Wednesday March 26th, 2014

Even mountain climbers don’t spend all their time climbing mountains. They have to work out like the rest of us. The North Face, though, figures they shouldn’t necessarily have to come down off the mountain and into a gym to do it.

The brand known for cold-weather, rugged outdoor gear unveiled a new side of itself last month, launching its first line of sturdy training gear. The full compliment of apparel and shoes—from tanks to tees to pants and jackets—dubbed the Mountain Athletics Collection, aims to take what outdoors lovers look for from The North Face and bring it to the workout setting—indoors or out.

The company says its new line isn’t like what is already available in this $14 billion global market, nearly $5 billion of which comes from U.S. consumers. “Outdoor athlete training is extraordinarily tough on gear and requires a level of performance and durability that traditional training gear doesn’t offer,” the company says.

The key thread running through the Mountain Athletics fabric is The North Face’s proprietary FlashDry technology, an active-stretch fabric aimed at providing durability and range of motion during outdoor workouts, along with a quick dry time.

The Kilowatt line of clothing for the new Mountain Athletics line offers a range of options, aimed at both indoor workouts and (more intriguingly) those done outdoors. The clothing spotlights abrasion- and snag-resistant fabric, body-mapping ventilation, stitch-free welded construction and stretch paneling designed to last longer during outdoor use. Parts of the line—in true The North Face style—offer fully waterproof and windproof wear, giving practical options in traditional The North Face aesthetics.

The North Face has also focused its effort on athletes training with a different “perspective,” as they put it. The company has timed its new line of clothing and shoes—the shoes are designed for outdoor training and feature a 9.6-ounce construction with mesh and breathability on the upper and a flexible Pebax plate for support—to coincide with a digital launch of downloadable custom sport-specific training plans, exercise demonstrations from The North Face athletes performing in a Wyoming training center and a new iOS app for this summer.

The North Face knows that just because folks aren’t always climbing mountains doesn’t mean they aren’t always aiming for a peak experience.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. 

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