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The North Face Fastpack III Woven - Women's Review

These lightweight and comfortable ankle-high boots feature woven uppers and supportive foam midsoles.
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Price:  $170 List | $109.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, easy to break in, supportive underfoot
Cons:  Not meant for heavy loads, lacks durability
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 31, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Support - 20% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The North Face Fastpack III is in a class of lightweight footwear that toes the line between a hiking boot and a running shoe. Their woven uppers look unique and provide support through the ankle in a breathable, lightweight way. Another notable feature of the Fastpack III's is their surprisingly stiff and supportive midsole. Though they look like floppy running shoes, the Fastpack provides a great deal of support underfoot. However, these boots are not meant to carry heavy loads. Instead, the Fastpacks are an excellent option for day hikes. These comfortable, lightweight hikers are ideal for day hikes and shorter mileage missions where heavy loads and technical terrain are less of a concern. A light backpack and a moderate trail are the Fastpack's best friends.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, comfortable, easy to break in, supportive underfootGood traction, very comfortable, ankle padding, waterproofVery water resistant, durable, incredibly lightweight, sleek designLightweight, comfortable, break in easily, supportiveComfortable, stable, incredibly well-padded, low weight
Cons Not meant for heavy loads, lacks durabilityRuns big, excess padding in tongueProblematic fitMinimalist design could result in durability issues, fairly costlyLack breathability, large sole, short collar
Bottom Line These lightweight and comfortable ankle-high boots feature woven uppers and supportive foam midsoles.It's difficult to find any short-comings in this fantastic product, which even comes at a fair price.This boot is designed for mountainous, technical terrain where lightweight and durable footwear is key.A lightweight, high-performance boot that excels on everything from long, technical trails to short jaunts.These boots are some of the most comfortable and supportive models we have tested, making them our Top Pick for Comfort.
Rating Categories Fastpack III Woven X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Alpenrose Ultra Mid GTX Breeze LT GTX Sky Toa
Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
10
Support (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weight (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
6
Durability (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Fastpack III Woven X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Alpenrose Ultra... Breeze LT GTX Sky Toa
Boot Type Lightweight hiker Midweight hiker Lightweight/Midweight hiker Lightweight hiker Lightweight hiker
Weight Per Pair (Size 7.5, in lbs) 1.57 lbs 1.83 lbs 1.47 lbs 1.38 lbs 1.64 lbs
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Upper Engineered woven, ultra-suede Suede leather, nylon Breathable mesh/ coated fabric Microfiber mesh Synthetic
Heel height (mm) 45 mm 32 mm 32 mm 29 mm 45 mm
Shaft height (mm) 127 mm 121 mm 127 mm 114 mm 102 mm
Midsole EVA, FastFoam Dual-density EVA EVA Dual-density EVA Rangi
Sole Vibram MegaGrip Contagrip rubber Michelin rubber Vibram MegaGrip Vibram MegaGrip

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Fastpack IIIs eagerly anticipating the next adventure at the trailhead.
The Fastpack IIIs eagerly anticipating the next adventure at the trailhead.

Comfort


We were pleasantly surprised by these lightweight hikers. Initially, The North Face Fastpack IIIs were hard to get on since the gusseted tongue doesn't open very wide. We had a hard time getting our feet in these shoes the first few times wearing them. Once on, though, the Fastpack's were very comfortable. The woven upper wraps the foot almost like a sock, providing a snug fit from the ankle to toe without pinching at all in the toe box.

The woven upper makes the Fastpack III flexible and supple - conforming easily to the shape of the foot.
The woven upper makes the Fastpack III flexible and supple - conforming easily to the shape of the foot.

Support


Again, we were surprised by the performance of the Fastpack IIIs. We half expected these woven boots to be floppy and lacking support but were pleasantly surprised by their stiffness underfoot. The FastFoam midsole provides stiffness and support, without adding bulk or extra weight. Additionally, the ESS midfoot shank adds rigidity to the boot side-to-side. This helped stabilize us on uneven and steep terrain. The Fastpack fell short in providing ankle support since the woven upper does not offer very much stability or stiffness in the ankle.

The Fastpack IIIs have enough ankle support to be stabilizing  but their woven uppers flex with the foot to allow plenty of movement.
The Fastpack IIIs have enough ankle support to be stabilizing, but their woven uppers flex with the foot to allow plenty of movement.

Weight


Weighing just over a pound and a half, the North Face Fastpack III is among the lightest boots in this review. Our measured weight was 1.57 pounds.

Traction


Here, the Fastpack III fell a bit short. We spent some time hiking on the muddy hillsides of coastal Northern California and were slipping and sliding all over the place in these boots. Though they feature Vibram MegaGrip soles, the tread pattern is not aggressive and did not provide much traction in muddy terrain.

The Fastpacks have Vibram soles that provide some traction on rock  but felt slick in mud and loose rock because of the sole's simple and shallow tread pattern.
The Fastpacks have Vibram soles that provide some traction on rock, but felt slick in mud and loose rock because of the sole's simple and shallow tread pattern.

On rock, the Vibram soles provide some traction and are comparable to other boots with Vibram MegaGrip soles. However, for muddy terrain, boots with more aggressive lug patterns will outperform the Fastpack.

Water Resistance


Though they look like they are constructed of sweater material, the Fastpack III actually has a waterproof Gore-tex membrane. The woven upper combined with this waterproof membrane makes the Fastpack an incredibly breathable boot, while still providing a waterproof barrier. We tested these boots by standing in flowing water for a few minutes and found that a small amount of water leaked in from the tongue after about a minute in ankle-deep water.

We were pretty surprised by how well these woven uppers kept our feet dry - even when fully submerged in running water!
We were pretty surprised by how well these woven uppers kept our feet dry - even when fully submerged in running water!

In general, we like boots that have lightweight qualities, yet also provide water resistance.

Durability


These boots are lightweight - they are made entirely of woven fabric and foam. This construction makes for a great feel, but it also means that the Fastpack III is not designed for heavy loads, nor for longevity. If treated with care, the Fastpacks will live a long life, but they are not necessarily designed for the abuses of an expedition or a thru-hike. The woven upper will not hold up to abrasions caused from scrambling or talus hiking, unlike a burly leather upper as seen on some of the other boots in this review.

The lightweight nature of these boots means that they lack the same level of durability found in an all-leather boot.
The lightweight nature of these boots means that they lack the same level of durability found in an all-leather boot.

Value


The Fastpack III lands in the middle of the pack. The boots are made with Gore-tex, Ortholite, and Vibram technologies, making them a good product, and also upping the price from a more affordable option.

These boots are best suited for moderate hikes - the foam soles and woven uppers are lightweight but not designed for the heavy wear and tear of long-distance backpacking trips.
These boots are best suited for moderate hikes - the foam soles and woven uppers are lightweight but not designed for the heavy wear and tear of long-distance backpacking trips.

Conclusion


Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of these boots. The North Face Fastpack IIIs are a solid choice for a lightweight and well-designed shoe. The Fastpacks went on easy at first, taking very little time to break in. Their woven uppers fit our feet comfortably, and their foam midsoles provide reasonable support for such a lightweight boot. Though they were comfortable, the boots are not designed for heavy loads or long days on the trail. They shine on shorter hikes with light loads and can handle a bit of water with their Gore-Tex membrane.


Jane Jackson