CGR tests the new Infiesto midlayer to see if they climb like the Pou brothers!
The North Face® Men’s Infiesto Full Zip is a technical Polartec® Power Dry® mid-weight fleece for layering or next to skin wear. This fleece wicks moisture effectively and is fast drying so it is ideal for aerobic use and sweating and wet weather use, particularly as a mountain and alpine climbing jacket
We have been impressed with the The North Face, they have made strident efforts to get the Summit Series fit for purpose – that is technical clothing for serious mountain adventures. It’s fitting that the guides at Glenmore Lodge (one of the UK’s top Mountain Training Centres) have chosen the Summit Series for their kit.
The North Face Infiesto is a technical midlayer designed for aerobic use, so that’s how I tested it. I also tested it in rock and winter climbing situations to see if it was suitable for climbing in.
Although it is marketed as a fleece and the Infiesto is styled as a fleece, the material doesn’t feel like a traditional ‘furry’ fleece material; in fact it is not made of fleece material at all. I would say it is an expedition weight midlayer top. This is how I used it with a baselayer t-shirt or thin merino wool with the Infiesto on top; I did have to wear a fleece and a hard or softshell for winter climbing. For late season or continental ice I wore a softshell vest instead of the fleece and a hardshell. This worked fine and felt warm and comfortable, I used this combination on breezy spring rock climbing days too.
I tested a sample sized Medium, the sizes come S-XL. I’m about a 40” chest and the fit was nice an athletic, it hugged quite snug, this is important for wicking. The length felt a little long (I’m 1.75m (5’9”) and so did the sleeves. If you are 5’ 11” (1.8m) it will fit you fine.
The jacket has a full zip which I found very useful for extra venting. I do like a full zip as it makes removing the top easy to remove when it was damp. The zip is YKK and worked really well, the tab could have been a little bigger to make it easier to work with thin gloves – but I didn’t have any problems it. The top was easy to wash – I just stuck it in with everything else and it was dry after 20 minutes on the line.
The North Face have opted to use branded materials on most of the Summit Series so the Infiesto was made using Polartec Powerdry, this is a tried a tested material and performed really well. The weave was gridded with a flat face on the inner, this made it very comfortable next to my skin and very, very breathable. The Infiesto was great as an approach top and I used it mostly for winter climbing, mountaineering and running where it performed very well. It was very breathable and dried out quickly, even under a hardshell. The top was not windproof at all, so an extra layer needs to be worn in order for those breezy days.
The collar was long enough to keep the warmth in and had a double layer of Powerdry to help stiffen it. The collar, sleeves and hem were all piped in a more harder wearing material. There is no hem cinch, which isn’t needed on this type of top; there is also a reflective TNF logo on the left chest and a Summit Series logo and copy on the arm. There is a handy hang tab for the drying room. The colour range is three colours a light blue, a darker blue and a bright green, all the colours have black trim in the high sweat areas. All seams were flatlock and the stitching was high quality, I particularly liked the fact that TNF had taken the trouble to bar tack the zip ends, a nice quality touch.
The jacket also comes with two handwarmer pockets and it’s these I had a problem with in the situations I tested it in. I can understand the need for pockets – they are very useful, but on this type of active top I feel a single, large Napoleon chest pocket would be more useful. I can put my camera, energy bar or compass in it for mountain activities or I can put my phone or mp3 player when running. The pockets were not accessible at all with a harness on.
I have used this top for winter climbing, trail running, hiking and fair weather rock climbing and it has performed great for all those activities. It breathes really well and dries out superfast (and I mean superfast, half the time of a merino top). It is durable and easy to wash, it’s a go anywhere top. If The North Face can sort out the pockets it will be brilliant, and can we have a hooded version please?