Guide to The North Face

The North Face Walking Boots and ShoesNorth Face

When people think of North Face, they often think of North Face jackets. This is because The North Face has become one of the most fashionable outdoor brands in the world.

Because of their fashionable focus, North Face outdoor wear typically falls into the mid level category of clothing, offering extra comfort, fit, performance and protection over the affordable brands while still aspiring to the leading outdoor brands that offer serious kit for serious adventurers.

But for casual walkers, The North Face provides comfortable, stylish apparel for when the weather turns cold which is also ideal for everyday wear due to its fashionable design and renowned brand name.

Today The North Face has an enormous following in the outdoor community from walkers to climbers, mountaineers, extreme skiers, snowboarders and explorers. But 40 years ago they were only a small mountaineering store.

Just like Berghaus in the UK, the two hiking enthusiasts who founded The North Face resolved to follow their passions and began manufacturing their own brand of technical mountaineering apparel and equipment.

They soon developed a reputation for good quality clothing and equipment and now offer a wide range of outdoor clothing for all seasons and footwear to match.

We’ve often commented on the uncanny similarities and fierce rivalries between The North Face and Berghaus gear and in many cases the only different between two garments can be the brand name. However, this is not always the case.

North Face Jackets

North Face JacketNow that it’s cold you’ll have seen countless North Face jackets being worn on the streets. It was particularly wet this summer and we championed the North Face Resolve for being a light, packable and surprisingly warm waterproof jacket for the sudden showers. But now that the weather is turning cold in the run up to winter, North Face also offer a wider range of jackets for cold, wet and windy weather conditions, including extreme cold.

Taking their name from the coldest, harshest side of a mountain, The North Face is an ideal clothing brand for winter, because their jackets are not only warm, comfortable and stylish, but they are full of technical features for convenience and protection too.

However, once we get away from the fact that The North Face is a fashionable brand to have printed on your winter coat or waterproof jacket, it’s easier to compare their clothing to similar products from other premium outdoor brands. But while other brands (and Berghaus is once again a good example), focus on providing protection and technical features as the primary purpose of their apparel, North Face clothing tends to fit far better, specially around the shoulders which makes your whole outfit far more comfortable if you’re layering up to stay warm.

It’s subtle improvements in the cut and fit which really make all the difference. So if you ever feel restricted in your current set of outdoor clothing, then maybe it’s worth giving some North Face kit a try for the extra freedom of movement. Otherwise their jackets are every bit as good as any other premium outdoor brand.

North Face Fleeces

But when it comes to the classic microfleece, The North Face doesn’t quite match the reputation of Bergaus who seem to have nailed the fleece niche while leaving North Face to dominate jackets.

However, while Berghaus make some excellent microfleeces, where The North Face really shines is with their fleece jackets. This is because they borrow a lot of design elements and materials from their best waterproof jackets. So instead, the best North Face fleece clothing is designed for a very specific purpose.

Once again, the cut and fit can be considered superior to fleeces from other outdoor manufacturers, but when microfleeces tend to be favoured by more traditional outdoor types, we bet that Berghaus will be the first brand on your list if you’re looking for one of these.

North Face Base Layers

North Face Base LayersClearly divided into ‘warm’ and ‘light’ categories, North Face base layers are specifically designed for cold or warm weather conditions with their own HyActive blend of fabric.

HyActive Light uses an open piquet structure that expands with the heat to enhance moisture transport and evaporation, making it perfect for high energy activities in warmer weather.

HyActive Warm has a two-layer construction that traps warm air for thermal protection, which makes this an ideal base layer material for, skiing, mountaineering or walking in the coldest weather conditions.

This makes finding exactly what you need nice and simple. Because, let’s be honest, it’s about time base layer manufacturers made things straightforward for casual walkers to understand their products rather than baffling us with the kind of technical information that runners and cyclists have had to become accustomed to deciphering.

But like any clothing from the North Face, when it comes to their base layers you certainly get what you pay for in comfort and quality, even if you have to pay quite a bit. But as always, it really is worth it.

North Face Trousers

North Face TrousersYou may be pleasantly surprised to find that The North Face offer a good selection of traditional and modern trousers for walking, trekking and everyday wear which of course are ideal for the outdoors. They also tend to be made from a tough nylon fabric so that they’ve very hard wearing and quick drying as well.

Their waterproof overtrousers are exactly like their best selling North Face Resolve waterproof jackets and are made from the same material in order to be light, packable, breathable and completely waterproof with a special treatment to simply roll off the rain water.

So much like their jackets in general, North Face trousers are available from a mid to premium price point with the technical features, cut and fit to give walkers that extra bit of comfort and protection outdoors.

North Face Footwear

North Face ShoesLike many other outdoor brands, North Face has also expanded their clothing range to include walking boots and trail shoes as well as fashionable sandals and snow boots.

While the sandals are purely for lounging around in summer and there are much better snow boots available for real outdoor use, their trail shoes and walking boots have proven to be a pleasant surprise.

The North Face Hedgehog XCR is a common sight on the high streets due to its aggressive design and north face branding. But off road the unusual Hedgehog outsole provides incredible traction in thick mud, deep mud and even on the slipperiest surfaces as well as hard rock. Meanwhile these ‘trainers’ are perfectly light, comfortable, breathable, hard wearing and completely waterproof.

What more could you ask for in a carefree walking shoe? We’ve had ours for a couple of years now and while the rubber outsole is wearing down fast, it doesn’t seem to have lost much of its grip.

In fact, Hedgehog was so successful that The North Face eventually turned it into a boot that provides the same comfort, protection and traction with the added ankle support for long walks.

But despite the stylish looks and technical features, we feel that you can find better walking boots and outdoor trainers for the same money with more traditional outdoor brands.

Conclusion

The North Face is one of the best loved outdoor fashion brands for a very good reason and that’s because the quality of their clothing and kit really can’t be questioned when you consider the price. So while you may have to pay a bit more for the extra features, you know that you’re not just paying for a pretty label embroidered on your clothes.

But when you head out wearing your North Face jacket, North Face trekking trousers and a pair of North Face Hedgehog XCR trainers there’s no question about outdoor clothing looking fashionable. So it’s no surprise how popular North Face apparel is for everyday wear.

We’ve often said that many casual walkers looking for comfort and quality in their clothing will find themselves torn between The North Face and Berghaus. Both brands offer very similar products at very similar price points whether it’s waterproofs, fleeces, trousers or trainers.

But while North Face focuses on comfort and fit, Berghaus tends to offer more technical performance and protection. So whichever you choose will either come down to your particular preference or simply which brand you like best.