The North Face Women’s Flight VECTIV trail runners: Tested
I’m not gonna lie, I’m struggling to write this. But not, perhaps, for the reasons you might think. It’s 26 degrees on a sparkling spring day, king parrots are chattering in the scribbly gums outside my window, and I’m surrounded by a tangle of Aussie bush that bows to kiss the sea. The great outdoors is calling and I’m itching to run free. It’s lucky then, that I have just the right shoes to pull on…
Billed as the lightest and most responsive shoe in The North Face’s elite trail-running range, the Flight VECTIV is made for ultra-distances. And while I can’t speak to that (I’m more of a 14km max trail runner), I can vouch for their durability – I’ve run through bush, over sandstone boulders, into fast-flowing rivers and even fallen into the sea after a punishing up-mountain-down-shale coastal track romp. This is attributed to a combination of lightweight Kevlar®, polyamide and Matryx® fabrics. But what I particularly love about these runners is their knit uppers, which are both breathable and supportive, and dry out super-fast after a dive into a puddle or creek crossing.
Running was something that didn’t really come naturally to me – I’d always been more of a swimmer. But during a particularly harrowing period in my life, I took up trail running as a way of managing my emotions, or perhaps, more accurately, to set them aside. You see, when you’re navigating through the bush, you’re not thinking about the emotional quicksand that threatens to swallow you. Instead, your mind is fully engaged in where you’re putting your feet – if you don’t, you’re likely to trip over an exposed tree root and find yourself careening face first into the Earth (believe me, it happens).
Now, I bet you’re wondering, what does any of this have to do with shoes? Well, it’s simple really, you want a pair that will carry you safely over the dirt and rocks and sticks and roots. And more than that, propel you forward – as you run towards a happier future, or just back to the start of the trail (lols).
The shoe’s VECTIV™ technology is designed to do this. Its carbon-fibre plate enhances stability, its midsole rocker delivers forward propulsion, its high-rebound foam reduces impact (by 10 per cent, they say, although I don’t reckon I can quantify it with a percentage rating) and its 3.5mm lugs ensure a rugged grip across all types of terrain.
In the field with The North Face Women’s Flight VECTIV
So how does it all stack up out on the trail? Well, having put these shoes through their paces for six or so months – across banksia-strewn moors and down river-carved ravines, through hidden sandstone steam-train tunnels and while scaling the sides of waterfalls – I can confidently say that they deliver.
Perhaps the one fleeting downside is the 3D-moulded heel. Designed for a precise fit, it gave me blisters on the pesky soft skin of my Achilles the first few wears – nothing a couple of blister patches couldn’t sort. After wearing them in, though, it’s been one happy marriage. So much so that I’m no longer running to escape the quicksand of life but running towards it’s many and splendid possibilities. They have, indeed, given me flight.
RRP: $330 See The North Face for more info and other trail runners in its range.