Updated: Sep 7
The Vectiv Pro rides with a lively energy many trail shoes do not. This shoe uses carbon tastefully, not as a distracting jet engine to your foot. What’s more, I enjoyed running at a variety of speeds, from gut busting slog tempos to smooth and fast road miles.
The shoe surprised me with its consistent—but not overdone—forward propulsion technology, thanks to some tasteful geometry and a unique “forked” carbon midsole.
The carbon aspect of this shoe feels less like a big clunky plate (thanks, in part, to its forked design; apparently it increases sensitivity to trail), which I appreciated on tricky downhills. This shoe delivers many miles of efficient, supported, and fast running on rolling terrain.
I found the laces to be distractingly soft, and easy to over tighten. My guess is that shoe designers wanted a lace that doesn’t “slip” its knot, but I found myself engaged in more than one post run struggle-fest, after over enthusiastically cranking down on the laces.
I thought the heel fabric extends way too high. Unless you are wearing high socks, Achilles friction will likely occur. While this shoe shines on less than technical terrain, the second things turn rough rugged, all its assets disappear. Also, the pricetag on this shoe will scare off cash-strapped runners.
Some runners found the carbon piece on the inside front of the shoe to dig in their foot and gave me blisters and hot spot. I personally, did not have that experience.
Early in the carbon shoe game, I felt like carbon-aided trail shoes seemed more gimmicky, and less like a coherent, trail-motivated idea. Carbon provides lots of spring in a shoe’s mechanics, but sometimes at the expense of sensitivity to the trail.
Early iterations of carbon trail shoes—and I’m thinking specifically of early North Face carbon shoes—seemed more like a liability and less like an asset. Thankfully, the arrival of the Vectiv Pro indicates that carbon technology is not only better than it was a few years ago, but that the North Face has worked it in to an all-around trail shoe with an intelligent, streamlined design.
This shoe uses carbon tastefully, not as a distracting jet engine to your foot. What’s more, I enjoyed running at a variety of speeds, from gut busting slog tempos to smooth and fast road miles. I’m very excited to see how carbon shoes go from here, because The North Face is clearly on to something.
The carbon elements in the Vectiv Pro add—rather than distract—from the hallmarks of a traditional all round trail shoe, and if you can stomach the pricetag, you will enjoy some very pleasant—and fast—miles.
The North Face really dialed in the fit on the Vectiv Pro, particularly with its integrated elastic tongue, which gives it a tailored mid foot fit even before you lace up. This precise and rigid harnessing works well with the carbon elements of the shoe.
The toe box leans toward the wide size of the spectrum, but I think this will appeal rather disappoint. Raised foam strips in the heel cup secure your heel with comfort, but the trim in the heel extends very high—almost comically so—up the achilles tendon.
I’m sure The North Face simply wanted a pull tab to assist slipping your foot in to the shoe, but I think they could have achieved this with a tab attached to the exterior of the heel.
You won’t notice much propulsion on sustained steep trail climbs, but the second you open up your stride, this shoe comes alive. In my opinion, trail runners will get a small glimpse of road running speed in this shoe, and I would absolutely recommend it on mixed runs that lean heavily towards road.
The uppers retain quite a bit of breathability right around the base of the toes, but the actual edge of the toe box touts protective foam. This slight but noticeable strategy made a difference on the amount of trail debris entering my shoe and is one distinct way the Vectiv Pro differentiates from other fast, lightweight shoes on the market.
The integrated elastic tongue adds a good deal of padding as well. At 3.5mm height, the lugs lean towards the shorter end of things, but that strategy keeps the outsole from over gripping. This outsole will serve you well on fire roads, well groomed singletrack, and road miles.