The North Face FL Race Vest – A well designed racing vest that has ample capacity for an adventurous trip in the mountains.
Designed for ultra-athletes and refined with their feedback, The North Face® FL Race Vest is the ultimate lightweight endurance running pack. Large main compartment and well-placed ancillary pockets ensure that everything you need is readily available. As The North Face in their literature this vest was athlete refined and you have to thank Rory Bosio and Sebastian Chaigneau for helping design a fully comprehensive race pack.
Out of the box – Key Statistics
- · Large main compartment with two internal pockets and hydration sleeve
- · 4 front-pockets and two shoulder bottle pockets
- · 1 top pocket and a large stash pockets with two smaller zipper pockets Trekking-pole attachment
- · Volume: 8 litres
- · Approximate Weight: 325 g
First of all I was impressed by the light weight and large volume of this pack being 8 litres. This pack sits well on the back and the chest pockets sit just above the waist. There is enough padding on the shoulders and back to not cause any irritation or rubbing, in fact every time I have run with the pack I have been wearing a shirt or vest and have found the ride to be extremely comfortable.
The first thing that hits you is the multitude of pockets and places to stow items. I have to admit that I have not utilised every option yet and on first glance I would say that you need to have an organised and systemised approach to where you stow everything you need, that’s not a bad thing by the way. When you are running a mountain ultra and you need to carry mandatory gear plus drinks, food, gels, salt tabs, and anything else that takes your fancy then a place for everything make sense rather than one gaping big pocket to stuff it all into with the ensuing panic of trying to find that one item when your desperate, on top of a mountain and in the dark!
I took this out on a long trail run the first time I used it and have to say that it’s a learning and familiarisation process for sure. For a start I initially had the two vest belts at the wrong level causing the shoulder straps to pull apart as I had soft flasks on each side. This was obviously frustrating until I eventually stopped to do something about it rather than just tightening the side straps up. With some simple sliding up and down of the front straps, it was solved in less than a few seconds. Problem solved. My only slight modification is that the upper chest strap could be higher as I find that one shoulder doesn’t sit perfectly when weighted with water flasks. I finally took this pack out in race conditions at OCC and I must say it worked perfectly.
Adjusting the pack is really just that simple, there are two side straps on each side to adjust the fit, then there are the aforementioned straps on the front. It pays to adjust these to the optimal fit before you start running, then there will only be the some odd adjustments when you are on the run if you put on or take an additional layer for example.
There are four generous front pockets, two on each side of the lower chest, that can accommodate the items that you need easy access to when on the run such as gels, food, salt tablets etc. One pocket on each side has a Velcro fastening to keep items safe. In addition there are two pockets on the shoulder.
Now for the cavernous main compartment which has two internal pockets and a hydration sleeve. Wow…. I have managed to fit in full UTMB mandatory kit and still have plenty of room left to carry a picnic – minus the chequered picnic cloth! If you are using trekking poles then these can be attached to the back of the pack. The hydration sleeve sits in the pack and you have the option of feeding the tube through a fastening on the shoulder.
I was provided with this piece of kit by The North Face however the views on this product are my own.
All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography