REVIEWER: KATE DZIENIS
FOR ANYONE WANTING A SUPER CUSHY RIDE along the trails, the VECTIV Enduris by The North Face will be your go-to shoe in amongst your collection of runners piling up in your closet. Personally, my trail shoes were long overdue for replacement, so when I laced up this plush pair of marshmallows to my feet, I felt like I had a spring in my step before I even got out the door to test them.
When non-runners think of The North Face, they are more than likely to firstly think of fleece hoodies, thermo jackets and hiking backpacks to get through a hiking adventure, but us runners know that the brand’s footwear for trail running is incredibly superior – especially for those needing an extra supportive shoe that can carry them across longer distances and all types of terrain.
Its reach into outdoor performance products for trail runners has led to its very own VECTIV technology, full of patented 3D carbon fibre plating that works with forward motion and foot stabilisation – and its ability to encourage better running is disrupting the market like no one’s business.
So let’s talk trail shoe technology and what VECTIV is all about before getting into the feel and comfortability of their very well received supportive trail running shoe.
According to The North Face, the VECTIVE Enduris features rockered geometry in its midsole to enhance a forward propulsion, meaning that with thanks to the mechanics of science, the shoes actually help propel you forward. There is also a dual-density 3D TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) plate underfoot for multi-directional stability and to help with that forward propulsion.
The VECTIV Enduris is The North Face’s most supportive ultra-distance shoe in its VECTIV range, and it screams versatility up the wazoo with all those techy specs. It’s a responsive shoe, perfectly suited for terrain ranging from flat and fast dry pea gravel to rocky fire trails full of mud, boulders and slippery inclines. There are no-sew TPU overlays in the toe and heel for lightweight protection, an internal heel counter for precise fit and support, and an OrthoLite X55 footbed made with 5% recycled rubber content.
Onto the test run. Dealing with niggling inflammation on the exterior of my left foot, I set out hesitantly in pain along a single track limestone trail, but within 50-metres my confidence grew and I increased my pace. Why? The pain had already subsided.
My foot was given protection and plenty of cushioning to keep it happy, delivering me a soft and steady run without having to worry about turning around and hobbling back. In all honesty, I was flabbergasted but immensely pleased already at this stage.
Having a wider foot, I thoroughly loved that the shoes felt as though they were hugging my feet, with the fit conforming to my shape and giving me incredibly good support. They were true to size without any heel slippage, and given the warm weather early in the morning, breathability was excellent thanks to air mesh uppers.
I was surprised to learn that the VECTIV Enduris has a 6mm drop, as I’m used to generally wearing runners with an 8mm heel-to-toe offset, and at 278g per shoe they’re much lighter than all my usuals. Pulling them out of the box, though, they don’t look like a lightweight shoe with a lower-than-usual drop, but they are superbly designed, and looks can be deceiving.
Onto the outsoles, and the well-spaced 3mm lugs and deep treads gave me incredible grip on the trail, which was a combination of crushed limestone, sand and bike path. It can be a real battle to find a trail shoe with superior traction that can also adapt to all types of terrain, but I found that with the VECTIV Enduris I enjoyed my run because I wasn’t concerned about slipping or stumbling – I ran with confidence thanks to stability and protection, feeling that the whole shoe was working together with each aspect, especially the midsole and plate.
Definitely a technical trail shoe with its specific features for varying environments, the VECTIV Enduris provided all-around performance thanks to consistent comfort. The brand’s reputation for stability runners is upheld with this series of shoe; a top performer for those covering serious distances over fairly rough terrain.
The only downside was I found the laces were slightly thinner than I was used to, but they still went through to tie up with a strong heel/ankle lock with just enough lace to spare, so no qualms about that. Also, I’d noticed the tongue wasn’t gusseted, so there’s possibility of water and small debris being kicked back in, however the entire feel of the VECTIV Enduris, including its stability, grip, design, patented technology and specs, is well worth the price tag.
The VECTIV Enduris comes in black/white for both men and women, and there is also a grey/green alternative for men. The North Face name is becoming more popular amongst trail runners, and it’s worth noting that American ultra runner Dylan Bowman set his latest 149.669km Wonderland FKT (Washington, USA) in a pair of VECTIV Enduris, where he said the shoe “knocked it out of the park” when it came to using a carbon-fibre plated trail shoe in relentless mountain conditions.
Overall, The North Face has impressed me with the VECTIVE Enduris. It’s a top-of-the-line shoe that needs to be given more credit on Aussie and NZ trails, and I can’t wait to see where the brand will take its trail shoe technology in the near future.
THE LOW DOWN
GREAT FOR: All terrains and weather conditions. This is a high performance shoe made for endurance and ultra distances.
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Fast road running. The tread on this shoe is incredible and isn’t suitable for long runs on a foot or bike path.
TEST CONDITIONS: Flat, single track on dry crushed limestone and sand.
TESTER: Kate Dzienis
TESTER MECHANICS: Severe overpronator with wide feet, usually running in 8mm drop shoes.