The North Face’s Flight Series line has been around for several years, delivering generally excellent products designed for zippy trail running.
This summer and fall, I’ve tested some of the current The North Face Flight Series men’s apparel products. This testing period culminated with spending five days running and hiking the 100-mile Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) trail, which wraps around the trail’s namesake mountain in the Alps.
We missed the 2022 UTMB festival of races by a few weeks but Chamonix, France, which sits on Mont Blanc’s flank and serves as the hub of the event, still teemed with runners and all things The North Face in September. The North Face-sponsored runners had a particularly successful year in the events, namely with Katie Schide winning UTMB, Kaytlyn Gerbin taking third, and Zach Miller taking fifth. And The North Face’s running apparel and gear were thus prevalent and popular at the event this year, and it still was when we arrived in Chamonix ourselves.
This was my third time running the TMB but the first time in September. The multiday run proved to be the coldest of any of my years there, so I was particularly happy to have the gloves and rain jacket with me. For two days, I wore both of these items all day from start to finish. I also tested the shorts. Let’s dive in.
The North Face Men’s Flight Stridelight Shorts
Running the TMB over several days with just a small hydration vest for supplies makes packing an intricate balance of weight, bulk, and necessity. Since the huts along the way bear the nice-to-haves like hot food and showers, and filling water bottles from natural sources is plentiful, you can actually get by with very little, in a tinier pack than you would think.
So, when it comes to shorts on the TMB, I take a single pair and rely on sink washing and line drying each night to keep them clean. This time I took The North Face Men’s Flight Stridelight Shorts ($79).
My ritual was thwarted on night two after probably indulging in a few too many glasses of wine and leaving my shorts on the outdoor line all night. The overnight temperature was just under 40 degrees Fahrenheit but it also rained. In the morning, I annoyingly slid on the wet shorts and set off.
I ran up the Col de la Seigne with a whipping sidewind. Though cold, it validated the exquisite drying power of the shorts, and in no time they were perfectly comfortable again. In fact, The North Face claims these are their lightest and most breathable shorts, ever.
Running on average 30 kilometers per day in the same shorts would seemingly be ripe conditions for chafing, but there was no issue. These running shorts have a four-inch inseam and an inner brief. A short drawstring provides just enough room for cinching down loaded-up pockets.
Pockets along the back include a small left-side gel pocket, an unsecured large iPhone-size center pocket, which is great for stashing gloves, a Buff, sunglasses, and even a thin wind jacket.
Inside the unsecured pocket is a secured key or card-sized zipper pocket — this was where I stored my credit card and Euros for Coke breaks at the refuges. The shorts are very lightweight and proved to be the perfect one-short choice for this multiday, no washing machine running trip.
I have two complaints about the shorts owing to manufacturing and wear quality; the appliquéd The North Face logo began peeling off after my third run ever in them, and during the TMB, the fabric pilled in two spots. The shorts feel high-end, so I expected better abrasion resistance.
The North Face Flight Gloves
Leaves were already falling and new snow accumulated lightly on the high peaks after each evening during our TMB adventure, so I was excited by the perfect conditions to test The North Face Flight Gloves ($50).
The gloves are warm and my size large fit perfectly. They go on and off very well with limited scrunching of the fleece liner. Like I mentioned above, the wind whipped harder, predictably on the cols, than any of the other times I’ve run the TMB, so I spent many breaks huddled and happy to have this fantastic pair of gloves to keep warm.
The gloves have weather-resistant, stretch-woven fabric on the back of the hand to help protect from wind and moisture. I found them very comfortable for the 40- to 50-degree Fahrenheit weather with the wind and some rain in which we ran. All that said, there are other gloves on the market made specifically for runners, which I consider warmer.
I am not normally a heavy phone user while I run, but it’s hard to not take photos in this stunning part of the world. While the gloves incorporate The North Face’s UR Powered touchscreen-compatible fabric, I was surprised by how ineffective it was. The first day I used the gloves I simply couldn’t get any buttons to work on my phone with the gloves on. Eventually, it started to work better but still not 100% reliably on first contact.Shop The North Face Flight Gloves
The North Face Men’s Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket
The North Face Men’s Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket ($300) is an expensive and technical running jacket using no third-party fabric technology like Gore Windstopper or Gore-Tex. It uses The North Face’s own 100% recycled FUTURELIGHT 3L fabric, which is breathable and waterproof.
Breathability was exquisite. I wore the jacket on cool and cold climbs, descents, and everything in between. The jacket is waterproof, which I tested during a rainy 2,000-foot descent from the refuge Tre La Tete, and the fit is roomy enough that I actually wore the jacket over my running vest on several occasions. The fit is generous but not baggy in the size large I tested, and the sleeves taper at the wrist. A drawcord on the hood helps tighten the fit to keep the valuable warmth from your head escaping.
I didn’t find a single flaw with this jacket — it is very quiet, something you don’t get from a lot of crinkly waterproof jackets. Note that the jacket doesn’t include storage pockets, but it does have a stash pocket for the jacket itself and it stows to about 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Starting out most mornings on the TMB, I wore the jacket, sometimes all the way through midday, and on two occasions, for the whole run. I have never worn a waterproof jacket that would allow me to do this, even in much colder weather.
The whole iRunFar team loves The North Face Men’s Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket, and we named it one of our favorites in our Best Running Rain Jackets guide. Do note that due to the short crop of the women’s version of this jacket, we cannot recommend it for safe running in inclement weather. However, some women on the iRunFar team wear the men’s version, which has a normal and appropriate cut for running in bad weather.Shop The North Face Men’s Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket
The North Face Flight Series Men’s Apparel Overall Impressions
As a collection, The North Face Flight Series line is a super-high-performer. Not since the brand’s Better Than Naked line days have I enjoyed running in The North Face gear as much. And like the brand’s runners who excelled on the 2022 UTMB, because of the technical and lightweight nature of the gear, I would consider these items as must-haves for any similarly up and down, cold and warm, weather-impacted terrain.
The North Face has put out a fine collection of running clothing that complements the energy of the footwear line, Vectiv. Here in North America, we’re deep in winter now, but I’ll certainly be reaching for my Flight Series gear whenever the conditions allow.
[Editor’s Note: According to The North Face, the company’s Flight Series line will be adopted into its Summit Series line in 2023.]
Call for Comments
- Have you run in any of the products from The North Face Flight Series? How did you find them?
- Are there other products in the series besides the three mentioned above that you think deserve a shoutout?