Many modern running shoes for road and track use a plate-propelled design. That is, there’s a layer of plate (usually carbon fiber) underneath your feet that locks the foot and toes in place as you take your next stride. While it sounds simple, this has resulted in optimal running times because of extensive energy return and reduced workload for the runner. With the North Face Flight Vectiv, the outfit took that proven design and applied it to trail-running footwear.
That’s right, North Face is bringing the popular carbon fiber plate technology to the trail, allowing trail runners to enjoy the same benefits that have long been a staple in many premium running shoes. Whether you prefer long sustained runs across mountain ranges or multiple short laps around the woods, this thing brings the technical prowess you need to do it at the fastest time your physical abilities will allow.
The North Face Flight Vectiv uses a soling architecture that combines a 3D carbon fiber plate that sits directly underfoot, a curved rocker midsole, and a grip-focused outsole. According to the outfit, the plate is designed to wrap around the foot’s edges to lock it in place as you move, all while dissipating impact on the layers of foam beneath it, so the architecture benefits not just a runner’s performance but the footwear’s overall longevity, too. As with the plate-equipped road shoes that came before it, the footwear’s combination of stability, grip, and shock absorption will reduce deviations in a runner’s form even through the longest runs, so you can conserve energy and achieve optimum speed.
So, does this feel like those road and track running shoes with carbon fiber plates in them? Not exactly. According to the outfit, both the plate and the midsole foam have been tweaked to offer less bounce than their road and track counterparts, allowing folks to better control their speed when taking on steep downhill runs and slippery trails.
The North Face Flight Vectiv pairs that soling architecture with an upper made up of 3D knit sections and an abrasion-resistant Kevlar-polyamide panel, all of which have been intentionally made as thin as possible to minimize the weight. That upper is shaped to sit flush against your feet’s skin to make it difficult for pebbles and grit to collect inside the shoe, while a reinforced toe delivers extra protection for those unanticipated collisions with rocks and tree roots. It also has a 3D molded heel cup and a heel grip, both of which should keep you from sliding and slipping on muddy and uneven terrain.
According to the outfit, this particular model is designed for wearing on long trail runs, although it will also feel comfortable when running on roads, tracks, and other less-technical terrains. More significantly, North Face is using the soling architecture for upcoming models, each time tweaked specifically for a different activity, such as casual hiking, technical hiking, elite racing, ultra-running, and more.
The North Face Flight Vectiv will be available to the public February 25th, priced at $199.