I guess I had assumed that North Face already produced bike clothing, but apparently this is a rather recent development:
The North Face has been in the outdoor equipment game for almost 50 years, still it makes the bike snob in me raise an eyebrow at the idea of a company that has become known for its fleece jackets entering the cycling world. While The North Face is no stranger to outdoor sports, one can worry that they may not “get cycling.” The inescapable snobbery of cyclists has kept this line unnoticed since its launch at Interbike. Though, one may think that transitioning into mountain biking may be an easier egg to crack than road racing, especially with The North Face’s depth of available fabrics and an already existing hydration pack line.
The North Face line offers quality materials at an entry level price. This is especially true with Indylite and Shifter jackets. They are both made of a water resistant material, packable, and under $175. The other highlight to the line is the hydration packs. The Torrent 4, 8, and 12 hydration packs are versatile. After spending two- to four-hour days with the Torrent 12 I am rather impressed with its design, and at $120 it’s at a very competitive price point. All three of the hydration packs come with reservoirs from Source Outdoor. On all Torrent models, The North Face uses the Source WLP reservoir which has a unique doughnut shape, intended to relieve a bit of pressure from the spine. It is a unique design for sure, but unfortunately it does make it a bit difficult to fill the reservoir.
The target rider of The North Face line will be the person who wants subtle clothing without any large logos or bright designs. The clothing is simple and could double as outdoor gear as well as mountain biking wear. The price points of the line are very competitive and it’s clear that The North Face knows how to make a durable, affordable piece.
I would not. I was one of those people who used to wear the brand for "fashion"…then I started getting involved in the outdoors and wearing my NF jackets while mountain biking, hiking, camping, etc…they suck. I’ve had a pocket zipper randomly break on one. The bungee cord around the bottom of my wind breaker frayed inside the hole and pulled out of the jacket completly. I won’t even get started on the $200 snowboard pants that made it one outing and ripped…NF is outdoors gear for the person who stays indoors. I’ve had good luck with other brands like Patagonia and Columbia. I’d wear mountain biking gear from them if they got in the game.
I’ve had a North Face hydration pack for almost 5yrs now. I have 3 packs total, the other two are camelbaks, but I use the NF the most because of it’s size, it’s held up great. The bladder that came with it leaked after a few years, but the pack itself is great. It’s got one hole from a stick that punctured it in a crash a while back, but other than that, it looks brand new…after a wash. The hole hasn’t gotten any bigger either.
I saw something in the last couple of years that the guy that started NF was friends with Yvonne Chouinard (Patagonia), but he sold the company. I’m not sure when that happened, but I wonder if quality diminished after that point. If I recall correctly, Chouinard noted in his book (Let My People Go Surfing) that he has passed on numerous offers to sell Patagonia because he can’t stomach the idea of what will become of the products, as well as the company’s philosophy.
When North Face was bought out by VF (they own numerous clothing lines like Lee jeans) it was for name brand. since then it has become more of a status symbol. I prefer EMS and LL Bean for hiking/backpacking gear. Always had great service. After 10 years of heavy use, LL Bean replace a brocken zipper for free on a fleece I have.