Ultra-lightweight mountain ensemble heads up TNF's line-up for spring/summer 2013.
The big news from The North Face this spring 2013 is something called the Verto Climb Collection a sort of, erm, capsule range - get us going all outdoors fashionista - consisting of four essential mountain garments that work as a set together and weigh less than 1400g.
Which is kind of impressive given that just a few years back, a waterproof jacket on its own could tip the scales at around 1000g...
TNF Anti-Matter Jacket - 319g / £300
The Anti-Matter is the shell in the collection and it's not quite what you might expect. It's Gore for sure, but rather than Gore-Tex, TNF has used 2-layer Gore Windstopper Active Shell instead for improved breathability. Juts to confuse you, Windstopper is pretty much waterproof, but usually doesn't have taped seams, but in this case, the 'critical seam's' where it's likely to leak, have been taped.
It still won't pass Gore's extreme wet weather tests, but should be easily up to any level of snow plus cope with light to medium rain showers if needed. The pay-off will be better breathability. And if that's not enough, it has whopping great torso vents as well 'core-venting pockets'.
The darker blue panels are tougher fabric to cope with pack and harness wear and there's a helmet-compatible hood which - mother of penguins - has a wired peak to keep us fussy Brits happy. Very light, very expensive, should be very breathable. The cut is nice and sleek too - see images.
Verto Micro Hoodie - 245g / £190
The insulation bit of the collection is called the Verto Micro Hoodie and it's an unusual mix of a down-filled core area using 800 fill power goose down housed in ultra-lightweight Pertex Quantum GL baffles to save weight. The rest of the jacket is a stetchy, wind-resistant material.
There's also a hood with added insulated panels at the base and FlashDry Technology in strategic areas, like the under-arms, to speed drying and wicking. Hems and cuffs are pre-elasticated to save grammes and it's reckoned to be highly packable too with a good balance between warmth and active usability. Interesting.
Infiesto Jacket - 379g / £75
In comparison, the Infiesto Jacket is quite a simple concept, kind of a microfleece weight top with a bit of a technical edge to it. Its made from Polartec PowerDry and in common with other similar garments, the idea is that you wear it either as a lightweight mid layer or simply next to skin as an expedition base layer.
It should, wick fast and dry quickly and has two zipped hand pockets and lycra-bound cuffs and hem. Nice close fit too.
Meteor Pants - 454g / £140
Last but not least, because you need to cover your legs, there's the Meteor Pants, sort of stretch, non-membrane soft shell legwear, trousers even, made from Pertex Equilibrium which is a great, high-wicking fabric and featuring stretch woven thigh and lower leg panels for better mobility and kick patches.
The waist is cut low-ish, but high at the back for harness use and to keep your climber's bum covered up and out of harm's way. There are lower-leg zips to cope with bulky boot moments too. Looking like good, lightweight, technical mountain pants we reckon.
Doing The Sums
Our handy calculator, if we can find the thing, says total price of all four items: a gulp-worthy £705. And the total weight as claimed: 1397 grammes. Obviously that'll depend on size. And gender. The women's equivalent, based on TNF claimed weights would be... just 1280g.
Good to see all those technical garments available for women too - it's one area where quite a few brands fall short.
Verto 32 Pack - 644g / £75
Of course, once you've got your ultra-lightweight mountain clothing, you'll need a pack to match - enter the new Verto 32, a lightweight, minmalist summit pack - yes, the idea is you can dump your fig rolls at the campsite along with your lap top and head off light for the top of Scafell Pike, or something along those lines.
At 644g its decently light for a large-ish pack and is made from tough but light nylon cargo chute fabric and can be stuffed down into its own stow pouch or, alternatively, used as a sleeping bag stuff sac high on the mountain - haul, deploy sleeping bag, climb.
Webbing and features have been slimmed down to save weight. It's quite a technical, minimal sort of thing, but if that's your bag, sorry, here it is.
Verto Plasma Shoe - £115
This is The North face's take on a sticky-soled approach come scrambling shoe with a full rubber rand all round, a sticky Vibram sole unit with climbing zone smooth bits and an EVA mid-sole for cushioning. Looks neat. Past experience with similar shoes suggests the EVA will fold over on very small edges, but for most users, that probably won't be an issue and the alternative tends to be a very hard sole unit - Haglöfs Roc Legend for example - that's not comfortable for walking.
That's the big news in the technical Summit Series, coming next: walking, exploring, pursuing...
More information at www.thenorthface.com