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why ducksback

Posted by


Mark Schneider

Have the zippered Ducksback jacket, rode my bike in hard rain for about a half hour stayed bone dry. Everything else was soaked. Took the jacket off in the room with a wood stove. In 10 minutes the jacket was totally dry, everything else was still dripping wet. Very effective gear. I also have a 15-year-old Wiggy's sweater, which remains as puffy as when we first bought it, unlike most synthetic insulation Wiggy's gear holds extremely well to heavy use.

Now that you have read how DUCKSBACK material performs you will be exposed to new language used by the north face company about their bogus waterproof breathable material named futurelight in the following article.


Words like “game changer” and “disruptor” get tossed around a little too easily these days, but with FutureLight, its patent-pending new waterproof/breathable technology, The North Face says it has a product to back up those superlatives. In fact, the brand believes so strongly in the material’s unprecedented breathability that it created an entire manufacturing program around it, including dedicated factory spaces in Korea. Says Scott Mellin, global GM of The North Face’s Mountain Sports division, “We had to develop our own yarn, weaving process, and lamination and finishing techniques. It took us two years to do all of that.”

Unfortunately garments made with any number of laminations or coating that are labeled incorrectly as waterproof and breathable have taken over the market place, so north face is trying to capitalize by making their own non-performing waterproof breathable material versus buying the goretex brand of non-performing waterproof breathable material for use in jackets.

Moreover, by fall 2020, The North Face will have transitioned all of its higher-end apparel, footwear, and other waterproof/breathable gear in the Mountain Sports lines from Gore-Tex and other third-party vendors to FutureLight (price point items will still use TNF’s proprietary DryVent, and Gore technologies will still appear in the lifestyle collection).

From the sales numbers I have seen published north face is a 200 million dollar company. That means they have made for them thousands of products which contain a so called waterproof breathable entity which gives a profit to gore and whoever else supplies them. So they now save that profit and probably do not drop the price so their profit margin gets a little larger per item.

Even the technology’s debut was unconventional. The North Face launched it today, not at an outdoor industry event but at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, partnering with BMW Group Designworks for a camping trailer display.

BMW is showing a small trailer for camping that utilizes the fabric. Seems to me the bmw folks may know about cars but certainly not fabric for a tent like structure. Maybe their auto sales are slipping so camping is the way to go.

Why all the investment? It’s partly due to athlete feedback and the desire to find a better solution to the ongoing conundrum of protection versus breathability. And part of it comes from a serious effort at brand differentiation. “My job is to create the biggest amount of difference between The North Face and our competitors,” says Mellin, who came on board full-time in January 2017. “And the way to create difference is to step out of the supply chain.”

Athletes like all actors (my opinion) should stick to what they do. If the athlete knew about materials they would not be athletes but in the textile business. Maybe Mr.Mellin is an athlete since he does not know about fabrics. If he did he would know that waterproof breathable fabrics DO NOT EXIST. Emphasis is for the sake of Mr. Mellin. The only difference between north face and their competitors is the name of the bogus non-performing waterproof breathable material.

FutureLight Animation

FutureLight's mesh-like membrane allows for air to pass through and moisture vapor to escape, says The North Face.

Volume 90%

The FutureLight technology

At the heart of FutureLight lies an industrial process known as nanospinning. A polymer is sprayed through up to 220,000 tiny nozzles—rather than being extruded into a thin sheet of film, as most membranes are—to create a waterproof yet highly porous mesh-like membrane. The construction allows for nanoholes that allow air to pass through and moisture vapor to escape, keeping users dry and comfortable, not clammy and cold. Five different weights of membrane—depending on how many nozzles are used—allow designers to tune a garment’s level of breathability to the type of activity it’s intended for, adds Mellin.

What you have just read I believe is a process used for years to make nonwoven materials such as Tyvek. This end product will not will work EXACTLY the same way goretex, event, their dryvent and every other so called water proof breathable works which is to say they don’t. What is sad is that Mr. Mellin thinks that garment designers can tune a garment’s level of breathability because they who make the web can make it in different weights or thicknesses, a sad joke.

True, some other membranes make use of nanospinning, such as Polartec NeoShell and Outdoor Research’s AscentShell. But citing stats from TNF-initiated third-party comparison testing, Mellin says that FutureLight outperformed them.

Do you think a third party testing facility actually used finished product in the field, I not only doubt it I am positive that never happened. Various testing labs have shown that goretex does allow vapor to pass through the film after it has been laminated, however in the field the movement of vapor through the goretex film is basically nil.

Before the birth of FutureLight, we surveyed our readers on which waterproof/breathable technology they trust the most. Here's what you told us.

I have no idea what they heard from “our readers” which waterproof breathable technology they trust the most. I do not know how they can trust any of them since none work.

Because the mesh is so delicate, The North Face’s material science and sourcing teams ended up designing custom face and backing fabrics—56 in all—as well as a new laminating process to give garments enough structure and shape. Some of these fabrics use higher denier yarn for greater abrasion resistance along with an open weave structure for more air permeability and lighter weight.

What you have just read is basic gibberish speak. It may sound good to the uninformed but it’s still gibberish speak.

It adds a green story to FutureLight, too, as all new fabrics use 100 percent recycled materials. Motivated to increase the sustainability factor even further, The North Face also created a new PFC-free DWR treatment that maintains 80 percent of its water repellency after 80 wash cycles (and requires no consumer applications of water-polluting retreatment).

Now they are making an effort to impress one and all with the sustainability and chemical free position. If the material after processing is waterproof and breathable why the need for a durable water repellent treatment. Is it maybe because like goretex it will wet out!


FutureLight field testing

North Face athletes have been using FutureLight in extreme conditions around the world, but the real proof is in the numbers, acquired both through in-house and third-party testing. Says Mellin, “What we typically see in most garments is air permeability at 0.01 to 0.1 cubic feet per minute. FutureLight has between 1 to 2 CPM. That’s the magic zone for allowing heat to dissipate through the garment without affecting its windproofness.” (By comparison, he notes, a soft shell typically has 25 CPM). Underwriters Laboratories, which primarily tests first responder gear, determined that FutureLight exceeds the waterproof standard used for firefighter uniforms.

Notice their testing is “in house” so things can be rigged but as far as I am concerned regardless of the in house results the outhouse results are much different, something smells here. Underwriters labs is a joke as far as I am concerned. I once sent them my insulated flotation suit for testing, the fee way back then was $15000.00. they would have told me anything I wanted them to tell me. I told them to send the suit back.

Retailers who have previewed the product give it high marks, too. Says Wes Allen, owner of Sunlight Sports in Cody, Wyoming, “It’s the best breathing waterproof/breathable I’ve ever been in.” While having to posthole out of deep snow when snowboarding recently, “I didn’t unzip a thing,” he continues. “My goggles fogged, my helmet got really wet, but there wasn’t a single drop of moisture inside my jacket.”

The reason no moisture was found in the jacket is because all of his perspiration was in his clothing and never made it to the jacket.

Will FutureLight surpass Gore-Tex as the gold standard?

How will this new technology affect The North Face’s longstanding partnership with Gore, which dates back to the 1977 introduction of TNF’s Mountain Jacket? Mellin says he’s been forthcoming about the company’s emerging technology platforms and that The North Face remains committed to using Gore-Tex in its lifestyle division. Yet, he adds, “FutureLight is the most advanced breathable waterproof technology in the world. It’s a quantum leap forward in performance and sustainability. We firmly believe it is better than Gore-Tex in every technical aspect and provides the consumer with a completely new system of benefits.”

Interesting to read in the same paragraph that north face believes “futurelight is the most advanced breathable waterproof technology in the world” but they will remain committed to using goretex anyway. Like the Indians said of the white man in the 1800’s, “he speaks with forked tongue”.

When asked for a statement, Gore responded simply, “Gore does not engage in speculation about other brand's technologies nor publicly discuss details of its relationship with licensees.”

Gore does not care and I don’t blame them since they control the market and north face is not going to sell the stuff to other companies or other companies just will not buy it from them. Many years ago the company in California that made polar guard made a deal with north face to sell the stuff to all of the companies buying it and they said they would just go to something else.

For Fall 2019, The North Face will introduce 37 SKUs with FutureLight, including outerwear, single-wall tents, and gloves and mittens. Look for more innovation in different categories down the pipeline.

North face will have an array of products that they will promote like crazy that to a one do not work.

Is all the hype justified? Notes Allen, “You want to be a little cynical about this—we’ve all been down this road before—but this time I think there’s actually something really different. I don’t mean to sound like a complete fan boy, but it’s great stuff.”

This guy allen from sunlight sports in Cody, Wyoming should stick to being a retailer. There is NOTHING (emphasis for the benefit of allen) different about this stuff than all of the rest of the stuff called waterproof breathable that does not work.

The reality is that these companies like north face are trying in every way possible to conjure up garments that are being sold under false premises. They in my opinion know that what they have to offer is nothing less than un adulterated B/S.

DUCKSBACK material shines against all of this other stuff.

What follows is a testimonial received today.

Jerry -

I ordered you Antarctic bag about week ago and just wanted to tell you thanks again for the really fast shipment! This bag is absolutely the best bag I have ever owned, and just like all your other customers I have owned the "BOX STORE" bags ,jackets, and all the other crap which has never ever worked period, no matter how good they pitch the sale!! I will finally get a chance to get up to the hills here in Colorado and test this wonder full bag out - I can’t wait! I love the e-mails regarding the industry, because it really shows your knowledge and expertise within this industry, and it also really lets you see how this is trending towards the consumer RIP-OFF! I plan on buying all of your equipment, as it will last a lifetime and I can hand it down to my nephew, or get him a bag and equipment when he goes to serve our country. People ask me all the time know about the Ducks Back Parka, and I proudly tell them where I got it! - WIGGYS!!!!!!

Thanks again!

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