Tag Archives: The North Face

THE NORTH FACE – LITUS 32

A truly versatile bag for many occasions, The North Face Litus 32 is strong, capable and cavernous!DSC_4492

Out of the box – Key Statistics

  • Size – S/M & L/XL
  • Weight – S/M 879gms & L/XL 936gms
  • Volume 32 litres
  • Shell A 100D nylon, Shell B 210D gen weave nylon
  • Colours – Zinc Grey/Macaw Green, Acrylic Orange/Power Orange, Quill Blue/Moonstruck Grey
  • Mesh back panel
  • Deep zipper access to main body
  • External face pocket
  • Internal security pocket
  • Two tool keepers
  • Hipbelt pockets
  • Webbing lash points
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Rain cover included

DSC_6675Price

£95.00

Field Test

As the name suggests the bags has a 32 litre capacity which is quite on the large side for a daily commuter bag, but that’s not what it is designed for. At a minimum its an overnight bag but its really at its best as a fast pack bag when you have a reasonable amount of camping kit to haul over two or three days or more. I have used it many times as a daily commuter bag and it works but due to its larger size the temptation is to dump in more gear than you actually need into its enormous vault, something you want to avoid when you are run commuting unless like me at the time you were using it as weight training for Comrades, but that’s another story.DSC_4508

It has a unique opening design – it opens via a zip around the bag as opposed to the conventional draw-cord at the top of the bag. That does need a little getting used to but like everything, once you have the knack it becomes second nature. Initially I did question the logic of this opening method, but it is a superb piece of design because you can access kit from anywhere deep in your bag. That means you can load your bag as you wish and still easily access any of your gear on the move without the usual ferreting around and unloading you would do with the conventional set up.. genius!DSC_4523

The pack has a well designed waist belt with pockets for keys, phone, wallet etc . Again, going with the slightly unconventional nature the zippers are in reverse to what you are used to so pulling away from you as opposed to towards you.

In terms of bag weight this is not the lightest bag around but it makes up for it with an array of key features.  There is a hydration sleeve that allows you to take a conventional water reservoir and hose (feed through onto either arm). Inside webbing pocket to store valuables away from the main compartment. DSC_4510An outside sleeve that is handy for keeping wet waterproofs stowed and safe. The chest strap moves up and down to give you the optimal fit.  The cushioned back is well designed to fit the body and is comfortable when the pack is fully loaded but also allows plentiful breathability so that you back doesn’t become overheated.

But the main use of this bag is for overnight trips. I have been able to carry a one man tent, sleeping bag and mattress plus cooking stove and provisions, waterproofs, head torch etc and still have some room.  Strong, versatile and cavernous!

I was provided with this pack from The North Face and all the views are my own.

All photos copyright – Ian Campbell Photography

 

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THE NORTH FACE – FL RACE VEST PACK

The North Face FL Race Vest – A well designed racing vest that has ample capacity for an adventurous trip in the mountains.

2015-09-12 09.34.04Designed 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

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Price

£85.00

Field Test

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!

2015-09-12 09.34.39I 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. 

2015-09-12 09.35.13Adjusting 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.

2015-09-12 09.34.54And if the above is not enough you have a top pocket that is wide enough to store those extra items that you may need quickly.

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

2015 – THE NORTH FACE LAVAREDO ULTRA TRAIL

CHAVEROT & HERMANSEN WIN THE NORTH FACE LAVAREDO ULTRA TRAIL

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Two outstanding performances from France’s Caroline Chaverot (13:40) & Norway’s Didrik Hermansen (12:34) claimed victory this past weekend in the Dolomites of Northern Italy for the 9th edition of the TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

Read the full race report on irunfar.com   LUT15

All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography

THE NORTH FACE – MENS ULTRA MT

A solid and dependable mountain trail shoe that won’t let you down on the toughest terrain. The North Face Men’s Ultra MT weighing in at 295gms and with a Vibram Megagrip outsole has outstanding traction whether your climbing or descending steep terrain. The enclosed but breathable mesh toe box makes sure that your protected from stubbing against rocks whilst not being overly encased.

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Out of the box – Key Statistics

  • Weight – 295gms each or 590gms pair
  • Sizes – available 7-13,14
  • Colours – Black Ink Green/Power Orange,  TNF Black/TNF Red, Acid Yellow/TNF Black
  • Upper – bodymapping layer system enhances support on the medial side, toe cap protection, Ultra Airmesh secures breathability
  • Bottom – 8mm drop – heel to forefoot, Vibram Megagrip – full length trail specific outsole

Price

£110.00

Field Test

My initial forays with this shoe left me undecided, that was probably because I started to use this shoe on simple non technical trails. It was like taking a four wheel drive on the school run – totally inappropriate, completely over the top but I felt good in it and overly protected. Make no mistakes about this shoe, it is not about easy trails – it’s about tackling tough uncompromising steep technical terrain with the grip, power and protection that you would expect from a top of the range off-road vehicle. But, its no tank either – initially the shoe didn’t feel like it gave me a lot of feel for the ground but as it wore it got better and better or maybe I just became accustomed to what it could offer and just kept pushing it to its limit and there was more in the tank, just my lack of daring to take it further!

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Lets talk about the grip – the Vibram Megagrip is full length along the outsole and there are several v-shaped 5mm cleats across the whole sole offering plenty of grip at forefoot, heel and support for the midsole. They feel pretty solid and did not appear to have worn despite several outings – a sign of a long lasting friend. Clearly on less than rough terrain they offer a bumpy ride but over gravelly and rough trail they are exactly what is needed. Charging rapidly downhill, if that is what you would call my descending, I had plenty of grip even in the wet, in fact in wet muddy conditions these were perfect…. and my toes…. they felt very well protected despite deliberately smacking a few rocks to test out the toughness of the toe box.

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The upper on these shoes is made with a breathable Ultra Airmesh so your feet don’t get sweaty. There are several medial upper flashes on the outer that provide streamlining and strengthen the Airmesh frame. The tongue slips across the upper foot and provides a soft covering and protection from the durable ripstop mesh outer. At first I found that my socks kept slipping down which was most irritating but that was simply corrected by adjusting the tightness of the lacing. Straight out of the box you need to adjust the cord laces for a slightly tighter but not overly tight fit. Once achieved there was no sock slippage and a comfortable ride. The lacing system allows for two slots further up the ankle, personally I’ve never liked my shoe lacing that far up as I find that it creates friction and tightness across the upper ankle but its an option for those who want that more tighter fit. The cord laces are rock solid matching the overall quality of this shoe and I find that double lacing ensure a secure knot.

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This shoe is designed for runners with neutral pronation with a 8mm heel to forefoot offset. Clearly this shoe is not your regular easy trail shoe but if you are running in the mountains on technical gnarly terrain then I have got to say that The North Face Mens Ultra MT, that only weighs 295gms, are strong contenders in my arsenal any time I am running in the mountains, and that is likely to be fairly soon.

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell Photography 

 

THE NORTH FACE – THERMOBALL MICRO HYBRID HOODIE

VERSATILE & LIGHT – THE NORTH FACE MICRO HYBRID HOODIE

Incredibly light and versatile would describe this jacket well. The North Face Thermoball Micro Hybrid Hoodie has a level of warmth that makes it an essential layer to have for that post run recovery beer on a late spring evening or when hiking. The jackets combination of a warm padded central body with light sleeves and hood give it that added dimension to a gilet.  With a very light pack weight (294g) and small pack size it’s an essential piece of kit to pop into your pack. Even when its wet it provides superb warmth.

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Out of the box – Key Statistics

  • Average weight – 294gms
  • Shell – 15D 33g/m² 100% nylon
  • Insulation – 9.5g/m² Primaloft® Thermoball™ synthetic insulation
  • Size – XS/S/M/L/XL
  • Active fit
  • Aerobic side panels and sleeves
  • Drop hood
  • Secure zip hand pockets
  • Internal elastic hem and bound cuffs
  • Stowable in hand pocket
  • Available colours – Persian Orange, Quill Blue, Rosewood Red, Snorkel Blue, Acid Yellow, TNF Red and TNF Black all with Asphalt Grey panelling

Price

RRP – £155.00

Field Test

I have been constantly surprised at how this jacket responds to the various conditions its been thrown into, from a cold spring morning walk or standing around at 3AM at an aid station its done the job and you can’t ask more than that. First and foremost I like the lightness (294g) and its small pack size. It’s been a piece of kit included in my pack when run commuting most days this spring.

Now what about this jacket? The quilting on the body keeps you really warm and the strategic paneling means the filling does not move around and so it does a very good job at keeping you nice and toasty. The paneling is in fact very well designed as it is structured and shaped around the various moving parts of the torso. The fit is trim, which means that you get the benefit of that warmth in exactly the right places without those potential cold spots that you can get on other jackets that don’t fit so well. As well as the quilting for the main torso section you have the synthetic material for the arms, side panels and hood that makes this jacket a hybrid. It’s this synthetic option that gives you more breathability when you are hiking from a full quilted down jacket or gilet. It does a great job at keeping you warm but also allowing you not to overheat when doing some strenuous hiking.

There are two external zipped pockets and one internal zipped pocket that doubles up as the stow pocket. The two external zipped pockets are set back so are not visible externally and are large enough to pop a phone or folded map. All the zips on this jacket are tagged and are easy to grip with gloves on.

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The internal zipped stow pocket

The hemmed side panels and cuffs enhance the trim fit of this jacket and for those who get a little cold around the neck the jacket collar comes right up and so eliminates any drafts. The synthetic hood does a great job of protecting your head against any strong chilly winds.

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Hemmed cuffs

Stowing the jacket is dead easy, you just fold the jacket in on itself into the internal zipped pocket, simple. When it’s stowed its about the size of an A5 piece of paper and around 5cms deep and it can be squeezed even smaller if required.

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Jacket stowed and same size as A5 sheet of paper

A versatile and lightweight jacket for that extra bit of warmth when your doing a strenuous activity.

All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography

UTMB – A NEW START

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc organisation announced today that Columbia Sportswear Company are now involved as a partner of UTMB.  It was also announced that The North Face will cease their involvement with UTMB after 12 successful years.

The full press announcement from UTMB is below.

The Mont Blanc massif

The Mont Blanc massif

A new start for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®

As of today the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is proud and happy to welcome three new brands from the Columbia Sportswear Company – Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail – into its Partners Club. These three brands share the spirit, enthusiasm and passion which are all part of the event’s DNA. Their intention is to be highly involved with the development of the UTMB® event 2015 (August 24th-30th) and beyond.

“We are very excited to support this iconic, world class event that brings together such a large number of outdoor athletes setting new boundaries for the sport.” says Franco Fogliato, SVP, General Manager EMEA, Columbia Sportswear Company. “Our brands are committed to deliver unique products and technologies to support all participants and outdoor enthusiasts in the most challenging conditions.”

“Mountain Hardwear is a proud partner of the UTMB. The UTMB brings together the largest and most diverse global community of outdoor, mountain and trail running cultures to test themselves on the most demanding, beautiful, awe-inspiring trails in the world.” says Topher Gaylord, President Mountain Hardwear and several times Finisher of the UTMB (2nd at the first race edition). “The spirit of commitment, resolve and camaraderie bonds runners to each other – and the will to finish”.

In 12 years the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® has become an event which successfully runs five large races recognised by trail runners worldwide. It links together communities and the world of trail-running around common values and enthusiasm as it travels through three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland.
The UTMB® is following its path through team spirit and the sense of sharing that it has had from the very start.

Columbia Sportswear Company is a leading innovator in the global apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment markets. Columbia Sportswear Company designs, develops, markets and distributes active outdoor and lifestyle products under the following brands: Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, Montrail and prAna.

The North Face and UTMB

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® and The North Face® agreed not to renew their partnership. The success of the 2014 edition concluded twelve years of a very positive cooperation for both organizations.

“During 12 years of shared adventure, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® and The North Face® have woven together the necessary solid links to give the event an international dimension. UTMB® continues on his way with the same team spirit and sharing that he has shown since the beginning” – Catherine Poletti

Source – UTMB organisation press release. 

MEN’S RUNNING MAGAZINE

Really pleased to see my The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail article published in the October edition of Men’s Running magazine.  Get your copy….it’s packed with tons of great articles!!

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Words – Ian Campbell  – Photography – Alberto Orlandi / Giovanni Marchesi