The North Face (TNF) needs little further introduction for apparel and gear that is as stylish (such as its collaboration with Gucci) as it is capable of withstanding the demands of the trail.
But where trail running footwear is concerned, the American outdoor products company has been making waves following the launch of its brand new Vectiv range of trail runners earlier this year.
Three key models make up the range and they all share the same Vectiv midsole tech which comprise of a 3D Vectiv plate for stability, dual-density foam for support and a rocker geometry for efficiency that work in harmony so runners gain more efficiency while running off the beaten track while reducing fatigue so they can push harder, and faster.
Headlining this innovation, is the flagship of the range: the lightweight (281g for my US 9 pair) Flight Vectiv trail racer which we got to put through the paces and experience the magic for ourselves.
That carbon fibre plate in the midsole may be the main event for the TNF Flight Vectiv, but there’s more to the shoe than the fact that it’s got the latest and greatest in running technology right at the heart of a trail racer.
For a start, the Flight Vectiv can pass for a road racer, with a sleek black and white colour combination to accentuate a profile incorporated with the unique Matryx knit mesh upper that features Kevlar waterproofing and a reinforced toe cap to protect against loose rocks. Exposed carbon fibre along the sides and heel of the shoe add a touch of style, while hinting at its racy nature. As for the telltale sign that this is a shoe meant for racing in the outdoors, that will be the SURFACECTRL outsole, with tacky lugs resembling those you’d find on a mountain bike tyre.
Running In The Flight Vectiv
The Flight Vectiv may feel a tad tight when you first slip it on, but it stretches nicely for a snug fit as the shoe breaks in. With a padded heel for security on the move, the shoe feels just like a road racer, but with the comfort of your favourite pair of thick supportive running socks that only get comfier with each run. That said, runners with wider forefeet might want to consider sizing up as the narrow width may be prohibitive.
Putting the Flight Vectiv through its paces on a mixture of trail and track, one will notice just how grippy the SURFACECTRL outsole is. It offers confidence and certainty that traction will never be compromised, even in the most uneven of surfaces.
In particularly, the manner in which the Flight Vectiv inspires confidence with each run allows you to build a natural rhythm and focus on picking the best lines on the trail.
Enabling that, of course, it’s the manner in which your feet get to experience stability as the dual-density foam midsole creates a rocker that telepathically propels you into making that next step forward.
Likened to the carbon-fibre chassis in a high performance sports car, the carbon plate in the heart of the Flight Vectiv offers the right balance of stability, agility and responsiveness to tackle the characteristic unpredictability of conditions on the trail.
You could race the Flight Vectiv on dirt tracks, such as the one lining Bedok Reservoir, but it is on trails like the ones around MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Timah that the Flight Vectiv feels most at home. There, the sense of security from having a trusted shoe really comes to the fore, allowing you to worry less about whether it can cope with what you need it to do and focus your attention towards your running goal. In the process, you’ll be impressed by the Flight Vectiv’s ability to help you navigate coarse terrain as you clock your fastest splits.
The shoe leaves zero room for doubt about its ability to manage trail features, such as roots and loose rocks, as it offers the right amount of pop to help trail runners of all skill levels pick their fastest lines through both trail and horde (of hikers on crowded mornings).
In the process, it seems to energise you with the belief that you can push yourself to pick up speed, maintain the pace and press on. Especially notable, is the manner which it props you up on the ascents and feel the sureness of its ability to support you down the descents where you’re at your fastest.
Despite its light weight, the Flight Vectiv doesn’t feel inadequate or fragile. Rather, it assures you of its ability to be the ideal companion ready for wherever the trail takes you, whenever you call upon it. Consider it an extension of your feet, but with the right support, grip, responsiveness and protection to ace the demands of achieving speed off the beaten track.
The North Face Flight Vectiv is priced at $366 and is available at the following The North Face boutiques:
The Shoppes at Marina
Keen on New Gear?
Run with The North Face for a chance for new gear.
Through its ‘The North Face Vectiv Power Further, Together Challenge’ on Strava, The North Face is hoping to rally the global community to connect, one stride at a time, to contribute to a collective goal of covering every square kilometre on earth, or 148.3million kilometres to be exact. The aim? Celebrating the connection that the trails create by coming together to compete, collaborate and build a movement.
To participate, simply complete 100km between now till the end of March 2021 to play your part and earn The North Face digital finisher’s badge, a 10% off digital voucher, plus an additional 15% off all Vectiv trail running footwear.
More details available here.