10 Best North Face Running Shoes Tested In-Depth
North Face is a highly regarded brand thanks to their quality, design, and tried and true products. Their running shoes are used by thousands of runners and outdoor enthusiasts are strong supporters of the brand. The best North Face running shoes encompass everything you need in a pair of outdoor shoes and the brand’s significant contributions to the athletic market speaks for itself.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, our list of the top 10 best North Face running shoes featured below is sure to have something for everyone—no matter what you are looking for!
Take a look below to find your next pair of running shoes!
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Very lightweight despite the rock plate and generous lugs on the outsole
Excellent traction and protection on the trails
10 Best North Face Running Shoes
1. Ultra Endurance
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
The Ultra Endurance is an incredibly comfortable and sable pair of shoes. Not only is it sturdy, but its aggressive design is incredibly durable without adding too much extra weight. If you like to hit the trails and are an avid outdoor enthusiast then you need to take a closer look at this pair of shoes!Read more
These shoes are really comfortable and slightly heavier than other options--although they are not too heavy. This extra weight is due to the added snake plate. These shoes are also incredibly breathable and well-ventilated.
Thanks to the added rock plate, these shoes offer additional stability and support to ensure your ankles don't easily roll. This will help you prevent injury and ensure that your feet have the support they need to hit the trails.
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.
These running shoes were specifically designed to take on the great outdoors. They will protect your feet from anything that comes your way and ensure that you prevent injury from occurring while you are out.
If you are looking for a pair of shoes that you can rely on when you hit your favorite trails, then you will love these. Specifically designed to offer you the stability and support you need, these are perfect for the rugged terrain you love.
2. Ultra MT Gore-Tex
Runners have suggested they would like a winder choice of colors.
A ladies shoe offering durability, protection, and comfort. To guarantee dryness the shoe provides an impenetrable moisture barrier and for unrivaled traction, the shoe features traction for dry and wet environments through the superb Vibram Mega-Grip Outsole. The North Face shoe is an exciting running experience, read our review and see if this shoe offers the performance which you are looking for.Read more
The shoes offer maximum comfort and are durable long lasting and very easy to clean after a run on sticky muddy trails. The Women's Ultra MT Gore-Tex is a nice weight shoe at 9.1 ounces (258 grams) and the shoe comes with an 8- mm offset. This shoe is constructed to take on the toughest trail runs, you can comfortably tackle anything that a trail will throw at you.
These running shoes were specifically designed to handle technical terrain. This means that they offer excellent stability without sacrificing responsiveness--so, with this pair of shoes, you are getting a pair of shoes that will prevent your ankles from rolling, no matter how technical the terrain you are running on.
Quality and durability are very high in this ladies performance running shoe, durability for a hard wearing firm grim comes from the excellent Vibram-MegaGrip Outsole system, feel confident while you run on surfaces which can vary as you ascend or descend. The Outsole is backed up by the two-piece midsole which provides durable long lasting forefoot and heel cushion and gives even more through the high quality performing ESS tech designed into the forefoot which will protect the foot from stones.
Great protection for ladies. you can trust the over-lasted ripstop mesh while also be confident that moisture protection is at the optimal level. Featuring awesome all weather foot protection through the built-in Gore-Tex membrane, As you ascend or descend feel fully protected for the prevention of blisters through the innovative and stabilizing Flash-Dry collar.
These are designed for technical terrain--they are even completely waterproof, so you know they are made to handle anything that will come your way (even water). And the best part, they are breathable even though they are waterproof!
3. Ultra Cardiac
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 than more aggressive models such as the Ultra MT
This lightweight cushioned running shoe is one of North Face’s most versatile options. From the treadmill to the comfort-focused gimmick free trainer will keep you running with its breathable mesh upper and comfort-focused design.Read more
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.
As far as stability, these shoes offer a great amount of stability and ensure that your ankles don't roll. While these shoes offer additional stability and support, that does mean it is a little heavier--but not too heavy.
The Cardiac is less rugged than 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.
These running shoes offer a significant amount of protection and will ensure that your feet remain protected from the outdoor elements no matter how rugged the terrain.
Since these running shoes are designed to hit the trails then it is safe to say they are better for rugged terrain. This means they won't work for road running or treadmill running--but they will definitely offer the stability, support, and protection you need to handle the rugged terrain.
4. Ultra 109 GTX
Extremely versatile, beyond use as a running shoe
Excellent traction in wet or dry conditions.
The versatility of this design means it is not a purebred training or racing shoe
Easily mistaken for a pair of hiking shoes, the Ultra 109 GTX is a burly and conservative solution for runners seeking maximum protection and comfort and who aren’t concerned about weight. Durability, water resistant and excellent traction are what this shoe is all about.Read more
Its comfortable and conservative design would lend itself well as an everyday shoe or a companion on backpacking trips.
The 109 GTX offers much more stability than the average running shoe and is useful for a variety of applications outside of running.
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 a use for these shoes long after the running season is over.
Since these are much sturdier and more durable than most, they definitely offer a great deal of protection. If you want a pair of shoes that will ensure that you can handle even the most rugged terrain, you will love these if you need that level of protection.
These shoes are built like hiking shoes and designed for hiking terrain. They will keep you well-protected not matter how rugged the terrain is and ensure that you can handle anything that comes your way.
5. Ultra Equity
Purpose built for overpronators
Breathable and lightweight
Versatile on and off-road performance
Limited color options
Specially designed for overpronators, the Ultra Equity is the Ultra Cardiac’s purpose-built cousin. They share nearly identical features, but these are designed to prevent injuries in runners who need to correct their pronation. If instead, you are an underpronator, consider our list of the best shoes for underpronators.Read more
Designed for everyday comfort, the Ultra Equity offers less traction than 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.
If you want a pair of shoes that offers ideal stability that will prevent your feet from rolling, then you will love these. They definitely offer a great deal of support and stability and if you overpronate you will definitely love these.
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.
While these shoes offer a great deal of protection, they are not the most protective on our list--but they can definitely handle their fair share of obstacles.
These shoes are great for road running and light trail running. They are definitely not designed for incredibly rugged terrain but they are a perfect pair of running shoes for overpronators.
6. Ultra Kilowatt
Great for long distance
Expensive for some
The Ultra Kilowatt trail running shoes are perfect for any avid runner who wants a great pair of shoes for hitting the trails. They are durable, comfortable, and provide optimal stability.Read more
Ultra Kilowatt by North Face provide runners like you with a high level of stability and comfort while you are out on your trail runs. They apply a unique sole design that focuses on high levels of midsole protection and provides high levels of shock protection for your feet and legs.
The Ultra Kilowatt shoes efficiently carry you on those longer runs and keep you from experience sore and tired muscles as quickly as other subpar running shoes. The unique design technology both absorbs impact and provides you with maximum stability and support no matter what condition the trail may be in.
7. Litewave TR II
Great for both trail and road running
Great for long distance running
Water gets trapped in the upper's mesh
The Litewave TR II shoes is one of the best trail running shoes the North Face has to offer. They are simple, lightweight, and perfect for all runners--whether you participate in short or long distance running.Read more
They use EVA cushioning and have a 6mm drop--allowing them to provide you with a barefoot feel during your runs.
These shoes can be used for both trail and road running. They are extremely lightweight and minimalistic--they do not use a rock plate, excessive lugging, and provide you with a firm heel counter.
Like most of the shoes from the North face, these are also highly durable shoes made from high-quality material. They also utilize a thick, dual-density mesh material for added durability.
They provide additional midfoot reinforcement and feature a toe bumper for additional protection.
While these shoes are designed for long-distance running, you can definitely use them for any distance--but stay on the road because they are not designed for rugged terrain.
8. Ultra MT Trail
Uncompromising quality and durability
Lightweight design with carefully selected materials
Relatively high price
Runners with wide feet may find the toe box a bit constrictive
This premium offering from The North Face is a stylish and protective option for serious trail runners. All of the positive elements from the other shoes on this list are present in this uncompromising shoe intended for the gnarliest off-road adventures and trail races. It offers unparalleled traction and protection.Read more
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 mega grip 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.
These running shoes offer optimal levels of terrain and are designed to protect you from anything that comes your way. If you are looking for protection, you will love these shoes since they can handle everything that comes your way.
Since the shoes are designed for technical terrain, they are made to handle the most complicated terrain. this means that they are responsive and shock absorbent--so you can go for miles and miles.
9. Ultra GORE
12mm heel drop offers plenty of support for heel strikers
Good design will protect your feet
Plenty of great colors to choose from
Plenty of plush cushioning
The trail-specific features are less pronounced
Another great entry from North Face, the Ultra GORE is a stunning example of a well-designed running trail shoe that offers great durability while still being stylish and affordable! What more could you ask for?Read more
Keeping in line with The North Face’s commitment to quality, performance, comfort, and style, the Ultra GOREwill make you want to wear them every single day, even when you are not out running the track.
They are made to reduce shock impact and protect your feet even on the longest and hardest of runs! If you want comfort and stability then the Ultra GORE is a shoe you have to try for yourself!
Like many classic running and training shoes we have fallen in love with over the years, the Ultra GORE will hold up well for a wide range of uses thanks to its durable design and quality craftsmanship. Whether you are at the gym running the treadmill, pounding the pavement, running the tracks, off racing through nature, or exploring mountain trails, these shoes will serve you well time and time again.
These running shoes offer a good bit of protection, but definitely not enough to hot the most complicated trails. These are best if kept on the road.
These running shoes are great for hitting your favorite roads. They are not designed for technical trails, so don't take them out on those if you don't want to wear them down too quickly.
10. Track Hayasa II
Very lightweight despite the rock plate and generous lugs on the outsole
Excellent traction and protection on the trails
Have a relatively tight fit
Named after the Japanese word for speed, these shoes feature reflective elements for low light conditions and materials chosen for optimizing performance in cold environments.Read more
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.
Since these shoes are designed to take a beating, then you will benefit from the additional protection these provide. These are designed to take a beating and will protect you from anything that comes your way.
These were made for cold weather and technical terrain--so make sure these will work for you before investing in them!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Comfort is the most important factor to consider when looking for a new pair of running shoes--after all that is the point of investing in a pair of shoes that are not comfortable enough for your runs? Like anything you wear, if you aren't comfortable in your running shoes you will end up back at square one--right here, looking for the best pair of running shoes for you. When we were compiling this list we put comfort at the top of our list because it is just that important, and we took several factors into consideration when narrowing down our list,
First and foremost, we took a look at the fit of the shoe to ensure that it would not cause any chafing or blisters when you run. This means that if you have a wide or a narrow foot then you will have to make sure that you are looking for shoes that fit that type of foot. Here we also took a look at the type of lace systems employed by the shoe as well as how adjustable they were. North Face running shoes typically fit snuggly and securely--but they also have options for all types of feet. If you are able to go into a store, we encourage you to try on the pair of shoes before making your purchase to ensure that they will work for you. If you have to order online, make sure to take a look at the sizing chart to ensure you are getting the right size.
When we took a look at the overall comfort we also considered countless reviews to ensure that our final ratings would be accurate to the majority opinion. We encourage you to do the same when you start narrowing down your final selections. Make sure to also consider your own comfort needs and foot type--if you have pronation issues make sure you look for shoes that offer features that address your foot type. If you have a special case and find that none of the shoes on our list work for you as far as comfort, make sure to take a look at some of our other running shoe pages--we are sure we have one that addresses your specific needs.
Ascending, descending, flat surfaces, undulating trials, gritty surfaces, loose stones, rocks, roots make runner stability a paramount issue. We wanted to know id the shoe designers took notice of the need for stability by engineering innovative shoe tech into the shoe to enable solid stability at all times?
In terms of shoe durability the shoe must be able to perform, high trails on the North will hack away and test the shoe’s outsole, we looked at stickiness, the type of rubber used in the sole construction, can the sole deal with sharp stones, mud, grass, dust, grit and ever-changing surface contours and shallows?
We checked out the protective features designed into the running shoe, the North face has a wide variety of surprising surface challenges and we needed to confirm that the shoes feature viable elements constructed into the shoe to protect a runner or hiker's foot, especially the outsole. the toes, the heel and also the overall shoe structure.
Unique shoe innovation suitable to the challenges of the North Face was looked at in depth because this environment throws up its own set of unique challenges for both hikers and runners and it’s this fact which attracts people to those trails. We wanted to see that the shoes have innovative shoe tech built into them with full consideration given to the unique environment.
The North Face was a lot more than the little beach store that it used to be and launched its own brand line of trail running and trekking foot-ware. The approach for shoes was very creative and resulted in two very successful brands, Thermoball started the unique shoe styling for the North Face with shoe insulation provided by synthetic fibers which looked like “down” and FuseForm brought in new approaches into how shoe tech hardly built into foot-ware.
Here we are now fifty-three years since that little humble beach store opened and only sold mountaineering goods.
Among their customers, they can now list famous mountaineers, extreme adventurous skiers, hardy seasoned and novice trail runners wearing excellent trail running shoes, swift snow-boarders, endurance racers and people who just want to test their limits and explore a challenging environment.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Chances are that you haven't measured your feet in a while. Well, especially when it comes to ordering shoes online, it's very important that you make sure you've properly measured your feet so you know what size of footwear to get. The best way to do this is to visit a shoe store and have a customer service representative measure your feet, but there are also online size charts that can help you do this at home.
This may not be something many people are aware of, but the truth is that many manufacturers of high-end athletic products like The North Face provide extended warranties for many of their products: including their running shoes! Check the manufacturer's website and the reseller's store listing to see if your product includes one; that way, you can get any faulty or damaged products replaced easily.
Other Factors to Consider
In the early 80s interest in Skiing had grown and the outlet started to offer a really broad choice of ski equipment, tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags, people were in the mood to explore and the North Face Shop entered a broader market.
In the 90s, athletically minded people sought interesting newer challenges, athletics combined with recreational exploring was ready to take off.
A company called TekWare were quick to join the party and started to offer products specifically for trail runners, hikers, rock climbers, and general products for those enthusiastic enough to go out and up into the wilds. Big rock walls, the ultra high country running and hiking trails, naturally beautiful environment brought many people all of them seeking healthy physical and psychological interaction with nature.
Looking at cost, we were impressed to see that all the reviewed shoes stayed true in providing shoes which contained the performance needs, durability, comfort, stability, and protection which is needed. These standards were maintained even when shoe models are offered at different price levels. This means that runners can select shoes based on their own preferred style as all the shoe models to perform.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can I wear my North Face shoes on snowy trails?
The company offers a broad selection of hardy trail shoes, you want water protection and grip, if you read runnerclick reviews you can see which choices are best.
q: How do I know which shoes offer the best cushion for trail running?
There are so many choices for running shoes with excellent cushion. Check out this link and you can choose whats best for you.
q: Which running shoes provide the best grip/traction for running on high country trails?
This depends on your running style and what type of performance you want on which type of trail.
q: I have flat feet, can I still hit the trails?
Certainly you can enjoy trail running, you have a really wide choice of good shoes for flat footed runners.