The North Face has grown out of a little mountaineering equipment store started in San Francisco in 1968 by Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth ‘Hap’ Klopp. Although initially the store was all about the mountaineering, as the name might suggest, they were dealing in ski gear and camping equipment by the 1980s.
Although the brand has found a niche on the high streets of the USA and UK – The North Face have managed to blend warm, wind and waterproof with enough style in their jackets to render them extremely popular in winter – they still maintain strong links with outdoor pursuits. It sponsors the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and ultra runner Elizabeth Hawker, as well as climbers such as Iker Pou, James Pearson and Emily Harrington. It also maintains a presence in the ski and snowboard world through relationships with Xavier De Le Rue and Dana Flahr.
The North Face do produce a range of products for mountain bikers. Their women’s range includes a variety of items of apparel; jerseys, shorts, capris, jackets, gloves and headbands. They also sell their own range of hydration packs which range in size from 18 to 25 litre. Aside from cycle-specific stuff, they obviously carry a big selection of base layer and mid layer garments and some rugged and well-tested footwear. One last thing to mention, which might be an interesting gadget for expedition riders to try, is their ‘Surge II’ charged backpack, which allows you to recharge your electrical devices on the road.