The North Face VECTIV Fastpack FUTURELIGHT - Women's Review
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|Pros||Lightweight, affordable, versatile, water-resistant upper, good breathability||Excellent traction, very supportive, breathable design, comfortable for various foot shapes||Versatile, nimble, excellent traction, excellent waterproof protection, supportive midfoot||Feather-light, unique roomy tox box shape, responsive footbed, highly breathable||Ample traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, affordable|
|Cons||Sizing runs small, narrow toe box, synthetic mesh upper lacks durability||Not waterproof, minor durability issues||Single-pull lacing system has limited adjustability, fit favors narrow feet, not recommended for cross-country travel, less breathable||Expensive, limited torsional rigidity, no waterproofing||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||This lightweight shoe offers the performance of a trail runner with the increased support and protection of a hiking shoe||An excellent choice for those looking to navigate popular trails that feature polished granite or slippery sandstone||A comfortable, supportive, and waterproof shoe that offers excellent and responsive traction in a sleek, modern package||A comfy, lightweight, casual day-hiker that offers limited trail performance but makes a great option for everyday use||Supportive and affordable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to numerous foot shapes, hikers, and backcountry experiences|
|Rating Categories||The North Face VECT...||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Altra LP Alpine - W...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||The North Face VECT...||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Altra LP Alpine - W...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair, size 8.5)||1.34 lbs||1.42 lbs||1.54 lbs||1.28 lbs||1.78 lbs|
|Upper||Performance mesh||Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand||Synthetic textile||Hemp canvas with suede overlays||Leather, mesh|
|Lining||futurelight waterproof membrane||Nonslip mesh||Gore-Tex||Nylon||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane|
|Midsole||Single-density EVA||Traverse Injection MEMlex||EVA||Altra EGO with BLOOM foam||EVA|
|Outsole||Surface Control rubber||Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System||Rubber Contagrip||DuraTread rubber||Vibram TC5+ rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The VECTIV Fastpack FUTURELIGHT is a excellent choice for added stability and comfort while pushing the pace on the trail. The rockered design is centered around maximizing forward motion while the water-resistant capabilities keep your feet dry without sacrificing breathability. The design successfully sheds the added weight and bulkiness of a traditional hiker, though the performance mesh may not last as long. Looking to get after it on the trails? Whether fastpacking or seeking your personal best, this shoe will have no trouble keeping up.
The VECTIV Fastpack offers outstanding comfort right out of the box. While not the maximum cushion provided by other shoes we tested, we can appreciate the moderate cushioning that kept our feet protected from debris on the trail and the soft and padded material surrounding the ankle. Protective TPU toe caps successfully protected our toes when accidentally striking rocks or other debris without adding extra weight. The gusseted tongue helped keep rocks out of the shoe while also allowing the lacing system to lay flush on the top of our foot to help reduce bulk.
Our lead tester, who has a narrow foot, found this shoe and its narrow toe box to run small. We recommend sizing up if you're in between sizes, want to allow extra space for your toes to expand in hot conditions, or want to wear different socks of varying thicknesses. And for those with a wider foot, we're sorry to report that this shoe is only available in a regular fit. Sizing caveats aside, this shoe offers substantial comfort and we experienced no lasting discomfort during our extensive testing period.
The VECTIV Fastpack features a uniquely rockered midsole design meant to enhance forward motion and amplify trail energy. The single-density TPU plate under the forefoot creates the stability of a hiking shoe within a lightweight running shoe design. This plate stabilizes the foot in multiple directions and offers a high rebound that propels you forward, whether out for a training run or carrying a light pack over uneven terrain. The design includes a minimal OrthoLite X55 footbed that incorporates a small amount of recycled rubber.
While we were impressed with the unique rockered design as well as the support offered by this hiking-running shoe hybrid, especially when pushing the pace, it's important to consider that this is a lightweight shoe and simply won't offer the same amount of ankle support and stability of a hiking boot with an ankle cuff. That being said, if you want to drop some weight and maximize your energy output on the trail, the Vectiv is an excellent choice.
The VECTIV Fastpack features a Surface CTRL rubber outsole with a well-spaced 4mm lug pattern. The pattern is variously sized, with the most significant arrow shapes on the shoe's heel.
We found the traction sufficient when moving over textured granite and through thick mud. Still, we dropped the overall score because this traction doesn't compare to the performance of Vibram Megagrip or Duratread rubber, which we've found to provide the best traction in mountainous terrain.
Since the VECTIV Fastpack is a hybrid between a running and a hiking shoe, it feels incredibly light underfoot, weighing only 1.34 pounds per pair for a US women's size 8.5. Considering our testing the range of the rest of our test suite, this shoe offers a pretty lightweight construction.
When pushing the pace, whether running, hiking, or fastpacking, we were stoked with this shoe's performance and never felt bogged down by too much weight underfoot. We attribute this to the performance mesh that is significantly lighter than other nubuck leather shoes we tested for this review. If speed is your goal, it's important to select lightweight and high-performance footwear, like the Vectiv.
Our testers were impressed by the overall performance of the fully waterproof FUTURELIGHT membrane featured in the Vectiv. Whether splashing through mud puddles or moving through snow patches, our feet stayed dry. We even submerged this shoe in multiple creeks for several minutes just to see if water could penetrate the membrane, and we're happy to report that our feet stayed dry every single time. Just be mindful that the flood level is a little lower than other shoes that we tested, sitting around 3.3 inches above the sole.
During our spring training runs after a huge winter in the Eastern Sierra, we were grateful for this shoe to complete our favorite loops without having to turn around due to swollen creeks, snow patches, or gigantic mud puddles. Overall, we're confident in recommending this water-resistant, synthetic mesh upper and waterproof membrane as one design that can still breathe during hot, high-output activities.
Our testers are pleased to report that we experienced no durability issues with the VECTIV Fastpack during our extensive testing period. We took these shoes on every type of terrain, from well-maintained trails to traveling cross-country, and did not compromise the abrasion-resistant mesh upper nor the protective molded TPU toe cap.
While we were blown away by the performance mesh upper, even when moving through rocky terrain with a light pack, we couldn't help but notice that the mesh may not last as long as models with nubuck leather in terms of long-lasting performance. Though the mesh is abrasion-resistant, it isn't as tough and burly as a leather design — though it is, of course, lighter and more breathable. We also appreciate the double-punched eyelet row that offers more durability within the lightweight mesh lacing system.
Should You Buy The North Face VECTIV Fastpack FUTURELIGHT?
Our testers were impressed with the lightweight, high-performing, and versatile design of VECTIV Fastpack. While not the most affordable shoe in our lineup, we know you'll love the moderate cushioning, stability, and performance mesh that offers a fully waterproof membrane without sacrificing breathability. If moving fast on the trail is your goal this season, consider this shoe for its high-quality design that centers around maximizing energy on the trail.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If you like the idea of a lightweight design that offers the performance of a running shoe and the stability of a hiking boot but are after a little more durability, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex - women's - Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is one to read about. And if you're more interested in maximum cushion and don't mind sacrificing connection with the terrain underfoot, check out the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX. If optimal support and stability underfoot are the goal rather than pushing your pace, the La Sportiva Spire GTX is our favorite. And finally, if you're planning to tour the national parks or the desert sandstone and are seeking a shoe that will offer maximum grip and control, the La Sportiva TX4 can't be beat.
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