Thermal: NF Seamless Long-Sleeve Crew Neck
Thermal base layers, when they fit properly, are fantastic. It seems that no matter how cold it is, pulling on a decent thermal gives instant warmth. The close weave, stretch fit material (95% Polypropylene / 5% Elastane) in both this long sleeved crew neck and seamless tights does just that. Whether in the bedroom preparing for a day’s bouldering, or in a chilly, wet car park changing for a session of mountain biking, instant warmth is first on the agenda. They really do feel snug as soon as you put them on.
The North Face slightly confusingly call these items ‘Seamless’. I investigated this claim and can now clarify things for you:
To make truly seamless clothes would be a neat trick. Basically all the actual seams are what’s called Flatlocked. A flatlocked seam is usually sewn with the wrong sides of the fabric together. The seam is then pulled so that the seam allowances slip and lie flat inside the stitching, giving a more comfortable fit in close fitting garments. An investigation of the seams on both items shows that they are, indeed, extremely low profile, and very smooth to the touch, an important consideration as they are designed to be worn next to the skin.
What TNF mean by seamless is that the fabric is basically seamlessly thicker and thinner in key parts of their clothes. Around the kidneys and other muscle groups which are prone to losing heat, there are ribs of extra material seamlessly woven in to the fabric. Similarly, in areas where ventilation is key there is a mesh woven in. All this is done on the world's largest sock machine! True to their claim, under scrutiny the different thicknesses of material are evident, but not at all obvious when in use. A neat trick indeed.
Another noteworthy feature of both items is their breathability. I deliberately didn’t wash my top for a couple of weeks, bouldering, popping out into town on my bike, walking, and to top things off nicely, doing a full day’s hard mountain biking in the rain. I’d like to say that they didn’t smell at all, but that would be a miracle! However, I was very pleasantly surprised to get off the bike at the end of the day dry as a bone, and fairly non-smelly! We even went to the pub and no-body moved out of our way.
I mentioned in the first sentence of this review that it is important for thermal clothes to fit properly. They pass this test with a gold star. The fabric is stretchy, but not so much that it feels like it will develop ‘elbows’. It feels like a second skin, and crucially, doesn’t hamper your movement in the slightest.
The tights weigh in at 98g, and the top at 142g, barely noticeable really, either whilst wearing, or in your pack as a spare layer.
My only complaint would be the colour of the tights. The slate grey makes them look a little weary from the word go. A small gripe in the grand scheme of things, especially given that they are available in blue and black.
In summary, a very good combination base layer for pretty much any activity.
There are 2 other types of baselayer in the range - Summit Series - the warmest of the 3, for winter mountaineering and Flight Series, the coolest of the 3 for high energy activities such as biking, trail running, skiing etc.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear