The North Face is synonymous with the great outdoors. More often than not, those brave enough to take on the rigorous mountain life turn to the brand to gear up with the essentials they need—everything from outerwear to footwear to accessories—to, not just survive, but to thrive in the backcountry. With that said, with its all-new Mountain Athletics collection, TNF is actually targeting the gym to get athletes more outdoor-ready.
So what exactly is the Mountain Athletics collection, and what can athletes expect to gain from it? To keep things simple, it’s a special line of technical apparel and footwear designed to help athletes accelerate in their training regimens—whatever they may consist of. The collection consists of six individual pieces that combine to create the ideal training outfit: a tank top, short-sleeve shirt, shorts, pants, jacket and a pair of shoes (all of which bear the “Kilowatt” moniker).
Following my initial coverage of the Mountain Athletics collection, TNF was kind enough to send me a care package to take the gear for a test spin. Here are the results of said testing:
Leave it to The North Face to find a way to blend form and function with absolute perfection. You know those rare moments when you try something on and it just feels right? Like it was custom made specifically for you? Well that was my experience with the Mountain Athletics collection.
Since this is Sneaker Report after all, let’s start from the footwear department and work our way up. For me personally, my past experience with TNF has been mostly apparel related. In fact, of the dozens of different running/training models I’ve had the luxury of testing out in my career as a SR weartester, a total of zero have brandished the iconic TNF logo (though, I have tested out a couple of TNF hikers). However, after putting in some quality miles in the Ultra Kilowatt trainers, it’s become pretty apparent that I’ve been missing out all these years.
Part of the brand’s Ultra Protection Series, the Ultra Kilowatt offers maximum support and protection in the lightest possible way. The shoe has excellent step-in feel. Its EVA footbed, paired with an injection-molded EVA midsole, offers a comfortable resting place for your feet, while the FlashDry upper wicks away sweat to reduce the risk of blisters forming as you turn up the intensity.
The shoe is reinforced in high-wear areas, including the toe box and heel, for durability and protection. A Pebax plate and Cradle provide foot stability while reducing shock from impact. To really put the Ultra Kilowatt over the top, TNF has given it a Vibram rubber outsole for multi-surface traction that will come in handy both inside the gym and out. Additional features include a reflective webbing on the upper for improved visibility during low-light conditions.
The Kilowatt Pants and Shorts are both constructed from ultra-comfortable, abrasion-resistant fabric that has that next-to-skin feel without being too tight or hindering range of motion. Both bottoms feature a unique gusseted fly design with a combination of Velcro and a drawcord waistband for a completely custom fit around the waist. The Velcro is effective on its own for the most part, however when you want to amp up the training, put the drawcord to use as the Velcro has a tendency to slightly loosen up at the top.
You get dual zippered pockets with both the shorts and the pants, as well as media port that lets you plug in your headphones without having to access the zipper. The pants feature a slightly tapered fit, while the shorts are a bit more loose. Fortunately both pieces of apparel feature a paneled construction that allows just the right amount of stretch for efficient movement. You’ll find that the rear panel is free of seams to reduce chafing during exercises such as sit-ups and Murphys. The shorts feature a 10.5-inch inseam.
TNF used a variation of the same FlashDry technology found in the Ultra Kilowatt shoe in the construction of the Kilowatt short-sleeve shirt. The fabric allows for enhanced durability without compromising on breathability. The Kilowatt shirt features the same abrasion-resistant fabric and stitch-free taping seen throughout the Mountain Athletics collection. It’s easily one of the best technical tee’s currently on the market.
You know that form x function bit I mentioned above? The Kilowatt Jacket is a prime example of that. It features a simple, clean design and also has all the necessary technical elements to match. The adjustable hood offers maximum coverage during outdoor training sessions. The jacket is also both water and wind resistant for an added layer of protection when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Fleece planes on the sides and the arms keep you cool and comfortable, and the thumb loops add a layer of versatility to the jacket. Zippered hand pockets and a media port are also present.
All in all, TNF has hit a grand slam with the new Mountain Athletics collection. It looks and feels good, and it performs even better. The collection is essentially a one-stop-shop for athletes who embrace the mountain life and like to maximize their performance, whether its in the gym our in the wilderness.
The collection is available now at The North Face.
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