The North Face Ultra 110 GTX delivers the best overall package of all hiking shoes competing in this review. For the performance it provides, the $120 price tag seems modest. This shoe has a PU-coated leather and mesh upper, Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Range waterproof breathable membrane, and a Compression-molded EVA midsole. Thereunder are an ESS midfoot shank and a proprietary UltrATAC rubber outsole.
Rough terrain is where the 110 excels.
One of the more comfortable shoes we tested, the Ultra 110 GTX is supportive enough to remain comfortable for long days out. It handles rocks underfoot well, similar protection to hiking boots. We also love the toe protection, which makes stubbing toes when navigating rough terrain a non-issue. There's a bit more arch support than average, too. These shoes were stiffer than most when we pulled them out of the box and required a short break-in time. After the break-in, the feeling is great.
We like the lacing system on this shoe, which has four lower webbing eyelets and two closely spaced traditional upper eyelets. The lower lacing eyelets are more widely spaced, creating less bulk on top of the foot and accommodating more tightening for narrow feet. The two upper eyelets provide the opportunity to use one or both for a custom fit of the collar and heel.
If traditional laces are old hat for you, check out the speed lacing systems of the Salomon, Adidas, and La Sportiva models.
The lacing system is simple and burly. Nothing delicate about this shoe.
Along with the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit, this model's thick soles absorb shock better than the rest. It also offers above-average breathability. After our treadmill test, our tester's socks were slightly damp, and the feet were cool. A substantial portion of the upper is lightweight mesh reinforced with a thermoplastic urethane overlay. The mesh lets the Gore-Tex liner breathe well, and the narrow TPU overlays provide a bit of additional support, and serve to protect the mesh from abrasion.
Weighing 1 lb. 15.8 oz., the Ultra 110 GTX keeps its weight low. A few other models weigh less, but no other combines excellent support with a low weight like this North Face model does.
While not as light as many trail running shoes, these are some of the lighter hiking shoes and still good for short runs.
We scored this model above average for foot support. The ESS midfoot shank and molded EVA midsole create a stiff midfoot with a flexible forefoot. This is a great combo for running and moving quickly in rough terrain. The maximum forefoot width is 4.75 inches. This broad area under the ball of our feet gave us a powerful base for each step. The 3.75-inch ankle collar is relatively high for low-cut hiking shoes, too. Even minimal ankle support is appreciated when on uneven terrain and when carrying a load.
For folks that want more, the Keen Targhee 2, a pure hiking shoe, provides greater foot support for more weight, but the Targhee is not well-suited to running. The HOKA ONE ONE model also provides solid support at nearly the same weight but also is not as versatile.
From boulder hopping to sand to mud, the 110 maintained excellent traction.
The North Face's proprietary UltrATAC rubber sole features a series of lugs that vary in size and depth, and offer excellent all-around traction. The "Ultra"-named products lived up to their name in the traction game, landing in the top echelon in this metric. Check out the chart below to see where the rest of the shoes in our lineup ranked next to the Ultra 110.
Unstable gravel and mud on the trail are no problem for this shoe. When hiking fast or running, we were confident our feet would stay put in these challenging surface conditions. Rock slabs and wet rock were also no problem. The North Face achieves this prowess underfoot without riddling the outsole with deep lugs. The generous space between the tread collects less mud and snow, which helps them maintain traction in sloppy terrain. The Ultra 110 is one of the shoes that performed above average in all five of our traction tests, along with the Salomon X Ultra 3.
The 110 has aggressive, deep and sturdy lugs.
The Ultra 110 GTX is an exceptional do-everything shoe, which is why it won our Editors' Choice Award. It surpassed the versatility of the Vasque Juxt and X Ultra 3 GTX, both of which gave it a pretty good fight. We used it for day hiking, fast hiking, and while carrying moderate loads climbing and backpacking. It's comfortable for all these activities, with enough foot support and stability. This is one of the shoes we tested that provided good traction across the board. The North Face describes this model as a trail runner burly enough for light backpacking, and we agree. There were models that performed better in specific areas, but no other model crushed across the board like this pair of shoes.
This shoe doesn't look too athletic or too beefy for casual use. Folks that are on their feet a lot for work and need a comfortable black shoe love the cushioning and support.
The 110 is ideal for short runs and long hikes. We wouldn't take them on long runs, but for and hour or two, they did great.
The Ultra 110 GTX gets its waterproofing from a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Range liner, which kept our feet dry through puddles, snow, slush, mud, and mountain streams during our three-month testing period. It withstood our five-minute underwater test with ease, keeping our feet dry no matter how much we flexed the forefoot trying to induce leakage. It just wasn't having it. The drawbacks regarding water resistance are the average flood level height and its ability to soak up water in the mesh upper. This shoe can soak up a fair bit of water if splashing through puddles. For higher flood levels and more resistant uppers, check out the Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX or Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX.
While this model beads water when new, cleaning the shoe and reapplying a spray-on DWR treatment helps when you get out on the trail in the rain or splash through puddles.
The North Face has done a good job adding some key features to the Ultra 110's upper to give the lightweight materials added life. A TPU toe cap up front protects your toes and the upper. TPU overlays help protect the mesh, and the leather portions have a PU coating at high-wear areas.
That said, the single stitched seam where the leather meets the mesh at the forefoot flex point is a prime spot for early wear. Use some Seam Grip here. Finally, the soft rubber soles deliver great traction but wear faster than harder formulations. To maximize durability, the Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX is your best bet.
Our Editors' Choice winner is designed for hiking and short trail running in varied terrain. It's a heavyweight among trail running shoes, which makes it great for day hiking and carrying light to medium loads. Indeed, it handled the whole range of our "hiking" adventures better than any other we tested. Backcountry running and fast hiking adventures are super fun, but often require you to hike in for a day. If you're planning to hike a day into base camp with a pack and then set off for a few days of trail running and peak bagging, this is the perfect shoe.
With a shoe as versatile as the Ultra 110 GTX, it's tough to choose a best application. It simply does "everything" better than any other model and costs less than over half of the competition!
This product provides exceptional value. $120 is a reasonable price for such a high performing product, and you'll sometimes find a good sale price.
The North Face Ultra 110 GTX is comfortable, light, and the most versatile shoe we reviewed. This shoe is the missing link between trail runners and hiking boots, supporting backpacking trips like a light mid-cut boot and speeding down trails like a beefy trail running shoe. If you want a shoe that pushes the boundaries of a hiking shoe on both sides, look no further. Day hiking and sightseeing, or chewing up miles before it gets dark, we love this shoe.