Trying out The North Face Ultra Fastpack Hiking Shoes
New for this season is the updated Ultra Fastpack hiking shoe from The North Face. These are very lightweight hiking shoes that are available in low or mid top and with or without the Gore-Tex lining.
This new version gets some great upgrades from the previous model, like stronger more abrasion resistant mesh uppers, Vibram Mega Grip in key areas and a cable system that is integrated into the lacing loops that hugs the foot to keep it locked into place while on steep and rugged terrain. I decided to head down to Busiek State Forest for a nice test of the new footwear. (I was using the non-waterproof low top version of the Fastpack) My immediate reaction to the Fastpack was their great looks and feel, a sleek looking low top hiker with nice colors and durable rugged materials. The first thing that hit me after slipping them on was the excellent lacing system. I could easily feel the sides tighten in and hug my foot, comfortably keeping it locked in place. Cinched up tight and loaded with water and snacks I was ready for a nice hike around Busiek State Forest. I had planned out about a 6.5 mile route that would take me on some of Busiek’s steepest and most rugged trails.
The first thing I noticed was the great breathability that the Fastpack offers with it’s durable yet porous mesh upper. They ended up keeping my feet dry and comfortable throughout the day. I came to my first creek crossing about a mile in, luckily for me there was a downed tree that provided easy crossing without getting my shoes wet. As I continued on, I came to my first good climb of the day. For those who have hiked out at Busiek, you know how rough and rugged some of the trails can get, with the mix of big loose rocks, slick sheet rocks, and steep terrain. It definitely provides a nice challenge for any footwear.
This is where the Mega Grip rubber formula from Vibram really shined. I’ve hiked out at Busiek many times with a variety of different footwear and the Mega Grip out performed anything I have used before. (It’s sure to become the new standard.) Rock that I would typically avoid, due to how slick it was, quickly became my new stepping stones. I never felt my shoes slip, nor did I feel insecure about my foot placement on questionable rocks. This was a great feeling as we have many trails in the Ozarks that have similar terrain. The low-tops offered great agility while hiking over the loose uneven surfaces and North Face’s Snake Plate provided me with solid footing and protection with every step.
What comes up must come down and this was going to be the true test of how these shoes performed. Rock solid! The Fastpacks didn’t move at all as I was heading down the steep rocky slopes. I was comfortably locked into place thanks to it’s unique lacing system, giving me confidence to hike faster and have fun on some of the more challenging terrain.
After repeating these steps multiple time throughout the day I can confidently say that these will now be my go-to mild weather day hiker and I am looking forward to putting many more miles on them.