I’ll try not to turn this The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review into some sort of TNF appreciation post, despite loving the brand and also being happy with the shoes – it won’t be easy. All I have to do is to put my objectivity cap on that prevents me from bias, and it should be okay. Here we go; the cap is on; let’s review some trail running shoes!
I’m far from being an ultra trail runner, but I’m lucky enough to live right next to a forest with an excellent path that also happens to be pretty muddy when there’s any moisture, giving me the perfect playground to test the best trail running shoes. There are many trail shoes these days from some of the finest brands, such as Salomon, Hoka, Adidas Terrex, Saucony, and ASICS. It’s a saturated market with a lot of excellent models kicking about as is.
The North Face is no stranger to the Great Outdoors, but its trail running footwear lineup isn’t as robust as some of the other brands mentioned above. That said, TNF has the experience and the know-how that enables the company to put out trail shoes that match – or, on occasions, surpass – those already available.
The Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro updated some of the features that made the original The North Face Flight Series Vectiv so innovative, although it also inherited some of its flaws. Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons by a mile, which means it’s much easier to recommend the shoes than before. Should you get one? Read on to find out.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: Price and availability
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro was released in February 2023 and is available to buy now at The North Face US and The North Face UK for a recommended retail price of $250/£225 (AU price and availability TBC). These are not cheap shoes by any means; most shoes in our trail running guide linked above can be bought for less than half the price of the Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro (some less than one-third). In fact, The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro is as expensive as some of the best running shoes – the so-called ‘super shoes’ – like the ASICS Metaspeed EDGE+ and the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3. After all, the Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro is a super shoe made for the trail.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: What’s new?
The most notable difference between The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro and its many predecessors is the Vectiv 2.0 midsole, which has been optimised to offer increased stability. The new version adapts what was good in the original Vectiv and takes it to the next level with its rockered midsole (the rocker has a 10 mm greater toe spring than the S21 version), embedded carbon-fibre plate with stability wings and a forked design in the heel and forefoot.
The full-length foam midsole has 4 mm more cushioning compared to the S21 Enduris. The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro has a 6 mm drop (heel: 32 mm/forefoot: 26 mm). What I appreciated the most was the updated D-width last that is said to accommodate a broad set of consumer foot shapes. While the upper is supportive and provides a good lockdown, it also feels more accommodating without compromising protection and durability. Finally, the internal heel support offers a closer fit in the rear.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: Ergonomics and fit
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro is balance. The shoes have quite a sizeable chunk of foam underfoot, but this foam is exceptionally well-balanced, not to mention the rocker, which works like a charm. As mentioned above, the toe spring has increased, and there is also more foam than before, so expect the Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro to quite literally rock your world in the best possible way.
Many super shoes designed for the road will have cutaway sections in the foam to reduce weight, but thankfully, this is something The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro didn’t take on board. Not only would it be dangerous to have uneven foam underfoot – imagine running on technical, rocky terrain in those! – but it could also compromise the stability of the rocker. Thank you, The North Face, for making the right call.
Step-in comfort is excellent, and the upper feels supportive. Lockdown sensation is brilliant, something I was concerned about at first, given the roomy toe box. Thankfully, the lace cage is wide and long enough to support the midfoot without tying the laces too tight. I can’t emphasise enough how nice the toe box is, although it’s worth mentioning that I have wide feet, so I might be biased, but still. D-width shoes should be this wide.
The collar is padded, and the internal heel counter holds the rear of the foot firmly in place. It’s not extremely tight, which is important, as I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be over long distances.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: Running performance
I took The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro out for easy(ish) forest path runs at first. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I live next to a forest, so it makes sense I’ll test trail shoes in that environment. Secondly, given the chunky midsole, the rocker and the general structure of the shoes, I thought it was best not to try them on too technical trails. You’re too high up, and the foam is too soft to provide stable footing when stepping over rocks and slippery surfaces.
Plus, I pondered, the shape of the shoes works best on comparatively flat surfaces. The rocker and the toe spring mean little to nothing when the gait cycle is compromised, trying to climb over ridges and dodging foliage and undergrowth. The Surface CTRL rubber outsole with 3.5 mm lugs is also best suited for softer, flat surfaces.
That being said, I found The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro an excellent option for a wide variety of trail running purposes, including forest trails, off-road, country lanes, and soft, mixed and intermediate terrain. As long as the road is relatively flat, the carbon plate will help you push forward, and so will the rocker. The upper and especially the heel counter is very supportive; I felt no chaffing or discomfort on my runs.
One minor detail I forgot to mention is the lace. It reminded me of the laces of the ASICS Metaspeed SKY+ (and the EDGE+ linked above), and I really liked those. The wavy texture of the material provides a secure fastening method, which made me worry even less about the laces getting undone at the wrong moment.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: Verdict
I'm in a tough situation here. On the one hand, I love the components of The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro: the rocker, the plate, the upper, the fit, and even the laces. On the other hand, The North Face sells the shoes for a high price and markets them as technical terrain shoes, the latter of which I can't say I can verify.
Again, all this comes from someone who hasn't done the UTMB or the Zegama before, so what do I know? The shoes feel great on foot, and it was a bucketload of fun to run in them on less technical paths – that I know for sure. I love the upper and the rocker and will continue using The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro for mixed-terrain runs.
Should you buy the shoes? Well... If you like high-stack shoes – or like the idea of a high-stack trail shoe – and are happy to pay the premium, sure, go for it. The only reason I can't recommend them more is the price. If The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro were, say, $175/£160, I would tell everyone to buy the shoes. But just like in the case of the Saucony Endorphin Elite, the hefty price tag will deter some people from buying the shoes, despite the quite apparent benefits.
The North Face Summit Vectiv 2.0 Pro review: Also consider
The most obvious alternative is the Nike ZoomX Zegama. It might not be as disruptive as the Vaporfly ZoomX NEXT% was back in the day, but it's a decent trail running shoe, offering plenty of cushioning, stability and style for runners who prefer traversing uncharted territories. Read my full Nike Zegama review for more info.
Alternatively, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 is a fantastic, slightly lighter upgrade to the Speedgoat 4 with a new, sock-like mesh upper made from recycled materials, excellent midsole rebound, great traction and grip from the Vibram Megagrip sole with Traction Lugs and a secure, snug fit for multi-terrain use and more muddy and technical (rocky, uneven) trails. Read Claire's Hoka Speedgoat 5 review today.