“What shoes are you wearing?” asked Kendall Card as we made our way up the trail. “The North Face,” I replied. “The best North Face shoes I’ve ever worn.” That was the conversation the other day as I showed Kendall some of the fine singletrack trails in the Corner Canyon area of Draper, Utah. What I said was 100% true, but read on to find out why.

The North Face Single-Track Features:

  • Neutral support for mechanically-sound runners
  • External scree guard under laces
  • C-Delta metatarsal fit system
  • Semi-curve lasted
  • X-Dome cradle heel cushioning
  • X-2 dual-density EVA midsole
  • ESS Snakeplate forefoot protection
  • Tenacious Grip sticky rubber
  • Colors: Black/TNF Red or Zinc Grey/Aviator Blue (tested)
  • MSRP: $100

The North Face Single-Track Review

Very impressive… very impressive indeed. The North Face Single-Track trail runners have garnered a wheelbarrow full of praise already and they were just launched. I know full-well it took awhile to get a pair out to me because of the high demand. So, it’s with high expectations that I dutifully tried to beat the Single-Tracks to a bloody pulp.

This Spring has been a mixed bag in Utah. It’s been kind of typical, but also kind of not at the same time. We have yet to see the sun much, so the trails have remained soft and tacky or still snow-covered. I’ve been able to manage to get at least 50 miles in on the Single-Tracks and I’m having a hard time finding any major flaws.

For starters, these shoes fit like a glove from the get-go. No break-in period is required at all… just slip them on and go. As usual, I always remove the standard sockliner (Ortholite in this case) and place a pair of SOLE Dean Karnazes insoles in their place. The combination proved to be like peanut butter and jelly as I was able to comfortably pound out some good miles in these shoes.

What do I like most about the Single-Tracks? Well, for starters, I love the well-cushioned midsoles. I felt comfortable running in these on pavement or on the trail, but never felt numb to the trail either. These low-profile shoes keep you in tune with the trail, yet provide solid comfort and support. I really dig the overall trail feel and have enjoyed running in a variety of conditions.

Breathability is solid and the full-length scree guard is a nice touch and provides excellent protection from the intrusion of rocks and dirt — at least from the lace area. The low-cut cuffs do allow a bit of dirt to enter under the right (err… wrong) conditions, however.

Overall traction has been outstanding and much better than I’d expected from such low-profile lugs. However, they do meet their match on really loose or muddy terrain. It’s a trade-off I think we’re all willing to take. Trail protection is just about right, but may be only a teeny bit on the too soft side — hard to tell until running in extremely-rocky conditions for several miles.

The only other issue is with the sizing. These seem to run a tad small as my typical size 10 was about a half size too short. Ultrathin socks were the only option with this pair, which worked out perfectly.

Good Single-Track

  • Top-notch comfort right out of the box and throughout my test
  • Stable and smooth on the trail and road
  • An excellent performer all over the mountain
  • Surprisingly-good traction for low-profile treads
  • Breathes very well
  • Feels very light and fast on the trail

Bad Single-Track

  • Runs about a half-size small
  • Trail protection is right on the border… could be a teeny bit more protective in the forefoot

Bottom Line: The North Face Single-Track Trail Runners

Prior to this year, I hadn’t had the greatest luck with The North Face shoes. The Sentinel Boa warmed me up and now the Single-Track has me humming. These are definitely my favorite trail runners tested so far this year and represent the benchmark. If you’re looking for a solid trail runner for training or racing, these will be hard to beat.

Buy Now: Find The North Face Trail Running Shoes at REI

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the kind words Jason. We’ve bust our #$%’s within the product team here at TNF to build a trail shoe to satisfy runners like yourself, and it has been a very long time coming. Sorry about the wait. The great news is that we’re building a solid, and innovative collection around the Single-Track for S’11 with a blend of cushioning, trail-feel and stability that I think will make people pretty happy. We can’t wait to show them to you!

    • Thanks Jason! I’ve run in a ton of trail runners and quite honestly, these are some of the best on the market. I’m looking forward to the new styles based on the Single-Track!

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