The North Face’s Trans-Antarctic Collection Looks Great, Comes With a Badass Backstory
People are going to comment, and you are going to have a yarn to spin
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On July 26, 1989, a six-member international exploration team departed the Seal Nunataks, a group of islands extending from the Larsen Ice Shelf at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Seven brutal months and 3,741 grueling miles later, they reached the Soviet scientific research base at Mirnyy on the continent’s east coast.
The team’s expedition represented the first ever non-mechanized crossing of Antarctica. Traveling by dogsled, they were the first explorers to traverse the length of the Peninsula during an Antarctic winter and the first humans to ever cross the continent’s singularly remote “Area of Inaccessibility” on the ground. Temperatures dropped as low as 100 degrees below zero. Winds gusted at 70mph. One storm lasted for 50 straight days.
The trip, undertaken with the goal of bringing attention to early signs of climate change and the looming threat of international mining on the Antarctic continent, became a global phenomenon. Broadcast rights were sold in 52 countries, an ABC Sports Trans-Antarctic special won an Emmy Award for best sports programming, and the first-ever live broadcast from Antarctica took place at the expedition’s conclusion. Team co-leader Will Steger went on to receive the National Geographic Society’s John Oliver La Gorce Medal, bestowed by the Society only nineteen times in its 133-year history. Ultimately, the worldwide publicity surrounding the 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition resulted in 27 world leaders coming together and agreeing to a treaty that set aside the entire Antarctic continent for preservation.
Is this an unnecessary amount of exposition to contextualize a coat? Possibly. But when it’s a coat that is virtually guaranteed to be commented upon, and the event that said coat celebrates is such an unbelievable feat of human endurance, your correspondent would feel remiss if he didn’t arm you with a little extra conversational fodder.
The North Face has now re-released their Trans-Antarctica capsule collection paying homage to the historic journey and the original gear that the brand outfitted the team with back in ‘89. Attendant to the drop, North Face also created a short film entitled Peace of History narrated by Steger himself.
In the film, Steger speaks to the role his North Face parka played in keeping him alive while traveling through one of the harshest environments on the planet: “In these conditions, the jacket was always stored in a certain spot on the sled. It was definitely a comfort in that it gave you life. It was always there for you and all you had to do was get to it and put it on.”
Unsurprisingly then, the centerpiece of the 13-piece capsule collection is a beautiful, brawny parka featuring eye-catching throwback colorways and details from the original expedition (along with a few present-day enhancements).
The North Face Trans-Antarctica Expedition Parka
Flag patches commemorate the home nations of the Expedition’s members, complemented by embroidered TAE logos and an expedition shoulder patch. 2021 upgrades include 700-fill goose down and North Face’s patented DryVent shell boasting the waterproof/windproof/breathable trifecta. Odds are you’ll be traversing more city sidewalks than Antarctic ice shelves in it, but you’re covered (stylishly) in either eventuality.
In the event you’re not in the market for something quite so hardcore, there’s plenty of other pieces in the collection that are still guaranteed to elicit queries and compliments from friends and total strangers alike. The Fleece Full Zip and nylon Expedition Pant are patched up similarly to the parka, and two longtime North Face mainstays — the Nuptse puffer jacket and Denali fleece — benefit greatly from the TAE color treatment.
And for those whose outerwear arsenals already overfloweth, an assortment of TAE-inspired bags and pair of insulated Nuptse boots round out the proceedings — any way you slice it, you’re looking at something built to last, built to command attention, and with a damn good story behind it. Maybe all that exposition wasn’t overkill after all?
The North Face Trans-Antarctica Expedition Fleece Full Zip
The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket
The North Face Denali 2 Jacket
The North Face Trans-Antarctica Expedition Pant
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