10 Best North Face Running Shoes Reviewed
The North Face is the new kid on the block in the world of running. They offer a variety of designs that focus on aggressive trail performance. Their experience making hiking shoes can be seen in their choice of durable materials and unique North Face styling. Ultra-Marathoners such as Timothy Olson and Dean Karnazes have started using them and maybe it’s time to see if they are right for you. For your consideration here are the 10 best North Face running shoes.
1. The North Face Ultra MT Trail
If comfort is your primary concern then consider the number 3 entry on this list, the Ultra Guide. The Ultra MT is built to conquer very technical terrain at a fast pace and has a snug cleat like fit in order to accomplish this. The exaggerated lugs combined with the Vibram megagrip outsole offer traction that rivals the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor while remaining lightweight. The 8mm toe to heel drop keeps you low to the ground.
The North Face made no compromises in their choice of materials and quality of construction in this model. In return it provides uncompromising performance and longevity. It is built to endure 100 mile races and is gaining a following in the ultra-marathon community. Includes a snake plate rock plate.
Cost or Value
Although the Ultra Mt is one of the pricier shoes on this list, it would be hard to find a shoe that offers everything it does without sacrificing either performance or weight. If you need the best, this is it.
- Uncompromising quality and durability
- Lightweight design with carefully selected materials
- Excellent traction
- Relatively high price
- Runners with wide feet may find the toe box a bit constrictive
2. The North Face Ultra Cardiac
Designed to stay comfortable in any situation, the Ultra Cardiac offers less traction then more aggressive designs, but unless you are running on very technical terrain or in icy conditions, you will enjoy this shoe’s lightweight simple design. This workhorse has everything the daily runner needs and nothing they don’t.
The Cardiac is less rugged then the Ultra Guide or Ultra MT. It may not be as suited for extremely aggressive terrain but it is a lightweight option for logging miles on dirt paths and on the road. If you use it as intended, then the upper will outlast the plush EVA sole.
Cost or Value
The Ultra Cardiac is unmatchable in its price range in regards to quality and function. For comparison consider this review for the Best Nike Shoes.
- Offers an impressive amount of cushioning for the weight
- Extremely breathable upper
- Workhorse versatility, can be used comfortably on roads or dirt paths.
- The breathable upper is less abrasion resistant then more aggressive models such as the Ultra MT
3. The North Face Ultra Guide
The combination of durability and comfort in the Ultra Guide allows you to be confident in your stride. They cling to rocks and uneven surfaces and are surprisingly comfortable. They aren’t the lightest shoes on this list, but they offer unparalleled impact control that rivals the Hoka in a comparatively lighter and less bulky package.
Despite its durability and tear resistance, the outsole remains breathable. Many of the impressive materials selected by The North Face can be found in this shoe. Its intelligent design focuses on durability and comfort.
Cost or Value
The Ultra Guide offers an affordable alternative to other offerings for runners who want to protect joints and avoid injury while descending off road terrain.
Excellent traction with aggressive outsole
Breathable and durable mesh outsole
Has a snake plate rock plate
- Extra cushioning and protection adds some weight
4. The North Face Ultra Endurance
This shoe is slightly heavier than the Cardiac because of the added snake plate and but uses a nearly identical breathable upper. If you want the added protection of a rock plate then select this shoe.
Similar to the Cardiac, the upper is not intended to be indestructible like in the Ultra Mt, but rather meant to be breathable. It will certainly last for most every day running if you don’t abuse it.
Cost or Value
The added features mean the Endurance costs slightly more than the Cardiac. You will have to decide if trail running specific features are worth the extra money, or if the versatility of the Cardiac is better for your needs.
- Great trail running performance for the average user
- Flexible snake plate rock plate
- Vibram megagrip outsole provides excellent traction
- The added features make this shoe ill-suited for any use other than off road running
5. The North Face Litewave TR
The Litewave TR is the lightest shoe on this list at 7.9 oz. This mean there is less cushioning. The 6mm heel to toe drop is lower to the ground then the other shoes on this list. These shoes have a very comfortable fit and are an excellent option for anyone who doesn’t need a lot of padding.
While not as rugged as the Ultra Mt or the Ultra Endurance, the Litewave TR will last if you take care of it. It is not made for extremely technical trail runs but will function well on and off the road for runners who don’t like bulky shoes and want to be close to the ground.
Cost or Value
The Litewave TR is an affordable option for front of the pack runners who are willing to give up some cushioning for lightweight agility.
- Lightest offering from North Face
- Simple yet attractive design
- Lack of rock plate and large lugs allows for excellent on and off road performance
- Less protection in favor of extremely low weight
- Less traction on slippery surfaces
6. The North Face Ultra Equity
Designed for everyday comfort, the Ultra Equity offers less traction then other designs, but unless you are running on very technical terrain or in icy conditions, you will enjoy this shoe’s lightweight simple design. This workhorse has everything the daily runner needs and nothing they don’t.
The Ultra Equity isn’t as overbuilt as the less the Ultra Guide or Ultra MT. It may not be as suited for very technical trails but it is a lightweight option for logging miles on or off road.
Cost or Value
The Ultra Equity is an excellent value due to its longevity and ability to prevent injury.
- Purpose built for overpronators
- Breathable and lightweight
- Versatile on and off road performance
- Limited color options
7. The North Face Ultra TR II
The glove like fit of the Ultra TR 2 will make you consider wearing them without socks. The tear resistant upper is a bit less breathable then the Airmesh used in other shoes in exchange for durability and water resistance. The upper thin in comparison to other shoes and does a great job of keeping your feet cool.
The Ultra TR2 is designed to hold up under wet and muddy conditions while remaining light and responsive. The tent fabric upper is designed to protect shoes from sticks, and the spikes on other runner’s shoes.
Cost or Value
These shoes are stylish and have unique features that can be found nowhere else. If the lightweight tear resistance is right for your needs then the price is unbeatable.
- Lightweight, especially for the level of durability
- Repels water and mud well and resists staining
- Excellent traction in wet conditions
- A bit less permeable to moisture, which can be good or bad thing depending on your needs
8. The North Face Single Track Hayasa II
The Hayasa is more like an “off road vehicle” then a “luxury sedan.” You may find it to be a stiffer ride then other options but if you want excellent traction and control on rough surfaces then it is the shoe for you. If the Japanese mojo is your thing but you want more stability, check out the La Sportiva Bushido for comparison.
Very well constructed, the Single Track Hayasa II can hold up to all the training runs you need to do to get ready for your race and still be ready to perform on race day without weighing you down.
Cost or Value
Although they aren’t the cheapest option, these shoes include many hard to find features in a lightweight durable package.
- Very lightweight despite the rockplate and generous lugs on the outsole
- Excellent traction and protection on the trails
- Have a relatively tight fit, consider trying them on before buying or ordering a size up if you have wide feet.
9. The North Face Single Track II
With a more relaxed fit in comparison to The North Face’s typical fit, the Single Track II will make you want to wear it as every day shoe. The steep heel to toe drop and thick sole under the heel will satisfy even the most shameless heel striker.
Reminiscent of a pair of classic trainers. The Single Track II will hold up well for treadmill use and pavement pounding, but may not be the right choice for muddy and rocky trail conditions.
Cost or Value
In comparison, you may find that the Single Track II is more expensive than some other trainer options, but if the North Face styling appeals to you then they may be right for you.
- 12mm heel drop offers plenty of support for heel strikers
- Forgiving design will protect you if your form isn’t perfect
- Plenty of plush cushioning that will be very familiar to users converting from shoes such as the Nike Pegasus.
- The trail specific features are less pronounced, and shouldn’t be mistaken for a shoe designed for technical terrain.
10. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX
The 109 GTX offers much more stability then the average running shoe and is useful for a variety of applications outside of running. Its comfortable and conservative design would lend itself well as an everyday shoe or a companion on backpacking trips.
Durability is the 109 GTX main purpose. It’s not the lightest or flashiest shoe, but it will outlast all of the bright trendy shoes. Built more like a pair of hiking shoes that are meant to last a lifetime than just a running season, you will find use for these shoes long after the running season is over.
The higher price of the GTX 109 is justifiable if you want one pair of shoes that can take you anywhere. Your morning run, the office, a weekend backpacking trip, the GTX is a versatile tool that will last.
- Extremely versatile, beyond use as a running shoe
- Very sturdy
- Excellent traction in wet or dry conditions.
- The versatility of this design means it is not a purebred training or racing shoe
The North Face offers a variety of running shoe offerings, but they may not be the best choice for everyone, they are intended for long distance trail performance and aggressive traction. If you have a wider foot, then you may want to consider a shoe from our list of 10 Best Running Shoes For Wide Feet