Our History | The North Face (2022)

  1. Named for the most challenging side of the mountain, The North Face has equipped explorers since 1966 to reach their dreams. Driven by the mantra of Never Stop Exploring, our expeditions inspire us to test the outer limits of performance and possibility.

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  2. In 1966, a young climber named Doug Tompkins used his savings to start a revolution. A humble shop in San Francisco soon became a cultural trading post where the Grateful Dead played live, the Beat Generation shared new ideas and a who’s who of American climbers stopped in after traversing Yosemite.

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  3. Developed as a practical solution for bulky gear, the Ruthsack was one of the first internal frame packs ever created. Lightweight and ultra-functional, the pack revolutionized hiking by making it accessible to all. “Backpacking,” as we know it, was born.

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  4. Since day one, we’ve done business differently. From repurposing surplus Vietnam-era materials, to advocating for wilderness preservation, our choices are aimed at protecting the places that we love. This commitment drives us forward.

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  5. One of our first sponsored expeditions was a 30-day, 300-mile traverse of the Koyukuk and Itkillik Rivers led by adventurer, Ned Gillette. This journey to Alaska opened our eyes to the construction of the Alaskan Oil Pipeline—prompting a published plea in our 1967 catalog from Friends of the Earth to stop the pipeline and protect Alaska’s wildlife.

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  6. Inspired by architect and inventor R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller’s theory of sphericity, The Oval InTENTion is introduced, revolutionizing the A-shaped tent. The first of its kind, the tent incorporated maximum efficiency with minimum materials.

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  7. An effort to keep skiers warm in the harshest conditions led to the introduction of GORE-TEX® products in The North Face outerwear line: the first dry, breathable and truly all-condition gear.

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  8. The first all-female team summits 25,504-foot Annapurna. Led by Arlene Blum, it was also the first successful American ascent. Shirts and flags from the trip were emblazoned with the mantra, “A Woman’s Place is on Top.”

    (Video) The North Face presents: PEACE OF HISTORY
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  9. Our gear has crossed hemispheres and cultures, becoming a symbol on trails, sidewalks and the highest places on earth. Wherever it shows up, our iconic Half Dome logo is a reminder to celebrate where you’ve been and get inspired by what lies ahead.

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  10. Extreme Gear, using GORE-TEX® fabric, hits the skiwear market. Squaw Valley skiers Scot Schmidt and the Egan Brothers test the products during their expeditions. Known as the “Extreme Team,” the skiers are often featured in Warren Miller’s ski films.

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  11. The Mountain Jacket and Pant are introduced, providing the same level of comfort and motion to climbers and trekkers as skiers. With GORE-TEX® in each piece, the suit is the genesis of an entire expedition apparel line developed with GORE-TEX® weather protection.

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  12. Made of nearly indestructible fabrics and designed to go everywhere, the Base Camp Duffel continues to circumnavigate the globe, survive the world’s roughest airport baggage handlers and be carried by porters, yaks and camels to every region on Earth.

  13. The North Face co-founds The Conservation Alliance with REI, Patagonia and Kelty. The group distributes its collective annual membership dues to grassroots organizations working to protect North America’s last wild places.

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  14. The Denali Jacket, a zip-in fleece compatible with the Mountain jacket instantly becomes an icon. Lightweight, durable and exceptionally warm, its legend shows up everywhere its worn.

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    (Video) How The North Face Competes With Patagonia
  16. An international team sets off on the first dogsled crossing of Antarctica—an extraordinary feat across 4,000 unforgiving miles. Their mission was to study climate change and raise awareness for Antarctica’s endangered environment. Their outerwear became a phenomenon.

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  17. The first-ever athlete-inspired ski clothing line takes lift lines and rope lines by storm. Described as “the motocross garment of the mountains, designed for those who live, work and climb in the mountains.”

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  18. Tibetan for “west peak,” Nuptse lies a mile southwest of Mt. Everest and is considered the western peak of this climbing gold mine. Incorporating an innovative construction that decreases down shifting and increases warmth, the Nuptse Jacket instantly becomes iconic.

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  19. This fully baffled down garment for high-altitude climbing becomes the gold standard in the world of thin-oxygen and polar environments. It goes on to take hundreds of explorers to the highest and most frozen paths on Earth.

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  21. Ultra-runner Dean Karnazes completes a record 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He finishes with the New York City Marathon before running another 3,000 miles back home to San Francisco.

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  22. Kit DesLauriers becomes the first person to ski the apex of every continent—The Seven Summits. Her feat includes an on-foot ascent and on-ski descent of Everest. USA Today declares her Everest feat the “Crowning Glory of a Seven Peak Dream.”

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  23. The Flight Series, a new ultralight and ultra-functional line of running apparel launches, changing the game in the same way that the Oval InTENTion and Ruthsack did for alpinists a generation earlier.

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    (Video) FREE TO RUN | The North Face
  24. Alex Honnold stuns the climbing world with his free solo of the Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, UT. Five months later, the 21-year old free solos the Regular Northwest Face (VI 5.12a, 23 pitches) on Half Dome in Yosemite, solidifying his status as one of climbing’s legends.

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  26. The North Face launches the Explore Fund at the 2010 Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in New York City. A grant-giving program with an initial base of $250,000 (increased to $500,000 in 2015), the money supports nonprofit organizations seeking to create a deeper connection between people and nature.

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  27. Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk make the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin on 21,700-foot Mount Meru in India—considered one of the most challenging and dangerous peaks in the Himalayas. Three events before, the same trio was defeated after 19 grueling days. This time, they successfully ascended after 30 days of climbing.

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  28. With deep roots in the freeskiing community, The North Face announces in 2011 that we will take our support a step further by signing an eight-year deal as the founding partner of U.S. Freeskiing and the official supplier of the U.S. Freeskiing Team.

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  29. After events of testing on expeditions including two trips to Meru’s Shark’s Fin and Everest, The North Face launches ThermoBall, a new type of synthetic insulation that closely mimics down clusters.

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  30. Charting new paths for sustainability and circularity, Clothes the Loop allows consumers to drop off clothing and footwear from any brand, in any condition, at retail stores. This initiative stems from our commitment to reduce the environmental impact of our products.

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  31. With a goal of better traceability and animal welfare in the down industry, The North Face creates the Responsible Down Standard and gifts it to the Textile Exchange to administer globally. The North Face applies this standard, meeting RDS certification by 2016.

    (Video) NEW LIFE | The North Face
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  32. On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold free solos the Freerider route of El Capitan in three hours and 56 minutes. This breathtaking human achievement is celebrated all over the world, and captured in the Oscar-winning film, “Free Solo”, directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

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  33. Global Climbing Day marks the culmination of The North Face’s Walls Are Meant For Climbing campaign, a global movement to bring people together through the power and community of climbing.

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  34. The North Face Renewed is created to develop a program to renew, refurbish and recycle used gear. Whether previously worn, returned, damaged or defective, we inspect, wash, and tune it up so it’s ready for that next adventure.

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  35. Developed using innovative nanospinning technology, FUTURELIGHT is created to offer the first of its kind breathable, waterproof protection. Unlike conventional membranes, the nano structure of FUTURELIGHT allows air to pass through.

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  37. The Explore Fund Council brings together experts from all walks of life to find creative solutions to celebrate all the ways humans explore. Across cultures and communities, The Explore Fund removes barriers so everyone can get outside and benefit from the experience.

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  38. Our most innovative trail footwear technology to date is introduced with VECTIV, an athlete-tested, lab-proven technology system, designed to maximize energy on the trail. Boldly standing out from what currently exists in the market, a mid-cushion rocker tuned with a 3D Plate maximizes energy on the trail and propels you further.


What does The North Face refer to? ›

The name of the company is based on the north face of the Half Dome in Yosemite, California, to which attention was given on the generalization that the north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is regarded as the coldest, iciest and thus the most formidable to climb. What is The North Face logo?

Why is it called The North Face? ›

If you read the FAQ on thenorthface.com, you will find this answer: “In the Northern Hemisphere, the north face of a mountain is generally the coldest, iciest and most formidable route to climb. Our founders thought this name reflected our mission and dedication to the extreme.”

What is the story of North Face? ›

The North Face began in 1968 as a climbing equipment retail store in San Francisco, founded by Douglas Tompkins and his wife, Susie Tompkins. It was acquired two years later by Kenneth "Hap" Klopp. The North Face takes its company logo from a stylised drawing of Half Dome, in Yosemite National Park.

Where did The North Face originate? ›

But The North Face® legend begins, ironically, on a beach. More precisely, San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, at an altitude of only 150 feet above sea level. It was here in 1966 that two hiking enthusiasts resolved to follow their passions and founded a small mountaineering retail store.

How did The North Face get so popular? ›

They Understand Marketing Better Than Most. Another reason that these jackets have become immensely popular is because the company understands how to market them better than a lot of other companies. You might think that this is just some blanket statement, but consider this fact.

What is the North Face logo? ›

The North Face's logo consists of a slightly skewed quarter-circle with two lines running within it. This image is an interpretation of Half Dome, a rock formation in Yosemite National Park, viewed from the west, with the sheer north (or northwest) face of Half Dome to the left.

Who designed the North Face logo? ›

David Alcorn designed The North Face logo in 1971. David Alcorn joins the History of Gear Series to talk about his introduction to design, the creation of The North Face logo, and the power of brand.

Who invented The North Face? ›

Douglas Tompkins, a noted conservationist and the founder of the North Face and Esprit clothing brands, died on Tuesday after a kayaking accident in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. He was 72. His death was confirmed by Coyhaique Regional Hospital, where Mr. Tompkins was flown with severe hypothermia.

Is North Face luxury brand? ›

It acknowledges that The North Face, an outdoor technical clothing line constructed for the elements, is a luxury in itself.

What was the first product of The North Face? ›

1977. An effort to keep skiers warm in the harshest conditions led to the introduction of GORE-TEX ® products in The North Face outerwear line: the first dry, breathable and truly all-condition gear.

When did The North Face start? ›

Which mountain does The North Face refer to? ›

The North Face is the northern side of Mount Everest.

Is The North Face luxury? ›

The North Face is a very well-known brand for cold-weather gear, and people all over the world enjoy its benefits. One of the problems with The North Face clothing and accessories is that they are very expensive. Some people say that The North Face gear is actually too expensive.

Which is the hardest mountain to climb? ›

At 28,251 feet, K2, which straddles the Pakistan-China border, is about two and a half football fields shorter than Everest, but it's widely considered the planet's toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb, earning the nickname “Savage Mountain.” Unlike Everest, it is not possible to “walk” to the top; all sides ...


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