I feel the need to vent about The North Face. I work in an outdoors store where we sell a lot of North Face products. We sell a little bit of everything, a lot of clothes, shoes, backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags. We sell a wide variety within each category as well. We sell both high end summit series products as well as everyday stuff like cotton clothes and school bags. Frankly, I’m tired of their junk.
The North Face is not the company they used to be. From what I know, about five years ago they were bought by Vanity Fair (yes, the magazine) and ever since then they have been selling overpriced vanity products. Their high end gear is often terrible. They try so hard to be cutting edge that they don’t take the time to properly test their products and technologies. For instance, they sold tents with rain flies a few years ago that could not stand up to UV rays. We had people trying to return their tents after only two seasons of moderate use. One employee said he had a Tadpole tent that was toast after about 50 nights in the bush. The fly was completely discolored from UV and was no longer waterproof. Not only that, but The North Face said it was normal wear and tear and wouldn’t replace it.
Their footwear is awful. I own a pair that was sent back on warranty after 3 months of around town use. We see a lot of The North Face shoes come back on warranty. I had one guy come in who’d bought heavy duty hiking boots. He had to cut his trip short because of them. Even after wearing them for a couple of weeks before he went to the mountains he couldn’t get them broken in properly. His feet hurt so much on the trip he had to go home. Not only that but the EVA foam they used on the sole was torn to shreds.
I’ve seen $700 sleeping bags that had seams coming apart before we’d even put it on the rack. We had a shipment of $400 down jackets that had women’s tags sewn in to men’s jackets. Even the sizes were wrong on the tags. It’s not uncommon for the cardboard tags they attach to have the wrong info. For instance, we had sleeping bags that said they had condura in the footbox but they didn’t and jackets that said they had water bottle pockets but they didn’t. I own a pair of pants that started out a beige color but have faded to almost a mint green over the last five months. How is it that a gear company that has built it’s reputation on quality and customer service can’t even make colorfast pants?
Basically, I want to discourage everyone from buying anything North Face. Their quality is terrible and their gear often lacks proper testing. I speak as both a consumer who has been completely disappointed with almost everything I’ve bought and as a sales person who sees how much stuff comes back on warranty. The only thing I can say in their defense is that their lifetime warranty is still pretty good, although you have to be careful. A lot of their trendy products only have a 1 year warranty now days.