The North Face Endurus Mid Hike GTX Review Facts
Something that casual runners and enthusiasts with a passing interest in the pastime may not know is that there are fundamental differences between walking and running. Sure, it’s obvious that these two activities aren’t identical, but the differences run far deeper than the surface level. The kind of balance, impact distribution, and support required for running is far different from those needed for walking. Because of this, a functional walking shoe won’t always provide the same experience when running and vice versa. These differences are compounded when it comes to trail running and hiking since these activities introduce a far greater possibility of danger. Because of this, The North Face designed their Endurus Hike Mid GTX shoes to provide the best hiking experience possible, even if they don’t provide the same benefits for trail running.
In a move that is standard for shoes with a design focus around rough outdoor environments, The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX has an outsole made from Vibram rubber. This is a proprietary material often found in trail running shoes and hiking boots like these because they are extremely resistant to damage from road hazards that are commonly encountered in these environments. The tread pattern for this shoe’s underfoot emphasizes traction in multiple directions, which is the first noticeable way in which its design departs from traditional running shoe design. While shoes that focus around running, even trail running, often emphasize traction in one direction to improve responsiveness and reduce weight
, these shoes sacrifice both for the purpose of greater stability and traction. This improves the wearer’s safety by enhancing the level of control they have with each step, making it ideal for hiking on inclines or jagged surfaces.
Regardless of what environment or activity a shoe is designed to accommodate, their midsole will usually be designed in a similar way. The core component to any reputable midsole is EVA, a durable foam that is absorbent to shock in a manner similar to memory foam but far more sturdy and responsive. The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX uses a special form of EVA material called XtraFoam. This particular implementation involves using softer and more comfortable
material for most of the shoe, with a harder form of the substance being placed around its perimeter. This allows these trail shoes to provide the extremely high level of durability that is required for trail environments without sacrificing the comfort needed for long periods of walking. While shoes designed for running would normally utilize a dual density foam layout stacked vertically, this novel midsole style is perfect for trail walking.
Although the underside of a trail shoe, whether it’s designed for hiking or trail running, is a part that requires considerable focus
and resources devoted to ensuring its quality and durability, the upper half is almost equally important. This is because road hazards in the great outdoors don’t always come from under someone’s feet. Inclement weather conditions, abrasive brush, and flying debris are all concerns that must be mitigated when exercising off the beaten path. For this reason, The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX’s upper design is the one part of their shoe that is almost identical to that of a traditional trail runner, despite the fact that these shoes serve a fundamentally different purpose. For starters, it is covered in a water-resistant Gore-Tex membrane, which is where these shoes derive the GTX in their name. The North Face also included a FlashDry collar that provides a waterproof seal along the wearer’s upper ankle and a toe cap and OrthoLite footbed for extra protection.
Something that is a common and generally accepted caveat that comes with any shoe designed for encountering rough hiking trails
is that they will weight considerably more than a more casual pair of running or walking footwear. This is also the case for The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX, as each individual shoe in the pair weighs just shy of an entire pound. This is the inevitable consequence to designing a pair of shoes such as these with aggressive lugs on the outsole, thick padding in the midsole, and additional protection and stability features around the upper and insole. Customers can take comfort in the fact that every square inch of material and every ounce of weight that went into these shoes serves a valuable purpose. However, that won’t change the fact that runners who aren’t used to shoes with this much weight will need to endure an uncomfortable conditioning process for the first few days of use until their lower legs will stop feeling sore.
With all the padding found on the top, middle, and bottom of these shoes, the average prospective customer may believe that they aren’t very breathable to the point where it would be uncomfortable to wear them. While they may be right to an extent, the truth is that The North Face added some design elements up top in a noble attempt to assuage these concerns. The same Gore-Tex membrane which these shoes use to prevent the accumulation of water
also provides enough perforation to allow for airflow into and out of its interior. However, this isn’t enough to completely offset the additional heat that will inevitably be generated by the wearer due to this shoe’s weight, making the Endurus Hike Mid GTX a poor footwear choice in warmer environments.
Due to the fact that these shoes were designed to prioritize walking over running, The North Face was able to devote more weight and resources into improving its overall comfort. This is especially noticeable underneath the wearer’s foot, where an OrthoLite insole works in conjunction with an XtraFoam midsole to offer several layers of cushioning. Thanks to these and other amenities, wearers of The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX can walk for long distances over equally long periods of time without feeling the discomfort that would often accompany such an undertaking in ordinary trail running shoes.
In the vast majority of cases, hiking shoes don’t prioritize a sense of style. Usually, the average trail shoe will have a utilitarian boot shape and monotone color scheme. However, the rise of the hypebeast culture driven by fashion-focused footwear behemoths such as Nike and Adidas have led to a modern renaissance in shoe design, leading it to be considered a new canvas for artistic expression. This ethos has now made its way into trail shoes, with the most notable case being Salomon’s line of intriguing and visually stunning products. While The North Face are better known for their winter apparel, these trail walking shoes showcase their aesthetic sensibilities to an impressive degree, making them a fantastic accessory for fashion-focused outdoor enthusiasts.
Considering that this is one of the most important design aspects of any trail shoe, it makes sense that The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX offers an extremely durable and damage-resistant experience. Thanks to its outsole design composed of omnidirectional lugs roughly 4 millimeters in length, the underside of these shoes can withstand repeated strikes, scuffs, and sharp scrapes without showing any signs of wear and tear. Coupled with an impressively weather-resistant upper, the end result is a pair of hiking shoes that can easily handle hundreds of miles in stride.
Protection is just as important to durability in a trail shoe, whether it’s intended for running or walking. The North Face understands this and devoted a great deal of design effort into ensuring that wearers of their Endurus Hike Mid GTX shoes are protected from road hazards above and below their feet. A toe guard has been added to the front which will prevent stubbing from errant rocks and flying debris, and a strike plate covers the front and midfoot in a manner that will provide an excellent defense against bruising from repetitive impact. This should also help to prevent the development of blisters, which can be a common occurrence during long walks in less protective shoes.
Customers interested in The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX should keep their expectations reasonable when it comes to their responsiveness. After all, each shoe weighs nearly a pound, so it’s going to take considerable energy with each footstep. This will necessitate an adjustment period for runners used to lighter shoes designed for more casual settings, but there are some design elements added to these shoes that should alleviate their concerns. The XtraFoam midsole is the most impressive of these elements since it manages to ensure a fast response time without sacrificing the shoe’s durability.
Many of the features The North Face implemented in these hiking shoes for the purpose of protection offer additional supportive benefits, such as the aforementioned strike plate. The Endurus Hike Mid GTX also has a highly supportive OrthoLite insole, which will help greatly in preventing repetitive stress injuries such as plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though much thought has been put into pronation correction, so this can still be a concern for individuals with gait discrepancies.
This is a trail shoe, so it stands to reason that the terrains in which they will be most appropriate for are those encountered on a trail. This includes hard dirt, jagged rocks, overgrown roots, and steep inclines. Although the Endurus Hike Mid GTX offers water resistance on its upper, no form of slip-resistant coating has been added to their outsole, meaning that walking in wet environments will still require a high amount of caution. It’s also important to note that these shoes aren’t designed for running, so trail running is discouraged even though these shoes are designed for use on a trail.
This is likely to be the one aspect of these shoes that customers are most likely to balk at. In general, trail running shoes will cost roughly the same as the current retail price for The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX. However, these are trail walking shoes, which means that they are essentially glorified hiking boots. For this form of footwear, the average cost is considerably lower, meaning that customers interested in these shoes will need to pay more than what most hiking shoes ask for.
As previously mentioned, the Vibram outsole for these shoes was designed with an aggressive lug pattern meant to provide excellent traction on harsh surfaces commonly encountered on a hiking trail. Where these shoes diverge from traditional trail running shoes is in the implementation of their traction, which stresses an omnidirectional grip rather than a single direction. This comes at the cost of responsiveness and momentum, but the safety that it adds for the wearer is worth the tradeoff.
The XtraFoam midsole in these hiking shoes offers a reasonable amount of flexibility for the wearer since it is softer in the middle and allows for a bit more give. However, the extra layers of padding underfoot and inside the upper portion will greatly offset this small amount of pliability. Still, it’s enough to prevent wearers of the Endurus Hike Mid GTX from feeling as though their feet are entombed in a coffin.
While The North Face may have dropped the ball when it comes to flexibility, one aspect of these shoes that won’t disappoint in any capacity is their stability. Thanks to the mid-length cut of its collar, the tight-fitting upper will prevent the wearer’s feet from shifting inside the shoe. Coupled with several layers of underfoot padding, this is a hiking boot that won’t slip from under the wearer.
Based on a visual approximation, these hiking shoes seem to have a heel drop that is very low: likely around 4 mm or less. This is common among trail shoes such as these, since it allows the impact from each step to be evenly distributed along the entirety of the shoe’s surface area. This is especially helpful for walking and hiking, especially in the potentially dangerous environments commonly encountered on the trail.
- Vibram outsole with 4mm lugs providing omnidirectional traction
- XtraFoam midsole offers protection around the perimeter with a soft inner portion
- Gore-Tex upper membrane and FlashDry collar provide water protection
- OrthoLite footbed for added underfoot support
- Extra stability implemented through ESS Snake Plate near the forefoot and midfoot
- Minimal heel drop to emphasize support for hiking
The North Face doesn’t disappoint with the Endurus Hike Mid GTX. Although it has an intimidatingly high asking price and doesn’t provide as much breathability or flexibility as more casual footwear, the stability, traction, and comfort provided more than make up for these shortcomings. Additionally, the impressive support and durability provided by these shoes cement their status as reliable hiking attire that is sure to last the wearer for several seasons.