The North Face’s new Beyond the Wall Collection, with design input from Sam Elias, is all about the functionality you want out of climbing garments and the style you want beyond them. The Beyond the Wall Hoodie is lightweight and thin, good for staying warm between climbs on a fall day or in a chilly gym. Its polyester blend is supple yet sturdy, with a kevlar-like knit pattern that guards against rips and tears when brushing up against rough rock. The sleeves have thumb-loops—a nice feature for when you’re belaying—and the neck opens up with a three-button, diagonal slit to make cooling off simple as one, two, three. The hem falls to below the waist, but it is subtly wider at the bottom meaning that it can accommodate any extra bulk from a harness beneath.
The Beyond the Wall Rock Pants complement the hoodie nicely—their breathable nylon is gentle on the skin, but drys quickly and wicks sweat like other synthetics and is unlikely to snag on sharp holds. Despite a snug fit, the pants stretch for ease of movement. (The North Face suggests sizing them a size down from your normal measurements for the ideal fit.) The waistband is low-profile—without lots of annoying seams and bulk—which means your harness waist belt can sit right on top of it without bunching things up and getting uncomfortable. To prevent the pant legs getting in the way of your heel hooks or smears, there are drawstrings at the end of each leg. The most thoughtful, unique feature is a little compartment right just between the right hip-pocket and the right back-pocket, which fits a chalk brush.
Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice.