Friday, June 2, 2017

The North Face – Summer 2017 Review



If you are into outdoor sports, you probably recognize the name The North Face.  I have been using their gear for over 20 years.  Founded in 1966 in San Francisco’s North Beach area, two hiking enthusiasts decided to follow their passions and founded a small mountaineering retail store.  The little shop became known as The North Face, a retailer of high-performance climbing and backpacking equipment.  The North Face gets its name from the coldest, most unforgiving side of a mountain.  It moved across the bay to Berkley in 1968 and began designing and manufacturing its own brands gear.  The rest is history.  After over 40 years, The North Face has grown to deliver an extensive line of performance apparel, equipment, and footwear.  Their motto is “Never Stop Exploring.”

Flight Series™ Warp Knit Dual Shorts in action at the Gold Rush 50k in May 2017

Men’s Endurus TR Trail Shoe
I reviewed the Ultra Endurance trail shoes in the fall of last year and was really impressed (click here for my review).  


The Endurus TR is another great trail shoe that I’ve recently been testing.  It has a seamless welded TPU and suede quarter panel that adds support and increases breathability.  There is a molded TPU toe cap that provides awesome protection from rocks and other hazards.  The Endurus TR also uses CRADLE™ heel-stability technology to add extra stability on technical trails as well as providing a great fitting heel.  I had no issues with my heel slipping or lifting in these shoes, which is great.

There is a midfoot-to-forefoot ESS Snake Plate™ that will protect the bottom of your foot from sharp rocks that could leave you in pain.  Anybody that has experienced a bone bruise can attest to how much they suck.  The Snake Plate™ also provides torsional rigidity to help stabilize your foot. 

The collar lining has FlashDry, which is a fabric technology that was designed to feel like a second skin against your body.  It accelerates the removal of moisture and speed up the evaporating process and keeps moisture away from the surface of the fabric so you stay drier and more comfortable.  This protects against both sweat and water.  It worked great when running though creeks and during wet runs.

The Endurus TR uses an XtraFoam™ midsole that offers a softer foam under your foot for superior comfort, but has a firmer density EVA material around the edges of the shoe to provide stability.  It was super comfortable and even though it provided cushion, I found that the midsole didn’t make the shoe any less responsive.  This would be a good shoe for shorter trail runs as well as ultra races.


The outsole has the Vibram™ XS Trek sole which is durable and sticky so you can run on all sorts of terrain in any condition.  Vibram™ is one of the leaders in outsoles for trail and hiking shoes and you can see why when you run in the Endurus TR.  The sole has 3.5mm multi-directional lugs that do an awesome job of finding traction even when other shoes might have issues.  The Endurus TR weighs in at 11.2 ounces for a men’s size 9, which is decent for a shoe built this well.  It has a 6mm heel drop and has enough cushion to make your feet happy all day without losing any ground feel that can be so important.  I normally run in a size 10 (for most shoes), and it did fit true to size.  The Endurus TR retails for $130 on The North Face website.

Pros:
The Vibram™ outsole is durable and grippy on any surfaces.
Breathable and moisture wicking fabric
Great price at $130
Fits true to size
Great midsole provides cushion but is responsive
Protective TPU toe-cap and snake plate.

Better Than Naked™ Singlet
The Better Than Naked Singlet is an extremely light weight tank/singlet that feels so good, you barely even know it’s there, hence the Better Than Naked™ name.  Not only is it extremely light weight, but it is one of the most breathable tops that I have. 

The Better Than Naked Singlet uses The North Face’s FlashDry™ fibers to move moisture away from your skin so you feel cooler and more comfortable.  Here in Northern California, We’ve seen a few 100 degree days, which means that I was doing my lunch runs in 85-90 degree heat.  The Better Than Naked Singlet worked flawlessly even though I was a sweaty mess.

The singlet has an athletic fit and uses stitch-free constriction on critical seems to prevent chafing, which is always a plus.  It has a reflective logo to increase visibility on those early morning and late night runs.  The Better Than Naked Singlet retails for $45 on The North Face website.

Pros:
Decent price for an awesome singlet at $45
Extremely breathable and moisture wicking fabric
Feels great and moves with your body
Helps Regulate body temperature
Stitch-free construction to prevent chafing

Flight Series™ Warp Long-Sleeve
Even though the weather is heating up, it can still be chilly on those early morning runs or during night runs for those ultra-runners or Ragnar peeps out there.  The Flight Series™ Warp Long-Sleeve is a minimalist approach to the long-sleeve running shirt.  It has an athletic fit that is fairly form fitting without being a compression top.  It also offers 360-degree reflectivity for increased visibility as well.


The Flight Series™ Warp Long-Sleeve uses The North Face’s Warp-knit fabrication to provide minimal seams, which prevents chafing.  One thing I really thought was cool was the engineered venting, which are a bunch of small holes that are strategically placed to help keep you cool.  This is the most comfortable long sleeve shirt that I own by far.  I really like this shirt and tend to gravitate toward it when it is a little chilly out.  The Flight Series™ Warp Long-Sleeve retails for $130 on The North Face website.

Pros:
Breathable and moisture wicking fabric
Next-to-skin fit that moves with your body
Warp-knit fabrication prevents chafing
Extremely comfortable
360-degree reflectivity

Flight Series™ Warp Knit Dual Shorts
The Flight Series™ Warp Knit Dual Shorts may very well be the shorts you have always been looking for.  I know that is the case for me. It’s a 10-inch compression short that has a woven 5.5-inch running short over the top of it.  This two-in-one short has a low-profile waistband with a drawcord.  My one complaint, which is really minor, is that it’s hard to tie the shorts tight, although it provides a secure fit anyway. 

These shorts were inspired by The North Face’s ultrarunner athletes and as part of their Flight Series™, it’s performance running gear that is race-day ready.  I definitely found that was the case.  It is my go-to shorts for all long runs, trail runs, and races. 


The Flight Series™ Warp Knit Dual Shorts uses The North Face’s FlashDry™ fibers to move moisture away from your skin so you feel cooler and more comfortable.  The compression shorts have ventilation holes like the Flight Series™ Warp Long-Sleeve shirt to aid in breathability and is stitch-free to prevent chafing.  Something that I have not heard of before is that the compression liner can be cut to whatever length you prefer without the material unraveling.  I really like the length of the liner, but it’s nice to know that it can be shortened.

On the back of the shorts, there is a zippered pocket and two stretchy pockets for gels.  This is truly an amazing short and if I could have a whole drawer full of these, they would be my only shorts I own.  I have run a 50k race in these and not only did they keep my legs fresh, but I had no chafing issues at all.  You have to follow the washing instructions and lay them flat to dry, but that is not a big deal and they dry quickly.  You can get the Flight Series™ Warp Knit Dual Shorts for $150 on The North Face website.  While it is pricy for a pair of shorts, I would not hesitate to recommend them because they are so awesome. 

Pros:
Breathable and moisture wicking fabric
Best shorts I’ve worn, ever!
Zippered pocket and 2 stretch pockets in the back
2-in-1 shorts with compression liner
Liner can be cut to size without material unraveling

Cons:
At $150, these are pricey, but more than worth it.

The North Face’s Social Media Links:

The North Face makes exceptional gear and while it may cost a little more than some of the running gear out there, the quality and feel makes them well worth the price.  Every time I test gear from The North Face , I am more impressed than the last time.  I don’t know how they keep putting out better stuff than before, but they do.  The North Face offers a lifetime warranty against any manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship.  They will repair or replace the product at no cost to you.  All you pay is for is the shipping to The North Face.  You can pick up all of your gear from The North Face website or find a retail location near you (click here for locations).  Take a chance on some gear from The North Face and you won’t be disappointed.  Be sure to let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

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