The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX Review

A cross between a hiking shoe and a trail runner, this model blends comfort with performance at an unbeatable price.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Great value, comfortable, lightweight
Cons:  Material shows wear after heavy use
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Ross Robinson and Ryan Huetter  ⋅  Apr 30, 2019
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Support - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 9
  • Water Resistance - 5% 7
  • Durability - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX is our Editors' Choice Award-winning hiking shoe for yet another year. The competition was tough, as our review featured many worthy contenders, but the Ultra 110 rose to the top by continuing to offer above-average performance at an unbeatable price. This hiking shoe is incredibly versatile, being adept at trail running, day hiking, light backpacking, and cross-training. It is lightweight, comfortable straight out of the box and comes with features commonly found only on much more expensive models.

We awarded the Ultra 110 GTX our Editors' Choice Award, though other models came close to unseating it. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is a high-performance hiking shoe that is a well-known favorite among thru-hikers, but it costs $30 more and was not as stable. After the dust on the trail had settled, the Ultra 110 GTX was an easy pick to garner our top accolades.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 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


The Ultra 110 is a great shoe that can do it all.
The Ultra 110 is a great shoe that can do it all.

Comfort


The Ultra 110 GTX shoes are one of the most comfortable models we tested, tied with the La Sportiva Spire GTX for second-most comfortable shoes, only behind the ultra-cushioned Hoka Sky Toa. They fit well straight out of the box, though are a bit stiffer than other trail running style hiking shoes and need a few days of hiking or walking to feel like they are broken in properly. After this break-in period, they are stiff and supportive while still maintaining a comfortable shoe-like fit.


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 and Adidas 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.

The thick soles help deflect rocks and are well-cushioned, though not in the same category with The North Face Safien GTX or Hoka Sky Toa. We also noticed that for a Gore-Tex lined shoe, which tends not to offer the best breathability, the Ultra 110 GTX breathed fairly well, leaving our feet only slightly damp after significant output. 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 protect the mesh from abrasion.

Weight


Weighing a hair over two pounds, the Ultra 110 GTX keeps its weight low. Several other models are lighter but have less durability, performance, and support.


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. 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. We felt a significant increase in ankle support thanks to this secure heel pocket while carrying 30-pound backpacks, which is arguably on the margin for what a hiking shoe should be used for.


For folks that want more, the Keen Targhee II, a pure hiking shoe, provides more significant foot support for more weight, but the Targhee is not well-suited to running. The HOKA Sky Toa model also offers solid support at a much lighter 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 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 Garmont Dragontail GTX and Salomon X Ultra 3.

The Ultra 110 provided ample traction on this hike through alkali salt flats in Death Valley.
The Ultra 110 provided ample traction on this hike through alkali salt flats in Death Valley.

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 Salomon OUTpath GTX 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. It has good traction across the board. The North Face describes this model as a trail runner burly enough for light backpacking, and we agree. Some models 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 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.

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. Other users also noted the poor durability of the lacing eyelets which blew out on many pairs in online reviews, though we did not experience this firsthand. Finally, the soft rubber soles deliver excellent traction but wear faster than harder formulations. To maximize durability, the Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX is your best bet.

Best Applications


It is ideal 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.

The Ultra 110 is the Editors Choice for Men's Hiking Shoes and can handle everything from day hikes in Joshua Tree to more rugged adventures.
The Ultra 110 is the Editors Choice for Men's Hiking Shoes and can handle everything from day hikes in Joshua Tree to more rugged adventures.

Value


This product provides exceptional value. $120 is a great price for such a high performing product, and you'll sometimes find a good sale price.

Conclusion


The North Face Ultra 110 GTX offers premium performance and excellent comfort, making it easy to recommend as our Editors' Choice hiking shoe. This versatile model is adept at day hiking on your local trails, or going deep into the backcountry on a lightweight overnight trip. Stable and supportive, this shoe is a crossover between a trail running shoe and a hiking boot, and the result is a shoe that excelled in all of our review metrics while maintaining a budget-friendly price.


Ross Robinson and Ryan Huetter