TNF says its new waterproof-breathable fabric will be the most advanced on the market when it debuts later this year. Will it deliver?
At last month’s Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, The North Face unveiled FutureLight, a new technical fabric that they hope will be a step forward for waterproof-breathable apparel. Consumers will be able to test it for themselves in September, when the company releases FutureLight as part of its highest-end performance outerwear.
FutureLight technology can be integrated differently according to the intended purpose of a piece of gear in order to fine tune breathability and waterproofing. Rather than applying waterproof polymers to material on a single plane, the material’s nanospinning process sprays the polymer in thread-like streams. The result is a web-like membrane resembling “a lot of little strands of spaghetti,” said Chris Curtis, Senior Product Manager for The North Face. The frequency of these strands is what makes FutureLight customizable on the spectrum of waterproof and breathability. The goal is to create an outer layer that doesn’t need to be removed for high-intensity exercise. (Extra green cred: The FutureLight line also features 100% recycled face and backer fabrics.)
For skeptics of newfangled tech, FutureLight has already been put through the wringer by The North Face athletes Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison, who tested it on their first ski descent of 27,940 ft Lhotse this past summer.