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10 Best North Face Running Shoes Tested In-Depth

last updated Oct 22, 2018

Some running shoes just seem to stick out among the rest. Whether it be their quality, design, or long-term durability, good runners are hard to find and keep. With this in mind, we have looked at thousands of runners on RunnerClick, and we have a pretty good idea of what makes a pair of running shoes stand out from the rest. And, we must say, we don’t love to promote one brand over another. But it is hard to deny North Face as a go-to brand.

The North Face is a well-known brand that is making its name known in the running world as well. The brand has made significant contributions to the running shoe market—especially when it comes to trail running shoes. Their success among runners is attributed to their focus on producing high-performance shoes that are durable, provide adequate protection, and maintain your stability in the rugged outdoors.

They offer a variety of designs that focus on aggressive trail performance. Their experience with making hiking shoes can be seen in their choice of durable materials and unique North Face styling. Check out various designs below.

Researched Sources
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Reviews Considered
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Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
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Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
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Products Evaluated
Last Updated: September 30, 2018
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By Giselle Killebrew:

In this update, we have refreshed the content and have added our number one pick. This number one is the North Face 109, which is a durable, stable, and well-gripping shoe that will keep you on track with your fitness goals.

Sorting Options
Comfort Stability Durability Protection By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Comfort
94%
Stability
96%
Durability
98%
Protection
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
Comfort
94%
Stability
96%
Durability
95%
Protection
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Comfort
91%
Stability
95%
Durability
93%
Protection
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.5
Comfort
98%
Stability
96%
Durability
95%
Protection
97%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Comfort
91%
Stability
93%
Durability
89%
Protection
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
Comfort
90%
Stability
95%
Durability
97%
Protection
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Comfort
90%
Stability
92%
Durability
88%
Protection
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Comfort
91%
Stability
94%
Durability
90%
Protection
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Comfort
93%
Stability
89%
Durability
95%
Protection
91%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
Comfort
93%
Stability
89%
Durability
91%
Protection
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.10.18)
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Ultra Endurance
  • Ultra MT Gore-Tex
  • Ultra Cardiac
  • Ultra 109 GTX
  • Ultra Equity
  • Ultra Trail
  • Litewave TR II
  • Ultra MT Trail
  • Single Track II
  • Track Hayasa II
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best North Face Running Shoes

1. Ultra Endurance

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Ultra Endurance
Comfort
94
Stability
96
Durability
98
Protection
95
best offer for today
Pros:

Great trail running performance for the average user

Flexible snake plate rock plate

Vibram megagrip outsole provides excellent traction

Cons:

The added features make this shoe ill-suited for any use other than off-road running

If the Ultra MT is overkill for you and the Ultra Cardiac isn’t quite burly enough then the Ultra Endurance is for you. It is the Ultra Cardiac’s slightly beefier big brother that includes a rock plate and more aggressive outsole design. It is a purebred trail running shoe that will offer adequate protection on long trail runs.

Read more

Comfort/Stability
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.

Durability/Quality
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

2. Ultra MT Gore-Tex

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
Ultra MT Gore-Tex
Comfort
94
Stability
96
Durability
95
Protection
92
best offer for today
Pros:

Vibram-MegaGrip Outsole

ESS tech

Gore-Tex membrane

Flash-Dry collar

Rip-Stop Mesh

Cons:

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.

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Comfort/Stability
The Women's Ultra MT GoreTex ia 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. 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, if you want waterproofing combined with breath-ability which you can trust this is the shoe which performs. As you ascend or descend feel fully protected for the prevention of blisters through the innovative and stabilizing Flash-Dry collar. This great running shoe is offered in Rocker-Red with dark grey flashes.

Durability/Quality
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. The shoes offer maximum comfort and are durable long lasting and very easy to clean after a run on sticky muddy trails.

Cost
For shoes offering this level of durability, comfort, quality, protection, and stability, the price is right and you get a very good investment.

3. Ultra Cardiac

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Ultra Cardiac
Comfort
91
Stability
95
Durability
93
Protection
96
best offer for today
Pros:

Offers an impressive amount of cushioning for the weight

Extremely breathable upper

Workhorse versatility can be used comfortably on roads or dirt paths.

Cons:

The breathable upper is less abrasion resistant than more aggressive models such as the Ultra MT

This lightweight cushioned 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

Comfort/Stability
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.

Durability/Quality
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.

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.

4. Ultra 109 GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.5
Ultra 109 GTX
Comfort
98
Stability
96
Durability
95
Protection
97
best offer for today
Pros:

Extremely versatile, beyond use as a running shoe

Very sturdy

Excellent traction in wet or dry conditions.

Cons:

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.

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Comfort/Stability
The 109 GTX offers much more stability than 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/Quality
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.

Cost/Value
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.

5. Ultra Equity

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
 Ultra Equity
Comfort
91
Stability
93
Durability
89
Protection
95
best offer for today
Pros:

Purpose built for overpronators

Breathable and lightweight

Versatile on and off-road performance

Cons:

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

Comfort/Stability
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.

Durability/Quality
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.

6. Ultra Trail

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.5
 Ultra Trail
Comfort
90
Stability
95
Durability
97
Protection
96
best offer for today
Pros:

Comfortable

Lightweight

Moisture-wicking

Highly durable

Great for long distance

Cons:

Expensive

The Ultra trail running shoes are specifically designed for trails--they are durable, comfortable, and provide optimal stability.

Read more

Comfort/Stability
These shoes provide you with optimal comfort on your trail runs. They utilize midsole protection and are extremely lightweight--along them to efficiently carry you on those longer runs. It is minimally cushioned and highly responsive. They feature an 8mm drop and their midsole feature TNF technology. The TNF technology both absorbs impact and provides you with maximum stability.

Durability/Quality
Like all of North Face's shoes, these shoes are highly durable and made of high-quality material. Their upper utilizes TNF Flash Dry Technology--which wicks away sweat and keeps your feet dry.

Cost or Value
These are high in cost but well worth the price.

7. Litewave TR II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Litewave TR II
Comfort
90
Stability
92
Durability
88
Protection
93
best offer for today
Pros:

Lightweight

Great for both trail and road running

Great for long distance running

Minimalistic design

Eva cushioning

6mm drop

Highly durable

Cons:

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

Comfort/Stability
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. They use EVA cushioning and have a 6mm drop--allowing them to provide you with a barefoot feel during your runs.

Durability?Quality.

Like most of the shoes from the North face, these are also highly durable shoes made from high-quality material. They provide additional midfoot reinforcement and feature a toe bumper for additional protection. They also utilize a thick, dual-density mesh material for added durability.

Cost
These shoes come at a great price--and they are well worth the cost.

8. Ultra MT Trail

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Ultra MT Trail
Comfort
91
Stability
94
Durability
90
Protection
95
best offer for today
Pros:

Uncompromising quality and durability

Lightweight design with carefully selected materials

Excellent traction

Cons:

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

Comfort/Stability
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.

Durability/Quality
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.

9. Single Track II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Single Track II
Comfort
93
Stability
89
Durability
95
Protection
91
best offer for today
Pros:

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.

Cons:

The trail-specific features are less pronounced, and shouldn’t be mistaken for a shoe designed for technical terrain.

Don’t confuse this shoe with the Single-Track Hayasa because it is a completely different animal. The Single Track II has a steeper heel to toe drop of 12mm and fits like a road shoe. It is very similar to the pair of sneakers you had as a kid, just upgraded with North Face style and trail running features. The vestigial lugs on the outsole give the impression that this is really a road shoe with North Face styling and flare. It is also a great option as a walking shoe.

Read more

Comfort/Stability
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 everyday shoe. The steep heel to toe drop and thick sole under the heel will satisfy even the most shameless heel striker.

Durability/Quality
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.

10. Track Hayasa II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.3
Track Hayasa II
Comfort
93
Stability
89
Durability
91
Protection
88
best offer for today
Pros:

Very lightweight despite the rock plate and generous lugs on the outsole

Excellent traction and protection on the trails

Cons:

Have a relatively tight fit, consider trying them on before buying or ordering a size up if you have wide feet.

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

Comfort/Stability
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.

Durability/Quality
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.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

An enjoyable ride can be wrecked by discomfort. We looked very closely at the level of shoe tech built into the shoe to not only provide comfort but to ensure long lasting durable comfort which evidently works in conjunction with stability and protection.

Stability

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?

Durability

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?

Protection

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 hikers 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.

Value

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.

Other Factors to Consider

Use

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.

Terrain

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Q: I have not yet tried North Face shoes, how long have they been around?
a:

North Face as an outlet started of in the 1960s selling mountaineering stuff, they are a recent comer in quality running shoes and they are proving to be good.

q: Q: Can North Face shoes be used for snowy trails?
a:

The company offer 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: Q: Which shoes provide the best cushion for trail running?
a:

There are so many choices for running shoes with excellent cushion. Check out this link and you can choose whats best for you.

q: Q: Which running shoes give the best grip/traction for running on high country trails?
a:

This depends on your running style and what type of performance you want on which type of trail, your questions can be better answered by clicking here.

q: Q: I have flat feet, am I ok for trail running?
a:

Certainly you can enjoy trail running, you have a really wide choice of good shoes for flat footed runners.

q: Q: I’m a lady and I really enjoy running, I have tried a few brands but still not found the ideal running shoes for me, can you suggest?
a:

Ladies have a fantastic choice of shoes and finding that perfect pair means checking out a reliable review, this way you will find your best choice of running shoes for ladies.

Sources

  1. The North Face, 50 Years of Exploration & Innovation, Brand site,
  2. Competitor.com, Choosing A Trail Running Shoe That’s Right For You, Running publication,
  3. Runner's World, How to Buy the Right Running Shoes, Running publication,