The North Face Ultra Trail (Spring 2014)
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The Dirt: Though the Ultra Trail is a new shoe, it shares many commonalities with recent TNF releases, the Hypertrack Guide (Spring 2013) and Singletrack Hyasa II (Fall 2013)—a lightweight road-trail hybrid shoe with low-profile tread that handles a variety of terrain with ease.
Every element of the upper is designed with comfort and agility in mind—a paper-thin tongue and no-sew construction that reduces the likelihood of developing blisters or hot spots.
The flat laces drew mixed reviews—some praise for their “snazzy” look, some criticism for their tendency to come untied.
Best For: Runs of a couple of hours or less during which you’re likely to encounter “mixed-bag terrain”—from pavement to moderately technical trails.
Traction: The small, tightly spaced Vibram rubber lugs pleasantly surprised skeptical testers with their ability to handle “mud, snow, ice and fresh dirt without breaking a sweat.”
Fit: The Ultra Trail fits true to size with medium width.
The Downsides: With minimal cushioning and little structure in the upper, it suffers some on trails sporting rocks or requiring sharp turns.
Tester-Monial: “I felt like a little gecko climbing up gravel or dirt and never had the sense I would slip while going downhill.”
–Emilee Goldberg, Larkspur, CA