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The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight Review

A good lightweight boot that can go from day hikes to overnight trips without slowing you down
The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $165 List | $115.46 at Backcountry
Pros:  Reasonably lightweight, good waterproof protection
Cons:  Durability questionable, average performance
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 21, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 16
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Stability - 20% 5
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight is a lightweight hiking boot that is built to handle local day hikes as well as longer trips into the mountains. Light enough to keep the fatigue from setting in, but not so light that they give up all support and traction, these boots are a good choice for someone who is looking for something more than a hiking shoe can offer, but whose ankles or trail goals do not require the rugged support of a full-on hiking boot.

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Price $115.46 at Backcountry$229.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Reasonably lightweight, good waterproof protectionTop-level hiking boot performance, excels in all metricsComfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performance, lightweightGood value, extra toe protection, solid traction, out-of-the-box comfortCushioned and comfortable, good fit for wide fit, very breathable
Cons Durability questionable, average performanceExpensive, not as great for hot and dry climatesCould be more breathable, not great traction on smooth rockBelow average stability, not very durable, lacks good breathabilityNot waterproof, not enough support for long or heavy backpacking trips
Bottom Line A good lightweight boot that can go from day hikes to overnight trips without slowing you downThe gold standard of what a great hiking boot should be, and we heartily recommend it for those seeking the best possible performance on and off the trailThis boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable, low-weight performerA solid hiker that features great comfort and toe protection in an inexpensive packageThis budget offering from Merrell is a good choice for day hikers and casual backpackers who will be traveling through warm and dry climates
Rating Categories Ultra Fastpack IV M... Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Salomon X Ultra Mid... Keen Targhee II Mid Merrell Moab 2 Vent...
Comfort (25%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Stability (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
5.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
3.0
Durability (10%)
4.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Ultra Fastpack IV M... Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Salomon X Ultra Mid... Keen Targhee II Mid Merrell Moab 2 Vent...
Weight per Pair (Size 11) 2.06 lbs 2.9 lbs 2.28 lbs 2.37 lbs 2.41 lbs
Boot Type Lightweight Hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Lightweight Hiker/Day Hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Width Options Regular Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular and Wide
Waterproof Lining FutureLight Gore-Tex Gore-Tex KEEN.Dry waterproof breathable membrane None
Upper Mesh with TPU overlay Leather, nylon Waterproof PU coated leather Waterproof nubuck leather Suede and mesh
Last Board/Shank ESS 4D Chassis Molded shank Torsion stability ESS shank Molded nylon arch shank
Midsole FastFoam EnergyCell Injected EVA Dual density compression molded EVA EVA
Sole Vibram MegaGrip Contragrip Non-marking ContaGrip Non-marking rubber outsole Vibram TC5+
Color Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Great for casual hikes that might encounter varied conditions, the...
Great for casual hikes that might encounter varied conditions, the Ultra Fastpack IV is a reasonable option.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Comfort


The Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight boots provided an average amount of comfort given their stripped-down appearance as a minimalist hiking boot meant for long-distance thru-hikes. While not as plush as other models, the Fastfoam midsole does deflect some of the impacts on a rough trail. The molded toe cap also helps to ensure that stubbed toes on rock and roots don't hurt as much.

While the sole is a bit thin for bounding over lots of sharp rocks...
While the sole is a bit thin for bounding over lots of sharp rocks, the Ultra Fastpack did pretty well overall in comfort.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

We like the lacing system, as it allows us to get a snug secure fit from down near the toe box all the way up to the ankle, and the soft material that wraps the ankle is comfortable even when laced tight.

Stability


Using an ESS midfoot shank, the Ultra Fastpack IV is one of the stiffest models in this 2 pound or under category. This extra rigidity doesn't make them hike like a mountain boot - they still flex as easily as a hiking shoe - but they give a lot more confidence when edging, walking on sidehills or through uneven terrain. This gives them an advantage when carrying more pack weight or hiking in off-trail situations.

The Ultra Fastpack IV edges along this ledge system with reasonable...
The Ultra Fastpack IV edges along this ledge system with reasonable security.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

With a fairly narrow footbed, we feel that with the laces secured, we have better support wearing these boots than with other similar lightweight hikers, especially around the upper ankle.

Traction


The North Face uses a Vibram rubber compound on the sole of the Ultra Fastpack IV called Megagrip. This compound has become quite popular in many hiking boots and shoes thanks to its grippiness in most conditions, and its good durability. Soft enough to smear on rocks and gain traction, it is durable enough to get good purchase in loose conditions like scree and sand.

The shallow lugs on the Megagrip sole did better in firm conditions...
The shallow lugs on the Megagrip sole did better in firm conditions than in sloppy mud; the lugs are just not deep enough to give great traction here.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Weight


We put the Ultra Fastpack IV Mid boots on our scale and verified their weight at 2.06 pounds per pair in a size 11 US. This makes them the third lightest boots in our review. We think that the slight weight increase over some of the lightest boots in our review is worth it, as these have a lot of stability that the others lack.

Just a hair over 2 pounds is a good weight for these boots.
Just a hair over 2 pounds is a good weight for these boots.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


The Futurelight material that is being used by The North Face is a new waterproof/breathable fabric that is a proprietary development and is featured in their entire product line. We did feel that there was a slight change in breathability when comparing these boots to ones that use a more traditional Gore-tex branded waterproof membrane, especially when testing them in warmer weather.

We found the Futurelight material to keep water out and had no leaks.
We found the Futurelight material to keep water out and had no leaks.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

To test the waterproofness of the Ultra Fastpack IVs, we sloshed through creeks and stood in water puddles for 5 minutes. We did not experience any leakage issues and emerged with dry socks (but cold feet!)

Durability


As with all lightweight materials that are dependent on synthetic fabrics to decrease their weight, there is a durability cost. The Ultra Fastpack IV Mid has a large number of welded or glued seams that are going to be likely failure points down the trail. The mesh used on the upper is exposed to abrasion from rocks and so care should be taken around sharp rock terrain.

You can see that the no-sew seams on the upper are beginning to show...
You can see that the no-sew seams on the upper are beginning to show some wear, only after minimal use.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Value


Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight boots are an ok value. They provide good, but not great, performance in our review metrics.

Conclusion


The The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight is a reasonable offering in the lightweight hiking boot category, and it does well in light-duty applications. We like this boot for day hikes in uneven terrain, for trail walking in wet weather, and for overnight hikes with lighter pack weight.

Ryan Huetter