With all the flavors of hiking boots available, it can be difficult to pin down why you’d choose one pair over another. After using The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX boots, I’ve got a good idea who these are made for. If you like fast-paced hiking in cold or wet conditions, these are a match made in heaven.
The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX Features:
- Mid-cut boot for fastpacking
- Gore-Tex® membrane for waterproof protection
- Reflective webbing
- Reinforced toe cap for added protection
- Pebax® shank and Snake Plate™ for stability, protection and shock absorption
- Injection-molded EVA midsole
- Long-lasting, grippy Vibram® rubber outsole
- TPU CRADLE™ heel-stability
- MSRP: $150
Go fast. Go light. Go dry.
The Ultra Fastpack GTX hiking boot is built on a lightweight, but beefed-up trail last. It’s kind of a hybrid trail running and hiking kind of thing that’s built for fast-paced hiking, peak bagging and even running, when needed. The package is straightforward and performs as advertised.
The North Face has spent a ton of time revamping their footwear in the past few years. Most everything is new and this one is no exception. Something you’ll notice about their footwear is the fit is fairly narrow — particularly in the toebox. So much that I was forced to delay testing these until the swelling from my broken toe went down. Once it did, I’ve slipped in just fine, but wide feet may need to look elsewhere for a little more wiggle room.
As with all Gore-Tex shoes and boots, these offer extreme weather protection. That protection does come at the expense of breathability as these get too toasty once the temperatures hit above 70-degrees. But, in the right environment and conditions, nothing beats the all-out protection these provide. The classic submersion test resulted in zero leakage whatsoever — dry as a bone.
As with any Gore-Tex shoe, there is a little bit of a break-in period and the membrane tends to make a bit of a crinkling noise with each step. It’s pretty muted with these — noticeably quieter than previous Gore-Tex shoes.
Traction aplenty. Versatile too.
As the miles have piled up, I’ve taken these into the desert, on rocky ridgelines, through sloppy mud, across streams and even in snow and ice. Through it all, the Vibram outsole has remained predictably grippy. Even on slushy descents, these have held their own. And, after slogging through mud, they shed that gooey stuff very well. Great outsole choice here.
To test just how versatile the Ultra Fastpacks are, I took them trail running — yes indeed. While a mid-height boot is not ideal for fast-paced running, these are actually quite comfortable. I can run at a decent clip and maintain a normal stride. In fact, the ankle protection came in handy on a few occasions — particularly in snow and mud.
Speaking of snow, these are great snow hikers. I enjoyed a fast-paced hike in about 6-inches of Utah powder and the shoes provided excellent protection and traction throughout.
As far as hiking boots go, these are very comfortable. The laces cinch up nicely and the entire boot conforms to my feet in swaddling comfort. The minimalist, asymmetrical tongue is unique, but works great — never getting in the way of ankle movements. With a foot-cradling fit, these are easy to use for scrambling or technical terrain.
I did not have an opportunity to test the backpacking limits of these boots, but I’d say they’d do just fine with a lightweight overnight backpack.
- Excellent for cool to cold weather hiking
- Ankle protection is welcomed in sloppy conditions
- Gore-Tex liner kept water out
- Vibram outsole is predictably grippy
- Excellent comfort
- Very versatile for hiking to light trail running
- Narrow toebox limits fit
- All black color is pretty pedestrian
- Can get hot when temperatures rise
The Bottom Line: The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX
If you’re on the hunt for a pair of lightweight hikers for day hikes or peak bagging, these are a great option. They are comfortable and that Vibram outsole is lights-out grippy. Gore-Tex keeps moisture out, but keep in mind that these will get hot as temperatures rise.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com