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November 2021 Issue
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The North Face Vectiv Exploris FutureLight



Our Rating:

746g (m), 640g (w)

At a glance
Comfort, grip, fit. 
Minuses: Soft outsole will wear on hard surfaces. 

Features: The shoe has a pronounced curved, or rocker, construction so that the toe and heel sit well off the ground. Combined with the high-rebound EVA midsole, it’s claimed to provide forward propulsion to help users move more quickly and more efficiently. There’s a TPU plate underfoot for stability and protection, waterproof and breathable FutureLight membrane and a Cordura ripstop mesh upper. TNF has used its own soft rubber outsole. 

Fit: There’s a chunky and soft midsole which provides a super-comfortable platform for feet, which sink into the shoe for an enveloping fit that offers no blister-causing wiggle room. I have a broad foot and high instep, but the UK8.5 (US9.5) was true to size and fitted me well and without pressure points. 

Comfort: Good padding around the ankle and tongue allow the shoe to be tightened without causing pressure points to develop. The thick, yet soft, midsole gives the shoe a high profile, not too dissimilar to the shape made (in)famous by Hoka One One and ensures every footfall is cushioned. The FutureLight lining seemed to do a good job to wick moisture from my foot. 

In use: The shoes were worn on all trail types, including bush walks, coastal walks and – during lockdown – urban walks. 

TNF says the pronounced curve to the shoe provides more propulsion and I think it’s true.  With the high-rebound midsole, it feels almost like bouncing out of every step. It felt strange at first but after repeated uses, it becomes less noticeable. I did find myself moving faster and feeling slightly less tired than expected.

The shoe sits reasonably high off the ground, providing a bit more clearance in wet environments and I was glad for the waterproof membrane that ensured my feet remained dry (from external water sources) at all times. 

TPU overlays on the upper provide some protection and the materials feel robust and durable – after two months of use, they are grubby but otherwise showing little sign of wear. The sole, however, is definitely more eroded than I would have expected from the overall light use the shoe has had. It is a soft rubber and lacks the sharp edges found on other soles.

That said, grip is exceptional, especially braking on steep descents on slick trails. 

Value: Not the most expensive hiking shoes, but up there. For most users, the comfort and walking gains will outweigh the cost. 

Verdict: A fantastic shoe that makes walking trails easier and quicker. They’re light and have a soft sole that can wear quickly, but comfort, ‘bounce’ and grip are second to none.