The American brand has accustomed us to the regular launch of innovations: we think of the latest in trail boots, the Vectiv. This fall, The North Face is releasing a range that has been pushed back because of covid: the Advanced Mountain Kit is, as its name suggests, a set of equipment on the one hand (backpacks, tent, sleeping bag) and a set of clothes on the other hand, designed to work together in harmony and with maximum efficiency. This layer system incorporates the following elements: a base layer on the skin, a warm second layer, a jacket that can be worn alone or between the second layer and the outer protective layer, made up of the AMK L5 Future Light jacket.
Torino for ever ©JC
TNF athlete and guide, Guillaume Pierrel gives the brief. ©JC
The North Face AMK L5
Let’s be clear, this range is not designed for the average hiker, but for the mountaineer who is looking for the best possible equipment for winter or high altitude mountaineering. Some items such as shoes are reserved for the team of athletes. Himalayans like David Göttler came to tell us how they brought their experience to guide the developers of this range, their needs at high altitude. The result? For The North Face, it’s no contest. Designed by a team of professionals and constantly looking for lighter and more powerful mountaineering equipment, the Advanced Mountain Kit is their most sophisticated system ever created.
The North Face Sweat AMK L3
A base layer, the AMK L1 Dotknit jumper, is the one worn on the skin. We haven’t been able to try it, but the touch is very nice. A pantyhose for the bottom is provided. Then comes the second layer, the AMK L2 fleece pullover, here too, cozy comfort seems to have been at the heart of TNF’s concerns. The AMK L3 Duvet 50/50 is probably the most original piece. On the material side, a set of down padded boxes is associated with a surface fabric that is highly permeable to air. This innovative structure allows heat and moisture to escape without any cold plates for better temperature regulation during aerobic activity in extreme environments. The choice of a semi-zipped opening, defended by the athletes, was less convincing, because it makes the jacket a little lighter but less versatile, or less easy to use.
The big shipping down jacket, the Parka AMK L6, seems to be designed to keep its owner alive at 7,900 metres without a sleeping bag – as David Göttler did at Everest.
Balance game on granite ©JC
Guillaume Pierrel in Future Light ©JC
The flagship piece already available in France, the The North Face AMK L5 Future Light jacket is very high-end: it is the most advanced jacket in the Future Light range, the breathable membrane The North Face, the seams are all sealed, and the threads have been reinforced at the elbows to last. This AMK L5 ticks all the boxes with its recycled nylon and a low weight for a 4-season protective jacket: 260 grams, which is not a lot for such a program, i. e. winter and/or high altitude mountaineering. An AMK L5 Future Light trousers is associated with the jacket, provided you have the budget for the whole, since at 750 euros, the AMK L5 jacket also covers the price peaks. A little more affordable, The North Face L5 Summit series Future Light Jacket also features no seams at the shoulders, for more comfort with the backpack.
Dressed in Future Light, Lucien Boucansaud has found the light! ©Jocelyn Chavy
To sum up, at The North Face, while the extensive Summit Series range is designed for all those who practice a mountain activity, the Advanced Mountain Kit range is the quintessence, proving that The North Face wants to re-establish itself at the top of the technical apparel manufacturers. Apart from the very high price, it will be noted that innovations – whether Future Light released in 2020 and competing with gore-tex – and advances in design always end up benefiting the consumer ranges.