The North Face Ultra Cardiac II

8.2
8.2 score
[Editors rating (8.2)] = Runnerclick score (8.2)/10

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All The North Face Shoes
The North Face Ultra Cardiac II Review Facts
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The North Face is a company known for its commitment to the outdoors and those who love it. With over 50 years of exploration and innovation under their belt, The North Face has become a leader in all that is outdoors, from apparel to equipment and now to footwear. Contrary to popular knowledge, they started in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Just two guys who loved hiking decided to follow their passion and start a mountaineering retail store. Who better to sell what they needed than those who used it? Since the 1960s, the North Face has evolved to encompass all outdoor sport from rock climbing to ultra marathons. Their focus on innovation and design is unparalleled but to this day, they still have the motto, “ Never Stop Exploring.” And they do not. They innovate with each new product they put out, as evidenced with the North Face Ultra Cardiac II.

The newer model of the North Face Ultra Cardiac comes with a few slight adjustments. While it is still considered a door-to-trail shoe, the upper is a mesh construct with TPU overlays. It can feel a bit heavy but there is more flexibility than the original version and the Cardiac 2 has a neutral, consistent ride. The compressed EVA foam in the midsole cushions the foot, resting the heel firmly into the sole for better traction on the trails. The outsole is a Vibram Megagrip that has a semi-sticky grip and is incredibly durable. The North Face Cardiac 2 is comfortable, durable, tough, and overall a great trail running shoe.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Simple, flexible redesign compared to original model
  • Neutral, consistent ride
  • Mesh, breathable upper with TPU overlays
  • Single-density, compressed EVA foam midsole for comfort
  • Vibram Megagrip for additional traction on diverse terrain
Cons
  • As a trail shoe, could use more lugs for traction
  • Can feel a bit stiff but warms up on the trail
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

With the softer, single-density, compressed EVA foam midsole, a thicker rubber outsole with significant traction is needed for this to be a competitive trail shoe. And that’s what they did with the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. They combined the Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with the foam midsole, adding a semi-sticky and durable base to each step and leap the runner is taking.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

Over rocky terrain with sticks, hills and surprise roots sticking out of the ground, you need a midsole that will flex with your footfall and take the brunt of the abuse the outsole is taking. The compressed EVA foam of the North Face Ultra Cardiac II is single-density so it is consistent throughout the entire foot, except for a small increase in the forefoot for increased performance. It absorbs the shock both from the body’s natural bounce and the obstacles along the trail, saving the foot from additional fatigue and the legs and knees from strain. CRADLE heel-stability technology holds the foot steady in the midsole, keeping it from slipping in the shoe and causing chafing and blistering.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II has a jacquard mesh upper. The increased breathability of the mesh will keep feet cool and dry, helping any sweat to evaporate faster. The housing of the upper is a TPU Cable design for structure and support. While the weave is loose enough for the foot to breathe, it is not so loose that dirt and debris will come into the shoe. A gusseted tongue also protects the foot from any intruding debris, avoiding any foot abrasions and rubbing, so necessary on the trails. The addition of FlashDry fabric on the collar lining keeps feet cool and dry while speeding the removal of moisture from skin and helping to increase the evaporation of any sweat.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II weights about 9.9 ounces, depending on the size you purchase. It's more of a neutral shoe with a heavier upper due to the TPU materials used as overlays. The EVA foam and increased rubber on the outsole all contribute to the overall weight, but minimize the impact with the benefits of each.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

If you’ve ever run for any significant amount of time, you know that, at some point, you start to focus on your feet. Is that toe rubbing? Did I just feel a sharp pain? Am I heel striking? Why is my foot sweating so much? If you’ve asked yourself that last question, you may not have had enough air flow inside your trainer. The North Face Ultra Cardiac II was designed with an athlete’s thoughts and desires in mind. The upper is a breathable mesh and the overlay only crosses the important structural parts of the shoe that require support. In other words, they let your foot breathe. They understand that sweat can cause slippage, rubbing and blisters. They also know that odors come from sweat and the shoe can break down faster if it stays wet for prolonged periods of time. They added their trademarked FlashDry fabric to the lining to encourage sweat to evaporate faster and wick the moisture away from the foot because they understand this.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

When you’re in the middle of a trail run, halfway up a mountain, with miles ahead of you, you really don’t want to be worried about your shoes being comfortable. The North Face crew gets this and spent a lot of time thinking about how to create functional, tough, comfortable trail shoes. They added a single-density EVA foam across the midsole of the Ultra Cardiac II to alleviate shock and fatigue. They also added their Vibram Megagrip rubber to the outsole for traction and control on the twists and turns. They sank the CRADLE heel stability technology into the base to keep your foot firmly embedded into the shoe to protect you from slippage and abrasions. The molded TPU toe cap was thrown in for toe protection against the rocks and roots that pop up at all opportunities along the trail. And they added a gusseted tongue to keep dirt and debris outside of the shoe and avoid abrasions. The FlashDry fabric they’ve added keeps the foot cool and dry and, of course, comfortable.
Style
Style

Style

The style of the North Face Ultra Cardiac II is functional. It doesn’t come in a myriad of colors and it doesn’t have a snappy, peppy design like your typical running shoe. The men’s shoe comes in one colorway and one for the women’s. With that said, the shoe is still nice-looking. A solid color with one accent throughout shows the consistency that is The North Face. They didn’t want to take any attention away from the functionality of the shoe. But with that functionality come some stylish additions. The men’s shoe has a gray base with a silver-grey overlay and toe cap. The highlighting color is orange in this model with an orange outsole, orange laces and the interior of the shoe is orange. The tongue has an orange accent to the gray tongue. The laces, while functionally innovative with a smooth, stretchy material, are also orange, accenting the gray. The North Face logo sits on the outside of the toe cap. The Ultra Cardiac II is an attractive, functional trail shoe.
Durability
Durability

Durability

When you think of trail shoes, you think of durability. They go hand in hand. The shoe has to be able to withstand debris, rocks, sticks and an uneven terrain. It has to be able to take all of your weight on your toes at certain points and it has to be able to absorb heel strikes while racing down a hill with your full weight. The North Face Ultra Cardiac II takes all of those notes and agrees. Having the additional absorbency and protection of the midsole and the specific design of the rubber outsole takes a lot of the pressure off the upper. But the TPU overlays do their job and hold everything together quite well. The entire design of the shoe holds your foot securely into a well designed, reinforced model.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II is a protective shoe. From the Vibram Megagrip rubber on the outsole to the EVA foam in the midsole, the shoe is trying to absorb the shock of your movements and the uneven terrain. The toe cap is protecting you from any unpredicted obstacles that could hurt your feet on the trail. The TPU overlays hold your foot into the heel stability technology, keeping your entire foot stable and supported and the gusseted tongue keeps dirt and debris away from your feet, avoiding abrasions and rubbing.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

With a single-density EVA foam midsole, there isn’t a lot of responsiveness to the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. All of the work is going into cushioning and not so much returning the energy as absorbing it.
Support
Support

Support

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II has support in a few places. The TPU overlays on the upper connect to the midsole and the lacing structure, holding everything in place over the mesh overlay. The CRADLE heel stability technology seats the heel deeper into the midsole, securing it to the base of the shoe so limited movement is allowed, securing the foot and protecting from injury.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Designed for trails, the North Face Ultra Cardiac II can be considered a door-to-trail shoe. The outsole is not so thick and traction hungry that it would grip a cement road or trail too tightly. Quite the opposite, this model would be great on a loose gravel track, dirt roads, trail races, greenways and city running. The outsole doesn’t have the lugs that other trail shoes typically have so too much traction wouldn’t be an issue.
Price
Price

Price

The North Face products can never be considered cheap and the North Face Ultra Cardiac II is no different. And given the technology and innovation that is evident in the design, you wouldn’t expect it to be. This shoe is right in line, price-wise, with similar shoes in the genre and is actually a deal for the comfort and technology that is employed.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II is a trail shoe with a twist. The traction configuration on the outsole is not what you typically see in shies for running through hills and woods. Without the additional boost from lugs, the rubber format is just enough to have decent traction in adverse conditions but still run on city streets, tracks and roads with less debris.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

An upgrade from the original version, the North Face Cardiac II is much more flexible and accommodating that the first model. The mesh upper flexes along the natural forefoot line while the EVA foam midsole and Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole follows the same natural flex. With additional flex grooves built into the outsole and center groove that allows weight to shift to different areas of the base, this shoe is extremely flexible to a diverse terrain and the runner’s footfall.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The North Face Cardiac II has stability built into the upper via the TPU overlays as well as the thicker mesh upper holding the foot into the base of the shoe. The moderately padded heel collar holds the Achilles in place and down into the CRADLE heel stability technology. With the full upper and midsole devoted to holding the foot in place, this shoe is a pretty stable option.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The drop on the North Face Ultra Cardiac II is 6mm. This is a fairly neutral drop with a consistent ride, though the terrain could definitely effect that ride depending on obstacles, loose terrain and traction.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

• Mesh upper with TPU overlays for stability
• EVA foam, single-density midsole for comfort and shock absorption
• FlashDry fabrics along collar lining keep feet cool and dry
• Vibram Megagrip rubber grooved outsole provides additional durability and traction
• Unique lacing system helps to hold the foot in place
• Molded TPU toe cap for added protection from rocks and debris
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

North Face knew what they were doing when they created the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. They had already set the bar high with the first edition but this newer model is more comfortable, more stable and a more consistent ride. With a 6mm drop, this is a neutral shoe but that rarely comes into play with a trail run. You’re facing hills, trees, rocks, debris and hundreds of other people on the trail. You need to move and you need traction. The Cardiac II comes through with that as well. You will be happy with this shoe along all avenues.