A Quick Jaunt with Futurelight — The North Face

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 3, 2019      
Can you spot the guy in the Futurelight?

Can you spot the guy in the Futurelight? Hint, his legs are as yellow as a goldfinch. Thanks Linda Koones for the photo.

Gary posted an excellent review of the TNF Futurelight waterproof/breathable clothing technology. I’ve got a couple of pieces for testing as well. Might as well join the fray.

As my Futurelight shell pants (Summit Series L5 LT Pant) are indeed light, and thin, and simple, I figured they’d be a good layer for spring ski touring. Sort of a do-it-all when-it’s-warm layer I could wear in comfort while driving, restaurant lunching, and skiing. So I did.

I can tell you this stuff does breath like the dickens — comfortable during an hour of warm driving. A 40 mph breeze during my first test day proved the Futurelight also blocks wind effectively enough to be called “windproof.” As to the dripping question: how waterproof? I did the “rub” test, which is nothing more scientific than rubbing water on a section over bare skin, pressing hard, and working for five minutes. I couldn’t get any perceptible liquid water transfer. I also have a Futurelight jacket (review coming, it’s nice), and wore it during a brief but heavy shower here in Colorado. It shed water like a duck’s back.

The North Face - Futurelight shell pants, about as minimalist as you can get.

The North Face – Futurelight shell pants, about as minimalist as you can get.

I’m not sure what the reasoning is for having a thigh pocket — only. When I stride uphill, anything heavy in a thigh pocket is a non-starter. I hate the feeling, and the possible blister on top of my otherwise attractive quadriceps. Lack of pockets does keep the minimalist vibe going, good on that. But still… Even one additional hip pocket would be nice. The L5 pant does have a nicely executed beacon pouch inside the thigh pocket. As beacons shrink, carrying your beeper here can be simple and easy, compared to using industry harness and pouch systems that could double as props for an eight minute film originating in the San Fernando Valley.

I like suspenders on my shell pants, no suspender mounts here. We’ll probably sew a few, just three tiny loops of webbing. The cuffs do not have a built-in gaitor, but they’re tight. They barely cinch around my Hoji ski boot cuffs. But they did fit and worked fine.

Will I continue to use? Yes. Comfort trumps pockets. Futurlight might be the waterproof-breathable that comes closest to the air transfer of soft shell fabric, while remaining functionally waterproof for everything but lengthy stints in 100% humidity endless downpour.

“Nothing vents like an empty opening,” my ski partner Jake said the other day when we got on the subject of clothing ventilation. I tend to agree. But I’d urge anyone set in their ways to give Futurelight a shot. You might be surprised, and find yourself enjoying the scenery instead of fiddling with zippers.

Last thing. I’d rather may L5 testers were black. Be that as it may, if you need to find me just look for the man with goldfinch legs.


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8 Responses to “A Quick Jaunt with Futurelight — The North Face”

  1. AH June 3rd, 2019 7:04 am

    “harness and pouch systems that could double as props for an eight minute film originating in the San Fernando Valley.”

    It took a sec for that to sink in… nice one!

  2. Lou Dawson 2 June 3rd, 2019 10:26 am

    Yes, we seek to be more literary, ahem. (smile) Lou

  3. Quad E June 3rd, 2019 11:52 am

    Any data on heavy items staying in pockets after a big slide.

    I know putting transceivers in backpacks is a no-go, but how about pant or jacket pockets?

  4. Lou Dawson 2 June 3rd, 2019 12:19 pm

    A slide big enough to rip your pocket open, that you still survive, might be pretty rare. But I have heard of at least one damaged beacon incident, don’t remember if it was in a pocket or harness. I think damage to the beacon is a much more likely thing. But, no reason a beacon on your chest is any less vulnerable. A slide doesn’t know the difference between your chest and leg. Overall, beacons need to be smaller, and more crash proof. That’s the future, not more gadget features. Lou

  5. Kristian June 3rd, 2019 12:50 pm

    Excited about FutureLight.

    Will be more convinced and excited after people have done some hard use with getting it dirty, repeated washings and dryings. (Following manufacture directions…)

    Membranes like GoreTex are fairly durable. Wondering if all of those laid down tiny filaments stay put and continue to function or does it eventually come apart kind of like old school polar guard insulation.

  6. Peter June 4th, 2019 3:03 am

    I’m in the market for a new 3rd layer and Futurelight does sound impressive so far. TNF is said to release more in depth figures ahead of launch, we’ll see about that.
    A big BUT are those colors in the upcoming collection.. Really hope for more Earth friendly ones like Green (upper Body) and Brown (lower Body) — no way I’m running around in those flashy ones

  7. tryggve tirén June 6th, 2019 3:20 am

    “A slide big enough to rip your pocket open, that you still survive, might be pretty rare.”

    Im shure its rare but my friend survived an avalanche that ript her legpocket with the beacon off,never to be found(the skiis were found the next summer and she still skis on them today five years later. All three survived and are skiing today after heeling lots of broken bones.


  8. Lou Dawson 2 June 6th, 2019 7:46 am

    There are always exceptions… and I depend on you wonderful commentators to find them and share. So thanks. You make WildSnow what it is, a civil, focused, in-depth offering. Lou

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