Where and how to buy Authentic Vintage The North Face Gear
Why buy Vintage?
- Less people will have the rare styles and colors that you may find.
- Buying Vintage is considered recycling. Used items have less impact on the planet.
- Vintage items are less likely to be counterfeit. Especially since many are not imported.
- Vintage items will often cost much less, while offering superior, proven quality.
- Some pieces are significant to exploration/mankind history.
Noteworthy Series and Production lines :
For the better part of forty-five years or so, The North Face has provided quality gear to all walks of exploration. They were the first brand to provide gear specifically made to meet the demands of extreme skiers decades ago. TNF was the most successful brand to incorporate Gore-Tex fabric technology into its gear, first doing so well over thirty years ago. The North Face was also the brand that sponsored the legendary on-foot expedition of Will Steger across Antarctica.
For enthusiast and collectors alike, the production series/line can be the most important factor in buying Vintage The North Face gear.
Lets overview what series and lines collectors/enthusiast commonly look for:
- Trans-Antarctica Expedition - This line was originally designed for the six men that made the first recorded on-foot crossing of Antarctica. The expedition began in 1989 and ended in 1990. Most of the gear from this line will have commemorative 3M patches, however not all will. The two primary patches are: a box logo with six flags one for each nation/man and the cookie patch Trans-Antarctica decal logo.
- Steep Tech - Originally designed for extreme skier Scot Schmidt, the line was the first of its kind. The first and only line of gear intended to meet the demands of the then new style of extreme skiing. Public production started around 1990/1991. The line used a box logo with STEEP TECH inside as its main insignia until the mid 1990s when the "Sphere of the Physique" symbol was added.
- Extreme and Vertical Series - Before the innovations introduced with the Steep Tech line, there was Extreme and Vertical series. Both date back to the mid 80s, but only the Extreme line made it into the mid 90s. Gear from these lines often will only show "extreme" or "vertical" under the TNF logo. No special symbols until the 90s when a few different models had special designation like "Extreme Light" in box logo format.
- Rage - This line is often overlooked nowadays because of its aggressive styling. Many items were oddly colored and oversized. Unusually thick zippers, polartec and cordura. The term "RAGE" was often embroidered vertically at the bottom or top of items in this line. Circa was late 80s and early-to-mid 90s. Many look past these pieces cause they are strange looking and frankly tacky.
- Search and Rescue - Intended for professionals in Search and Rescue response teams, civilian, professional and military alike. The public line ranged from 95 to 98 and featured shells, suits, packs and pants. Some gear from this line had an black cookie patch with Search and Rescue circular logo/text. Items that have the patch sell considerably higher than those without.
- Remote Terrain Gear - Abbreviated as just "RTG", the Remote Terrain Gear series only lasted a few season (about 95 to 98 or so) but made a lasting impression due to the versatility of the gear. The logo for the RTG series is fairly large, typically with yellow/golden text centered between alpine/ice tools.
- Heli - Similar purpose as the Steep Tech line, the Heli line offered gear specifically for extreme skiers that do "Heli Jumps", basically skiers that jump straight out the Helicopter and ride down the mountain's north face. This line is like the RTG and SAR lines in that they were mid 90s limited editions; about 95 to 97 or so circa. The logo is box style with large text "HELI" below the silhouette of helicopter blades.
- Mountain Jacket, Mountain Guide and Mountain Light - The first Mountain Jacket was around 1984/1985 circa or so; its among the few The North Face jacket/shell models to be produced for decades in continuum, in some form or model name variation. Simple yet effective while durable, a modern day benchmark in design. Early models are Made in the USA with Gore-tex technology. Some special/foreign models have logo/patch additions: i.e. the European Mountain Jackets of the 90s often had "Expedition System" above The North Face logo.
- Tonar/Color-Block - The color-block series that features box The North Face logos was produced in the late 80s to early 90s. Many pieces from the line are unisex, however many sellers will list/sell them as womens. Loud combinations like purple with slime green, or orange and pink, baby blue and pink are just a few of color-block combinations available from this line of Vintage The North Face gear.
- Summit Series - This line began in the late 90s, early 00s or so. The early gear was not high volume and was not imported. Noteworthy pieces have "Polartec Heat" technology that features "Warmth on Demand". Heated gear came with battery pack/charger when purchased new, nowadays its typical to find one without the other when offered for sale. Early models will also have the Summit Series mountain crest/logo on the right arm instead of the left.
Where and How to Buy and Find :
Arguably the best online market to find Vintage The North Face items is ebay. In recent years the ebay buying/selling market has changed considerably, however this has not negatively affected the number of vendors selling The North Face products, new and vintage alike.
While browsing on ebay just do a simple search for "vintage north face". More experienced buyers will be able to discern an items generation just by looking regardless of the search keywords, but for now lets just get acquainted with the basics.
Just about all the items listed under "vintage north face" will be authentic.Typically loud retro colors will be listed as womens when in fact its often male or unisex; don't let the colors fool you. Most gear produced before 93 is almost guaranteed to be Made in USA.
Since many sellers on ebay will not know what they are selling specifically by name/generation/circa, the wining bidder may walk away with a lower than average value price. However, before spending any money, you should educate yourself thoroughly.
Avoid overpaying. Shady sellers will try to make profit with embellished item descriptions/prices. In most cases vintage items are used with unknown history/purpose. So just cause something is listed as "rare" does not mean someone else doesn't have it listed for less and in better condition.
Tips review for buying Vintage The North Face on ebay-
- Have prior-knowledge of what you are buying and who you are buying from. I.E. the model, series, circa, condition, reputation of the seller.
- Unless the piece is extremely rare, do not bid high for used gear. Part of knowing how rare the item is comes with buying experience however, do not listen to the seller.
- DO NOT bid early. This applies to everything on ebay but its very simple logic: bidding early will only increase the final price. When other bidders see that someone has bidded, they bid until they are in the lead, then the bid war ensues.
- Ask the seller questions: i.e the measurements, flaws or request more pictures.
- Avoid certain seller criteria. Some will take advantage of ignorant buyers.
- When searching use keywords like: "vintage north face", "retro north face" and "north face gore-tex" for good results.
- Use the "sold listings" filter when searching to see what has recently sold. This is a newer feature on ebay and is often overlooked. Its located to the left of the page, under the "Delivery Options" fieldset there will be the "Show Only" fieldset that has a checkbox box called "sold listings". After clicking you will see the real market price for items that have recently ended. Very powerful tool, sellers cannot hide what they cannot control.
*There are many sites to search on like craiglist, geartrade, forum classifieds. However, its best to focus on ebay for consistency, selection and best prices.*
This site has been around for a few years and has a decent amount of Vintage The North Face gear. The prices are so high however that this site is best used as a reference for your education only. The owner rarely made sales on ebay due to how much money they wanted per piece, for used gear.
The high ranking in search results does not mean they are the authority on Vintage The North Face gear. Not nearly.
The owner even tried to sell the domain name for an astronomical $5k on ebay recently; even admitting in the listing description that sales are poor and they are seeking another venture. The owner is a member of Trail Space forum as well and has been known for treating new collectors/enthusiasts with little respect for no reason.
Beware of the site, you can find a better price for everything they have listed elsewhere. Do not fall for their hype/puffery. Sites like this only fuel greed within the buying/selling community online.
Just read and learn from their product descriptions at best; do not overpay for used gear and do not base your prices off theirs (if you do then you will be waiting a long time just to take advantage of someone).
If your parents or older relatives used to hike/explore/ski, you may already have some Vintage The North Face gear already available to you, just ask away.
As time passes and memory fades, its not uncommon for closets and attics to act as time capsules for fashion/gear. Many Vintage The North Face shells and packs are hidden away just awaiting discovery in your folks home.
Storage auctions and estate sales can be a treasure trove as well. When storage auction hunting; aim for sporting goods and outdoorsman units when possible. Try gathering as much info about the unit before bidding/buying.
Some auctions let you peek before bidding, try spotting ski racks or anything similar for a possible sporting/backcountry supply/goods unit. Knowing what type of person/entity owned the unit goes a long way. The awesomeness in buying from storage containers is in the fact that a lot of stuff may not have sold (or never made it to the stores) years ago, which means that the gear may still have its original tags with msrp.
Nothing is cooler than New Old Stock Vintage The North Face Gear, especially when you don't have to get involved with the ebay ruse.
Estate/yard sales will require a more advanced "eye" when buying. Do much research before buying as always. Getting a good deal reflects how much prior knowledge you have, typically speaking of course.
Having friends with similar interest can help too, again, just ask. College friends, cafe buddies, hikers and other explorers may have Vintage The North Face gear that they want to part with for little or nothing. Grow your network of like minded people, theres no telling what you may have access to until you actually ask/socialize with your peers/elders. However depending on the friend type (acquaintance or close friend), you may end up paying more than the average market price, so use discretion and do the research before spending money, knowledge is key.
Criteria to avoid and beware of :
On ebay, a few noteworthy sellers are engaging in shady business practices. They prey on unsuspecting buyers by "flipping" the price. Buyers and sellers should be aware of their trading partners, try to avoid being taken advantage of.
Basically, a certain type of seller will buy an item, then within weeks relist it at ten times the amount that they paid. The seller will try to make a fancy listing description, puffing how "rare" and "amazing" the item is.
Strangely enough, the people that engage in this shady practice try to sell the item to the same audience that they competed with in bidding.
Sellers and buyers should be aware of the shady practices of some vendors; a few well known participants are: 0riginalvintage, ironman_finisher and 9140emery to name a few.
The most brazen would be 0riginalvintage, this ebay member will buy anything Vintage The North Face, then relist it at an astronomically markup. Just about everything they have listed is a flip, a markup. Do not fall for this members traps, everything they have listed can be found on ebay for a fraction of their price, guaranteed.
0riginalvintage has also been reported numerous times by different buyers and sellers alike, not because of the shady practices, but for sheer rudeness in messaging. Seller has been quoted cursing/swearing in numerous messages. So beware, 0riginalvintage is an angry, dishonest member of the ebay community; do not fall for their overpriced resell markup.
As a buyer it is extremely important to keep in mind that Vintage The North Face gear will be loved and enjoyed, for years even decades. When sellers describe something that is twenty years old as "excellent" or "perfect" yet they only post two pictures with ebay mobile, BEWARE.
Vendors that fit the criteria above are often lax with the item description, on top of posting with the blurring/fuzzy ebay mobile app.
Do not pay top dollar just to win an item with undisclosed issues. Older waterproof shells and gear will delaminate over time with heavy use; materials like Gore-tex and Ultrex will make a distinctive sound when shaken/moved. The sound is loud and unmistakable, ironically it sounds and looks like sand. Dishonest vendors may not disclose this issue to potential buyers, typically the seller will ignore it or just play "dumb".
Much of the The North Face gear from the mid to late nineties features super thick 500D and 1000D cordura and kevlar fabrics on the outer shell. These fabric can hold an odor like you would not believe if not properly cared for. The smell only gets worst with time, even after proper washing and curing there is no guarantee that the odor will be completely gone. Which is another noteworthy aspect to consider when buying from vendors that have lax listing descriptions. If the seller doesn't mention it, just ask - does it smell funny? Especially with old Steep Tech gear (especially pants/bibs/salopettes).
Some states require by law that textile be washed before sale/exchange/etc. Not too many sellers on ebay actually practice this and for Vintage The North Face gear its no different. Gear should be laundered prior to sale, as it is no-way of the buyer knowing what allergens or pathogens may have attached to the fabrics during use. Request that the seller properly launder the item according to the provisions on the care tag (very important), when applicable.
Many techware items are not be dry cleaned or put in the dryer. A seller can ruin gear forever if they improperly launder the item. You can tell when a fleece/sweater has been in the dryer; its adult sized yet measures like a kids size with long arms. A shell can appear to be "wrinkled forever" if put in the dryer.
BEWARE OF EBAY USER 9140emery
Ebay seller 9140emery is becoming a major weirdo like 0riginalvintage nowadays check this out:
He wants $346 plus $10 shipping.................
He only paid $77.77 with free shipping.
Its obviously the same dingy vest that is missing the inner label. The vest even has major parts cut off.
Sellers like him have no integrity, they ruin the buyer confidence on ebay. They make other sellers paranoid too....................
BEWARE OF 9140emery
The reality is that HELI items are not selling for $xxx like they did years ago on ebay. Recently shells and vest have been selling on ebay for anywhere between $75 and $200, for complete pieces without defects. One seller has been trying to sell two vest for 500 a pop, and guess what......... they have been on ebay for years now.
Another point about this strange being, he is so desperate to resell Vintage The North Face gear he will try to bribe sellers with more money if an item sells low.
A while back I won a Trans Shell, the infamous six nations model for about $80 or so at auction format; would you believe ebay member 9140emery contacted the seller immediately after and offered him $300. Obviously the seller took the offer and cussed me out.
Then, obviously, a few weeks later this weirdo lists the same shell at $300 in auction format. After only a few bids it sells for $356 plus the $10 shipping, but ebay takes about 14 percent (that's fee included too), plus he had to ship it. So he was a complete weirdo just to make $5 dollars profit, sad right..........
This happened when people where trying to get $1000 for Trans shells before/during the 2013 Holiday season. Problem was however the seller had the shell on his DRIVEWAY on the PAVEMENT on top of OIL SPOTS.......... Keep in mind that this did not stop 9140emery from trying to resell.
BEWARE OF 9140emery
About Mountain Jackets:
The classic Mountain Jacket is probably the most infamous Vintage The North Face item. Sellers often try to milk this fame, charging more than retail for a twenty year old shell with wear/tear.
Check this example from well known reseller mentioned above, 0riginalvintage:
He thinks its so rare he tripled his buying price to $500, right, well its actually pretty easy to find especially on ebay.co.uk.
This red one pictured below sold for about $90 bucks shipped from the UK, and that's actually the high price, including currency conversion.
These Mountain Jackets are from the mid- 1990s and feature the words "Expedition System" above the TNF exterior shell logos.
Arguably the best Mountain jackets were the original Made in the USA models produced in the mid 1980s to the early 1990s. Screen printed logos were featured instead of the thick embroidery found in the late 1990s imported models. Aside from the logo, the left sleeve does not have the "Gore-Tex" name stitched at the wrist.
Interestingly though, these early Made in the USA Mountain Jackets sell very low on ebay in contrast to the imported models. Which is great for the buyer and a let down for sellers.
If you are looking for the early USA models, you can get away with spending less than $50 bucks shipped:
USA Mountain Light with the rare matching interior label and screened logos sold for only $20.50 shipped.
Green USA model in excellent condition for about $42 bucks.
Above; early imported model for about $35 shipped.
Getting a classic Mountain Guide in excellent condition does not have to cost $100-$200 or more on ebay. They sell for under $50 all the time.
About Steep Techs
Steep Tech items on ebay have similar highs and lows as Mountain jackets. The older USA models can be purchased for less than $75 while imported models receive ridiculous hype cause of their weight and use of Kevlar.
A USA model Smear in Purple ended for about forty bucks pictured below:
Typically the orange USA model Work Steep Tech command the most of the early models. Some have been sold at $500, which is high enough but a year ago a city seller wanted $2,000 buy now on ebay.
However, check out the screenshot below:
This no hype auction sold for about $200 with three original USA Steep Tech pieces. That's with the orange aka mango shell and bibs with the fleece pants.
The MYTH about Trans-Antarctica
On 12-24-2013, ebay user melinisabel listed two Trans shells for over $2,000.
The first is the well known full zip model in turquoise/teal, size small at $2,500 or best offer.
While the second is the purple pullover shell with a few notable issues at $3,500 or best offer.
So the problem is they only paid $450 for the green one and around $700 for the purple one.
Why are they multiplying the price? Maybe cause they are both size small, the seller thinks they are worth more than every other Trans shell listed.
Neither is in mint condition nor has tags. The purple one is dirty and has some of the velcro re-sewn on in the wrong color stitching, on top of faded patches. While the green one is an outlet piece, so no one has ever paid retail for it, even when brand new.
The holiday season of 2013 began strange when two sellers listed sub-par shells at $1000. From that point onward they were used as a benchmark for other sellers. In 2012 one of the rarest Trans shell only sold for $500, an orange uap with the USA flag; as of 2014 the same model sold for about $1100 at auction format.
The MYTH is how rare the trans series is supposed to be. All these hyped prices/sellers are hinged on the idea that these pieces are so are hard to find. You'd be surprised.
Well to be honest with you: in the last year alone I have purchased the same Trans shell three times for LESS THAN $150 TOTAL on EBAY.
In late 2012 I purchased a size small like the one melinisabel is selling right now, FOR $29.95 + 5.95 S/H = $35.90 in very nice condition.
Then a few weeks later another for $20 + 9.02 S/H = $29.02 size large in decent condition.
And about a few more weeks later, a size medium for $68.00 + 12.00 S/H = $80 in good condition.
I also purchased the UAP Trans fleece in orange, size small for only $55 shipped about a month ago. The same fleece that eBay member 0riginalvintage has been trying to sell for a year at $400. He actually increased his price to $550 in early 2014.
And I'm not the only person to do so, check out this screen shot of one of the other Trans full zip shells, its the model that came with a belt and no flag patches:
This shell sold for about $80 with buy now listing format, size large with warranty intact and belt.
NOT $800 but $80 buy now.
Another one like it in purple was listed at $950 recently and did not sell.
So what's the real reason for such a big difference?
The only consistent reason that I have found for the significant price differences may offend some readers, so I apologize in advance. But, believe it or not, all the Trans Antarctica pieces over $500 that I have seen offered are almost always posted by sellers that live in major cities.
Cities that are well known for over hyping clothing brands (among other things like food, music, lifestyle, real-estate).
Most commonly being New York and Chicago areas, respectively. Consumers in these areas tend to over hype and exaggerate the real value of many markets, and unfortunately Vintage The North Face gear has fallen victim to their puffery machine. Similar to what has happened to retro Nike footwear, virtually the same types of people whom list used shoes with holes in the soles for double the retail price.
So beware, if you are not one of these types of consumers, its hard to justify spending exponentially more than you have to. Here is another screenshot if you are still skeptical:
A size medium piece in great condition for about $200 from a seller in Indiana.
Ebay can be great but it can be a buyer trap if you don't do the research.
Final Notes :
Do research before spending anything over $100. You'd be surprised how many times you can find the same pieces for less or in better condition.
Avoid the flip trap, for prospective buyers and sellers alike. Check the profiles of the people that interact with you online before you finalize a deal.
Avoid selling anything you like or cherish on ebay, these buyers are expecting low prices and/or they are usually resellers. Plus, paypal payments on ebay are now on hold for everyone, its standard practice if you sell low volume; so you will not get your money earned through ebay for weeks or never, sad right.
Finding Vintage The North Face gear can be far more rewarding when searching offline in your community or travels. Foreign places have different releases, keep in mind that The North Face has been an international/global operation for decades now.