If you are a keen mountaineer or climber, you will already be familiar with The North Face Summit Series products. But they disappeared for a while. Now, after a year-long hiatus, the iconic Summit Series collection is back on sale. It’s a new and up-dated range that TNF say has been: “Reimagined with cutting edge innovation and purposeful design.”
I have a Summit L2 Jacket to test. (See below.)
If you like the Summit Series you’ll need to be quick to buy it because there are only limited quantities. You should expect these to be sold in specialty retail outlets and on-line for a short time.
Launched in autumn 2000, Summit Series has represented TNF’s pinnacle range of products for mountaineers and climbers. This latest collection is the company’s up-dated and revitalised collection.
Athlete-inspired TNF Summit Series
The North Face RD&D team behind the collection has been guided by a design ethos of “Respect. Inspire. Evolve.”
The line Respects the athlete’s culture and the environment that they play in It Inspires athletes through the products design, feel and function
It Evolves by pushing the limits in innovation and technology.
In order to achieve those benchmarks members of The North Face athlete team had input on the line from the concept stage through to completion, beginning with the question: “What does a perfect kit consist of?”
The six-layer collection is comprised of layers L1 through L6, offering a suggestion about the order that each layer should be worn.
Summit L1 Top and Pant: Baselayer essentials made from engineered fabric to provide “zonal” warmth and moisture management, as well as articulated construction for mobility.
Summit L3 Jacket: An ultra light down mid-layer that is insulated with 800-fill RDS down. The face fabric utilises FuseForm construction for targeted durability with minimal seams and a digitally printed colour that uses less water than traditional dyeing process.
Summit L4 Jacket: The warmest synthetic mid-layer in the collection, this jacket is insulated with ThermoBall, a synthetic TNF insulation that retains warmth when wet. The jacket’s minimal, unibody construction reduces seams and its quilt design prevents insulation migration and cold spots.
Summit L5 Shell and Shell Pant: Representing the most advanced shell outerwear The North Face has built. It is made with waterproof, breathable DryVent 3L membrane. The shell and pant have localised FuseForm construction for targeted durability with minimal seams and were designed with articulated, one-piece construction for alpine mobility.
Product, The Other Way
The approach to unveiling the 2015 Summit Series collection is “The Other Way,” which ties to the product being designed outside the traditional RD&D timetables, as well as the limited quantity of line.
The North Face VP, Sales Tony Erlick says: “Because the product is unique and crafted for specific endeavours and core athletes, it was clear that the product belonged in specialty retail environments where it can be shared with core outdoor athletes in a way that is unique and personalized to them.
“Whether it’s the new Summit Series collection, or limiting distribution to specialty dealers, everything we have done to bring this line to market ties back to ‘The Other Way’.”
The North Face Women’s Summit Series L2 jacket
This is an exclusive collection, in terms of technology, design and availability. It is also a range that will appeal to people who like to be out in the extreme conditions of a Scottish winter. Others will want one of the products in TNF Summit Series 2015 simply because it has “extreme” kudos.
So a price tag of £190 for one mid-layer jacket should not be surprising.
I confess I am not climber and nor can I be described as am Alpine mountaineer but I do spend a lot of the winter battling harsh wintry conditions in Scotland’s mountains. I also suffer very badly with the cold so I am always keen to find outdoors gear that keeps me warm and protects in the worst weather.
The first thing that strikes me is the colour. It’s described as “High Rise Grey” but essentially this is a light silvery grey shade and I am not sure how clean it would stay in the outdoors.
Wearing it under another layer would help to keep off the dirt but I am imagining this being worn as an outer layer as well as a mid-layer and after only 10 minutes of wearing it around the house I had a couple of dirty smudges on the arms!
Apart for that, this is a beautiful jacket. I am a tall UK10 and the Women’s Small fits really well across the shoulders and chest. It’s a tiny bit short on the torso and I’d prefer the arms to be longer but I am a bit taller than the average UK10.
The fabric and articulated patterning offers good comfort. The inner fleece fabric can be worn against the skin (if you want to wear only a baselayer t-shirt underneath, for example). It’s super soft.
Meanwhile, the outer fabric is sort but super tough and durable. The jacket also offers a good level of stretch so I can imagine it would be ideal for climbing in winter. There is a high degree of freedom of movement.
Other features that I like are the “Engineered Knit Back”. This is where most people who are working hard outdoors in winter sweat. The fabric design allows for sweat to easily evaporate.
The seam tape on the exterior adds strength to the jacket and it is also reflective. I am not sure why you would need reflective details when climbing or mountaineering but it’s there anyway and doesn’t detract from the overall jacket design. I guess, if you were outdoors in dull light, you would be easily spotted by your pals.
The hood is also neat fitting and would easily fit under a helmet. I like this design, rather than trying to make a hood that goes over a helmet.
The minimalist style of chest and hand pocket zippers keep the jacket looking – and feeling – streamlined and the cuffs are simply finished to comply with the overall look.
The jacket weighs 380g, which is pretty light.
Of course, winter proper has not arrived in Scotland yet so this jacket has not been tested in the harshest of conditions but I did take it out on a very windy, chilly and drizzly day.
The jacket is not aimed at keeping you dry in the wet but it still managed to keep me warm despite the drizzle.
I felt not a single wisp of wind on my body where the jacket covered. The fabric is very, very good at keeping out the cold.
It is very easy to wear and does offer remarkably high levels of warmth for such a light item of kit.
My only criticism is that when the jacket is zipped up the fabric feels pretty stiff against the skin. It is not too uncomfortable and I expect it would soften with use but you can tell the fabric is made of super durable stuff.
Oh, and the colour, is totally impractical. The rest of the collection is in darker colours and although you might expect to usually wear this jacket under another layer I think it would be better in a darker shade of grey.
If you like your winter kit to be exclusively made, high on technical details and designed by the pros this is well worth looking at. Perhaps you could ask for it as a Christmas gift from a generous partner?
See The North Face and
See The North Face Summit Series 2015 video: