Our Research, Design & Development Process
The most crucial step involves testing both in our laboratories and with our athletes on expeditions around the world. Our athletes often recommend an innovation that’s outside the bounds of existing technology. The North Face® Research, Design and Development team accepts their challenges and turns to the laboratory for new fabrics and components. Our teams of designers and fabric technicians must turn those revolutionary raw materials into gear that maximizes an athlete’s ability to survive and succeed in the most severe weather conditions.
STEP 1: Research & Design in Conjunction With World-Class Athletes
Athletes who constantly pursue their own limits help us push the limits of apparel and equipment design and technology. The North Face® Athlete Team gives us constant feedback on the clothing and equipment they depend on for success and survival in their adventures. We hear from our athletes through gear evaluations and regular athlete input sessions.
STEP 2: Advance Material Research & Development
We partner with the world’s most innovative leading materials engineers to create the technically advanced fabrics needed to develop clothing and equipment that meet our high standards. For example, The North Face®, in conjunction with W.L. Gore, created the concept and helped to launch PacLite™ the most compressible, lightest weight GORE-TEX® shell fabric available - weighing only 3.2 ounces per yard. By adhering this new GORE-TEX® laminate to our proprietary, extremely lightweight nylon substrate, we succeeded in creating a shell material perfectly suited for the extreme lightweight requirements demanded in high-altitude expeditions.
STEP 3: Innovative Design & Construction
Exploring the frontiers of technology for better fabrics and components is only the beginning of the life cycle of a new piece of gear. A great example of this is our C130 Tent Test. Our entire tent line was tested against our competitors by placing them in back of a C130 plane. The plane’s four engines produce 13,000 ft/lbs. of torque and are capable of producing wind speeds in excess of 80 mph and unlike wind-tunnel tests, the propellers can create wind currents that are irregular and multi-directional. The results speak for themselves - our tents outperformed all the competition.
STEP 4: Laboratory Tested & Expedition Proven
We save the most critical step in our product development process for last. In addition to subjecting our products to a tortuous battery of laboratory tests, we send our apparel and equipment on extended athlete expeditions to learn how new products perform under the true test of the great outdoors. After receiving feedback, we refine each product until it receives approval from our world-class athlete team.