Despite loving The North Face kit for years, one thing I’ve always been disappointed with is it’s footwear collection. It always seemed a bit lackluster and almost an afterthought.
Then one day an email landed in my inbox trying to sell me a pair of the new Ultra Endurance shoes. The marketing hype certainly got me interested, so at the first available opportunity I went down to the store in Leeds to have a good look at them and try them on for size.
They certainly looked the part sitting on the shelf all bright blue and yellow. I tried them on and they fitted perfectly. I was looking for a pair of shoes to use on the UTMB and with a name like Ultra Endurance they certainly seemed to tick all the right boxes.
Decision made! Straight home to take them out for a spin.
Where I’ve used this shoe
This was the shoe that I used on the UTMB. I tested various different shoes before finally deciding on this one. I felt it was the best all round shoe that had the mix of protection, grip and comfort to tackle the mountain terrain I would be facing. If I did the race again then I would use this shoe. Apart from being slightly heavy I can’t fault them and it performed faultlessly throughout.
I tested 3 pairs of shoes up in Scotland to use at the UTMB. The Ultra Endurance, New Balance Leadville 1210 and Scott Kinabalu Supertrac and these were the ones I chose. I was looking for something lightweight, comfortable with good cushioning and plenty of foot protection. The Ultra Endurance were the shoes that met my needs the best.
I also used them on the 10 Peaks – Lakes and although they worked great most of the time, they were no match for the loose scree slopes that make up large parts of the course.
With an 8mm drop (17mm rear, 9mm front) the Ultra Endurance sits in that perfect middle ground and will work well for the majority of people. For a distance shoe this drop works really well for me and it was a good, sensible choice for The North Face.
The snake plate is The North Faces answer to the rock plate found in other trail shoes but it differs from other shoe brands as it is a plate that weaves within the foot plate which gives the benefit of allowing the foot to move in its natural range of movement. The snake plate works incredibly well on rocky terrain and does a great job of keeping the foot safe from harm.
A gusseted tongue helps to hold the foot securely in place and also helps to keep out any trail debris from getting inside the shoe. This works really well however the laces do have a tendency to come undone easily, perhaps due to the silk like material they are made from.
Padding around the ankle is perfect for me, not too much and not too little. Along with the cradle this holds the foot securely in place and prevents it from moving around too much when being used. The fit for me is one of the best I’ve tried and you feel like the shoe is securely fastened to your feet when running and it doesn’t slide around.
Protection on the front of the shoe is second to none. A big wrap around toe bumper protects the toes from rocks and other trail nasties well whilst the upper is breathable, however there were times when my feet did start to overheat slightly.
The Ultra Endurance features a single density compression molded EVA midsole that does a great job of cushioning your feet in long races.
The heel unit features what The North Face call Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology. Basically this is a cradle that helps to hold your foot in the shoe and prevent it from sliding around. It seems to do the job as the fit is very secure and I had no issues with undue movement in the shoe.
The Vibram megagrip one piece out sole on the Ultra Endurance features a very aggressive chevron style lug pattern. Old rocks the Vibram sole grips very well whilst the lugs grip in most conditions apart from the very wettest and slippiest of mud. The shoes do have a slight dull feel to them when running of solid surfaces such as roads but as these are trail shoes you won’t be doing too much of that anyway will you?