We tested the shoe The North Face spent more than 2 years developing and testing with the most elite athletes on the planet.
The North Face has a long history of product innovation, although that tends to be in apparel categories (think its Retro line, FUTURELIGHT membrane, or Gucci collaboration). Not anymore. The brand’s latest tech is debuting in a different category: footwear.
The Flight VECTIV shoe, announced this week, is one of three new footwear iterations from The North Face with VECTIV technology. And The North Face called it “the innovation of 2021″ for the brand.
“Born on the trail, VECTIV stemmed from athlete insight,” The North Face wrote in its press release. That “insight” led to a massive effort by both athletes and product developers alike to create a shoe that would maximize your energy and promote forward momentum.
Over the past 2 years, The North Face athlete team logged more than 6,000 miles to help develop and refine the shoe. And it paid off: The North Face acknowledged its athlete testers set 17 running records in the VECTIV shoes.
We didn’t have 2 years to test, and we definitely didn’t log 6,000 miles, but we did take the Flight VECTIVs for a few spins to get the fit and feel for what The North Face called a “revolution within the footwear industry.”
In short: The hallmark feature is a new carbon plate technology the brand said it can “tune” to suit different pursuits (long miles, sloppy hikes, etc.). The running-dedicated Flight VECTIV I tested proved very light and breathable, with nice, sturdy lugs and a glove-like fit.
VECTIV Technology Goals
The North Face has repeatedly called its new VECTIV tech “revolutionary.” Here’s why, and here’s where the brand hopes the tech will take it and its athletes in the future. The North Face’s “revolutionary soling architecture” — which is essentially the combination of the outsole, VECTIV carbon fiber plate, and midsole — can be tuned for the demands of different activities.
The brand has fine-tuned the VECTIV technology differently in each of the upcoming eight models for running, hiking, fast hiking, technical approaches, elite racing, and more.
According to third-party research, the Flight VECTIV also reduces downhill tibial impact by 10%. The ultimate goal is for The North Face to be able to constantly adjust and further innovate its footwear.
The North Face Flight VECTIV Shoe: First Look
On my first run in the Flight VECTIV shoes on a casual 4-mile out-and-back trail, I could feel they were built to sustain a solid pace, no matter the distance. The shoes are sleek, feel pretty light, and have an accurate fit. I wore the Flight VECTIVs on several 20- to 40-degree (Fahrenheit) winter runs, then again in 70-degree weather. The shoes were breathable and comfortable.
In terms of the VECTIV technology, I paid extra attention to my stride while running. Do they really promote forward momentum? Whether it’s the carbon fiber plate, the design, or their interesting rocker shape, I found myself aiming for more generous strides. Or maybe that was inspiration from the giant hill I was approaching.
Whatever the case, the shoes feel nice and stable, and they’re grippy on uneven and snowy terrain.
The multidirectional lugs are aggressive — and for good reason. These shoes should be able to tackle a variety of trails over a variety of distances. We’re looking forward to testing the Flight VECTIV trail shoes long-term.
- Materials: Carbon fiber plate, Kevlar and polyamide upper, TPE footbed, 3D-molded heel, rubber outsole
- Construction: Welded overlays, 3D-knit upper, tongueless sock-like cuff, reflective details
- Specs: 3.5mm lugs, 6mm offset
- Weight: 8 oz. per shoe (size 7.5)
- Price: $199
The North Face Flight VECTIV shoes are available now for preorder to VIPeak members only online. The other new models — VECTIV Infinite and VECTIV Enduris — are also available. Learn more here.
For non-VIPs, the full VECTIV collection will hit the market on Feb. 25.