Among mountaineers, backpackers, hikers and campers, The North Face is trusted as a reliable source for top-of-the-line outdoor gear. The company began as a retail mountaineering shop in 1966, and, over the decades, it has expanded into a business that not only sells outdoor gear, it develops new equipment to its own strict standards of quality and eco-friendliness. The North Face also sponsors world-class athletes in their expeditions to test new equipment.
The North Face remains true to its roots, and mountaineering and backpacking gear is still at the core of its product line. Tents make up a good part of the company's outdoor gear, and the assortment ranges from ultralight, one-person bivy sacks to recreational tents that sleep eight. There's also a whole system of tents available that features a central docking station and smaller two- and four-person tents that attach to the station. In addition, a mesh room is also available to expand this system even further. Accessories include stake sets, in-tent gear lofts and footprints to fit under North Face tents.
Staying warm overnight at high altitude is essential and challenging, so The North Face offers sleeping bags rated for temperatures as cold as 40 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. However, there are also bags that are just right for a family camping trip to a national park. Sleeping bags are insulated with either down or synthetic fill, depending on the intended use and temperature range, and bags for women are designed to accommodate their unique shape.
Of course, hikers and mountaineers always seem to have a pack on their back, and many of them come from The North Face. This company makes packs for mountain expeditions, multi-day trips into the backcountry, or a day-hike in a local park or forest. Special packs designed for winter climbs include a space for crampons, while others are made to allow a hiker or mountain biker to drink from a reservoir within the pack.
During the 1980s, The North Face expanded into skiing and snowboarding gear. In addition to outerwear designed to keep skiers and snowboarders warm and dry on the slopes, there are specially made duffels to carry those long, awkward bundles of gear. More recently, the company has also added apparel, footwear and accessories for activities such as running and yoga.
The apparel that is made and marketed by The North Face includes parkas for snowy winter weather, lighter shells and windwear for cool days, and tees for the summer. Some articles of clothing have a specific purpose, such as the pants favored by snowboarders, while others are general-purpose active wear. Men's and women's collections are similar, although women do get the extra options of tank tops, dresses and skirts. Kids' apparel comes in sizes for infants, toddlers, and older boys and girls.