What if waterproof gear could breathe as hard as you do?
What if a jacket could weather all weather?
What if your gear felt so soft it’s like a second skin?
Our athletes have always inspired our design and engineering teams to propel our products forward. That’s where our Athlete Tested. Expedition Proven.™ philosophy comes from. They are our eyes and ears in the mountains and when they offer an insight and pose what if questions to us, we listen.
So we asked ourselves, how could we reset the expectation that waterproof products are uncomfortable, heavy and stuffy? How could we create a new standard of waterproof apparel that would turn those what if questions into reality?
The journey has, by no means, been easy – or short. But the result is a waterproof fabric that’s not only soft, light, flexible and comfortable but also durable and sustainably designed. The result is FUTURELIGHT™, our new breathable-waterproof fabric technology.
“Product innovation, pushing the boundaries and having the courage to disrupt have been a part of The North Face® DNA since our company was founded over 50 years ago,” said Scott Mellin, Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face®. “For far too long, we’ve been forced to adapt to our clothing and environment. With the introduction of FUTURELIGHT™, we are finally offering clothing that adapts to our needs. The introduction of this fabric is a pivotal moment for our brand, for the future of the apparel industry and for consumers who will no longer need to sacrifice comfort or air permeability for waterproof protection.”
So, what exactly is FUTURELIGHT™?
It’s a new, advanced breathable-waterproof material. For the first time ever, we’ve added air permeability to a waterproof membrane.
OK, so how did you do it?
With nanospinning technology.
Nanospinning creates nano-level holes, allowing for incredible porosity and letting air move through the material, providing more venting while maintaining total waterproofness. This nanospinning process deposits a polyurethane solution from over 200,000 nozzles onto a surface where it’s collected in a randomised matrix to create the membrane. The solution is then used to create a breathable-waterproof film that is bonded to backer and face fabrics.
This new, nano-fibre structure has enabled us to create our lightest breathable membrane to date. It’s incredibly thin and comfortable and it provides the protection needed against the elements in the harshest environments.
And there’s more. Yes, the fabric is unique in and of itself. But to add to that, it’s also incredibly ‘tunable’.
Nanospinning gives our designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, construction (knit or woven) and texture during the manufacturing process to match both athletes’ and consumers’ end-use, activity or environment. Our designers can customise the fabric for a specific use, for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection for harsh, wet climates. That’s how we’ve been able to fine-tune the material for each of our Series: Summit™, Steep™ and Flight™.
But how do you know it works?
Because we’ve tested it – both in the lab and the real world.
To set a new standard in the outerwear industry, we had to test FUTURELIGHT™ under an entirely new standard. So we went to world-renowned, Underwriter Labs. It put FUTURELIGHT™ through the same extreme liquid integrity testing standards used with firefighter equipment, dumping over 750 litres of water per hour on the garment. The result? FUTURELIGHT™ received a 100% waterproof certification while demonstrating high levels of air permeability.
When it came to real-world testing, we turned to our team of elite athletes. They scrutinised every element of the fabric technology in some of the world’s most extreme environments. Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison even wore FUTURELIGHT™ during their ground-breaking ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir. And in Hilaree’s own words, FUTURELIGHT™ is a “game-changer”.
“I’ve been with The North Face® for almost 20 years and this fabric is the most incredible innovation I’ve ever experienced. It’s truly a game-changer to have a layer that protects but is soft to the touch, quiet, breathes and is incredibly compressible when I need to stow it away in my pack.” – Hilaree Nelson, The North Face® Athlete and Team Captain.