Stu, Liam and James had the opportunity to test two pieces from the TNF Summit Series range at Glenmore Lodge on a recent training trip with The North Face. The Jacket review is by James, the trip report is from Stu and Liam provided photos and words on Gore-Tex Pro.
A range designed for the serious outdoor enthusiast which has the input from world renowned athletes from various disciplines at all stages of research, design and development. The Summit Series kit from TNF is kit for the most demanding conditions where performance and quality really count. TNF provided us with a Point Five Jacket and a Redpoint Optimus Jacket to test.
Glenmore Lodge is the Scottish national outdoor centre. Here they run all sorts of outdoor skills and training courses, you can brush up on your canoeing or become a fully qualified guide if you want. They are equipped to serve everyone from beginners to experts.
The lodge has just developed a new partnership with The North Face (TNF) in which all the lodge’s members of staff are now kitted out with TNF gear, from the cooks to the veteran instructors. It was made clear, however, that this is a partnership and not sponsorship. TNF have not just given them all the gear, but are instead asking them to be a serious set of gear testers, giving feedback and helping out with product development for the future.
Mark Chadwick, an instructor at Glenmore Lodge, is now blogging for TNF and has written about why they have chosen TNF as partners. You can read that blog here.
I think this is really cool, knowing that your Summit Series kit has been chosen by some of the best outdoor instructors in the UK. If they use it in a Cairngorm winter it’s going to have to be very good kit indeed to put up with the worst weather we get in the British isles.
Day 1 was spent brushing up on our nav skills. We were taken out in groups of three, were given expert instruction from our guy, Al, on how to read a map and use a compass in the hills.
It’s very important to know how to read a map and use a compass properly when you’re going into the more remote places like the Cairngorms. We heard quite a few scary stories from the instructors about people getting lost and worse!
So we spent the whole day out in the mountains navigating from obscure point to even smaller point on the map, was quite a shock to me as I normally either stick to a well-maintained path or use a GPS unit!
Al had some pretty serious knowledge of the area and was pointing out all sorts of berries in the moss we could eat and the glacial history of how the mountains were formed.
We used a Harvey’s 1:40 map. I have used these before; they are excellent for using in more mountainous terrain and they are designed with hikers in mind. You get only the information you need and the map isn’t crammed with too many contour lines like you find on 1:25 maps
TNF Point Five Jacket Review
The Point Five jacket is mountaineering jacket designed specifically with the British user in mind. The new Point Five jacket uses Gore-Tex’s new Pro membrane, a re-engineered membrane for top end products. The new membrane boasts serious improvements in performance, something which we were hoping to test.
The jacket performed well above my expectations. The cut, features and fabrics are all superb. The jacket sits in the bombproof, minimalist bracket in my mind. The helmet compatible hood includes neat new features that increase comfort and fit when wearing without a helmet.
The jacket’s face fabric feels durable and reliable whilst also being soft and subtle; a comfortable compromise. Without a laboratory I imagine it’ll be difficult to prove the difference between Gore Pro and the predecessor Pro Shell, however I remained dry, warm and comfortable throughout the day with no noticeable condensation inside the jacket… impressive considering the stop-start activities we were doing on the hill.
Day 2 was scrambling and easier navigation and then being battered by strong winds and rain, and some hail!
After a 45 minute walk in, we were met with an airy looking scramble straight up Fiacaill Coire and t-Sneachda. It was a little damp, but seriously fun to make your own way up such a cool set of boulders and rock. At the top we were greeted by some seriously strong winds so kept just below the ridge and made our way over to Fiacaill Butress – another cool bit of scrambling. From here we made our way around to Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, then onto Cairn Gorm following a well marked path in some pretty strong gusts.
Along the way Al showed us all the gullies which are super popular for the winter climbers, the area apparently gets very busy. We had a bite to eat, hidden behind the weather station on Cairn Gorm, then headed down back to the bus pass the Ptarmigan restaurant and all the ski lifts.
All in all it was a great experience and we’d like to thank TNF for inviting us down and all of the folks at Glenmore Lodge for their help and support. I really recommend heading up there sometime when you get the chance.
New Gore-Tex Pro & TNF Thermoball
We also had the opportunity to spend the evenings discussing new technologies and products with the reps. We had an evening discussing the in-and-outs of Gore Tex, the new Pro membrane and other Gore products. A fantastic chance to compare and discuss all aspects of high performance waterproofs. With the changes within the Gore range, it was a great time to increase knowledge of construction, testing and performance and correct those Gore-Tex myths!
Overall, Gore Pro is definitely the way forward in terms of a true mountaineering jacket. As someone who gets very sweaty in waterproofs, There was a noticeable difference in terms of how much more breathable the Point Five jacket is compared to other coats I’ve both owned and tried in the past few years. I wasn’t skimping on layers either. With a long sleeved synthetic baselayer, a merino wool Gilet from Icebreaker and a Rab Vapour Rise lite underneath I was expecting to shed layers at some point on the walk but I was comfortable and (reasonably; it doesn’t stop you from sweating) dry throughout both walks without having to remove garments.
TNF Thermoball and Pro Down
TNF are also releasing a Primaloft insulation technology called Thermoball, which they have exclusively for three years. Thermoball is a synthetic insulation which shares many characteristics with down due to the difference structure and construction methods used from regular Primaloft. Where as Primaloft is usually used in sheets, Thermoball is small balls of synthetic insulation which have no ridged structure and can be used in micro baffle garments to optimise the warmth to weight ratio and pack-ability of lightweight jackets its intended for. The insulation still has all the advantageous benefits of being synthetic.
We also discussed TNF Pro Down, a Teflon based treatment at a molecular level. This increases the down’s ability to shed water, and maintain approximately half its lofting ability when wet. The treatment does not reduce the down’s ability to loft, its compressibility or its durability. The treatment does not make the jackets waterproof, but combined with high quality fabrics with a DWR finish it does make using a down jacket in a damp environment less of a hassle!
Stay dry out there!
James, Stu and Liam at Taunton Leisure