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The Story of a North Face Jacket

It’s a simple love story, really. It started in January last year when I was preparing to ride my Vmax from San Diego back to Washington DC in the dead of winter.  I needed something that would keep me warm at temperatures equivalent to -10+F due to windchill and I knew the North Face ski pants I had picked up on the way out did the trick (when layered appropriately).  I walked into REI San Diego and ended up spending more money than I have ever spent on a single piece of non-formal clothing, walking out with an awesome red Hyvent North Face hardshell.

Amazingly, it exceeded all my expectations – with three fleece shirts, a down jacket, and the North Face hard shell I looked like a giant puffy red ball, but I actually stayed warm in temperatures equivalent to -30+F when I encountered a massive cold front on the east coast.  Even more amazing, the shell kept me dry (and warm) when riding for five hours through a tropical storm in Florida (everything I owned was soaked, except my chest and legs).  When I arrived back in DC, there was no doubt I had gotten my money’s worth.  I could have thrown away the jacket there and been happy.

I loved it though, and would never do such a thing.  Instead it’s become one of my most treasured possessions, and I’ve taken it with me on adventures to four continents since.  It kept me warm and dry on the altiplano in Peru and Bolivia when I rode up and down freezing mountain roads and crossed deserts at night.  I stayed fashionable and cute at home in DC during the fall and spring rains, and played warm and dry during Snowpocalypse I and II when others stayed inside afraid of the cold.  It protected me from monsoon rains in India and kept me company all the way to 18,000 feet in the Nepalese Himalayas – and kept me safe when I slid down a 200+ foot scree slope while suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness, suffering not a single tear.  I looked damn good wandering the streets of Amsterdam on Queen’s Night in it, too.

Not only does it keep me safe, but it takes care of my gear, too.  My trusty Panasonic Lumix FS10 always rides in the front left pocket, my wallet and funds in the front right.  My cell phone or MP3 player can always be found in the middle inner zip pocket, and there’s almost always a map tucked into the goggle pocket on the inside.  Sometimes I’ll even shove water and food inside for easy access, zip it up and head out.

Now, it’s taking care of me as I ride my scooter to the Arctic Circle.  In the last 5000+ miles, I’ve already encountered freezing rain and chilling weather by the bundle.  Every day starts out cold and even as the day warms up, my North Face shell stays on to protect me from the wind, sand, dirt, rocks, and bugs that I constantly smash into.  On this adventure, it even tells people what I’m doing and why, as the biggest piece of real estate available for signage on my person.  As I head north up the Alaska highway into colder and stronger weather, I do so confident in the safety and security of my jacket.

One of the most amazing things about my hardshell isn’t even how durable it is or how well it cuts the wind or how it’s managed to hold up relatively intact through the brutal abuse I’ve put it through (I’ve even used it as a mat to get a bike out of the sand)…  nope, it’s the simple fact that in a year and a half of wear, tear, and travel I’ve only even bothered to wash it once – and it still smells good enough to use as a pillow every night.

I love my North Face jacket, and I don’t care who knows about it!


Taken at Latitude/Longitude:28.550872/84.254540. 0.47 km South-East Chame Gandak? Nepal <a href=""> (Map link)</a>
Taken at Latitude/Longitude:28.568448/84.200417. 1.12 km South-East Bhratang Gandak? Nepal <a href=""> (Map link)</a>


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