- Weight: 288g (M) 247g (W)
- Heel/toe Drop: 6mm
- Type: trail
- Price $330
Worth looking at for experienced long-distance trail runners.
It’s to be hoped that this shoe is the start of a slew of decent offroad footwear from The North Face. The mountain wear giant has long produced superb apparel and been heavily involved in the offroad running scene. The elephant in the room has been its lack of ability to produce credible (or sometimes even any) trail running shoes worthy of the name. However, the brand now says it plans to rectify this and the Flight Vectiv is an ambitious first step in that direction.
WOMEN’S FLIGHT SERIES™ VECTIV SHOES
Far too white
First things first: yes, this a white trail running shoe. From a branding point of view we can see how that would make sense. If all your sponsored athletes turn up on a mountainside sporting these it will be immediately apparent whose shoes they have on their feet. The only effect it had on our rather more mortal runners, though, was to elicit uniform derision. White shoes + mud = unhappy mid-packers.
Ultra-priced for ultra distance?
The brand says the Vectiv is suitable for ultra-distance trail races but we’d say that this is unlikely unless you’re already a very experienced long distance trail runner. It’s not hefty, cushioned or reassuring enough for the masses to be able to use it for such a purpose. However, when we checked with the brand they did say that since the shoe is aimed primarily at very experienced runners; and one tester who fits this demographic (think gnarly fells and jam sandwiches for fuel) reported no comfort issues wearing this over a couple of whopping outings. As for the price, we’ll just say that $330 is punchy when you don’t have a heritage of excellence in the sector.
One thing to love about the Vectiv is the alchemy which makes it feel a lot lighter than its actual weight. It feels tough and scrappy enough to see you through most roughy and muddy trail conditions, but it hasn’t done this by loading on heavy protection and we found you can switch up the pace easily in them; they were good for different kinds of sessions and multi-tasked pretty well.
The upper, partly made from Kevlar, is extremely tough if a little baggy. In fact the upper was our biggest disappointment as we think it needs more overlays and general snugness of support across the midfoot. There were multiple moans about the foot sliding in the shoe when moving laterally. That said, did we mention it really is very tough?
There’s also a semi-rigid carbon fibre plate and this, along with a hefty chunk of midsole foam and a pronounced rocker shape are what are supposed to contribute to the shoe’s ultra-distance capabilities: more bounce, energy return and easier roll-through with less effort.
It would be lovely if carbon fibre could effectively be brought to the trails but this shoe has not nailed it yet. The plate was found to be largely redundant unless you’re running on hard-packed, flat routes – in which case it is a lovely experience. But for any mountain-goating around on technical terrains, it wasn’t a feature that we found to provide much benefit. Similarly, the rocker shape to the midsole works well on the flat and downhill but can be a hindrance going uphill.
There’s not much to say about the grip, but it is a key component of offroad shoes, so suffice to say that it coped well on everything it was tested on (in the Peak District, Devon, Surrey Hills, Cotswolds and other locations).
Comfortable, tough and durable, but overall a curate’s egg of a shoe that has potential but isn’t quite there yet. Fellow runners may want to check this out though.