its humble grand opening, The North Face delivers an extensive line of performance apparel, equipment, and footwear. We push the boundaries of innovation so that you can push the boundaries of exploration. We remain deeply proud to be the first choice of the world’s most accomplished climbers, mountaineers, extreme skiers, snowboarders, endurance runners, and explorers.
There’s little telling what the next 40 years hold for us. However, there is one bedrock certainty: The North Face will maintain an unwavering commitment to pushing the limits of design so that you can push your limits outdoors. Never Stop Exploring.
1966: What’s With the Name?
1966: The Kids are Alright.
1968: Factory Life.
1969: Take It to Go
1975: Modern Geometry.
1970s: Home Away from Home.
1975: Green Before Green was Cool.
1977: The Proof is in the Pudding
1970s: From Alaska to Everest.
1983: Extreme Measures.
1987: Field Research.
1989: All the Rage.
1997: Never Stop Exploring.
1998: Don’t Look Down.
2011: A Breath of Fresh Air.
Question Madness – 2016
A life lived outdoors has taught us to question preconceived ideas. What makes something crazy? What defines happiness? Who gets to tell us what to do? When do we listen? As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we believe that exploration matters now more than ever. It allows us to break down walls and create new paths forward. Following our curiosity is the clearest road to progress. #QuestionMadness – See more on our 50 years of Madness at www.thenorthface.com
LAB TESTED, EXPEDITION PROVEN, ATHLETE TRUSTED
It begins with our world-class athletes. Their suggestions, recommendations and new equipment ideas provide the inspiration and challenges that drive the research and development of advanced materials, innovative design and construction. The most crucial step involves testing both in our laboratories and with our athletes on expeditions around the world.
OUR RESEARCH, DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The most crucial step involves testing both in our laboratories and with our athletes on expeditions around the world. Our athletes often recommend an innovation that’s outside the bounds of existing technology. The North Face® Research, Design and Development team accepts their challenges and turns to the laboratory for new fabrics and components. Our teams of designers and fabric technicians must turn those revolutionary raw materials into gear that maximizes an athlete’s ability to survive and succeed in the most severe weather conditions.
STEP 1: Research & Design in Conjunction With World-Class Athletes
Athletes who constantly pursue their own limits help us push the limits of apparel and equipment design and technology. The North Face® Athlete Team gives us constant feedback on the clothing and equipment they depend on for success and survival in their adventures. We hear from our athletes through gear evaluations and regular athlete input sessions.
STEP 2: Advance Material Research & Development
We partner with the world’s most innovative leading materials engineers to create the technically advanced fabrics needed to develop clothing and equipment that meet our high standards. For example, The North Face®, in conjunction with W.L. Gore, created the concept and helped to launch PacLite™ the most compressible, lightest weight GORE-TEX® shell fabric available – weighing only 3.2 ounces per yard. By adhering this new GORE-TEX® laminate to our proprietary, extremely lightweight nylon substrate, we succeeded in creating a shell material perfectly suited for the extreme lightweight requirements demanded in high-altitude expeditions.
STEP 3: Innovative Design & Construction
Exploring the frontiers of technology for better fabrics and components is only the beginning of the life cycle of a new piece of gear. A great example of this is our C130 Tent Test. Our entire tent line was tested against our competitors by placing them in the back of a C130 plane. The plane’s four engines produce 13,000 ft/lbs. of torque and are capable of producing wind speeds in excess of 80 mph and unlike wind-tunnel tests, the propellers can create wind currents that are irregular and multi-directional. The results speak for themselves – our tents outperformed all the competition.
STEP 4: Laboratory Tested & Expedition Proven
We save the most critical step in our product development process for last. In addition to subjecting our products to a tortuous battery of laboratory tests, we send our apparel and equipment on extended athlete expeditions to learn how new products perform under the true test of the great outdoors. After receiving feedback, we refine each product until it receives approval from our world-class athlete team.
THE NEW SYNTHETIC ALTERNATIVE TO DOWN
The North Face™ developed a partnership with PrimaLoft® to offer a new synthetic alternative to down. ThermoBall™ is a revolution in insulation technology. Unlike traditional, continuous-filament synthetic insulations, the small round PrimaLoft® synthetic fibre clusters closely to mimic down clusters; trapping heat within small air pockets to retain warmth.
- ThermoBall Collection features ThermoBall insulation technology
- Phenomenal warmth in cold and wet conditions
- Packs neatly into zip pocket (not all styles pack into zipper pocket.)
- Insulates even when wet
Sweat removal and temperature regulation
As a leader in the outdoor industry, The North Face® has developed innovative, proprietary fabrics to improve moisture management and temperature regulation during outdoor activity. FlashDry™ enables the user to stay drier, more comfortable and outperforming longer in a wide range of weather conditions and environments. FlashDry™ doesn’t add weight or bulk.
- Accelerates evaporation and keeps you dry
- Most effective moisture management
- FlashDry will never wash- or wear out
- 100+ different products with FlashDry technology within our running, snowsports, climbing, and hiking apparel, baselayers, and accessories.
DryVent™ fabrics are engineered to be fully waterproof, windproof and breathable. The outer face of the textile is treated with a durable water-repellent finish that helps form droplets and repel water from the surface. Each multi-layered textile is engineered to allow water vapour to pass through from the inside to the outside.
DryVent™ fabrics are engineered in a variety, weights, textures and performance characteristics that allow us to provide maximum protection, performance and comfort for the user across all our activities and lifestyle waterproof, breathable clothing and accessories.
All DryVent™ clothing and accessories are fully seam-sealed and designed with specific features that are relevant to the user’s specific activity needs and conditions. All products that are fully taped, waterproof and breathable will be branded DryVent™.
- Wind-Resistant Fleece with Mesh Liner
- Drastically Reduces Effects of Windchill
- Enhances Warmth and Comfort
- Ideal for Climbing, Backpacking, and Hiking
WindWall® has proven a trusted year-round technology, as it shines as either a layering fabric or as standalone outerwear in milder conditions.
Windwall® 1 fabric features a mesh liner and utilizes a unique fabric-bonding process that allows a limited degree of external air permeability.
WindWall® 2 features a gridded fleece liner for even greater insulation and utilizes a unique fabric-bonding process that allows a limited degree of external air permeability.
- Great Insulation
- Drastically Reducing Effects of Windchill
- Enhances Warmth and Comfort
- Ideal for Climbing, Backpacking and Hiking During Cold, Windy Excursions