I haven’t kept up with North Face technology over the years since starting this site, in large part because they for whatever reason don’t really engage that much with bloggers like myself and with all the other brands that DO engage with me, I’ve had a little gear overflow issue and have not felt the need to seek out even more of it. However, today I was reminded of the true value of the gear we buy (okay, the gear YOU buy) when I was kitting up for an outing and found that I’d reached for the tried-and-true rather than the new-and-exciting.
I had grabbed my North Face Apex softshell setup; the pants and jacket that pretty much started this blog way back in the day. The reviews are so old that the photo links are now broken. However the gear itself is still going strong and is a perennial favorite. I wear the Apex jacket at least – AT LEAST – once a week and have taken it on countless adventures, misadventures, mountain bike crashes, climbing trips, lost-person searches, you name it, it’s been there. And it is still in super good shape five years later. There is a little wear around the cuffs and a burred area on an elbow from an encounter with pavement, but the zippers are solid (watch, now they’ll break this week, what am I thinking making this post?) and the softshell still performs like it did the day I got it. It’s really filthy now, so it doesn’t exactly look new, but it works like it’s new, and that’s what matters.
I haven’t worn the pants nearly as much, but today I got them out and realized belatedly that I should be wearing them more. I was just bitching on Twitter about how women’s pants don’t ever have good pockets and these pants have at least one good pocket. It’s a side pocket of good size; great for snow science tools or a map. Why didn’t I notice how great that pocket was before?
The Apex jacket seems to be mostly the same in its current iteration. The Randonee Pants have evolved quite a bit so I don’t know what they are like now. It appears that they still have that pocket which is a big part of the appeal for me. I’m fairly confident in saying that these items will perform as well for you as they have for me, and they have paid for themselves over and over and over again.
When you’re purchasing new gear, remember that the initial hurt of that big price tag will fade if the piece lasts and lasts. I think I paid about a hundred bucks for each of these pieces and they have been more than worth it. I am hoping very much that these items are still representative of North Face quality, because if that’s the case I would not hesitate to buy North Face.
If I ever get to try something from TNF that isn’t five years old, I’ll let you know!
The North FaceThe North Face Women's Apex Chromium Thermal Softshell Jacket$160.00
The North FaceThe North Face Men's Apex Chromium Thermal Softshell Jacket$160.00
The North FaceThe North Facea (TM) s versatile, four-season, windproof soft shell with a comfortable fit id ideal for multiple activities.* Avg Weight: 580 g (20.46oz) * Center Back: 26"" * Fabric: Solid: 90D 351 g/m TNF Apex ClimateBlock - 96% Polyester, 4% Elastane * Fabric: Heather: 374 g/m TNF Apex ClimateBlock - 100% Polyester * Relaxed Fit * TNF Apex ClimateBlock 100% Windproof Fabric * DWR Finish * Reversed-coil center front zip * Secure-zip Napoloen chest and hand pockets * Internal stretch comfort cuffs * Hem cinch-cord * Media compatible$111.95
The North FaceThe North Face's classic windproof softshell is now even more versatile and comfortable with a new design. * Relaxed fit * 100% windproof fabric * Reverse-coil center front, chest and hand pocket zips * Hem cinch-cord * Raised high-definition logos * Solid and Print: 351 g/m WindWall - 96% polyester, 4% elastane soft shell with DWR finish * Heather: 374 g/m WindWall - 100% polyester with DWR finish * Avg Weight: 680 g (23.9 oz) * Center Back: 27.5""$149.00
The North FaceIdeal for active endeavors, this breathable and weather-resistant soft shell has PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco for added warmth where you need it most. * Relaxed Fit * Highly wind resistant - air permeability rated at less than 20 CFM * Brushed internal collar lining * Detachable, adjustable hood * Concealed-zip chest pocket and exposed secure-zip hand pocket * Internal comfort cuffs * Hem cinch-cord * Body: 225 g/m WindWall - 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane Soft Shell with DWR finish * Lining: 235 g/m 100% Polyester Fleece * Insulation: 100 g PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco * Avg Weight: 950 g (33.51 oz) * Center Back: 27""$199.00