The North Face Ultra 111 WP Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great value, waterproof, versatile
Cons: Average support, lacks long-term durability
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Ultra 111 WP
|Price||Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$159.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$82.46 at Backcountry|
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|Check Price at REI|
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|Pros||Great value, waterproof, versatile||Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, support||Supportive, great traction, lightweight||Lightweight, breathable, great dry traction, inexpensive||Great traction, out-of-box comfort, breathable|
|Cons||Average support, lacks long-term durability||Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favorite||Stiff, lacing is hard to tighten||Durability concerns, not good for wet weather||Not waterproof, heavy, average support|
|Bottom Line||This shoe is a great value for the all-around performance as well as waterproofness that it provides||This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking trips||This is a burly hiking shoe capable of getting off the trail and onto rugged terrain||A budget-friendly hiking shoe that is a perfect choice for those hiking in dry climates||Day hikes and quick and light overnighters in dry weather are where this shoe performs best|
|Rating Categories||The North Face Ultr...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Salewa Mountain Tra...||Vasque Juxt||Merrell Moab 2 Vent...|
|Water Resistance (5%)|
|Specs||The North Face Ultr...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Salewa Mountain Tra...||Vasque Juxt||Merrell Moab 2 Vent...|
|Weight of Size 11 Pair||2.04 lbs||1.76 lbs||2.16 lbs||1.90 lbs||2.20 lbs|
|Upper||Performance mesh||Synthetic, textile||Synthetic||Suede leather||Suede leather and mesh|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular, wide||Regular, wide|
|Waterproof Lining||DryVent membrane||Gore-Tex membrane||Gore-Tex Extended Comfort||None, just gusted tongue||None|
|Flood Level (inches)||3.25 in||3.25 in||3.5 in||2.5 in||4.375 in|
|Last Board/Shank||ESS||ADV-C chassis||Nylon||Torsion stability TSS||Molded nylon arch shank|
|Outsole||UtrATAC||Contagrip MA rubber||Pomoca MTN trainer Lite||Vasque OTG||Vibram TC5+|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested this hiking shoe from The North Face in a range of varied conditions from the sand dunes of Death Valley to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. This shoe did reasonably well in all metrics, notably in traction and versatility, underscoring its utility as an all-around good hiking shoe.
The Ultra 111 WP is well-designed and comfortable right out of the box. The upper materials are synthetic performance mesh, which is soft and pliable without any break-in period. An Ortholite insole provides cushioning, as does the EVA midsole.
There is an ESS shank that imparts structure and stability to the shoe as we will discuss further along, but this shank does not create so much stiffness that it is uncomfortable. The shoe flexes naturally when walking, rather than awkward and jarring as is found in some shoes that have too much stiffness in their midsole.
We appreciate the protective toe bumper that extends all around the shoe giving extra impact resistance from unexpected trips, especially when we took these shoes out for trail runs. The ankle cuff is cut low enough that we felt a full range of motion when taking long strides on the trail. This shoe has a 12mm offset, or drop, which means that the heel is nearly half an inch higher than the toe. There is a lot of debate about offset height in the hiking shoe world, but we found this amount of drop to feel smooth and comfortable while hiking.
We verified the weight of these shoes on our digital scale at 2.04 pounds per pair in a size 11 US. This seems right on target for a waterproof shoe of this style. Lighter options do exist, but they tend to be a lot more expensive and less durable.
The low weight achieved in this shoe is attributed to the amount of mesh and synthetic materials used in the upper, a reasonable place to save some extra ounces. The support is not impacted much as a result and we have as much stability in these shoes as we did in heavier and more expensive models.
An ESS midsole shank is included in this shoe to provide structure and integrity to the shoe. This stiffener allows the shoe to support the foot when in rough terrain. It is stiff but still supple enough that we found running in this model to be a reasonable activity. It also uses a single density EVA foam midsole to give cushioning between the outsole and the foot.
For this type of shoe, a beefed-up trail runner that can handle more impacts thanks to a more developed midsole, the Ultra 111 WP gives a decent amount of stability. Surely it is not in the same category as the mid-cut shoes that are stiffer underfoot, so it will not do as well in prolonged cross-country terrain that features a lot of scrambling, but for a hiking shoe that will be used for day trips and light overnights, it will do the job just fine.
The soles on the Ultra line have always been one of their strong suits and the Ultra 111 WP is no exception. The UltrATAC outsole gives good overall traction in both wet and dry climates and is a proprietary rubber blend developed by The North Face.
We found the lug pattern to be deep and sharp enough that this shoe could really handle muddy, sandy, and even snowy trails better than other models with more shallow lugs.
We really like this model for its versatility. It is a solid hiking shoe, can double as an everyday around-town shoe, gives good enough support to work outside in, and comes at a reasonable price so you don't feel as bad when after all of that use and abuse you need to retire them.
They serve a lot of purposes which is why we like them. Building on the previous success of other models in this line, these shoes feel beefier and more adept at hiking in a range of terrain types than just going for a light walk with the dog at the park.
Similar to other lightweight hiking shoes that have a lot of soft and flexible mesh, one of the best alternative uses for these shoes is trail running, especially in wetter environments like the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast during the shoulder seasons when trails are wet and mucky and you don't want to run in soaking wet socks.
The North Face Ultra 111 WP uses an in-house waterproof/breathable membrane called DryVent to ensure that the foot stays dry when sloshing through water. It works as advertised and we did not experience any leaking during our testing process. The flood height on this pair is a relatively shallow 3.25 inches, so this is a good model for walking on wet trails but not for fording creeks in.
What impresses us is that for the price the waterproofing is really good. Typically we have to pay quite a bit more for the waterproof/breathable membrane. That The North Face uses a proprietary, in-house waterproof liner and not a more expensive Gore-Tex brand liner that is commonly found in hiking shoes and boots. This makes these shoes less expensive and saves you money.
There is quite a lot of mesh and exposed seams on The North Face Ultra 111 WP, which is a combination we have seen trouble with in the past. During our testing period we did not have any major stitching blowouts, but keep an eye on these shoes if you plan to use them in rough terrain with lots of sharp rocks about.
We have long touted the Ultra line for their strong overall value and the Ultra 111 WP fits the same bill. It is a great waterproof shoe for the price you'll pay, and we give it a strong recommendation.
The North Face Ultra 111 WP is a great budget waterproof hiking shoe. It is comfortable, has good support, great traction, and can provide you with a lot of versatility should you decide to do something other than just go hiking. It's a great choice for a first-time or fifth-time hiking shoe. Given that it is such a great value, and comes with a waterproof membrane, it's our favorite fully capable water-resistant shoe at an awesome price.
— Ryan Huetter
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