The North Face Heathen, Quick Look

Just in time to shield me from spitting rain and blow-me-sideways winds is the Heathen from The North Face.

I tried on a size medium sample at the TNF showroom visit a while back and this size large is better, I can get some layers under it and the arm and torso length are good.
It’s a classic alpine styled jacket, nice clean lines, uncluttered, with just the bare essential features. Those are two big venting chest pockets, adjustable hood, cuffs and hem and it’s cut from what feels like a mid-weight Gore-Tex ProShell.
Mobility is looking very good, and I had no creeping up of the hem in use. The hem is adjusted from inside the pockets, with the cordlocks  for slackening the cord off inside the layers of fabric at the hem which you squeeze from the outside, with a similar arrangement at the hood.
The hood has a laminated peak which (once warm- ironed to straighten it out after compression during shipping) seems to hold itself up to the weather quite happily.
It’s a comfy jacket to wear, and like most “alpine” gear, it’s fits into the lightweight kit bracket as it’s functional and faff-free.
I’ll have more after it’s been properly knocked around a bit.

Here, that green is called Scottish Moss. Alright!

11 thoughts on “The North Face Heathen, Quick Look”

  1. Jeeso! this is what we are talking about. Look at the green against that background! Yay.

    That looks like the same jacket as mine from the Summit Series except I have pit zips, and a sweaty back when on the move!

  2. I had a chat to Jim from TNF as he popped into the Tower House EB as I popped in to squeeze some new Source bladders that hadn’t made their way yet to Kensington. Sat in for a training session and got some really interesting bits of info. The whole range is just so much better this year than last, a really massive improvement, not least in cut, where slimmer bodies and slightly longer arms dominate. You have to give them kudos for actually listening to their athlete team. PTC, are you getting a Zephyrus pullover to try? Out of the whole range that looks to be the most interesting of the bunch…I can’t really justify it as I already have the LIM Barrier pullover, but you never know…

  3. Ange, it’s greener than it looks on screen…

    ACS, that’s what I found at the showroom visit, a bunch of well-cut techy gear.
    The Zephyrus? The first-look will be live later today :o)

  4. I opted for the Mammatus jacket and it has not let me down. Probably the best bit of clothing kit i own. Bombproof, very nice fit and can basically cover just about any winter scenario. Paid £160 notes for it a year ago. I spotted it at £390 in a catalogue recently. Ive worn it in Glencoe, Snowdonia, NY Moors, Peak District and Jebel Toubkal in the last year so its had a proper testing. The venting is amazing on the jacket.

    Trouble with NF is the price fluxes, the green/blue colour was obvioiusly not a winner hence the price. I see they have brought out a new yellow/black colour Mammatus at full price again. When will people learn, buying this seasons range of clothing is the equivalent of buying a copy of the big issue for £50.

    I know you like your new colours Petesy but you are getting most of your gear for free, rip off Outdoor Britain needs to be exposed, dont even get me started on the Thermarest Neo-air……

    Apologies for the rant, can you tell ive been looking for new kit and cant afford the hit on my wallet ;-)

  5. I know how the pricing works, I know who gets what from an average swing-tag price, and the only way we’re going to get cheaper prices is if all the shops take a cut in their margins.
    Everything has shot up in price, from raw materials, to new environmental production methods in refurbished factories staffed by workers who have health and safety and a wage that keeps them above the breadline for the first time. Them we’ve got shipping where the costs have trebled in the past few years.
    The fact is, if all the production was still in the UK, prices would be even higher.

    I know some pricing is market positioning, I also know that some specialist models are subsidised by the volume sales of mass-appeal gear just so they make it to market.
    The whole thing is very complex, and it’s a combination of our bargain searching and profit hunting by the brands that have brought us here.

    Value for money? The Heathen is £350 I think? I paid just under £300 for a waterproof jacket 12 or 13 years ago and although it was credit-card pay-another-day time, I thought it was worth it becasue it was so good. The Heathen is lighter, has better fabric and is a nicer colour, so if you judge it purely by the evolution of gear relative to its price and not by the financial state that we all find ourselves embroiled in, we’re doing not too bad.

    I know it’s frustrating. I’m getting to test so much good gear, and I really do think that right now the gear is the best it’s ever been as so much of it is purely technical, so what we have is more choice, less money to spend and more advertising vying for our attention than ever.

    As lame as it sounds, the only defence we have is to think “None of this kit is compulsory, I can take it or leave it”. Keep that “want” demon in its box!

    New season colours, it’s the oldest trick in the book :o)

  6. A very honest reply Petesy and i am glad you took your time to post that up.

    I still get wound up by the whole outdoor fashion show that is going on at the moment. The whole thing stinks, people used to laugh at ramblers in wolly jumpers and bobbly hats. Who is laughing now, when we are forced to shell out £300+ on a jacket.

    As you say, none of this kit is compulsory but read a magazine like trail and you would think you were putting you life at risk if you didnt tick all their boxes for kit. New comers to the outdoor scene must find it so daunting.

    Still every now and agian a piece of kit comes along that is maybe worth an investment, Haglofs Oz for instance.

  7. I think the breadth of choice does make it worse, we’ve got great UK brands and all the ever increasing amount of exotica coming from overseas.

    It’s big business of course, but the designers are often geeks and active enthusiasts, just like in the old days when gear was made for a purpose and sales came later.
    There is a lot of folk in the trade who are just in a job, but there’s so many who are just like us.
    That’s why I do the gear coverage like I do, I show as much of a range as I can, I show you the folk involved and try to show that it’s not us versus a logo.
    In fact I’ve got a brillinat feature coming up in the summer along those lines showing kit actually getting made.

    I find myself often stuck in the middle, I know how far our money has to stretch thgese days, and as I’m self employed I know how much of the money I charge folk actually gets into my pocket.

    I’m not defending huge prices, but the cheaper kit doesn’t have sample and test cycles, sometimes it’s just a computer designed pattern sent to China that goes straight to the shops, it could even just be a logo applied to generic kit that they already make in the factory.

    But, the prices do mean that all the top brands are really pushing to make the best kit so that when you do spend, they’re the ones you pick.
    That’s one good thing.

    PS I do have fight my inner socialist when dealing with this stuff :o)

  8. I will keep an eye out for your feature, i read a piece on the cottage industry recently, it made intresting reading. Mountain Laurel are a good example of the geeks you talk about, for some reason it seems easier to part with money when you know its a one man operation.

  9. Very much with you in general, but the economics of waterproofs in particular do seem to be being slightly distorted by the semi captive market that comes with a Gore swing tag. Not universal but non trivial. Just means they can charge a bit more for their fabrics which I suppose gets passed down.
    (Norrona go from almost sane in their own brand 3 layer to mind blowing in Pro shell!).

    Its a decent defence to ask what it it does that say a Demand won’t do at ~150. (or a Momentum for zip/pocket lovers :)). Or even a non rubbish own brand 2.5 layer jacket at ~100.

    Of course some people might have a good enough personal answer to that. Or not care :)

  10. Own-brand fabric is a favourite topic of mine, especially now that you can get the proper top-end designs made from it.
    eVent is kinda becoming an own-brand fabric, demand is low, so proiduction is in line with that demand, R&D is winding down, it’s cheaper because of all that, but it’s still the best fabric. Win!

    There’s one thing that often goes unnoticed and that’s the quality of construction, the stitching, the way difficult construction details are resolved. Have they worked with the fabric and design to make it neater or have they just overlapped the edges of different panels and put a sewing machine across it?
    If I put half a dozen jackets from different brands side by side and really look at the deatail, you can pretty much tell what order they should go in price-wise.
    Does this make a difference to the performance? Not at first, but it might later.
    How many times have we seen on the forums about Rab jackets delaminating, and how many are saying the same about Arc’teryx?

    Gore-Tex is too expensive, but there’s more to it when yopu look at the products. And eVent is all under one roof now, so no more fabric problems there either!

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