The North Face

History of The North Face


For more than 55 years, The North Face has become a brand recognized for creating rugged gear that lasts. Over the years, The North Face has also continued to be at the forefront of sustainability and innovation — from sponsoring numerous climbs, creating new technology that allows climbers to go against the elements, and continuing to use recycled materials in its clothing.

Learn more about the evolution of the brand, including how the company got its start and some of its more iconic products over the years. 

Who Founded The North Face?

The North Face was founded by Doug Tompkins, an outdoorsman and environmentalist known for his conservation efforts to save Patagonia. 

Tompkins was born in Ohio and raised in Millbrook, NY. He ended up dropping out of Connecticut’s Pomfret School at the age of 17 and climbed and skied his way across the west to eventually establish one of the first mountain guide services in the Sierras in the early 1960s. 

He eventually sold The North Face for $50,000 and went on to fund the brand Espirit. After that, he grew disillusioned with the clothing industry and decided to sell his interest and fund the Foundation for Deep Ecology. 

The North Face Through History

In 1966, Tompkins and his first wife created the first iteration of The North Face — a small retail and mail order operation where The Grateful Dead played at the store’s grand opening. The brand quickly became known for selling state-of-the-art sleeping bags, backpacks, and tents. 

In 1969, The North Face developed its first lightweight backpacks, which were instrumental in creating the backpacking culture that we know today. 

The North Face logo

In the early days, the brand did not have its famous logo. The logo we know today first appeared in 1971. It was created by David Alcorn and was inspired by the unusual Half Dome summit at Yosemite National Park. The 70s was also the period when the brand started using Vietnam-era surplus materials in its products to promote sustainability. 

Creating trailblazing gear

In 1977, the brand started incorporating GORE-TEX® into its product for gear that could thrive in all conditions. 

In 1986, the Base Camp Duffel became available, and it continues to circle the globe. It’s been handled by some of the roughest baggage handlers and survived in numerous conditions, including being shepherded by yaks and camels. 

Continued conservation efforts

In 1989, The North Face formed The Conservation Alliance with REI and Patagonia. The group distributes its collective annual dues to grassroots efforts dedicated to preserving the last of the world’s wild places. The same year, The North Face released its lightweight and durable Denali Jacket. 

The Nuptse

In 1992, The North Face introduced its Nuptse Jacket, which introduced a unique construction design that prevented downshifting. Today, these jackets are made with sustainably sourced down fill. 

The North Face at Finish Line

In its over 55-year history, The North Face has developed a variety of clothing that encourages people to explore, be curious, and overcome challenges. Here’s a look at some of our favorite The North Face clothing items available at Finish Line.

Women’s The North Face

The North Face makes a series of iconic women’s jackets and cold-weather apparel, but one of our favorites is the Nuptse Belted Long Parka. This parka is great for outdoor events or walking around the city and features an A-line silhouette with sustainable 700-fill goose down certified by Control Union.

For a sportier look, consider the Osito Full-Zip Jacket, which is also made from recycled materials in an effort to reduce 10 million tons of textile waste. This jacket also features zip pockets sized to keep your phone, keys, and wallet secure. 

Men’s The North Face

The North Face men’s clothing line features rugged jackets designed to keep you moving. One of our favorite jackets is the Origins 86 Jacket. This jacket is made with 100% recycled nylon material and features a mesh-lined upper body, cinched waist, and adjustable hook-and-loop cuff flaps. 

Kids’ The North Face

The North Face also makes a variety of kids’ apparel that focuses on functional and sustainable details. One of our favorite jackets is the Mount Chimbo Reversible Jacket, which features a solid outer shell made of 100% recycled polyester with high-pile fleece material inside.

They also make toddler- and infant-sized clothing, including items like the Baby Bear One-Piece for infants.

Boys’ The North Face

When it comes to The North Face for boys, check out a Retro Nuptse Jacket made of 100% recycled polyester and nylon materials and a water-repellant finish to keep moisture out. For a lighter layer, consider a multi-functional hoodie from The North Face. 

Girls’ The North Face

fleece pullover is the perfect fall layering piece — featuring the recognizable The North Face branding and a kangaroo pocket. Athletic girls who want clothing that will move with them will also love these printed tights, which are made from sustainable materials.

The North Face Backpacks

In addition to its iconic fleece jackets and hoodies, The North Face is also known for its backpacks. The backpacks are designed with functionality in mind.  If you prefer a smaller bag, you may like The Jester Hip Pack or The Borealis Sling Pack

And if you have a larger trip planned, check out the brand’s duffel bags, including The Bozer and Base Camp.

Shop The North Face for Fall & Winter

Are you ready to bring home some stylish outerwear from The North Face? Take a look at The North Face apparel at Finish Line and bring home some of the brand’s durable and iconic gear today.