Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX Review

Ultra 110 GTX
Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Great do-everything shoe, solid all-around traction, lightweight
Cons:  Not the most durable, mesh upper absorbs water
Bottom line:  This superb hiking shoe overlaps the gap between trail runners and hiking boots on both sides.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight of Size 11.5 Pair:  1.99 lbs
Upper:  PU-coated leather and mesh
Width Options:  Regular
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

Fighting off a field of worthy contenders, the Ultra series continued its reign over other hiking shoes by performing above-average to excellent across the board. We love this shoe for its hiking ability, which at times feels almost as burly and tough as some mid-cut boots. It's a perfect choice for day hiking rough trails, wandering around mountain trails with a daypack, or even short backpacking trips. It's also lightweight, provides great traction, and capable of taking off on a run at the drop of a sun hat. Whatever you're doing in these shoes, bet on your feet remaining comfortable. It's one of the best shoes out there when you want one shoe for hiking, light backpacking, and trail running.

A few shoes fought fiercely for the top spot in this review. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is an aggressive beast that eats up trails like hikers inhale trail mix, but costs more and falls behind in durability. The uber-comfy HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit WP came close in points overall, but couldn't match the Ultra 110 GTX in weight, traction, or versatility. To further ice the cake, the $120 price tag is cheaper than six other shoes featured in this review.



RELATED REVIEW: Best Hiking Shoes For Men of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ross Robinson

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 9, 2017

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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.

Performance Comparison


Rough terrain is where the 110 excels.
Rough terrain is where the 110 excels.

Comfort


One of the more comfortable shoes we tested, the Ultra 110 GTX is supportive enough to remain comfortable during 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.
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.

Weight


Weighing 1 lb. 15.8 oz., the Ultra 110 GTX is one of three shoes reviewed under two pounds. Only the Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX (1 lb. 13.6 oz.) and Columbia Redmond Waterproof (1 lb. 14.1 oz.) are more lightweight, yet neither provides the full hiking performance package like the 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.
While not as light as many trail running shoes, these are some of the lighter hiking shoes and still good for short runs.

Support


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, which ties with HOKA ONE ONE and the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof as the widest models. This broad area under the ball of our feet gave us a powerful base for each step. The 3.75-inch ankle collar tied for second highest, with the La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX measuring higher at 4.125 inches. 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 more support at nearly the same weight but also is not as versatile.

From boulder hopping to sand to mud  the 110 maintained excellent traction.
From boulder hopping to sand to mud, the 110 maintained excellent traction.

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 achieved 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 was one of two 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 110 has aggressive, deep and sturdy lugs.

Versatility


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 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 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.

Water Resistance


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 in terms of 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.

Durability


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 Asolo Agent GV is your best bet.

Best Applications


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 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 a basecamp 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!
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!

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Ross Robinson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 20, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (1.3)

0% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 25%  (1)
1 star: 50%  (2)
Hiker

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   Jun 20, 2018 - 01:41pm
Ignasty · Hiker · San Diego

I bought this shoe to use as a hiking shoe for an around the world trip of a year. The shoe rubbed the back of my foot, so much so that it was bleeding on a six day trek despite the shoe being broken in. Traction was adequate and the shoes did look nice, both for hiking and being around town in a pinch. Six months in, they were coming apart at the seams, with the sole tearing apart. I contacted North Face for a warranty replacement, only to be told I needed to send the original shoes back to the US for "inspection". I was in Chile at the time, and the shipping costs would have been higher than the shoe is worth. When I asked if there was anything else I could do, I was told no, no help at all from North Face in all of Latin America. No offer to send a replacement pair to a friend in the US for them to bring to me, nothing until the original shoe was returned. I wasn't going to carry a disintegrated shoe in my backpack for another six months. Buy this shoe if you'd like it to fall apart on you and then be left high and dry by the company. I won't be buying another North Face product again and certainly will do my best to deter anyone I know from doing so.




Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Person Icon

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   Jun 13, 2017 - 10:06pm
CB

My review has also been removed…

I have to emphasize that the soles of these shoes started falling apart after about 5k hike on a trail. I exchanged them several times through TNF guarantee and every time they failed me.

Do yourself a favor and skip these shoes. Would give negative stars if possible.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   May 10, 2017 - 01:53pm
rantia · Climber · Atlanta

This shoe had a number of reviews including one that I wrote. They were at variance with the rating by Outdoor Gear Lab and to my recollection, for the most part, indicated problems with durability. In my case bits of the sole started falling off after relatively modest use. BTW I found the shoe to be very comfortable.

I am concerned that the reviews were removed without explanation.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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