The North Face just dropped their latest line of outdoor footwear, dubbed VECTIV, which brings cutting-edge racing shoe technology to the trails. TNF’s new collection of eight light hikers and trail running shoes has gone through two years of research and development.
Athletes ran over 6,000 miles on technical mountains trails to fine-tune the shoes’ “revolutionary soling architecture,” which was designed to maximize energy by limiting impact on the lower legs and channelling downward force into forward momentum. The company claims its flagship trail runner, the Flight VECTIV, was shown in third-party studies to reduce “downhill tibial impact by 10%, allowing runners to comfortably log more miles.”
TNF created these futuristic trail hoppers by getting some carbon-fiber inspo from the ground-breaking (and controversial) Nike road racers, the Vaporfly and the Alphafly. These lithe running shoes use a carbon-fiber plate nestled in the midsole to generate energy return as the plate flexes and springs back with each stride. Nike claimed the aforementioned styles could make “runners up to four percent more efficient.”
Noticing an opportunity to move that carbon plate tech to the outdoor market, which has boomed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, TNF mated a flexible-yet-protective mesh upper with a “soling architecture,” or a sandwich of carbon composite, and a heel-to-toe plate with a rocker-shaped midsole and high-traction outsole. TNF says this combo creates “superior stability, grip, and shock absorption without compromising energy efficiency.”
And, according to their elite athletes, the new shoes certainly are proving to be effective in the outdoors: 14 have set 17 records around the world. Kaytlyn Gerbin ran 18 hours, 41 minutes, 54 seconds on the Wonderland Trail; Coree Woltering busted out 21 days, 13 hours, and 35 minutes on the Ice Age Trail; and Pau Capell narrowly missed a course record on the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc by one hour.
“The plate gives the shoes a responsive and high-performance feel,” says Gerbin, “and the streamlined upper keeps the shoes lightweight while maintaining the ‘fits like a glove’ feeling.” Capell says that the shoe “feels fast but also provides real stability and grip on the descents and these are the moments that make all the difference.”
[from $125 to $199; thenorthface.com]