I love the concept of trail running... except for the running part. Once the trail gets technical or if I'm in an area that is new I start to feel like I'm missing out on what I'm running by. Maybe that's just how I justify being slow, but sometimes I feel like I'd be better off doing some long distance fast hiking, or FA-KING (FAst-hiKING) as I like to call it. On second thought maybe we should call it L.D.F.H, or better yet let's just call it fast hiking. In the past I've done my long distance fast hiking in trail running shoes and it's been great. But sometimes I find myself wishing for just a little more support since I run in a neutral, low drop running shoe. Sometimes I think that a little more ankle protection would be nice and couple of times I've wished I had something a little less breathable and a little more waterproof... aka something with Gore-Tex.
All of my dreams came true when I found The North face Men's Ultra Fastpack Mid Gore-Tex Hiker. At first glance you'll notice it's mid ankle in height. This provides the ankle support I was looking for but also the ankle protection that I like. No more scuffed up ankle bones. The Fastpack Mid also offers a Pebax® plate to get rid of that hitch in your giddy-up and a what TNF refers to as a rigid Snake Plate™ to prevent stone brushing. Stepping and jumping on to sharp rocks was no longer an issue and bruised feet are long gone.
To go along with the great support for the feet and ankles are some features that make the shoe as tough as the terrain you take them to. Reinforced toe caps protect the shoes from toe draggers and folks who are prone to stumbling. Reflective webbing keeps you visible when lights are shinging in your directtion and there's a TPU quarter weld for added structure. To keep your feet dry the Ultra Fastpack Mid comes with a water-rersistent, minimal-weight upper material and a waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® membrane. Normally tons of features like this add up to a lot of weight. The Ultra Fastpack comes in at 400g (14.1 oz) per shoe. Top it off with a Vibram® sole that gives the shoes insane amounts of grip and you've got shoe worthy of many instagram photos and facebook posts.
My only gripe about the shoe, and it's a pretty superficial one, is that at fast glance it kind of looks like an Asics wrestling shoe. But since no one has challenged me to a wrestling match while I've been out on the trail I figure it might just be me that thinks they look a little like wrestling shoes.
To sum things up this is a great show for someone who is looking for a light, fast shoe with great traction and awesome support. I'm looking forward to the miles I have ahead in these shoes.
For more information check out TheNorthFace.com
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