Boasting a sturdy construction with a comfortable cushioned midsole, these lightweight waterproof shoes keep you nimble when you’re moving over rough ground
Out-of-the-box comfort thanks to cushioned midsoles
Sturdy toe protection
Toe box needs more room
Rocker sole can be a little unstable on rocky terrain
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The North Face Vectiv Exploris II Mid Futurelight hiking shoes: first impressions
In these synthetic hiking shoes, The North Face has managed to build something that’s between a hiking boot and a shoe that’s surprisingly burly without adding too many ounces on the scale. Impressively comfortable right out of the box thanks to plush-feeling uppers and a well-cushioned midsole, there’s no break-in required before getting these out on the trail. Grippy outsoles with 4mm lugs mean you won’t slip on mud, wet grass or rocky trails and you can move nimbly on long days of exploring.
• List price: $189 / £155
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available • Sizes: Men’s 6 - 13, Women’s 3 - 9
• Weight (per shoe): 11.6 oz / 330g (women’s 4)
• Materials: Synthetic
• Waterproof: Yes
• Colors: Vandis gray, Shady blue, Black, Sandstone, Summit navy
• Best use: Hiking
These shoes provide excellent wet weather protection, even when you’re walking through a bog, and while the trade off means your feet will get a little warm, the breathability proved decent on recent warm hikes. A very well-reinforced toe box offers plenty of protection, but we found it to be a little narrower than we’d like and recommend going up a full size for more room. The rocker sole helps you move fast over even ground, but can be a little unstable when things get really rocky, combined with a mid height cuff that offers a little less protection for your ankles. That said, they're significantly sturdier than the average hiking shoe and we comfortably walked for miles in these and think they’re a good waterproof option for hikes that aren’t ridiculously technical at a decent price.
The North Face Vectiv Exploris II Mid Futurelight hiking shoes: in the field
Upon trying these hiking shoes on, I could tell they were pretty comfortable so instead of messing around breaking them in around town, I decided to be brave and get them right out on a steep eight-mile hike.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I’m not totally sure if these shoe run small or just have a narrow toe box, but here’s what I do know: I am a UK size 3.5 so I sized up to a 4 to give my feet room to swell and still felt like I needed more room in the toe box. I was able to hike without blisters, but I’d like a roomier toe box and it’s possible that going up a full size would solve this problem.
Comfort and breathability
The midsoles and uppers feel super plush, so besides the slightly cramped toe box, these felt great on my hike. My feet got a little warm, but such as it is when you wear waterproof shoes and I didn't notice any excessive heat or sweating. Despite being so burly, they're surprisingly lightweight so not achy ankles at the end of the day either.
The waterproofing on these shoes is superb, thanks to the Futurelight membrane. I traipsed through lots of bogs and my feet stayed perfectly dry, plus any muddy water just seems to roll right off the uppers leaving them looking good as new, which I appreciated.
Traction and stability
I hiked down a very steep, grassy and muddy descent where nine times out of 10, I slip, and this time I didn’t, so I’m really happy with the traction on these. The stability is fine for walking on a fairly well-maintained trail, but I did find the rocker sole slightly less stable on stones, and would have liked a little more protection when I ever so slightly turned my ankle.
Durability and protection
Compared to my other synthetic boots, which are mesh, these boots are definitely more sturdy and should last for a long time. They also offer great protection against stubbed toes even when I gave some rocks a good boot for testing purposes.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.