New Active Shell From The North Face

TNF is using Gore's Active Shell for the first time this spring, here's what's what...

Posted: 29 February 2012
by Jon
The new Alpine Project Jacket with added OM editor. Cut is looser than most Active Shell jackets we've seen.
The Apparition Anorak - saves 40 odd grammes over the jacket version.
Neatly inserted and barely noticable pit-zips feature on both jacket and smock versions.
Women's Alpine Project jacket in a cracking red colour.
And the men's version in closer up.

We're still sitting on a whopping great heap of images and info about this year's new kit from The North Face and you can expect a full reveal on Friday, but here as a taster is a look at the brand's new Gore-Tex Active Shell kit, which is in the shops imminently.

Apparition Anorak

TNF didn't use the impressively breathable new lightweight Gore-Tex fabric in the UK last year, but for spring 2021, the brand i smaking up for lost time with two Active Shell, erm, shells in the range. The first is the amusingly named Apparition Anorak - if only we could team it with the long-dead Karrimor Phantom Pant. Anyway, it's a stripped-down smock design with a claimed weight of 382g for a medium.

Targeted as an 'emergency waterproof' it still features pit-zips and a helmet-compatible hood for useability and is standard issue for UK TNF reps apparently. Smocks are neat and save weight over jackets, but they're also more niche and sell less easily - as an example, for next winter Berghaus has shelved the Asgard Smock, but kept the jacket in its range.

Price for the Appararition Smock is a spine-tingling £225 and it's out right about now. Or quite soon anyway.

Alpine Project Jacket

A little more mainstream is the Alpine Project Jacket, a jacket design again made from 30% lighter Active Shell with a claimed weight of 420g - around 40g more than the Smock equivalent. Interestingly, while most mountain-orientated Active Shell jackets tend to be cut very sleek, close and quite short with minimal features, the Alpine Project in a bit more lavish in design.

It's quite long for an alpine jacket - it'd work for hill-walkers we reckon - has pit-zips no less and two huge chest-pockets in a hand-warmer format. That's kind of interesting as at launch, Gore specified a minimum area of double fabric, which means most Active Shell jackets have mesh-lined pockets, which are a potential leak point, but also up breathability and give venting options.

Generously Cut

Cut is quite generous too. Easily enough, in our case, for a medium-weigh fleece. What else? There's a helmet-compatible hood  with a medium-stiffened brim but no wiring and, inside one of the pocket bags, an additional zipped security pocket. There are water-resistant zips all round and hidden adjuster cords at the hem.

Oddly, the more generous cut and length makes it arguably more suitable for general mountain use than any other Active Shell jacket we've seen and while the double pockets will detract from overall breathability, they may also reassure those who baulk at mesh-lined ones in UK conditions, though we're still not quite sure how they relate to Gore's minimalist guidelines for Active Shell garments.

The Alpine Project Jacket again is out shortly and retails for £250. We actually have one here for review, so more on that front to follow.

More information at www.thenorthface.com.


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