A waterproof jacket that is breathable, comfortable and lightweight. For runners, hikers, climbers - in fact, all lovers of the outdoors, this has felt like the impossible. Until now.
We take a closer look at the new FUTURELIGHT from The North Face.
A bracing wind, the threat of showers. It doesn't matter when there are dramatic landscapes waiting to be explored. We love the outdoors in any weather.
We can stay dry and protected from the elements thanks to modern fabric technologies, but once we start to perspire, many jackets can become unpleasantly clammy. How many days out have we spent distracted by adjusting our layers, zipping and unzipping vents, just to stay comfortable?
What if it was possible to make a fabric that is waterproof, windproof and breathable, allowing perspiration and excess heat to escape? What if there was a jacket you could put on in the morning and forget about?
With the new FUTURELIGHT fabric, The North Face think they have the solution. A waterproof, breathable fabric built to withstand the toughest conditions on the planet.
How is FUTURELIGHT different?
Traditional waterproofing solutions are laminated to other fabrics. This means that they are sandwiched between a durable outer layer and an inner lining. This works perfectly well at keeping cold air and rain out but doesn't allow heat and perspiration to escape.
The production process for FUTURELIGHT is radically different. Using a process called nanospinning, a polymer is sprayed onto the back of the fabric by thousands of tiny nozzles. The result is a microscopic webbing with microscopic holes that allow the fabric to vent and breathe more than any other fabric technology to date.
A unique advantage of FUTURELIGHT is that it can be fine-tuned depending on the intended use of the garment. For example, designers can dial-up breathability for garments intended for more aerobic pursuits or increase rain protection for wet climates.
Unlike some waterproof fabrics which can feel stiff, heavy and cold against the skin, FUTURELIGHT is thin, lightweight and soft so that you can move in comfort.
Does it work?
With over fifty years in the business, The North Face have built an impressive elite team of climbers, athletes and explorers who have been able to test FUTURELIGHT in some of the world's toughest conditions. The testing process has involved over seven expeditions and twenty athletes, one of whom even wore it for 100 days straight.
According to professional free skier Angel Collinson, “It’s the type of material that makes you forget it’s there - it moves with you instead of against you, and without making you feel like you have to fight it.'
Ski mountaineering guide Nate Rowland says 'Before your outer shell was a fortress and you only got in it if you were under attack. Now with FUTURELIGHT, you put it on, you leave it on. It’s so lightweight and soft that I even wore it against my skin. I wouldn’t normally do that with any traditional hard shell.'
In addition to athlete testing, FUTURELIGHT has also undergone rigorous lab tests with an independent third party. They blasted it with over 750 litres of water in 60 minutes which it happily withstood. So if it can take that, there's a fair chance it will be capable of keeping you dry on your next hike.
Commitment to sustainability
The North Face have understood the importance of sustainability for a long time. Ex-company president Hap Klopp pragmatically points out that 'if there is no wilderness, we aren't going to have a business.
Since the very beginning of the development process, The North Face has been committed not only to creating the worlds highest performing fabric, but also creating it with minimal impact on the environment.
The production methods for FUTURELIGHT less chemicals and water than traditional methods. The company works with factories that provide a high standard of conditions for employees. The jackets contain 90% recycled materials.
So as well as being the most innovative technology from The North Face, FUTURELIGHT is also the most sustainable.