The North Face FutureLight Technology
Earlier this month, The North Face unveiled their latest fabric technology ‘FUTURELIGHT’ in Las Vegas. It certainly sounds impressive but what actually is this technology, how does it work and what does it mean for us out on the trail? Luckily, we’ve got the inside track on this - our Purchasing Director, Richard Shepherd was able to test some garments that utilise the new tech at the back end of last year.
What is The North Face FUTURELIGHT and how does it work?The North Face state that: “FUTURELIGHT is the most advanced, breathable and waterproof material in the world”
To create this wonder-membrane The North Face R&D team used a revolutionary process called Nanospinning to create nano-sized holes that enable never seen before breathability and superior waterproof performance.
It is claimed that this technology can increase the breathability by a factor of ten allowing for a thinner, lightweight membrane making garments more comfortable and still waterproof.
How environmentally friendly is FUTURELIGHT?The new manufacturing process enables the of use of recycled fabrics and fewer chemicals. The North Face is also using solar-powered factories to limit the carbon footprint of production.
What’s the goal of this technology?Nanospinning gives designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, and texture to match athletes’ and consumers’ activity or environment. Designers can customize the fabric for specific usage, for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection for harsh, wet climates.
"Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable. With FUTURELIGHT™ we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable,” “Imagine a waterproof t-shirt, sweater or even denim that you actually want to wear. Today we start with jackets, tents and gloves, but the possibilities could be endless.”
Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face, Scott Mellin
How does it perform?FUTURELIGHT™fabric was born in the mountains, inspired by The North Face global team of athletes looking for increased breathability in their waterproof gear. The material has since been tested extensively by the brand’s global athlete team and is expedition proven through use in the highest peaks and harshest environments, including the Himalayas’ Lhotse and Everest.
“During the past two years, our world class team of climbers, skiers, alpinists, snowboarders and trail runners has been rigorously testing FUTURELIGHT across every discipline to prove this technology in varying weather conditions and climates all over the world,” Nelson, The North Face athlete team captain, said. “In all my years in the mountains, I’ve never experienced a product that moved and performed as well as FUTURELIGHT. It is creating a new paradigm for what I expect out of a waterproof material.” Beyond The North Face athletes internal testing, labs worked with third-party independent experts including UL (Underwriters Laboratories) a world-renowned safety certification testing organization, to push the limit of the FUTURELIGHT™ fabric. UL predominately tests waterproofing for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an organization that certifies first responder gear for firefighters, EMS and hazmat responders. The test methods developed were 50 percent more stringent than the current standard for the Outdoor Industry.
“The liquid integrity test for FUTURELIGHT™ is even more extreme compared to the NFPA testing that UL conducts, proving FUTURELIGHT™ is not only totally waterproof, but also fit for the harshest expeditions the outdoors has to offer,”
Michael Seward of Underwriters Laboratories
What items are going to use this technology and when can I get it?The North Face are releasing outerwear utilising FUTURELIGHT across their Steep, Summit and Flight series at the start of Autumn 2019, with ambitions to introduce it into pants, gloves, bags and tents in the near future.
Richard Shepherd (Purchasing Director):‘Futurelight performed really well during our ski expedition in December 2018. It’s quiet, lightweight, super comfortable, great stretch and people will love the recyclable credentials. It offers really good protection from the elements and is incredibly breathable – we simply can’t wait to get it into stores this autumn and find out what our customers think’