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OVER 45 YEARS OF EXPLORATION

The North Face® fundamental mission remains unchanged since 1966: building the best gear for the outdoors, supporting the preservation of wild places, and inspiring a global movement of outdoor exploration.

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DISCOVER OUR HISTORY

1960s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 1960s   

1966

Doug Tompkins founds The North Face® as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco's North Beach area, at 308 Columbus Ave, CA.

1968

The first production facility was squeezed into the back of The North Face® store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

1969

Kicking off decades of innovation was the Ruthsack, which premiered in 1969. It revolutionized load-carrying by slashing a pack's weight.

A SINGLE STOREFRONT

Doug Tompkins founds The North Face® as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco's North Beach area, at 308 Columbus Ave, CA. The Grateful Dead plays at the store's opening.

1966

THE NORTH FACE® BEGINS MANUFACTURING

In 1968, Kenneth "Hap" Klopp acquired The North Face® and shifted focus from retailing a variety of products to designing and manufacturing the best outdoor gear under The North Face® brand. The first production facility was squeezed into the back of The North Face® store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Hap hired Jack Gilbert, a friend of his from Stanford's business school, to run the factory and launch a wholesale business.

1968

1968

The company introduced a new logo, the same one we use today, along with the pledge that The North Face® gear is the most durable that money can buy.

1968

1969

Research, design, and development became our springboard to success during the 1970s. Kicking off decades of innovation was the Ruthsack, which premiered in 1969. It revolutionized load-carrying by slashing a pack's weight. The Ruthsack was a rucksack with lighter suspension features than a traditional frame pack and a unique, patented zipper arrangement that was exclusively used by The North Face®. The 44-inch covered nylon zipper set into the front of the pack on each side and across the top resulted in convenience of packing and organizing equipment.

1969

1969

Over the years, the company has supported hundreds of expeditions and athletes, but our first sponsored expedition was scientific: The 1969 Arctic Institute of North America high-altitude medical study on Mount Logan (17,800 ft.) in the Canadian Yukon.

1969

1970s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 1970s   

1975

The North Face® unveiled the Oval Intention geodesic dome tent based on the ideas and assistance of Buckminster Fuller, the originator of geodesics.

1977

Sealing a lasting partnership with mills and suppliers to test all textiles and technologies, the revolutionary fabric GORE-TEX® was introduced to our outerwear in 1977.

1978

Arlene Blum's inspiring account, Annapurna: A Woman's Place, remains iconic to generations of adventurers.

THE NORTH FACE® RETHINKS TENTS

Tents, too, were ready for a rethink. Prior to 1975, the A-frame tent was standard but suffered in wind and heavy snow.

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1975

1975

This same year, The North Face® unveiled the Oval Intention geodesic dome tent based on the ideas and assistance of R Buckminster Fuller, the originator of geodesics.

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1975

1975

The Oval Intention spawned The North Face® VE-24 tent in 1976, and later, the VE-25. These tents have protected countless expeditions from the world's worst weather.

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1975

EXPEDITION PROVEN WITH THE NORTH FACE® ATHLETES

The North Face® has also forged direct ties with adventurers, whose vital feedback has improved existing designs and inspired innovations.
In 1977, we adopted "Expedition Proven" as a tagline to express the spirit behind our products, a line that would endure for two decades.

1977

QUALITY CONTROL & GORE-TEX® NEW PRODUCT LINES

By 1976, new technologies for outdoor gear had greatly advanced; we took our quest to perfect our high-performance materials to the next step when we launched The North Face® Quality Control Lab. Sealing a lasting partnership with mills and suppliers to test all textiles and technologies,
the revolutionary fabric GORE-TEX® was introduced to our outerwear in 1977.

1977

1978

Another adventure sponsored by The North Face® in that era was the 1978 all-women expedition to Annapurna (26,545 ft.) in Nepal.
Arlene Blum's inspiring account, Annapurna: A Woman's Place, remains iconic to generations of adventurers.

1978

1980s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 1980s   

1983

The company launched Extreme Gear in 1983, a skiwear line built from GORE-TEX® fabrics.

1985

The 1985 Mountain Jacket and Pant - a weatherproof suit utilizing GORE-TEX® fabrics - was among the first fully seam-taped outfits.

1987

Himalayan expeditions, with their treks to lofty altitudes, have been a perennial inspiration at the company.

80 s

SKI, SNOWBOARD AND EXTREME GEAR

In the 1980s, The North Face® embraced the ski and snowboard cultures.

1980

1983

The company launched Extreme Gear in 1983, a skiwear line built from
GORE-TEX® fabrics. Product testers at Squaw Valley, California included freeskier Scot Schmidt and the Egan brothers. They formed the nucleus of the "Extreme Team" featured in Warren Miller ski films. Scot's fluid style on skis made him an industry icon.

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1983

1985

The concept of a complete line of clothing for every need has always motivated the Research Design & Development team. The 1985 Mountain Jacket and Pant - a weatherproof suit utilizing GORE-TEX® fabrics - was among the first fully seam-taped outfits. Reflecting a trend at The North Face® to evolve and perfect lightweight solutions for demanding adventures, the Mountain Lite series soon followed in the late 1980s. In 1989, the fleece Denali Jacket introduced zip-in compatibility with the Mountain Jacket.

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1985

1987

Himalayan expeditions, with their treks to lofty altitudes, have been a perennial inspiration at the company. One success story can be found in the 1987 Snowbird Everest Expedition, when director of Equipment at The North Face®, Sally McCoy, joined the climbing team and returned with the inspiration for The Expedition System line. Outerwear classics created from this trip brought superior protection and durability in the most extreme environments and include the Nuptse®, Lhotse, Khumbu, and Sagarmartha jackets, all named for peaks and glaciers in the region.

1987

1989

By 1989, snowboarding had carved out its place as a worldwide phenomenon, and The North Face® helped people push their limits with Rage, our first snowboard clothing line.
When snowboarding graduated to the big mountains, we partnered with Jim Zellers on his successful 1995 expedition to ride from the summit of Pumori (23,494 ft.) in the Himalayas.

1989

1989

The Severe: The 1989-1990 Trans-Antarctic Expedition, when American Will Steger's international team crossed 4,000 miles of Antarctica over seven months by dog sled. The signature collection of outerwear developed for the trip was a global hit.

1989

1990s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 1990s   

1990

The North Face® has journeyed to the highest elevations in the world: on the 1990 oxygenless ascent of the notorious mountain K2.

1997

In 1997, the company adopted a new tag line: "Never Stop Exploring." It reinforced the spirit of adventure that would continue to guide The North Face®.

1998

In 1998, Greg Child, Alex Lowe, Jared Ogden, and Mark Synnott achieved first ascent of Great Sail Peak in the island, on a 20-day climb.

90 s

1990

The North Face® has journeyed to the highest elevations in the world: on the 1990 oxygenless ascent of the notorious mountain K2.

1990

NEVER STOP EXPLORING

In 1997, the company adopted a new tag line: "Never Stop Exploring." It reinforced the spirit of adventure that would continue to guide The North Face®. The "Athlete Tested" line also emerged that year, initiating an approach still in use today in which equipment and outerwear prototypes are sent out with athletes for rigorous, real-time field-testing.

1997

1998

The North Face® has also sponsored the quest to climb new routes on the biggest walls, a category where determination and durability are crucial, as teams and gear must survive for weeks in vertical environments. In 1998, Greg Child, Alex Lowe, Jared Ogden, and Mark Synnott achieved first ascent of Great Sail Peak in the island, on a 20-day climb. In 1999, Lowe, Ogden and Synnott achieved first ascent of the tallest cliff on earth the southwest face of Great Trango Tower.

1998

2000s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 2000s   

2006

USA Today dubs Kit DesLauriers' climb-up and ski-off of Everest as the "Crowing Glory of a Seven-Peak Dream".

2006

Separate, yet together in spirit, two The North Face® athletes complete 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

2008

On the heels of his daring free solo of the multi-pitch route Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, UT, Alex Honnold free-soloes the Regular Northwest Face on Half Dome in Yosemite.

00 s

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TAKES CENTER STAGE

In 2005, a climbing team led by Pete Athans brought an ophthalmic clinic to a remote Nepalese village as part of the Himalayan Cataract Project. Hundreds of people were given the gift of sight overnight, and the project was documented in an award-winning film called Light of the Himalaya. In 2004, The North Face® supported Himalayan climbers to establish the The Khumbu Climbing School, a vocational training program designed to increase the safety margin of Nepali high altitude workers.

2005

SKIS ON EVEREST

USA Today dubs Kit DesLauriers' climb-up and ski-off of Everest as the "Crowing Glory of a Seven-Peak Dream",
as she becomes the first person to ski the apex of every continent - The Seven Summits.

2006

THE MARATHON MEN

Separate, yet together in spirit, two The North Face® athletes complete 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

Sam Thompson starts July 1, with the Leadville Trail Marathon, and ends August 19 in Mississippi.

On September 17, Dean Karnazes begins The Lewis & Clark run in Missouri, and on November 5th he finishes the New York City Marathon. He then runs 3,000 miles back to San Francisco.

2006

HALF DOME

On the heels of his daring free solo of the multi-pitch route Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, UT, Alex Honnold free-soloes the Regular Northwest Face (VI 5.12a, 23 pitches) on Half Dome in Yosemite.

2008

2010s

MILESTONES

EXPLORE THE 2010s   

2010

The North Face® Explore Fund announced at the 2010 Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in NYC.

2013

The expedition will sail through the Drake Passage and meander around the Fjords of the Antarctica Peninsula as the team search for lines to ride on the continent.

2013

From the mountain to the city, Thermoball is the breakthrough insulation that delivers uncompromising warmth in all conditions.

10 s

EXPLORE FUND

The North Face® Explore Fund announced at the 2010 Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in NYC.
A grant-giving program with a base of $300,000, it will support nonprofit organizations
seeking to get youth outdoors and into nature and adventure.

2010

GASHERBRUM II

History was made in February 2011 by Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards: The North Face® athlete team reached the summit of Gasherbrum II (26,360ft) in Pakistan and finished the first winter ascent in a 37 days long expedition.

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2011

RETURN TO MERU

On Sunday October 2nd, The North Face® athletes Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk reached the summit of the previously unclimbed Shark's Fin route on the NW face of Meru (20,700ft). In the game of high-altitude, big wall mountaineering, the Shark's Fin lies right on the boundary of what is possible. The peak's inaccessible beauty has inspired many of the world's best alpinists to attempt it in the past 25 years.

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2012

THERMOBALL

From the mountain to the city, Thermoball is the breakthrough insulation that delivers uncompromising warmth in all conditions.

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2013

MISSION ANTARCTIC

Starting from the Falklands, the expedition will sail through the Drake Passage and meander around the Fjords of the Antarctica Peninsula as the team search for lines to ride on the continent.

2013