Dark Shadow Grey / TNF Red – US Men’s size 9.5
I had an opportunity to try out and test the North Face Ultra Trail Running Shoes over the past week. That included a day of wearing the shoes around the office to break ‘em in, wearing the shoes during a Crossfit session, and a short hour-long hike on Cougar Mountain.
First Impressions: Before trying them on, I was really surprised at how light they are. I thought to myself, “Could these be lighter than the Nike Flyknit 4.0?” It turns out, they’re not quite that light, but still really light by most standards (the North Face weighs 9.1 ounces per shoe, while the FlyKnit measures 7.8 ounces). And you’d expect them to hold up well, since they’re designed for outdoor and trail use, but durability has yet to be confirmed.
My previous trail running shoes were made by a different brand and they blew out on the sides along the seam. So I’m glad there appears to be more reinforcement in this particular shoe.
Sidenote: My foot actually measures 8.5 EEE, but I always wear size 9.5, mainly because I don’t like my toes touching the front of a shoe. They fit true to size, like every other 9.5 on my short-wide feet.
The Verdict: So far, I love these shoes. You don’t feel any seams or edges. The tongue feels a tad short, but it was probably designed that way since it’s out of the way and you don’t realize it’s there. I tend to tie my shoes a little looser due to my wide foot, but my foot still felt secure during all my activities.
I haven’t had a chance to actually do any trail running in them (I have a hard time running much due to my recovery from a broken leg), but I did run in them for a short distance on hot pavement during a Crossfit session and they felt solid underfoot. I checked the Vibram soles, and they still look brand new. Not sure why but I expected them to melt a little bit in the almost 90 degree weather we’ve been having. That was not the case. I realize it wasn’t really designed for gym use, but I thought it would be a good test for the shoe.
During the short hike, they were more comfortable than expected. I’m used to hiking in mid-top boots with Gore-Tex to help protect my foot. But it was nice to have on something extremely light and breathable. The sole provided great grip. I stopped a few times to test the shoes on an incline and they held up great. I will probably go back to the boots when fall and winter arrive (along with all the rain), but these shoes will definitely be in the rotation for future hikes, especially in dry conditions.
*North Face shoes can be special ordered through Sturtevants. If interested, please email customerservice at sturtevants.com.
About The Reviewer: It’s easy to pick a winter sport, it’s either skiing or snowboarding. But summer time is when I get to try lots of different things, although I don’t really get to excel at any one. So look for my reviews on hiking gear, tennis products, golf, mountain biking, and more. -Jin