REVIEW: The North Face Summit VECTIV™ Pro
Written By: SportsShoes
The North Face Summit VECTIV™ Pro is a highly advanced race-day shoe that features a new VECTIV™ 2.0 carbon-fibre-plate design with stability wings. It also offers a high-rebound super-soft foam midsole for propulsion that’s tuned to the demands of trail running on technical terrain. Specifically designed for ultra-distance trail races and best suited to hard-packed trails.
The North Face have used testing results and input from their team of professional athletes to create the ultimate trail-running shoe with highly innovative technological features. Which means you’ll get top-level cushioning, stability and propulsion to help you perform your very best on race day.
SHOP THE NORTH FACE SUMMIT VECTIV PRO TRAIL RUNNING SHOES HERE
Our SportsShoes Trail athlete, Ben Mounsey, has been busy putting these exciting new trail shoes to the test. Check out his review below;
|Most suitable for:||A race-day shoe, ideal for travelling fast and light, with supreme levels of comfort, cushioning and forward propulsion.|
|Drop:||6mm (middle of the range)|
|Stack height:||32 mm (Heel) / 26 mm (Forefoot)|
|Lug depth:||3.5mm (most suitable for hard and dry trail terrain)|
|Fit (length):||True to size|
|Key features:||Ultra-lightweight and breathable race shoe, with a forked carbon-fibre plate for stability, a super-soft foam midsole with high rebound and extra cushioning and Surface CTRL™ rubber outsole for excellent traction.|
|RATINGS:||(out of 5)|
The North Face was the first brand to introduce carbon to the trail, launching the original VECTIV™ shoe back in 2021. Since then, carbon-plated trail shoes have fast become the norm, with many other brands following suit.
Fast-forward two years and The North Face are at it again, pushing new boundaries with the release of the exciting new VECTIV™ 2.0 trail shoe range. The pinnacle model, the Summit VECTIV™ Pro is revolutionary in design and features new lightweight materials and technology, aimed at elevating performance in ultra-distance races. Think of the fastest carbon-plated super-shoes for the road and this is basically the equivalent for the trail.
Starting at the top, the first thing that caught my attention is the super-breathable upper mesh. You can literally tell how breathable this shoe is without even wearing it. Pick it up, put your hand inside and you can see it through the mesh. It's perfect for all those long, hot days on the trail when your feet get too warm and ventilation is the highest priority. This upper material is also lightweight, tough and durable.
Make no mistake, the Summit VECTIV™ Pro is a completely different beast to the original Flight VECTIV™. The big difference and what really sets this shoe apart from the rest, is the introduction of super-soft foam in the midsole. I knew it was only a matter of time before the soft responsive foam in road super-shoes crept its way into the trail market and what an addition it has been. Each shoe in the VECTIV™ 2.0 family features a performance rocker-shaped midsole made with durable EVA foam, or a combination of super critical foam and EVA foam. The Summit VECTIV™ Pro features an ultralight proprietary blend that balances durability with high rebound and enhanced cushioning. This is the first shoe to introduce this type of lightweight superfoam with a carbon-plate to the trails.
A common misconception with carbon-plates in trail shoes is that they are primarily designed to provide forward propulsion and enhance speed. Whilst this is the primary focus of a carbon-plated road shoe, the main purpose of the carbon-plate in trail shoes is to provide stability on uneven terrain. And this new VECTIV™ 2.0 footplate does exactly that. Redesigned to deliver greater stability on rough terrain, it now features a forked construction, not just at the front but also at the rear to reduce lateral movement and rolling, an improvement on the previous model. The Summit VECTIV™ Pro also features forefoot wings to secure the foot in place. These wings are visible on the exterior, at the front sides and rear, overlapping the soft foam midsole in these key areas of the shoe (see image below). One thing to note is that this forefoot area of the shoe is a much wider platform then most other trail shoes, which is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it really does provide more stability, you have to be very aware of the extra few millimetres of midsole either side of the shoe. The first time I wore the Summit VECTIV™ Pro on really technical terrain, I caught the edge of the shoe on the side of rock and took a nasty tumble. Partly my fault for descending like an idiot, but partly because I'm used to running at pace whilst wearing thinner, precision-fit trail shoes. It took a few runs for me to adjust and be conscious of the extra width and after that it wasn't so much of an issue.
I tested this shoe on some pretty tough and gnarly trails in the Costa Blanca area of Spain. The terrain here is very aggressive and the rocky paths and tracks really sap your energy and strength. Few trail shoes can last the distance and you have to wear something comfortable and cushioned on your feet. It's a bold claim, but the Summit VECTIV™ Pro is honestly the best shoe I've ever worn in this particular type of trail environment. On longer runs I really noticed the increased energy return. Because of the soft midsole foam and carbon-plate I was able to run for longer and my legs felt fresher, to the point where I think they provide a big advantage to any athlete wearing them. The only disadvantage with the soft foam midsole is that it will wear and tear when you constantly hit the aggressive trails and degrade more quickly than other standard foams.
Lastly, I did feel that my speed increased on long straight sections of trail and sections of road. When you can find your rhythm and hit a constant pace you can feel the extra propulsion and energy underfoot. It is in these moments when this shoe does provide you with the same benefits as a carbon-plated road shoe.
Made with a hard-wearing rubber compound, the SurfaceCTRL™ outsole has angled 3.5mm lugs for traction. This outsole provides ample grip for hard-packed trails and performs exceptionally well in dry conditions during spring and summer months. However, it's important to point out that this is not a shoe designed to tackle extreme and muddy terrain. For traction on particularly wet and soft ground, the VECTIV™ Infinite II features 5mm lugs which are more suitable for running in the UK during the winter months when grip is a key priority.
At £224.99 this is one of the most expensive trail shoes on the market - a luxury, not a necessity. As previously mentioned, it's not a 4-season trail shoe. Specifically designed for ultra-distance trail races like UTMB™ during the summer months, this clearly isn't a shoe for everyone.
OK negative talk over.
The honest truth is that The North Face has produced something really special with the Summit VECTIV™ Pro and indeed the entire VECTIV™ 2.0 trail range. It brings the most successful technologies from the road to the trail and breaks new boundaries in terms of performance. When worn in the optimum conditions, there is no better trail shoe. It's super-lightweight, incredibly breathable, ultra-responsive, highly-cushioned and supremely comfortable to wear.
In short, it's the new super shoe of the trails, the ultimate racing weapon. So, if you're serious about improving performance and you want to give yourself the best possible chance of smashing your PB's, then this shoe is for you. In my opinion, The North Face Summit VECTIV™ Pro is a real game changer.
- Full-length Super Foam midsole for unparalleled cushioning.
- VECTIV™ 2.0 forked carbon-fibre-plate geometry with stability wings.
- Tongue wings are designed to reduce slippage and enhance the step-in comfort and fit.
- Protective, lightweight and super-breathable upper mesh with a precise foothold.
- Made on a high-stack, high-rebound midsole with a commercial D-width last that accommodates a broad set of consumer foot shapes.
- Rocker midsole geometry engineered to create long-lasting forward propulsion with a 10mm greater toe spring than the previous S21 version.
- Surface CTRL™ rubber outsole with 3.5 mm lugs.
SHOP THE NORTH FACE SUMMIT VECTIV PRO TRAIL RUNNING SHOES HERE
Ben Mounsey is an elite fell and trail runner. You can follow all of his running adventures here
Find out more about off-road running by visiting our trail running hub and make sure you've got all the running kit you need for your next adventure.
Related post: The North Face FLIGHT VECTIV™ | The Trail Hub | SportsShoes.com