The North Face FLIGHT VECTIV™
Written By: SportsShoes
Trail runners all over the globe have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the world’s first carbon-fibre plated trail shoe, and we’re delighted to announce that the wait is finally over. The time has come for The North Face to officially unveil its latest flagship product: the FLIGHT VECTIV™: a trail shoe like no other, and one that promises to completely revolutionise the sport of long-distance trail running.
“VECTIV™ is for those who crave the feeling of untamed speed, who want a shoe that feels like a natural extension of their body.” ERIKA FLOWERS - Athlete
This is a shoe that has been years in the making, designed by experts and thoroughly tested by a number of elite athletes. This group of The North Face trail runners has already set plenty of impressive records, all wearing VECTIV™ footwear for their respective challenges. Last year, Dylan Bowman and Kaytlyn Gerbin successfully set new FKTs for the Wonderland Trail, around Washington’s Mount Rainier and the 2019 UTMB® winner, Pau Capell, also wore them during his solo record attempt on the UTMB® course at the end of August.
TNF athlete Pau Capell in action, wearing the FLIGHT VECTIV™. Photo credit: The North Face
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE NORTH FACE VECTIV™ RANGE?
“VECTIV™ is a system, it’s not just a plate. We’re excited about what this represents for The North Face and performance trail running.” MICHAEL THOMPSON – TNF Senior Product Director
The FLIGHT VECTIV™ is built for speed, with VECTIV™ technology designed to turn energy into momentum to help propel you forward. This shoe is the most responsive in the VECTIV™ elite trail running range. Light and energy-giving they are tried, tested and trusted by The North Face athletes. Made for ultra-distances, they’re incredibly durable thanks to Kevlar®, polyamide and Matryx® fabrics, and reinforced toe caps. Positioned directly underfoot, the revolutionary 3D VECTIV™ plate provides propulsion and stability and the rocker shape optimizes foot strike and forward momentum. The 3D VECTIV™ plate and VECTIV™ Rocker Midsole combine to reduce impact by 10% with no compromise on energy efficiency. The new, high-traction SURFACECTRL GRIP outsole delivers sure-footed confidence on any terrain, allowing you to stride ahead in total control.
Designed for a smooth and stable ride with the VECTIV™ technology, VECTIV™ INFINITE gives you 360º stability in every step on your longest trail days. They provide the perfect balance of responsiveness and protection in ultra-distance trail running shoes. Durability is courtesy of the Kevlar®, polyamide Matryx®.
With optimal cushioning and stability, VECTIV™ ENDURIS is a trail shoe built for comfort. Light and cushioned they provide long-lasting comfort and support on even the most rugged terrain. There are internal heel supports offering a closer fit and breathable, flexible mesh uppers for a forgiving fit.
All VECTIV™ models share the same 6mm toe-to-heel offset designed to propel you into your next gait cycle.
Close up images of the FLIGHT VECTIV™ shoe. Photo credits: The North Face
Our Sportsshoes.com Trail Running Ambassador, Ben Mounsey, has been busy putting the FLIGHT VECTIV™ to the test:
The FLIGHT VECTIV™ look so good that you almost feel guilty about going for a run for fear of getting them dirty and wet. However, my excitement and enthusiasm to put this shoe to the test far outweighed my desire to keep them clean and, like any healthy relationship, I was eager to discover if there was more to this shoe than just its good looks.
The main question in my mind (and that of others I’m sure!), was whether or not the FLIGHT VECTIV™ would be suitable for UK terrain. In truth, I think we can all agree that white is not the most practical choice of colour, but that said, I have never owned a pair of trail shoes that have stayed their original colour for very long anyway. And, let’s be honest, colour is irrelevant, it’s the way they perform that is far more important.
The FLIGHT VECTIV™ feels different to any shoe that I have ever tested, mainly because of its unique design, and particularly because of the carbon-fibre plate and rocker sole – both concepts I’m none too familiar with.
I love the quality and feel of these shoes. They’re ultra-lightweight, but pack the punch of a heavyweight prize fighter - designed for the trail runner who craves both speed and power in equal measure. The carbon-plate and rocker sole work together in perfect harmony to give ultimate protection against sharp rocks, whilst helping to propel you forward at lightning speed. The VECTIV system provides flexibility on aggressive terrain, but most importantly, gives you maximum energy return, allowing you to run for longer and with more efficiency in every stride. They’re ultra-responsive, super-cushioned and an absolute dream to wear, particularly on hard-packed trails and paths.
TNF athlete Fernanda Maciel, putting the FLIGHT VECTIV™to the test. Photo credit: The North Face
I think the main benefits of wearing these shoes are the unrivalled levels of comfort and cushioning that they provide. I particularly like how they wrap snugly around your feet, a sock-fit design that extends around the ankle to the very top of the heel and ergonomically finished with a small, cushioned pillow at the back of the shoe to ensure maximum comfort and support.
The FLIGHT VECTIV™ is arguably the most breathable shoe I’ve ever worn. The majority of the upper is constructed from a lightweight, stretchy and surprisingly, robust material. The front and sides of the shoe are highly ventilated; ideal in warm climates and perfectly suited to long-distance adventures.
It’s important for me to point out that the FLIGHT VECTIV™ is a trail shoe, not an aggressive winter fell shoe. They would never be my first choice for a run where I’m shin deep in moorland bog, or when tackling extreme, muddy conditions. However, I would say that they are an excellent all-round trail shoe, with grip capable of handling a variety of terrain, but naturally more suited to trail and mountain running, as they’re specifically designed to cope with hard, dry and rocky surfaces. This is also a hybrid shoe, capable of switching to solid, flat surfaces such as road and asphalt. Therefore, I think that they are suitable for all levels of athlete and those performing across a range of trail-running disciplines, over multiple off-road surfaces and particularly for anyone who wants to run for longer and maximise their performance.
As a first-generation release, the FLIGHT VECTIV™ have left a lasting impression and it’s clear that the introduction of carbon-fibre in trail shoes is most certainly a step in the right direction.