Early 1980s The North Face Gore-Tex Anorak Parka

An age of innovation is evident in this beautifully functional anorak parka. First let’s talk about the fabric choice. While Gore-Tex had been around for over a decade by 1980, commercial use didn’t really begin until 1976. So at the time of this parkas’ manufacture, the breathable, waterproof fabric was still new to consumers and just beginning to overtake old standards like rip-stop nylon, 60/40 and other poly cotton blends as go-to shell materials. The early version of Gore-Tex used here is much thicker than what we know today, and actually has a weight closer to 60/40. The white label found in the hood, an early commercial example (earlier versions were white on black), has what I believe to be a month and year of manufacture on the back side. I have never fully authenticated this theory, but after years of looking at these labels and comparing to catalogs and other resources, it seems to line up. The markings seen on this label are IV/82, or April, 1982. The practice of this dating on the backside of labels also appears to continue in the early black version of the Gore-Tex Label.

This parka featured fully taped seams inside. While most of the glue holding these in place has broken down and the loose strips removed, some remain as evidence of TNF’s commitment to building an advance take on an old design and getting the most out of this revolutionary fabric. The design intentionally avoids seams at the shoulders to further improve the overall waterproof effectiveness.

The closures on this parka get an upgrade in the form of the custom TNF zipper pulls. While The North Face embossed snaps had been around for probably a decade at this point, the proprietary zipper pulls are a new add. If we look at the back of the zipper head, we can see that the zipper is Manufactured by YKK. My guess is that custom zipper pulls offered YKK a great way to expand their business, attract customers and gain the dominance over the industry they have today. Prior to this time, there seemed to be a handful of zipper makers used in outdoor gear such as Talon and Coats and Clark or C&C. I am a little surprised the Fastex cord locks at the hood and waist drawstring are not The North Face labeled, but those were not too far off from this time period.

Maybe one of the biggest differences a vintage TNF fan will notice is the label update. Up to now there have been a few minor variations of the brown logo on white background, but now we’re looking at a white logo on navy background. This parka features only one small sleeve logo I think in an effort to preserve the integrity of the Gore-Tex being used. The Gore-Tex label is carefully tucked away in a seam of the hood drawstring. A material tag inside the jacket is maybe for a reason, brown print on a white tag. Not long after this piece was made The North Face would introduce the Extreme series, which continued this trend of innovative designs and construction for outdoor sports.

Banana Equipment Anorak Parka

Vintage Banana Equipment Anorak Parka

Banana Equipment was a label born in Estes Park Colorado, at the foot of Rocky Mountain National park in the 1970s. Like the other Colorado companies of that era, they created quality goods for the serious outdoors men and were early to incorporate advancements in materials such as Gore-Tex.

This Anorak parka was produced later on in the company’s life time. As suggested by the color combination and logo, this piece was probably produced in the mid 80s. An earlier label would have included ‘Estes Park USA’ under the Gorilla.

Rather simple by design, this parka consists of a single layer poly/nylon fabric lower and double layers around the yoke. A nylon draw cord at the bottom is used rather than the more popular waist placement of that era. The front of the yoke reveals a small kangaroo pocket when unbuttoned.

Production runs of Banana Equipment products were small and these pieces are harder to come by than similar era outdoor equipment manufacturers.