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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX - Women's Review
Cons: Minimal cushioning
Bottom line: A great shoe for fast and light hiking.
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Low is a lightweight hiking shoe/trail runner hybrid. While it has a trail running shoe look, the majority of the cushioning is in the heel (for walking or hiking), so they work well for fast hikes with only occasional running. It comes with a waterproof Gore-Tex liner and the mostly synthetic upper does a great job of shedding water, but its performance was average in most of our testing metrics, particularly when compared to the standout models that we tested like our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry, and our Top Pick for Comfort, the Hoka One One Tor Summit WP. While we prefer these for day hiking as opposed to any overnight trips with a heavier pack, they are still a good bet for someone looking for a lightweight pair for fast day hikes.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Low are made with a PU-coated leather and a dual-densitiv EVA midsole. There is a Gore-Tex liner and unique bi-color Vibram sole that is pretty to look at and also functions well.
Here's how the Hedgehogs compared to the other shoes in our tests.
This shoe received an average score for comfort. There's plenty of cushioning under the heel, but we did notice a lack of it under the forefoot. We did start to get a pressure spot on the top of both of our feet due to the tongue pressing down on us in a weird way. While it is possible to re-thread your shoelaces to eliminate pressure spots (you just skip a section), this was the only pair that we felt such uncomfortable pressure with so we noticed it. For a truly cushioned and comfortable ride, the Hoka One One Tor Summit was hard to beat. The Hedgehog did fit our narrow feet well though, so that's something to consider if yours are on the wide side. This shoe does not come in wide sizes, so look to the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilators - Women's and the Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry - Women's, which were the only models in this review to come in wide options, or the Keen Voyageur - Women's or Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry, which are made on the wide side.
We did find enough arch support on this shoe, but since we had to loosen the laces due to the pressure points described above that resulted in a loss of support. The synthetic uppers are also rather soft and flexible, which gave our feet more side to side play.
We did like the traction on this shoe. The Vibram sole has a fun bi-color design in the shape of a flower or tree branch. The inner rubber is soft and pliable, helping it to grip on slick surfaces.
At 1 pound 12 ounces for the pair that we tested (size 10), these shoes were only 3 ounces heavier than the lightest pair in this review, the Ahnu Sugarpine. Overall we liked the lightweight nature of these shoes and they felt great when moving light and fast along a trail. If you like to run occasionally while you are hiking, then these are a good choice. Note that they do feel slightly heavier than a regular trail runner — Those shoes typically weigh about 10 ounces per shoe, and this one weighs 14, so if you run more than hike go check out our Women's Trail Running Shoe review instead.
This shoe performed well in our water resistance testing. The PU-coated leather and synthetic upper keep the water out, and the Gore-Tex liner acts as a backup should any water start to seep through the upper. The ankle opening is just a hair short of the Oboz and Hoka One One models, providing a lot of coverage for crossing streams or hiking through wet brush.
We did have a few durability concerns for this shoe. The leather cut-out strips on the upper are only single stitched in some places, and we had a few of the stitches coming loose after only a couple of months of use. Softer rubber soles will also wear out faster than stiffer ones. There are some pluses, like a small rubber toe cap with an extra abrasion resistant textile around the front of the shoe, and the inner liner didn't pill.
We liked The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Low shoe best for light and fast hikes without any extra weight on our backs. They also work well for those days when you want to run part of your hike. Since they have more of a trail runner look, they are also a good option for those who don't like the bulky or techy aesthetic of most hiking footwear.
This shoe retails for $120, which is pretty reasonable considering that it comes with a Gore-Tex waterproof liner. We guess the days of under $100 hiking shoes is over, so at least this pair stays on the lower end of the price bracket, unlike the $210 Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo - Women's. If you don't need a waterproof shoe, this model is available without it for $100, which is the same price as our non-waterproof Best Buy winner, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's.
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Low is a good middle of the line shoe. Unfortunately, in TNF's quest to make a lightweight shoe, they did sacrifice a bit on comfort and stability, but this shoe still works well for a variety of purposes.
The North Face makes a wide range of women's hiking shoes. In the Hedgehog Fastpack line there is also a mid-height version available (with Gore-Tex) for $130, and a non-Gore-Tex version of the low shoe for $100.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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