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The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight - Women's Review

These boots are both comfortable and lightweight - ideal for those who are looking for a running shoe style boot
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Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, sticky soles, comfortable, easy to break in
Cons:  Lacks durability, lacks support
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 28, 2020
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support - 20% 6
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

These boots are lightweight, water-resistant, and comfortable right out of the box. We have very little to say about The North Face Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight that isn't positive. They perform well on rocky, steep terrain, and are lightweight enough to feel nimble and agile when hopping between boulders. All of these positives come at a cost, though, and it seems like these boots could fall short in the durability metric, though we didn't have any immediate issues during our testing period. The Fastpack IV's are a boot for ladies who like a lightweight boot - one that could almost be considered a high-necked running shoe. We found that the Fastpacks could hang on longer, burlier hikes, as long as we weren't loaded down with too much weight.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Fastpack IV's are lightweight - it was hard to keep from running in them!
The Fastpack IV's are lightweight - it was hard to keep from running in them!

Comfort


We are pleased by the overall comfort of the Ultra Fastpack IV. Right out of the box, these shoes felt comfortable and didn't give us hotspots or any other trouble when breaking them in. Though not as cushy as some of the other models we've tested, and certainly falling into the lightweight category, the Fastpacks FastFoam midsoles deflected rocks and kept the soles of our feet comfortable on varied terrain.

Our swollen ankle was easily accommodated by the lacing system on these boots.
Our swollen ankle was easily accommodated by the lacing system on these boots.

The lacing system is easy to adjust and allowed us to fine-tune the fit to accommodate our wide forefoot comfortably. One small issue we had was in pulling these shoes on — we found that the high sides and low back of the ankle made it hard to pull the Fastpacks on. It was also hard to get our fingers into the pull-tab on the back.

Support


Though not designed for rugged travel in the same way that some of the heavier-duty boots in this review are, the North Face Fastpack IV has a midfoot shank that provides stability on rocky terrain despite the boots' lightweight design. The high ankles that make these boots a little annoying to get on provided ankle stability that allowed our lead tester to get back on the trails with a sprained ankle — an unforeseen benefit to these boots!

The pull-tabs on the back of these boots made it hard to get them on. But  on the plus side  the high ankles gave us impressive protection and security for such a lightweight boot.
The pull-tabs on the back of these boots made it hard to get them on. But, on the plus side, the high ankles gave us impressive protection and security for such a lightweight boot.

Weight


The Fastpack IV weighs in as some of the lightest boots in this review. When we measured their weight on our scale at home, the Fastpacks proved to weigh only 1.59 pounds (size US 7.5), which is only slightly heavier than their claimed weight of 1.4 pounds. Maybe they based this weight off size 5? Fractions of pounds aside, these boots are light. They feel as light and airy on foot as they do on the scale — a feature we loved for most day hiking missions.

Their lightweight design is one of our favorite aspects of these boots.
Their lightweight design is one of our favorite aspects of these boots.

Traction


Kitted out with the nowadays ubiquitous Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsoles, the Fastpacks hold their own on rock and loose terrain. Most of the shoes we include in this review use the MegaGrip rubber compound in their soles, making it difficult to compare their performance on rock. That said, each company and shoe uses its own tread pattern, which allows for some major variability in the shoes' ability to hold traction on loose gravel and rocky trails.

The rugged tread pattern and deep lugs plus the use of Vibram MegaGrip make the Fastpacks contenders for the grippiest boots in this review.
The rugged tread pattern and deep lugs plus the use of Vibram MegaGrip make the Fastpacks contenders for the grippiest boots in this review.

Water Resistance


The North Face Fastpack IV uses the brand's latest waterproof/breathable technology, Futurelight, to provide a water-resistant membrane. We definitely found the Futurelight material to be more breathable than a traditional Gore-Tex membrane, and as far as we could tell from testing, the boots kept our feet dry in wet conditions. The fairly high ankle shaft height combined with the latest waterproofing technology from The North Face kept our feet dry in creek crossings and spring puddles.

For a pair of mesh boots with welded seams and a fairly low ankle shaft height  the Fastpack IV's did impressively well in our water-resistance testing.
For a pair of mesh boots with welded seams and a fairly low ankle shaft height, the Fastpack IV's did impressively well in our water-resistance testing.

Durability


Like any lightweight boot made from mesh and synthetic materials, The North Face Fastpack IV has the potential to see some wear and tear. Boots with all-leather uppers tend to score higher in the durability metric than those that focus more on lightweight performance, like the Faspacks. That said, we saw no significant signs of wear over our three-month test period, which bodes well for the longevity of these lightweight hikers.

Value


With a price tag that lands them in the middle of the pack in terms of value, the Fastpack IV is a good option in terms of value. Though they may not be as durable as some, they are comfortable and well made, plus the use of the Futurelight membrane provides a lightweight, breathable barrier against moisture. These factors give them a leg up in terms of value.

Long hikes or neighborhood jaunts  the Fastpacks are a great lightweight and versatile boot.
Long hikes or neighborhood jaunts, the Fastpacks are a great lightweight and versatile boot.

Conclusion


Overall, we were impressed by The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight - Women's. These boots are some of the lightest hikers we've tested — we were tempted to start running in them. Though they have a mesh upper and have many welded seams, these boots are still burly enough to withstand a substantial beating on the trail. The midsole shank provides stability and support underfoot, plus a pretty solid barrier between the bottom of your foot and the ground. Many of the features that make them super lightweight also mean that these boots may lack the durability of other models in this review. Also, it means that they don't provide quite the same level of support as an all-leather, traditional style hiking boot.


Jane Jackson