The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Review Facts
The North Face designed their Hedgehog Fastpack GTX hiking shoe to be lightweight, fast-paced, and versatile. It includes a Vibram outsole with strategically-placed lugs for a strong and secure grip on trails, mud, and paved roads. Its compression-molded EVA midsole cushions and supports the underfoot while ensuring high levels of shock absorption. Stabilizing features, such as a TPU midfoot shank and TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guide, straighten and smooth out the gait cycle. And its mesh and PU treated leather upper features a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort inner lining for a completely waterproof wear. Hikers are almost completely protected from the elements, rugged terrains, and accidents caused by involuntary movements.
Many high-quality trail running and hiking shoes have an outsole engineered by Vibram
, as they’ve become experts in creating durable footwear with incredibly strong traction. Therefore, it’s no surprise that The North Face has done the same when it comes to their Hedgehog Fastpack GTX model. Not only does its sturdy rubber compound run the entire length of the shoe, keeping it protected against early damage, but it also features a very strategic tread pattern with several different types of gripping lugs. These allow for more efficient and versatile traction as well as easier drainage of mud and water. It also follows the natural curves of the underfoot and includes flex grooves for easier and more natural movement.
The main component of the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX midsole is its full-length compression molded EVA
, which is frequently used in hiking and trail running shoes. This dual-density material keeps the underfoot properly supported and cushioned as it also provides substantial shock absorption. It’s also outfitted with TPU
Cradle heel stabilizer guides in the back to further absorb impact and prevent wobbling. This feature is aided by a TPU shank and a firm-density EVA midfoot unit, ensuring a smoother gait cycle. Reviews indicate that all of these features together greatly add to the shoe’s overall level of comfort.
Breathable mesh panels are held together by PU coated leather to form the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX’s upper, giving it equal parts breathability and structure. This is aided further by a TPU quarter weld, which forms a criss-cross midfoot cage that wraps around. The shoe’s signature feature is its Gore-Tex
Extended Comfort, a non-insulated lining that not only provides a waterproof wear but also encourages proper airflow. A structured toe box and aggressive heel clip give protection against impact, and a padded tongue and padded collar are added to prevent accidental removal. As an added bonus, the metal hooks and eyelets in its lacing system are made to be rustproof.
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Product listings show that the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX is definitely on the heavier side, with men's sizes averaging at almost a pound and women's sizes rounding out at 12 oz. Although trail running shoes do weigh more than the typical running shoe, due to their extra protection and stability features, this one is still more substantial than most other trailing models on the market. Despite this, however, a number of reviewers feel that this particular shoe feels surprisingly lightweight and easy to move around in while on challenging terrains.
Read also about best waterproof running shoes.
The overall construction of its upper allows the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX to offer hikers an incredibly breathable wear. Aside from the waterproof wear, which is arguably the shoe’s greatest selling point, its Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining also permits proper airflow into the foot chamber. While working with the upper’s mesh panels along the forefoot and sides, hotspots are able to be better targeted and eliminated for a cooler and more comfortable wear. Moisture is also wicked away quickly to reduce the likelihood of blisters
and other irritations.
Most reviewers seem to be very happy with the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX’s level of comfort. Not only is its compression-molded EVA midsole able to provide responsive support and cushioning, safeguarding against chronic pain and fatigue, but it’s also equipped with several stability features to prevent pronation and over-flexing. Its upper’s mesh panels work with the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining to provide plenty of breathability and moisture wicking, all while ensuring a completely waterproof wear. There are some buyers, however, who are unsatisfied with this shoe’s level of support and the uncomfortable inner lining of its tongue. Others feel that its overall fit is too narrow and would not work for those with wider feet.
Although it’s designed primarily for hiking, the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX’s overall look and design still allows it to fit into everyday environments. Its low-cut collar and neutral colorways enable buyers to easily pair it with a number of looks for both hiking and casual wear. The brand’s name is also featured prominently on the instep, lateral forefoot, and medial heel. Its primary colors are black, brown, navy, green taupe, and various shades of grey. Accent colors include yellow, red, orange, light blue, purple, and green depending on the sizing range
Given its intended use as a hiking shoe, the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX has to be highly durable. The Vibram outsole runs the full length of the shoe, allowing it to last longer and providing sturdy traction that doesn’t wear down. Even though its dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole is known to hold up well against constant use, its TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guides and TPU midfoot shank take on some of the impact to reduce possible damage. The PU coated leather, TPU quarter weld, toe cap, and heel counter strengthen the upper’s mesh panels to limit the possibility of wear and tear. And the rustproof hardware within its lacing system further allows it to maintain its overall appearance and structure.
The full-length Vibram outsole features a strategically lugged tread pattern that allows the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX to provide a safe and effective grip on both wet and dry surfaces. Although its compression-molded EVA midsole already safeguards against impact incredibly well, the TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guides further lessen the effects of impact by preventing in-shoe wobbling. The TPU midfoot shank adds to this by straightening and smoothing out the gait cycle, preventing pronation and over-flexing. The upper’s hard toe cap, heel counter, and PU overlays also shield against impact and hiking debris, and the inclusion of the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining completely keeps water from entering the foot chamber. When paired with the shoe’s breathable wear, which prevents skin irritations and blisters, hikers feel completely protected against any hazard
they could encounter.
As stated before, the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX is outfitted with a dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole that provides responsive support and cushioning. Although its level of energy return isn’t quite as strong as the newer technologies that are now available, it still supplies the hiker with plenty of shock absorption to safeguard the underfoot area from impact. The midfoot area of this unit has a firmer density and is outfitted with a TPU shank for increased responsiveness
and stability, and the TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guides further lessen the impact and decrease in-shoe wobbling.
Reviews are very mixed when it comes to the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX’s overall support. On one hand, the dual-density construction of the compression-molded EVA midsole provides sturdy cushioning that works well for hiking shoes. However, some buyers don’t feel that it’s sufficient enough for what it’s intended for and wish that it provided them with more arch support. Although custom insoles could help out, the shoe’s smaller-than-average fit might lessen their overall impact.
Another major selling point for the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX is its extremely versatile wear. The Vibram outsole’s strategic tread pattern allows for safe yet fast hikes across rocky terrains, forest trails
, and mud. Yet it’s also not so aggressive that it can’t be used on paved roads or other everyday surfaces. The stability features within its midsole further allow for use in rugged environments, as do the PU leather and TPU overlays. And the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining enables the shoe to be worn comfortably while hiking through rain
, puddles, and even small streams.
Although most wouldn't exactly call this shoe 'affordable,' the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX is still a bit below the average price range of a high-quality running shoe. Across all online retailers including Zappos, REI, and The North Face's own website, this model runs for $120. Considering the multiple reviews about this model's incredible traction and extremely versatile wear, it's easy to see why some trail runners of all levels would be willing to pay the full price. However, its occasional discomfort and very narrow fit do cause others to second guess if this shoe is even worth the money. Those who aren't sure should definitely try it on in-store first, or purchase from a retailer with a great return policy.
All outdoor shoes have to be equipped with incredible traction in order to allow for safe movements across rugged terrains. The Hedgehog Fastpack GTX’s full-length Vibram outsole features a number of gripping lugs in several different shapes, sizes, and directions. Ridged sections on the toe and heel permit secure landings and toe-offs, while more jagged lugs along the sides allow for proper drainage and easier uphill and downhill hikes. Its central lugs are more curved and clustered to match the foot’s natural shape and give greater overall stability. While this tread pattern does enable safer hikes across rocks, mud, roots, and small streams, it’s also not so aggressive that it can’t be used on paved roads.
Reviews don't seem to give much detail about how flexible the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX is after being broken in. Since this particular model is meant for day hiking, it's safe to assume that this shoe focuses more on stability and protection than a pliable wear. Although it can also be used comfortably on everyday surfaces, and its outsole does contain several flex grooves, multiple reviewers have complained about its stiff midsole and longer-than-average break-in
Any shoe that is meant for rugged outdoor activities also includes a number of stability features, and the same goes for the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX. The central lugs of its Vibram outsole keep the foot secure and stable even on challenging terrains. Its compression-molded EVA midsole cushions and absorbs enough impact to allow for smooth movements. And the inclusion of TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guides and a TPU midfoot shank further prevents wobbling to keep the gait cycle as smooth as possible. The upper's mesh panels are held together by PU treated leather and a TPU quarter weld, which integrates with the shoe's lacing system. And the aggressive heel counter works with the padded collar and tongue to keep the foot locked into place.
Product listings and reviews don't seem to mention the Hedgehog Fastpack GTX's heel-to-toe drop height. However, photos do suggest that this measurement is somewhere between 5mm and the average drop height of 10mm. Most trail running shoes come with a low drop platform, as this gives the runner a stronger sense of balance, better posture, and a more natural gait cycle as they move across challenging terrains.
-Vibram rubber outsole
-Compression-molded EVA midsole
-TPU Cradle heel stabilizer guides
-Stabilizing TPU midfoot shank
-Mesh and PU-coated leather upper
-TPU quarter weld for a midfoot cage
-Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining
-Rustproof lacing hooks and eyelets
The North Face's Hedgehog Fastpack GTX hiking shoe provides a protective and stabilizing wear that works just as well for everyday life as it does or fast-paced day hiking. Reviewers greatly appreciate its versatility, incredible traction, and waterproof lining that allows them to feel safe and comfortable throughout the day. It's not without its downsides, however, as several buyers are unsatisfied with its level of cushioning and narrow fit. But all things considered, it's easy to see why hikers of all levels have turned to this model for their outdoor activities.