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Brands

Shoes

The North Face Ultra Equity Trail-Running Shoe (Fall 2014)

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8.9 oz / 10mm drop / $115

The Dirt: The Ultra Equity comes equipped with a stiff medial post for pronation control and the kind of arch support you’d get from an after-market insole.

Its “road-running-shoe feel” and minimal tread are best suited for smooth trails, grass, hardpack or even roads. After creek crossings, the highly breathable mesh upper dries quickly.

For $130, a waterproof GTX version is available.

Best For: Overpronators; dry, non-technical terrain; distances up to a half-marathon.

Fit: True to size, if not a tad small; medium width with a roomy toebox.

 

Tester Raves

  • “For such a supportive shoe, I was surprised at how light they felt. The soles were a perfect flex, not too stiff, but assuring enough to feel secure on very technical descents. The sole was very cushioned and my feet felt great after a long run.”
    —Michael Shook
  • “It’s a great overall shoe geared toward the average runner. Perfect on road or off road, as long as the conditions are not too difficult. The sole was soft and comfortable and didn’t have any hot spots or pinch points along the side. It breathes well on humid forest runs, too.”
    —Khris Vickroy
  • “They are super light, soft and comfortable, so they are ready to run right out of the box! They are cool to your feet on a hot day and let your feet dry fast if running through water.”
    —Sarah von Harz
  • “I really like this shoe! Very lightweight but feels durable. I feel solid and trusting of the show. Excellent arch support. Flexible and comfortable but has enough rigidity that I can spring forth quickly, and agile enough to navigate rocky terrain.”
    —Dana Edsall

 

Testers on Fit

  • “The fit was pretty good for my medium-width foot.”
    —Mark Feinsinger
  • “These shoes were plenty roomy. The toebox was wide enough to give my toes plenty of wiggle room. However, they seem to run small, because I am a size 7.5-8 and my toes were hitting the end of these size 8s.”
    —Amy Peck
  • “The shoe’s true to size—a nice balanced fit.”
    —Maura Adams
  • “These shoes fit smaller than other brands, so look for a size larger than you are accustomed.”
    —Sarah von Harz

 

Testers on Tread

  • “The Ultra Equity provided good traction on the loose dirt, rock and tree-root singletrack high desert terrain I ran on.”
    —Mark Feinsinger
  • “These shoes would perform best where not a lot of traction is needed—road and smooth, rolling trails and grass.”
    —Amy Peck
  • “The tread isn’t great for traction on steep dirt hills or mud, and are even worse when wet. They do run great on groomed trails such as paved trails, roads, mulch or dry dirt with gentile hills. These would be fantastic trail shoes for the beginner trail runner or the runner who has one pair for both road and trail.”
    —Sarah von Harz
  • “Packed dry dirt trails and pavement are best.”
    —Khris Vickroy

 

Testers on Downsides

  • “The honeycomb upper mesh didn’t provide good lateral support and felt too forgiving when running around rocks and other obstacles.”
    —Mark Feinsinger
  • “While the shoes were very breathable, since they are such a dark color, my feet also got very hot. It was very sandy on one of my runs and the high breathability factor allowed sand to get into the shoes.”
    —Michael Shook
  • “These shoes did not perform at the level I expect out of a good trail shoe on rocky, steep trails or any type of rugged terrain. I slipped around when the trail got steep and the tread did not perform like a true trail shoe when running over loose rocks or on steep slickrock.”
    —Amy Peck