The North Face Flight Vectiv is one of three new North Face trail shoes for the 2021 year.  The Flight Vectiv is the top tier ultra trail racer, and offers rockered geometry midsole with a carbon propulsion plate.  Could this be the first true trail super shoe? Read on to find out!

The Reviewer: My name is Brett Hornig and I have been running for 15 years. As well as being a Trails and Tarmac coach, I work at Rogue Valley Runners in Ashland, Oregon. Ever since I started running, I have always been fascinated with what makes shoes so vastly different, and have continuously been on the hunt for that perfect shoe.  I have run in a few North Face shoes before, and they were honestly nothing to write home about.  This seems to be the first legitimate attempt from North Face at a long trail race shoe.
One thing to keep in mind when reading this review, is that I am 5’8″, 130lb, and have a size US9 foot that is slightly on the narrow side (C width). I am a neutral, midfoot striking runner, so some things I describe about this shoe may need to be tweaked depending on who you are and how you run.


Size: M10 US

Weight: 10.5oz (298g)

Stack Height:19mm Forefoot 25mm Heel

Drop: 6mm

Upper and Fit:

My pair is a US men’s size 10, which is my normal trail running shoe size, and they were just a tad long.  Not long enough to where I would go to a 9.5, but enough where I did kick an extra rock or root just a few times on tired days where I wasn’t picking up my feet well.

The width of the Flight Vectiv is very medium.  I have slightly narrow feet, and I was able to secure a good fit around my foot.  There was a little material bunching towards the bottom eyelets by my midfoot, but it didn’t bother me at all.  The toe box is a little pointy, which I think is what the main contributor was to the slightly long feeling towards the big toe.  Those with wider feet who are on the bubble for having to size up might run into the dilemma of getting the width right at the expense of having a lot of extra length at the toe.  The medium width of the forefoot carries back proportionally towards the midfoot and into the heel.

The upper consists of a stretch knit forefoot and tongue that seamlessly attaches to Matryx material paneling along the midfoot, and then wraps around to form the heel collar.  The mesh forefoot has quite a bit of stretch to it, as well as the tongue.  When I refer to the tongue of this shoe, it isn’t really a tongue, but just a continuation of the upper, as it is all one layer.  I am a huge fan of this hybrid design with a seamless blend of upper materials.  The first Matryx upper I tried out was the first Hoka Mafate, and it was so crinkly and stiff over the tops of my toes.  The second generation of the Mafate helped with that problem by replacing the top of the forefoot Matryx with a soft piece of stretchy mesh.  North Face takes a similar approach, but goes one step further by creating an entire mesh forefoot and tongue, and only putting the Kevlar reinforced Matryx material where it is needed.  There is some light padding along the inside of the heel cup.  Just enough to keep my heel from slipping.  I have definitely put on shoes with a much more secure and snug fitting heel cup, but for the intentions of this shoe being really long days on the trail, the less you notice, the better. The stretch knit collar around the top might help hold my foot down, but I can’t really tell.  It’s just kind of there and that is fine.  


I haven’t gotten to confirm this with anyone at North Face, but the midsole foam appears to be a traditional, but excellent (and durable) EVA.  It is a dual density EVA, being slightly firmer directly underfoot, and softer towards the ground.  The foam itself didn’t wow me, but the way North Face shaped it and attached a carbon plate is what kept me pulling for this shoe day in and day out over the summer.  I’m digging way back into the archives, but the shape reminded me most of the Pearl Izumi Trail N2.  I say this because the high point of the Flight Vectiv is in the midfoot of the shoe and not the heel.  This alone causes a very smooth and forward pushing transition whether you are landing perfectly on your midfoot or heel first.  If you have very low arches or flat feet, the higher arch shape could be uncomfortable for some.

Pearl Izumi Trail N2

Pearl Izumi Trail N2

The North Face Flight Vectiv

The North Face Flight Vectiv

Pair this rockered shape to the new carbon plate, and we have a shoe with a ton of spring and energy return to it.  Unlike some other super shoes on the market, the Flight Vectiv’s plate is almost directly under foot with just a thin layer of foam and the insole between plate and foot.  This is where the slightly firm underfoot feel comes from.  I also mean that in a good way.  The firmer feel is great because it allowed me to get better feedback from the ground, which is important for making better foot placement on the trail.  

Along with the plate and firmer midsole foam providing great energy return and propulsive feeling, the carbon plate also doubles as a rock plate.  I had zero issues with stone bruising or any sort of debris coming through the shoe or uncomfortably jabbing my feet.  

A concern I had before running in this shoe was that the carbon plate would create too stiff of a shoe and not be able to flex towards the toe for running or hiking up steeper gradients.  This is a problem I had faced when trying to take other carbon super shoes like the Hoka Carbon X out on the trail.   Fortunately for the Flight Vectiv, the plate is thin enough towards the forefoot, where the shoe is able to bend enough to be comfortable while running or hiking up steep trail.



The Flight Vectiv will share the same outsole with the Infinite and Endurus. It consists of a one piece design with 3.5mm butterfly shaped lugs strategically placed.  The compound is sticky and fairly soft.  I have run in shoes with softer outsole compounds, and I found the biggest drawback would be durability.  North Face got this equation right with the right blend of durability and traction.  After 350 miles on these shoes, the lugs are worn in some spots, but none of them have been worn all the way down.  Traction was great on many different types of terrain.  The shallow, flat lugs don’t do great on ice or deep mud, which was to be expected.  Wet wood is kind of always dangerous, but these shoes at least didn’t make it any worse.  Running over some wet rock (mostly granite), the outsole held traction really well.  On hard packed dirt and even pavement, the outsole was quiet and very smooth.

The ride and ideal terrain:

So after breaking down the upper, midsole, and outsole, how does it actually work?  The short answer is really really well.  The longer answer is that the Flight Vectiv was meant for ultra distance training and racing across a variety of terrain.  This is a shoe I had no problem just jogging many uninterrupted miles in.  It never felt bulky or cumbersome, and has such a smooth transition.  Mellow trail, fire road, and even paved road miles clicked by with much enjoyment.  At 50 mile and longer paces, this shoe handled technical terrain very well.  Any faster and I would have wanted a little more upper security, primarily around the heel.  There were a few fast and technical descents, I could feel the stiffness of the midsole and plate fighting against me because the shoe didn’t want to twist and contort around the rocks.  This caused the shoe to shift out slightly under my foot, and I think a little more structure in the heel cup could have helped with that.  

When out for 3+ hour runs in the mountains at more of an ultra pace, this is where the Flight Vectiv shines.  It can just go and be smooth and invisible for hours on end, while providing just a little push forward when the legs start to get tired.  I understand why Dylan Bowman and Kaytlyn Gerbin chose this shoe to race the Wonderland Trail, and I see how this will be a top shoe choice for those doing UTMB.  


This shoe just kept going!  I logged all the mileage, vert, and time spent in this shoe.  I am pleased when I can get 40 quality training hours out of a pair of trail shoes.  My Flight Vectiv has 62 hours logged on them, and only now are they just starting to feel a little on the older side.  In those 62 hours, I accumulated 350 miles and 81,000 feet of vertical gain and loss.  Everything on the shoe is intact.  In fact, all of these pictures are of the shoe after all these miles.  


The North Face Flight Vectiv has been an excellent shoe, and one that I will purchase through my local running store.  I wouldn’t hesitate at all to throw these on for an important training run or race.  Full confidence they would work for most mountainous 100 milers.  The biggest question is if they are worth the hefty price tag of 200 dollars, but after running 350+ miles and over 60 hours in these shoes I’ve realized that they do have a strong chance of being worth every penny.  

Feel free to leave any comments, questions or concerns below!  Want to read more about some of my past shoe reviews?  Click here.

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