While many don’t think of The North Face for trail runners, my experience with their recent models should make people consider them early and often when looking for a new pair of trail runners. Their most recent shoe is the athlete-inspired Flight RKT Trail.
The North Face Flight RKT Trail Running Shoes Features:
- Featherweight race-day shoes with a soft yet responsive midsole
- Co-designed with Rob Krar, the world’s leading ultra runner
- Upper: breathable and lightweight engineered mesh
- TPU-welded geo quarter for midfoot support and stability
- Comfortable mesh and suede tongue minimizes sweat and water retention
- OrthoLite® footbed for long-lasting comfort
- Sole: 18 mm/10 mm heel/forefoot EVA underfoot (8mm drop)
- Dual-density FastFoam™ midsole for speed, stability and comfort
- Cushioned EVA in bottom layer of midsole for increased comfort
- Resilient EVA underfoot prevents packing out
- Multi-directional lug design provides superior traction
- “Podular” outsole maximizes weight reduction by placing sticky rubber only where it’s demanded
- 8 mm offset
- Weight: 9.2 oz each (size 11, actual)
- MSRP: $150
Lightweight for race day, awesome every day
The North Face has really stepped up their trail running shoe game over the past 4-5 years. And, to come out with a model like the Flight RKT, they tapped into their extensive athlete roster and relied on trail runner, Rob Krar to provide the design feedback needed to make this shoe a reality.
While The North Face markets the Flight RKT as a race-day shoe, there’s no denying the fact that they also make a great everyday shoe with the only caveat being the outsole (more on that later). The uppers are built using engineered mesh in a similar way that the company’s FuseForm jackets are made where the mesh properties change based on the chosen weave in specific areas of the upper. To reinforce things, there are criss-crossed TPU welds that add structure and lateral support.
Something that I’ve come to love over the past few seasons is that several shoe companies have absolutely nailed their midsole cushioning. The Flight RKT’s are squarely in the “nailed it” category as they deliver extra squish without feeling sluggish and unresponsive. They also deliver the right balance of trail feel and forefoot protection. It’s a fine line, but the Flight RKT’s navigate it well.
With such low-profile treads, I assumed the outsoles would be overwhelmed on the trails. That is simply not the case as these provide traction beyond my expectations on dry hardpack and slightly loose or rocky terrain. The only negative I’ve found is that the treads are wearing a touch quickly. If I were a good soldier and only used them in the dirt, they’d last longer, but I also wear them on long walks with my wife and around town because they are super-comfortable.
While I’m definitely a function over form kind of guy, I’ve had plenty of people ask about these shoes while wearing them around town. The storm cloud design is definitely cool.
Speaking of cool, these breathe quite well (as you’d expect) in hot temps. The mesh itself does offer sufficient support and the toeboxes are generous enough to allow wiggle room in my typical size 11 running shoe.
A few nuances with these shoes have appeared with use, and I’ll start with the tongue. First off, the tongue is not gusseted, thus allowing scree to enter. But also, every time you slip your feet into them, the side of the tongue flaps over — requiring finagling to get them to sit flat. I’ll also add that I’m typically used to running in low drop or zero drop shoes (like the Topo Runventure 2), so I kept catching the heels of these due to their 8mm drop.
Additionally, I’ve found the forefoot volume (particularly the height) a bit much. I had to wear a touch thicker socks than usual to take up that volume. Of course, your foot shape will vary, so take that for what it’s worth.
I do love the breathability and The North Face even went so far as to use a ventilated insole (with tons of holes in the forefoot/midfoot). I’m sure it aids in breathability, but with thinner socks, I was able to feel those holes. It wasn’t annoying but certainly noticeable.
I’d peg these as a neutral shoe with just the right amount of support and cushioning. They do run well with a solid midfood strike and easy toe-off. Traction is reduced when things get really loose and gravely, but these really are great for hardpacked trails.
- Lightweight design
- Woven uppers breathe well while remaining supportive
- Excellent balance between trail feel and protection
- Excellent cushioning that doesn’t slow you down
- Traction is excellent on hardpack
- 8mm drop is pretty extreme these days
- Outsole will wear quickly if used on pavement extensively
- Would love seeing a gusseted tongue
The Bottom Line: The North Face Flight RKT
A good shoe with plenty of cushioning and surprising traction for such a low-profile outsole. The woven uppers are functional and breathable and the overall package is supremely light.
Buy Now: Available at Moosejaw.com