The North Face Endurance Vest

I love trail running. I love what it gave me in terms of friendship, discovering new places, and learning myself and world more. One thing about  Trail running that also excites me is the design of gear. I am an Industrial Engineer and my favorite course back in 1990’s was Ergonomics and Product design. That’s why I really like buying and learning about the new stuff in Trail running.

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We had a fantastic 10 day trip to Japan in October. Apart from History, Food and Culture which we tried to express here, here and here, The North Face (TNF) and popularity in Japan amazed me. TNF has a factory in Japan and also designs and produces stuff only for this huge 120 million populated market.

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Running is a passion for Japanese people and they love it. I tried to discover the goods and gears in TNF stores in Tokyo and Kyoto. In Kyoto, I found out this great The North Face Endurance Vest and bought it. Since then, I did almost 400 kilometers of running with it and 58 km of them was in Gower Coastal race.

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The pack is not on sale in other parts of the world, like the Martin Wing Pro 5 that leading Japanese ultra runner Tsuyoshi Kaburaki designed and wore in the UTMB. (For it’s test, please click here)

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It is only 360 grams and does not come with a bladder. It is simply a vest pack with several pockets on. It is zipped on front and has two straps on each side under the arms to make the pack with your body.

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The pack has 4 zipped pockets. Two in the chest area. One of the zippers is also working as a safety whistle. These are mesh and elastic pockets. You can put gels, folded map, emergency blanket and any food here. On the back there is main horizontal department that is enough for holding the following:

  • a 1.5 liter full water bladder
  • 4 energy bars
  • emergency blanket
  • a light Goretex Jacket (ex: 250 grams)
  • a Nokia 920 Smart Phone
  • Gloves
  • Beanie

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There is also a smaller zipped pocket below the horizontal water bladder compartment which is super easy to reach. You can put a small cup, gloves, buff or gels. Closing and opening this small compartment is super easy by design. All zips has a 3 cm long cords that makes you to catch them easily while running.

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On the front, there are two additional pockets on the left and right side  just under the zipped chest pockets.You can see in the above picture that there are some gels inside these pockets. These pockets can accommodate min 4-5 gels each. They have Velcro closure and because they are made of elastic mesh material, you can fill them with a lot of things.

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The load distribution is really good. One thing to mention is after filling the pack much, it slightly moves backwards. This is a great pack for races that are between short to mid range distances. The UTMB gear might fit in but It is more suitable for races like shorter like CCC  or Paris Eco Trail.  Back part of the pack is breathable and it is pretty comfortable.

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As you can see from the above pictures, you can use the red elastic cords in each side to hold small water flasks or a folded hat, a buff, gloves even tiny folded windproof jacket.

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I bought this pack for 7.000 Japanese Yen which is around 41 GBP. The price for this kind of a pack is really competitve. It does not come with bladder or bottles but the newly designed The North Face FL Vest (below) is for sale in the UK market for 68 GBP (the cheapest as the RRP is 85 GBP) which does not come with them either.

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Apart from trail running you can wear Endurance Vest pack when you are going for short walks, hikes or photography travels when you have small amount of gear but not muck pockets available on your clothing. You simply loosen the side cords to make it a more casual vest.

Note: Pictures 5, 8 and 9 are taken from Japanese web site Rakuten.


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