A minimal shoe with out-of-the-box comfort, with race…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Kept it)
A minimal shoe with out-of-the-box comfort, with race day durability.
- Out-of-the-box comfort
- Stretchy laces
- Fits narrow feet
- Outsole durability
- Flexibility on the trail
The North Face seeded me a pair of these shoes because we were looking for sponsors for our trail running club. I was thrilled to try a pair of TNF's running shoes because I know how much tech and effort they put into creating them. Although I wasn't over the moon with its performance, I did find it to be adequate in other applications than the trail.
TNF is always really stoked about what kind of technology they are using, and the shoe is branded to death with "snake plate" and "heel cradle" as are most shoes. These techs are pretty neat in theory, but I didn't feel they were incredibly noticeable while running.
The snake plate is made like a winded coil through the midsole of the shoe, absorbing rocks and roots to allow an even strike on the ground. It was alright. I am aware that this is a "minimal" shoe (8m), and I am not a minimalist runner. I found the shoe to be very flexible while on the trail and my feet were not stable. I was always worried that I was going to roll.
The comfort of the shoe is fantastic on flat ground. I have a narrow foot and fitting my long, skinny foot is usually a challenge. This shoe fit like a dream right out of the box. It has some cushion so it rode very well running TO the trail. It is very breathable as well. On particularly hot, humid days, my feet were not sweaty. Overall, it was a very comfortable shoe to wear.
Trails in the East Coast of Canada are often muddy and wet. There is honestly not a lot of grip on these shoes to begin with, especially under the midfoot. If you are running crusher dust or wood chips — run your heart out. On a muddy trail with some slippery roots, it was not my favorite. The uppers of the shoes fit well and flex well with my foot, but the outsole was ground up after about 12k of single track running.
My favorite part of this shoe was its stretchy laces. The laces sat well, holding my foot and never came untied. Bonus.
This shoe is great for someone who is looking to get into trail running. Maybe not doing a whole lot of single track (which is unfortunate, because that is the NAME of the shoe.) I found after running it 2-3 times a week for a few months, I retired it as my "kickin' around the park" or gym workout shoe.
Personally, I like a shoe with a biiiiit more rigidity on the trail, so this was not the way to go for me. I found it too flexible, and I was disappointed by the outsole's durability. This would be a great race day (road) shoe for someone, as it is light weight and extremely comfortable right away. I would just wondering about its outsole tearing up on asphalt even quicker.
Not a great trail shoe for me, but a great cheap gym shoe ('bout $100) and I would buy another for that purpose.