While some might argue that The North Face has too large of a product line to make great trail running shoes. Well, the VECTIV Infinite trail runners squash that argument with a sledgehammer by delivering the best shoes I’ve ever tested from the brand.
The North Face VECTIV Infinite Trail Running Shoes Features:
- Matryx® uppers made with Kevlar® and polyamide yarns
- Perforated microfiber tongue
- Dual-density 3D Pebax® plate underfoot
- OrthoLite® X55™ footbed
- Rocker midsole geometry
- Surface Control™ rubber outsole with 3.5mm lugs
- 6 mm toe-to-heel offset (25mm/19mm stack heel/forefoot)
- 90-day wear test with 1-year warranty
- Weight: 11.2 oz (actual, size 11.5)
- MSRP: $169
The smoothest ride from The North Face yet
It’s been a few years since I’ve last tested a pair of trail runners from The North Face and it’s obvious that a lot has changed. So, I’m getting completely reacquainted with the brand’s latest trail running shoes. The VECTIV Infinite sits on the upper-end of the 6-shoe lineup and features their now-standard rockered sole with moderate cushioning. With durable Matryx uppers, the VECTIV Infinite also offers breathability in a lightweight package. On paper, they are checking all the right boxes.
After a short break-in period, which consisted of a day around town and a 5 mile neighborhood walk with the dog, I was ready for the trails. Those initial miles were fuss-free and showed off the rocker midsole, ample cushioning and comfortable uppers and I had no worries about how they would perform on the trail. My running terrain is typically dry and loose with plenty of rocky sections. I wouldn’t call it technical, but you’ve got to remain nimble and attentive or loose rocks will either turn your ankle or roll underneath you. Stability is important, but trail feel is also a top priority — along with breathability.
Well, onto that first run. It was a 4 mile affair on one of my typical loops. The shoes felt good and punched above what I had anticipated. Then, later that night and into the next day, my body felt oddly sore. It was weird, but it was if my muscles had to get acquainted with the unique stride, cushioning and support of the VECTIV Infinite. Subsequent runs didn’t cause that kind of muscle soreness. It honestly could have been an anomaly, but, for transparency, just be forewarned and don’t expect it on subsequent outings.
Slipping these on, you’ll quickly notice the foot-cradling uppers. The tongue is held in place with stretchy elastic mesh on either side, which wraps your midfoot and locks it into place. Using traditional lacing, it’s easy to cinch them down to your liking. In addition, the uppers have extra eyelets for a personalized fit. I preferred to offset the uppermost eyelets, which reduced pressure on my tibialis anterior tendon and also pulled the inside cuff a little tighter. I haven’t done this with any other shoes, but settled into it with the VECTIV Infinite’s and really appreciated the way it felt.
You’ll notice the bright blue thermoplastic cradle where the uppers attach to the midsole. This provides stability and structure. It all works perfectly together with the laminated cage (orange bands) that wraps and supports your ankle and instep. Cinched up, the shoe provides an anatomical fit and supports my low arches better than most shoes — all without feeling clunky.
Beyond those excellent uppers, you’ll find my favorite feature — rockered soles. There was a time when rockered soles were more common, but I’m glad to see The North Face now carrying that torch throughout their lineup. With it, each step smoothy rolls to the next and supports natural, forward motion. On the trails, it results in smooth landings, even cushioning and a powerful toe-off. I love how these feel on the trails and my old bones do too. There is certainly a good amount of cushioning here, the rocker amplifies what’s there without slowing you down. I find the VECTIV Infinite to be nimble and speedy while also delivering a smooth stride, which is quite the admirable combination.
Attached to those rockered soles is a capable Surface Control outsole featuring 3.5mm lugs. I have found them to be optimal for all kinds of terrain — from loose and dry to damp and tacky. Uphill and downhill traction is great on the trails and doesn’t feel clunky on road approaches either. Overall stability has been excellent as well. Of course, with 3.5mm lugs, they can get overwhelmed in mud.
The uppers do a great job of locking my feet into place and the gusseted tongue holds my feet on descents. Those Matryx uppers are bombproof without adding weight or inhibiting breathability. In fact, on a cold morning trail run, I quickly realized just how breathable they are. But, what was initially cold became just right as the miles piled up.
Fit: These feel true to what I’ve come to expect from The North Face shoes. I have always worn an 11.5 in their shoes and that continues to be true now.
- Rockered outsoles make for a smooth stride
- Just the right balance of cushioning and trail feel
- Excellent traction
- Foot-cradling uppers
- Standard lacing system allows for pinpoint fit
- Breathability is outstanding
- Ultra-durable Matryx uppers
- Light and nimble
- Can be difficult to remove
- Mud can overwhelm the treads
- Heel pocket could be deeper
The Bottom Line: The North Face VECTIV Infinite Trail Running Shoes
In a short amount of time, I’ve come to really dig these shoes. With foot-cradling uppers and a rockered sole, The North Face VECTIV Inflite trail runners have a winning strategy. I love how nimble they feel underfoot and how each step rolls smoothly to the next. With them, I have set new PR’s and my 40-something joints don’t complain one bit. As an added bonus, the Matryx® uppers are breathable and bombproof — not a typical combination.
Buy Now: Visit TheNorthFace.com
The North Face has a winning formula with the VECTIV Infinite trail runners. These lightweight trail runners offer excellent support, perfect trail feel, breathability and a smooth stride. I'm having a hard time finding anything to nitpick here and have thoroughly enjoyed every mile.