The North Face FL Vest
Considered as one of the most challenging trail running races out there, The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, the mountains dictate the rules and this epic event require technically-advanced, highly-functional kit, such as The North Face FL Vest.
The North Face® UTMB® race kit – developed in close collaboration with The North Face® athlete team specifically to help runners go the distance, and proven in competition. Lightweight pieces work across all conditions – rainy and cold; windy and chilly; humid and hot. And for the elite entrants in this testing 168km ultra-trail this gear isn’t just helpful – it’s a requirement.
I have been testing many race kits since 2008 in this blog. From Raidlight to Salomon, Nathan to Terra-Nova, I have tested many packs. I used The North Face Martin Wing Pro 5 and the Endurance Vest both designed for Japanese market. This was the first time that I had the chance to test The North Face pack that is purely designed for long distance ultra trails. Tested during Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, Transgrancanaria, UTMB, Hardrock by many TNF athletes, FL Vest is a product that launched after a long series of tests and improvements.
Designed and developed for multi-sport athletes, the Flight Series® is an athlete-tested, high-performance collection that features everything you’ll require: ultra light, multi-purpose apparel, equipment and footwear. FL acroynm comes from the Flight.
FL Vest has 8L capacity and comes in black color only. The zips and all cords are blue; a beatiful blue color. Even though the capacity is 8 liters, the storage functionalities, ergonomics and athlete driven improvents makes it süper functional. Let’s look at it one by one. First here is the description of the pack by The North Face:
FL Race Vest
The ultimate lightweight, high performance endurance running pack. Born from The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, developed and tested with our performance athletes, it meets their strict demands in training and competition equipment. Featuring an eight-litre capacity, it has a large complete compartment with two internal pockets, one top pocket and a large stash pocket with two smaller zipper pockets. Extra trekking-pole attachment included. One Size / 325g / 8 L / 70D Siloxane ripstop RRP £85
The North Face FL Vest and it’s main compartment is large and has a wide opening with zips. All zips have cords to ease opening especially with gloves and in cold. When you open the pack, you see that it has many pockets and sections to organize your gear. You have velcro cord to secre your hydration bladder, of course if you are using it. Mind that, this pack does not come with bladder or bottles. Inside the pack there is a zipped section where you can secure your small Essentials like phone, compass or etc.
I preferred to put my wind proof, GTX Jacket or water proof jacket folded neatly and put inside this organised sections. It is like a small piece of nice luggage for tidy people (most of the Trail runners are tidy huh ?) 🙂
Back and Outside of the Pack
On the back side of the pack, there are many small and large compartments as well. First of the two small pockets where you can store gels is on the bottom left and right hand side of the pack. These are cleverly designed and you can just move your arm while Running and reach them easily. They are small in size, mesh but handy.
The top part of the pack has a zipped section and there you can store your Essentials as well. This section has more resist to water.
The mid part of the back section has a mesh elastic section which is easy to stash your hat, visor, wind or water proof because it is easy to take it off from the pack.
The Front Part of the Vest
As the name states, this is a vest pack. Vest packs are in our lives since 2000’s started with Nathan and Salomon XA Pro type Adventure Race Packs. The front section does not have a zip but two cords with buckles.The cords are elastic, thats why if you have a wider or normal chest, yuo can adjust it easily.
You can adjust the cords up and down as well. The front part of the pack has two bottle holders. These can hold 300ml soft flasks, 300-500ml water bottles. You can see below that I had the chance to use both 400ml hard blue and 500ml black plastic bottles. These bottle holders have mesh surrounding pockets where you can put gels and bars. Also they have blue cords so that you can stable them.
Below the bottle holders the chest part of the vest pack is standart in FL vest but TNF athletes have different cuts for ladies and men due to gender specific ergonomics. You can see this differences in below pictures. There are still many different types and The North Face as states in its motto; Never Stops Exploring.
The front vest pockets have 4 sections. Two on each side hidden as a layer behind the velcro closed fron pockets. So you can add many gels, bars and essentials here easily. There is a nice whistle attached to the chest section with a blue cord. Whistle is the most important mandatory equipment in these races.
Most of the TNF athletes are using this pack but the first person and the ambassador was Sebastian Chaigneau. He had tested this pack and we have seen him racing with this pack almost 1.5 years before the launch of the pack. Now Rory Bosio, back to back two time UTMB ladies winner in 2013 and 2014 respectively uses this pack as well.
- First the pack has a very good price. RRP is 85 GBP but you can find on Internet between 60-70 GBP too.
- I wish the pack had its own designed bottles or soft flasks. Or you can get an option for a bladder that is secificyly designed for this pack.
- Adjusting the pack is very easy but It gets time for you to use to its six point adjustment. Two on the fron vest cords and two on each side under your arms.
Overll it is a good pack and I suggest it for its low price and many pockets for organized trail runners. You can get more info and buy it from here