The North Face's Castor Oil Jacket Wins Green Award

The North Face Venture jacket castor oil photo

Photo Credit: The North Face

The Venture Jacket was first released by The North Face in 2002 as a no-frills functional rainshell. It has undergone a revamp for the northern Spring/ Summer of 2011, with the inclusion of castor oil into its HyVent DT EC waterproof/breathable membrane. And for the trouble TNF went to, in bringing this material innovation to market, they are set to pick up the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editors' Choice Green Award.

Each Venture Jacket apparently contains about 28 g/m2 of a waterproof breathable coating. For the coming season 50% of which will be castor oil based. A media release form the The North Face suggests that "this will eliminate more than 50,000 lbs of petroleum-based materials in 2011."Philip Hamilton, Vice President of Product for The North Face is quoted as saying,"The Venture Jacket proves that highly technical and dependable product can be successfully produced in an environmentally friendly fashion." I'm not sure it 'proves' its possible, (Patagonia did that with their recycled polyester Infurno Jacket in the earlier noughties, Klattermusen cam through with their organic cotton Einride Jacket way back in 2006, and Nau released the first recycled 3 layer Asylum Jacket in 2007,) but it certainly does keep the momentum going.

Nor is this the first application of castor oil as a renewable, biodegradable replacement for fossil fuel petroleum based outdoor gear. We previously reportedr on Scarpa using the stuff to make their telemark ski boots from it, Mizuno putting it in their running shoes and Smith crafting sunglasses frames with castor oil.

The castor oil waterproofing will be available in male and female fittings of the Venture Jackets, as well as in parka and two styles of overpants.

The official announcement of the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Green Award will be made in March, as the magazine's April Gear Guide issue hits newsstands and mail boxes.

The North Face Venture Jacket media release. See also references in the SNEWS coverage of the recent Outdoor Retailer trade show.

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Patagonia's Storm Jacket
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