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Tried and tested: North Face Vectiv Enduris II

North Face has expanded its range of trail shoes for 2022, with the Enduris II getting a revamp. Here’s what we thought of them…

Men's VECTIV™ Enduris II Running Shoes
The North Face thenorthface.co.uk
£62.50
  • TYPE Trail
  • PRICE £125
  • WEIGHT 309g (M), 275g (W)
  • DROP 6mm

    Last year, North Face entered the trail running shoe market with the release of its Vectiv. The shoe, designed specifically for trail running, made waves in the sport as one of the few to contain a carbon-fibre plate, similar to the raft of road shoes helping runners break PBs across the world.

    There was some debate as to whether a plate was required in trail running, after all, the mixed terrain and elevation means you’re changing speed constantly, so PBs are less of an issue. In our review of the Vectiv, which made the list of best shoes of 2021, we were fans and described it as a shoe “with potential but isn’t quite there yet”.

    This year, North Face announced it is expanding its Vectiv range, with three new models: Flight Vectiv, Vectiv Infinite and Vectiv Enduris II. Each is designed with a different goal in mind – the Flight Vectiv, with its carbon-fibre plate, is built for speed, the Infinite is billed as the “most protective shoe for the trails”, and as a result is rugged for the most demanding mountainous terrain, and the Enduris II is super-cushioned for ultra-distance trail running.

    TPU plate tectonics

    The first thing we noticed in testing the Vectiv Enduris II was how quick it felt. This is not something you may be used to with trail shoes, but the first few steps surprised us with the levels of springiness – the instant energy return felt like we were being boosted along. In short: we felt fast. This feeling continued along the flat pavements leading to the trails. Once on the trails, if anything, speed increased.

    We tested them over different-length trail runs over a number of weeks – the first run we did in them was 13.1 miles – we weren’t planning on going full-gas, but the shoes encouraged it thanks to the rebound you feel almost immediately on running. We were flying along all manner of trails – wide, hard-packed gravelly fire roads, narrow rooty singletrack, short and steep rocky climbs – and our pace didn’t seem to diminish.

    The plate is also designed to add stability in all directions, and in testing it appeared to work – my feet felt secure and stable over the roughest of terrain. I would add that they do seem to come up a little large in size – I needed to lace the shoes tightly to ensure my feet weren’t slipping slightly inside, so if you have wider feet these would work well. You might even consider dropping half a size down from your usual size to ensure a secure fit.

    Boost in cushioning

    If you like to feel the terrain under your feet, these are not the shoes for you. The cushioning is one of the main selling points, with North Face calling it “the most cushioned Vectiv shoe ever”. The OrthoLite X55 footbed offers extra protection, and you can see how thick the midsole is – at 31mm at the rear it’s almost Hoka levels of cushioning for a soft ride.

    And in testing, that’s exactly how it felt – soft but not marshmallow-levels of softness. You still feel connected to the earth but there's enough cushioning to ensure the shoes don’t jar your legs when you transition onto harder surfaces. They are designed for running long – marathon and ultra distances, so the cushioning will help ease the load on your battered legs the further you go. After testing on a 25km run, my legs still felt fresh at the end, with plenty of spring remaining to keep carrying me further.

    Hold on tight

    Trail shoes require good grip, and the Enduris II does not slip up in that area. The lugs extend 3.5mm, providing enough length for them to power you through claggy mud and puddle-dotted trails, although they did slip a bit up steeper mud-based climbs. It would struggle in the wettest, muddiest conditions, but the lug length also means they can carry you over asphalt surfaces without too much of problem, which is not always the case with more knobbly grips. This means they would work well as road-to-trail shoes, providing the majority of your run is off-road with short road sections as part of it.

    Rocker and roll

    The Enduris II also contains a dual-density rocker midsole which is designed to aid propulsion over longer distance. When combined with the TPU plate, it makes for a shoe that will keep you moving when your legs are saying “no more”, which is precisely what you need in races of marathon distance or longer. The 6mm heel-to-toe drop is also designed to keep you turning your legs over. At 309g (men’s) and 265g (women’s), it’s not the lightest trail shoe (for comparison, the men's Hoka Speedgoat 5 is 291g), but it’s also not the heaviest, and for the amount of tech to help you run faster with more stability, it’s worth the extra grams. It's worth adding that we were huge fans of the move away from an all-white shoe – we particularly admired the bold pink colourway.

    In summary

    The Vectiv’s upgrade and division into three separate shoes aimed at different types of running makes them ideal for those with different aims on the trails. The Enduris II, in our view, is the upgrade that will delight long-distance trail runners and help keep propelling them further.

    The North Face Vectiv Enduris II shoes are on sale now

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