We like the breathability and comfort of these shoes for sunny day hikes, but would leave them at home for rainy days and boggy crossings
Lightweight and breathable
Comfortable Ortholite footbeds, no breaking in required
Plush, rocker sole aids momentum
Stable with good grip
Good toe protection
Not suitable for wet days or bogs
White shoes not the most practical for hiking
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The North Face Vectiv Taraval hiking shoes: first impressions
These hiking shoes look a lot more fashion than function, but once you get them on your feet, you might be surprised at how well they perform. Intended for fair weather day hikes on a variety of surfaces, where these shoes really shine is in their comfort.
• List price: $129 / £115
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s available
• Sizes: Men’s 7 - 14 US, 6 - 13 UK / Women’s 5 - 11 US, 3 - 9 UK
• Weight (per shoe): 313g / 11 oz
• Drop: 6mm
• Materials: Soles: VECTIV™ Technology, Upper: Synthetic leather and breathable mesh
• Colors: Black, White, Gardenia/Sandstone, White/Cactus Flower
• Best use: Hiking
OrthoLite footbeds and a thick rocker sole with a 6mm drop feel super plush underfoot while helping to propel you forward with each step. The soles are surprisingly grippy and stable on rough terrain, while the breathability of the uppers is really remarkable on a hot day.
These shoes aren't for anyone planning a technical hike or hiking in rainy weather or across bogs, as the breathable uppers mean your feet will be instantly soaked (though they’ll dry out quickly). They’re best save for bluebird days when you just want to stride across the countryside in comfort, and despite their lightweight appeal, you’ll be impressed by how much toe protection you get when you bash into a rock on the trail.
The North Face Vectiv Taraval hiking shoes: in the field
I got these hiking shoes quite a few months back and my initial impression was that they were a bit too Gorpcore for my taste, while my first attempt to test them out was a bit of a mishap. I departed Glasgow in glorious sunshine, arrived at my destination in torrential rain and howling wind, took a wrong turn and ended up having to shortcut through a bog. The result was wet feet, one very stained shoe (they sent me white ones to test, and I must question the wisdom of white hiking shoes) and me leaving them in a corner and staring at them sulkily for a few months.
Anyway, brilliant weather has finally arrived here in Scotland, so I recently gave them another whirl and it was another comedy of errors, but for different reasons and I managed to hike eight miles in them and was pleasantly surprised by their performance.
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
The first thing I noticed about these shoes is that they seemed huge. My feet are technically a 3.5 UK (US 6) but I tend to size up to a 4 for hiking to give my feet room to swell, so I just figured they run a little large. At the end of my hike, however, I was so perplexed by how big they seemed that I checked the label and it looks as though they actually sent me a 5.5 UK – a full two sizes too big! So, I can’t really say with any authority whether these shoes fit true to size, sorry.
Comfort and breathability
You may be asking yourself, reasonably I think, how did she hike eight miles in shoes that were two sizes too big? The answer is, very comfortably. These shoes honestly required no breaking in for me (though you should use your own judgment here) and they feel fab on. Light and roomy (extra roomy for me) with big plush soles and I actually really liked the rocker action on my gait, too. I didn’t experience any rubbing or tired feet whatsoever.
Where these shoes shine is in their breathability. I’ve tested many shoes that claim to be breathable and aren’t; these ones are. Ergo, I’d recommend these for hot days, though they won’t do as much to keep your feet warm in winter.
Grip, stability and protection
For hiking across dirt, gravel and mud, the grip of these was great and as good as any trail shoe I’ve worn. The rocker sole might look unsteady, but I experienced great stability on uneven ground, which is always a relief after a couple of knee surgeries. And, despite their light, breathable uppers, they’re surprisingly well reinforced to protect your feet from rocks and tree roots.
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.