The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX scores well for support and traction, and is one of the lightest hiking shoes we tested. However, for a lightweight product, this model takes a little while to break in. The full leather toe and large protective rubber rand led to flexpoints that caused top of foot discomfort for our lead tester at first.
The Hedgehog is well-matched to steep rocky trails. In addition to the foot support provided by the full TPU plate, we appreciate the protection from pointy rocks underfoot too.
Most super light hiking shoes are comfortable right out of the box, but our lead tester found this product became more comfortable after brief break-in period. It takes a little while for the one-piece leather toe to become supple and mold to your toe and forefoot flex. The lacing system used on the Hedgehog is mostly traditional, but includes the two eyes close together up at the top. Having a choice of using one or both allows you to adjust the ankle collar fit better than you could with a single upper eye. A big plus in the comfort metric for this product is great breathability thanks to the mostly mesh upper and mesh tongue.
This product is relatively stiff and supportive considering its light weight. After a break-in period, these shoes become more comfortable for dayhiking.
The size 12 model that we evaluated weighed in at 2.2 lbs The Vasque Juxt and Merrell Moab Ventilator are both a couple of ounces lighter, but do not provide as much foot support. This is the lightest product we tested that earned an eight in our foot support metric. The Keen Targhee 2 is a little more supportive, and only a fraction heavier. Overall, however, we found the Targhee 2 a much more comfortable product.
We found that the EVA midsole and full foot TPU plate delivered better-than-average foot support. The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 provides much more foot support for backpacking, but is much heavier. All told, we feel the Hedgehog Hike's support is quite good relative to its weight.
Overall, the Hedgehog Hike earned a good traction score. In dry conditions, it provides good grip on loose gravelly trails and scrambles over talus well enough. It holds its own in a little mud, but its shallow lugs don't dig in as well as higher profile lugs.
We did not find this shoe to be appropriate for trail running, not even a little bit. Otherwise, we found it works well for hiking for the variety of terrain we play on, and it has the foot support for carrying light loads. With a bright "The North Face" logo emblazoned on the outside of the toe, you probably won't be wearing them out to dinner or to the office.
Unfortunately, the bright white logos detract from what would be an unassuming everyday and casual shoe.
Our feet stayed perfectly dry in this shoe. The Gore-Tex liner does its job perfectly, but the substantial mesh bit of the upper soaks up more water than other shoes. We also have concerns about the long term durability of the liner at the forefoot flex point.
We have a few concerns about the durability of this shoe. On our test model, we experienced a couple of delaminations. The rubber toe rand at the inner forefoot flex point was beginning to come loose from the leather toe material; and on the same shoe, the EVA midsole began to come unglued from the leather upper. Although only a few millimeters, we've found over the years that delaminations like this grow as sand and dirt get inside.
While we liked this shoe for dayhiking, especially on warm days where its good breathability helped with comfort. The North Face Hedgehog Hike has the most foot support of the lightest models we tested and we feel its best use is light backpacking trips.
We feel the best applications for the Hedgehog are dayhiking in rough terrain, or light to medium weighted backpacking trips. This shoe received the highest support score among the lightest shoes.
With a full price of $140, we don't feel this shoe is a great value. We found the Hedgehog Hike an average performing shoe with an above average price.
The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX is a good hiking shoe for folks that want good foot support in a very light shoe.