The North Face Granular Hooded Fleece Jacket

The third ‘First Look’ feature to emerge from the Webtogs buying trip to The North Face HQ concerns one of my personal favourites from the Winter 2014 TNF range, the Granular Hooded Fleece Jacket.

First out, you’re probably thinking that The North Face have once again knocked the ball out of the park in the bizarrely-named product stakes. However, I’ve actually managed to rationalize the name Granular, in light of The North Face’s evaporation-aiding ‘FlashDry’ technology. Whether I’m right to do so remains to be seen – they may have simply picked the name out of a hat, as they appear to have done with the even more oddly-named winter 2014 ‘Quince’ Down Jacket. FlashDry is a mollecular treatment, which is applied to fabrics to accelerate dry-time and enhance moisture removal. This works through the FlashDry mollecules (microscopic grains), coating the fibres of the fabric, and thereby increasing the surface area from which moisture can evaporate. So this garment does indeed derive some of its technical properties from grains, which may explain the origin of the name Granular. Alternatively, this may be nonsense, although my explanation of FlashDry technology is accurate!

The hard-faced fleece fabric from which the Granular Hooded has been constructed is 93% polyester, 7% elastine, with stretchier 85% polyester/15% elastine panels in the underarm and side-torso areas. It is these stretchy underarm panels to which FlashDry technology has been applied, providing enhanced wicking and drying in the areas where they’re needed most. The higher elasticity of these parts of the Granular Hooded Jacket also result in an athletic, figure-hugging fit, ideal for use as a mid layer for demanding mountain activities, and great for my skinny physique (normally The North Face clothes drown me). Sturdier individuals may find they need to go up a size as a result, should the fit remain unchanged into production in autumn 2014. The North Face assure us that the Granular Fleece will resist abrasion well, though we’ll have to wait until next autumn to put it through its paces! Being a faced fleece fabric, it should also have improved resistance to wind, and to pilling (‘bobbling’) after multiple washes.

The North Face Granular Jacket hood-up

‘Demonstration’ of the Granular Hooded Jacket’s athletic fit, scuba-style hood and thumb loops

Features of the Granular Hooded Fleece Jacket that I like, include the snug under-helmet (‘scuba’) hood, which hugs the head in a pleasing manner – despite the fact that it made me look rather silly. This is definitely a feature that would be appreciated out on the mountain, rather than around town! Thumb loops provide the option of extra under-glove warmth, though the sleeves sit well on the wrists even when thumb loops are not used. Armpit cooling zips and harness-friendly pockets complete the array of ‘Alpine’ features on the Granular, making it an appealing layering piece for climbing, mountaineering, or skiing. The fit and features definitely mark out the Granular as a users piece – which I like.

The North Face Granular Jacket hood-down

In appearance, fit and fabric, the Granular Hooded Jacket is the descendent of The North Face’s winter 2011/12 ‘Radish Midlayer’, designed for the Meru ‘Shark Fin’ Himalayan expedition of 2011, lead by mountaineering legend Conrad Anker. Check out the video of his team’s successful attempt on arguably the world’s most challenging big wall climb. And if it’s good enough for them…

The Granular Hooded Fleece Jacket will be available for men only (though alternatives will be available for women), and will be available in three colours: Monterey Blue, Cherry Stain Brown, and Asphalt Grey. It will be part of the Summit Series range for Autumn/Winter 2014, RRP £130 (though of course should Webtogs stock it, we will be as competitive as possible). One to watch if you’re a fan of TNF Summit Series.