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shoeporn: The North Face – Flight Vectiv

Something that these days is part of the shoe business, is the rumor mill. Since months Alameda, California grounded outdoor powerhouse The North Face, was set to drop a carbon plated shoe. Well, it seems that all major shoe corporations are on the outlook to apprise their respective top range models with this technology. But suddenly it was a brand that is not necessarily known for its shoe building skills, that joined the hype.
Since 1968 The North Face distribute and produce outdoor equipment. It all started with climbing gear and then grew into a brought variety of accessories, clothing and footwear. Personally, I have tested more than a few of their off-road running shoes in the past. Although their jackets, vests, caps and technical gear have been a stable in my wardrobe over the last decade, none of the shoes have majorly impressed me and it seems that technical clothing was more the focus then suitable footwear. Now they released a performance oriented trail running shoe that goes by the name of Flight Vectiv, merging a 3 D carbon fiber footplate, midsole rocker geometry and SurfaceCTRL grip into the first trail specific shoe using the prominet carbon technique.
I had a chance to spot the Flight Vectiv last April as Spaniard and The North Face athlete Pau Capell wore the shoe throughout the 2020 version of the Fjällmaraton around Åre, Sweden where he came 2nd in the 100 kilometer distance. Pau was part of the development process of the Vectiv equipment range and mostly this shoe. TNFs VP of Global Footwear, Jean Marc Djian aimed high when the company took on this project. The company recognized that another try into the footwear market had to be an innovative and exciting.
The Flight Vectiv is the top model of the novel TNF shoe assortment. It is the one shoe that contains full-length carbon plate combined with a rocker geometry. This combination is intended to upsurge the energy return and I was more than keen to see how this mix turned out in a shoe that is intended to be used off the road, a setting where the carbon technology is more to be seen in up-to-date shoe releases. On the picture above some details of the carbon plate are teased on the external.
Even though the sock-like silhouette of the shoe looked like a pleasing feature, I was quite staggered how rigid it was to get into the shoe. The opening is rather small and that undoubtedly created some matters to me. As soon as you’ve entered the shoe, there is not a tense sensitivity. It just appears that the entering part of the shoe is pretty close-fitting. After a while I got used to it and know how to enter as the reinforced, breathable-knit upper is pretty strechable. Running this shoe throughout wintertime, I have the feeling that the body-hugging fitting also stops all sorts of muck to enter the inside. To me something that is very helpful particularly with the heavy use of salt and sand on the local streets. Frequently the small particles find a way to enter a shoe. Not so in this one. Generally the one piece upper that is elasticated and hugs your upper foot and ankle is super nice and fits around the foot like a glove.
With the Flight Vectiv, The North Face planned a shoe for the longer and ultra-distances. The company paid attention to durable ingredients such as kevlar, polyamide and matryx materials that they also tested and used in other equipment. This time it seems that The North Face was able to familiarize their extensive knowledge from mountain equipment into footgear. The Flight Vectiv is an overall quality shoe that is very well made. Till now I spend somewhat over 100 kilometers in this shoe and I’m constantly surprised how it tackles different grounds and weather situations. The picture shows the 3D-molded heel counter for a better fit, another nice detail in a well build shoe with a quality finish.
There were times when The North Face allowed their sponsored athletes to use different shoes and switch from their very own models to the ones that the competition offered. This has clearly changed now with the new shoe range. Several athletes have been smashing FKT’s last year. One of my favorite runs has been the record setting Grand Canyon R2R2R-alt FKT effort by TNF legends Mike Foote and Rob Krar. Check their video here. Time for these two to tackle some SwimRun competitions i guess.
Without a doubt, the climax of this shoe must be the so-called 3D Vectiv plate. It offers momentum and in combination with the stability Rocker shape, the foot placement is optimized. The shoe is not super soft as many other carbon running shoes, but this is something that aims the runner while running on technical ground. At the start it feels like the shoe is rigid as it does not provide much flexibly, especially to the sites. Although it feels stable and the feel for the ground is certainly given. Officially The North Face labels the Vectiv technology as “revolutionary soling architecture.” Fundamentally what they are describing are the layers beneath the feet. These are all the different foams and treads that work together to deliver a cushioned, safe and springy sensation.
Despite the fact there is a lot of advanced and new material that has been incorporated in this shoe, the outsole is known from previous models. Grip on wet and dry terrain has been the attention in the development procedure. If you expect a super aggressive and “deep” outsole, you will be dissatisfied. The lugs are well and smartly placed but come in with 3.5 mm which is not a standard in trail shoes. After some sketchy situations, the design and traction really grew on me. To me it is a great mix of traction and control. The lugs are places in proper distance and that means that snow, dirt, or whatever sticky stuff you encounter, will not get stuck. I try to break in shoes on the treadmill. Until now, this tradition has never been used with trail shoes. It was different with the Flight Vectiv. It certainly is a versatile sole.
A detailed look at the outsole construction that protects the 6 mm toe-to-heel offset. This shoe facilitated 14 North Face sponsored athletes to set FKTs wearing different Vectiv prototypes during a nearly race free 2020.
To me, the Flight Vectiv delivers a high level of comfort and proper cushioning that still allows to feel the ground but not the pounding. Combined with the securely sensation of the sock-fit paired with a minor, cushioned padding at the upper heel region, this shoe ensures thoroughgoing comfort and support.
Throughout the punitive dark and slushy time of the year and now, when all the lovely white stuff is about to dissolve, this shoe has really gotten to me. It’s fun to run due to the pleasant and well thought cushion, the ground feeling is excellent and joint with a well-planned outsole, it generates a certain security during the cold season. I ran the shoe a lot on icy and wintry streets but also took it around the local, technical, trail system. I get to treasure a well thought out shoe that I never saw coming from The North Face. Having run plenty of carbon-based road running shoes, I really valued this innovative tactic and the way it was shifted into a running shoe aimed to hit he paths. It can be discussed if it makes sense to issue a trail shoe that has a white upper, but at the end I felt it was enjoyable that the daily run was able to produce the color line. A very philosophical slant to this debate, I know. Its some sort of a minimalistic approach, even from the design. Typically trail shoes do look a bit unlike. The Flight Vectiv seems more like a road shoe. Yet, I have the feeling the shoe will continue in my daily rotation for a bit longer.

Tune of the day: Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – It’s Not a Game (Instrumental Version)

Read of the day: Cathal Dennehy: Welcome to the age of the super shoes

shoeporn: New Balance – 1500 V2 (Team NB Elite edition)

224 grams of running flat beauty – with the second revise of the firstly in 2015 launched 1500 series; prominent Boston based footwear makers New Balance provides an terrific and elegant shoe for wholesome and loose running.
The first issue of the 1500 series received raving reviews. Still New Balance included the athlete response and shaped a shoe that could be described as a perfect distance racing shoe. The 1500 in its second version comes up with light pronation stability as well as just about the right amount of cushioning that a running shoe of this style requires.
The special “Team NB Elite edition” looks extravagant with its “Bright Cherry” colour scheme. Pretty difficult to oversee. Naturally style is matter of personal favour. Personally I like the look of the new 1500 v2. That is how a racing flat should look like.
Sebastian Kienle, 2014 Ironman World Champ, wore the first version of the 1500 when he won the iconic event on Hawaii’s big island. Subsequently he was instrumental in the development of this shoe. Till now this is his racing shoe when it comes to Ironman distance racing.
Getting low – the general drop comes in at 6mm. Other hard facts are a 22mm heel height and 16mm on the forefoot. Proper racing style!
However the crash pad of the outsole still remains the same as seen in the first version, the design got altered a bit by the New Balance designers. Whilst they used tiny rubber cruxes in the previous model there are now some sort of triangular formed lugs. I took the shoe through its paces while running on the roads, gravel and on the track. I like the grip, no changes when it comes to ground control and general feel.
An inside look – The 1500 V2 bids added padding in the middle of the sole to care for runners with pronation troubles. While the shoe is light and meant for racing this could be a bonus for runners that are generally struggling with lightweight racing flats. Still the support is light that the extra “T-Beam” technology offers. The lightweight TPU shaft is built to provide torsional stability arch support through a middle beam design.
 “REVlite” is the title of the foam mixture that is used as the base of the shoe. The lightweight composition bids excellent and springy underfoot cushioning which I really valued.
Besides a tacky design the greatly centred heel-to-toe cavity supports the runner to achieve a straightforward and precise ride as the shoe is stabilised.
More specifics of the firm outsole and the certain lug-designs.
A key factor for the steadfast and supportive ride that this shoe offers is the “REVlite” sole.
Front end – New Balance reorganised the start of the lacing and built-in a petite holder in the centre of the bottom end of the shoe.
Pretty much like his predecessor the V2 comes in with a snug and well-made no-sew layers finish that is called “FantomFit”. A lot of racing flats are designed very narrow in the toe box area. Not so with this one. NB gives the forefoot plenty of space.
The foremost revise to the first version of the 1500 – a sock-like tongue support that keeps everything in check and creates a very comfy and precise feeling while striding.

With the revise of the 1500 NB raised the bar when it comes to running flats. Whilst the latest model supports a direct stride it still has some decent and well located cushioning. Something that hasn’t been seen within such a style of shoes. I really became a fan of this one. Still I don’t know why the up-to-the-minute model is a little bit heavier then the first version?

Tune of the day: Aidan Baker and Tomas Järmyr – Werl I

shoeporn: Mizuno – Wave Catalyst

It is difficult to pick a running-shoe category for this one. With the latest Wave Catalyst, Mizuno just announced a successor for their Wave Elixir Modell. This shoe fulfils the lightweight and up-tempo chunk of their range. Pretty rare for a shoe of that category it features a moderate support for over-pronation. Looking back at the first-born Elixir model, the Mizuno engineers condensed the offset by 2mm. Mizuno used the grown space to renovate the padding, which provides this shoe a great cushioned sensation deprived of loosing a blameless contact to the ground, since very little energy is lost in compression and rebound.
Mizuno shaped a shoe that feels home among athletes gazing for a speedier trainer or tempo run shoe. Without a doubt there is speed in this shoe, but for a model like this it bids further stability, support and construction that a lot of comparable models miss.
The centre of attention is the Mizuno typical wave midsole (A Wave Plate constructed from pebax Rnew). It offers a great fitting and cushion through the heel and midfoot.
The Wave Catalyst is somewhat of a multipurpose, everyday training partner. There are not many shoes around that are that stable and likewise reckless. Mizuno offers great responsiveness with sufficient cushioning.
Pretty trendy – The Wave Catalyst in the “Palace Blue / Safety Yellow” colour theme. Mizuno understands to design characteristic shoes with a unique style.
Heavy-duty – I was astonished by the characteristic of the sole. Knowing the wear and tear sectors of my shoes following some miles of running, this one did not demonstrate too much shred. Mizuno promotes its extraordinary blown rubber to be super robust. Well, it looks like they are spot-on.
Besides the overall performance there are a lot of polite and petite features that make a shoe singular. Mizuno pleasantly incorporated their well-known runbird symbol in the sole.
The well-made compress of the upper material paired with stress-free adjustability of the laces creates a well fitting shoe. There is also plenty of room in the forefoot section without the impact on feet movement. With its 260 grams the shoe has a lot to offer for that weight division.
Robustness – A forceful carbon rubber is the highlight in the back part of the sole. Mizuno calls this rubber part “X10”. It supports the heel-striking runner. As a forefoot and middle foot striker I cannot access that piece. However I value the duration of the sole. Tough material is the backbones to the well-lit and bouncy cushion.
Key component –  The flexible midsole shield provides an well-organized arrangement between the heel the middle part of the foot. It adds a secure sensation to every stride. Well needed with such a low-to-the-ground purpose. Running relaxed and gentle the shoe transports a clammy touch. But this is gone once you get yourself into a more lively and speedier state. The Wave Catalyst starts to deliver a dynamic and steadfast sensitivity with an capable structure that keep the motion in check.

All pictures (c) runssel

Other Mizuno reviews:

Mizuno – Wave Kazan 2
Mizuno – Wave Rider 19
Sneak Peak

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