The North Face Activist FutureLight | Review - Outdoors Magic

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The North Face Activist FutureLight | Review

FutureLight technology takes its first steps into the world of footwear

Why We Chose The North Face Activist Futurelight: Game-changing tech enters the world of footwear

When The North Face’s FutureLight technology first rocked up on the outdoors scene, it caused one hell of a commotion. Thanks to a process of nanospinning, the jackets that the tech was implemented in managed to be both waterproof and incredibly breathable. This meant, in theory, wearers could take part in strenuous activities in varying conditions without ever having to worry about constantly layering and delayering.

Needless to say, we’ve been extremely interested to see how the technology would translate into the world of hiking footwear and so, without further ado, here it is – The North Face Activist FutureLight Mid.

Who Is The North Face Activist Futurelight For?

With this kind of styling, it should go without saying that The North Face Activist FutureLight Mid is a boot for people who like to split their time between hitting country trails and pounding city pavements. If you’re one of these people who love getting active in both urban and classically outdoor environments, and you love doing this even when it’s absolutely pouring it down, you’ll like what this product brings to the table. It’s got the potential to be your wardrobe’s definitive all-rounder boot and that is just one of the many reasons it’s been included in the Outdoor 100.

FutureLight tech has moved into the world of outdoor footwear. Photo: Mike Brindley


No prizes for guessing, especially after the noise we’ve already made about it here, that The North Face Activist FutureLight Mid utilises FutureLight. Getting more specific than that, the boot features a FutureLight membrane designed to keep your feet perfectly dry without overheating them (something which can happen with most out-and-out waterproof shoes). 

The Activist FutureLight has a Performance Mesh Upper with TPU Overlays, and a Single-Density EVA Midsole. As hiking boots go, these are lightweight while still being tough enough to handle the rough stuff. . 

The EXTS soles are designed to provide sure-footed grip on all types of terrain. Photo: Mike Brindley


They might be light and fairly modest in thickness, but you’ll be thankful for the protective toe caps when hiking on rocky paths in low light, and when you’re charging down the hill to quench your thirst with a pint of freshly poured ale.

In terms of all-day comfort, the boot’s gusseted tongue and OrthoLite insole has got you covered. This comfort is, of course, enhanced further by the breathability of the FutureLight membrane which’ll stop your feet from feeling stuffy even on the hot ones. There’s also a nice amount of cushioning in the midsole thanks to its thick EVA foam. 

Finally, while this boot’s aesthetic might give the impression that it’s more about urban usage than getting out amongst it in nature; features like the 4mm lugged outsole mean you’re sure to have a decent grip on both slippery wet and gravelly dry terrain.

The Activist has a gusseted tongue and integrated ghillie lacing system. Photo: Mike Brindley
There's a protective toe cap here to shield your feet. Photo: Mike Brindley
The Activist has an OrthoLite Hybrid footbed. Photo: Mike Brindley

Waterproof and Breathable?

Naturally, it feels like a big claim when brands shout about how waterproof and breathable their product is. After all, how waterproof can something be if there’s holes in it that allow air to pass through. Ever since FutureLight first appeared at the ISPO trade show in 2019, there’s been much discussion about just how effective such a technology can realistically be in the long term.

Seeing the technology implemented in footwear is a fascinating development. The Activist FutureLight claims to have an advanced level of waterproofing, while also being breathable enough to regulate temperature and keep you comfortable.

If it works anywhere near as well as the hype would have you believe, it’s potentially an absolute game changer in the world of hiking boots.


After some nightmare experiences with extremely waterproof footwear in the past (the product, which we won’t name here, kept our feet dry but the stuffy-feeling price we had to pay was borderline unbearable after a day of rain-filled summer hiking in Iceland), we were naturally very excited when we heard about FutureLight’s entry into the footwear game.

The North Face have undoubtedly thrown their weight into this, and if early impressions are anything to go by they’re onto a genuine winner with the Activist FutureLight Mid. It looks incredibly cool, and comes packed with some properly versatile waterproof technology.

Tester’s Verdict

Jack Clayton, editor of our sister title, Mpora

“I took the Activist FutureLight for a number of socially-distanced walks during lockdown. With long drives to National Parks not really on the menu, I decided to put my responsible citizen hat on and keep it local.

“Hitting up a number of hilly park areas around south east London, on some very warm days, I was genuinely impressed by how comfortable my feet felt while wearing them. Even after a number of hours strolling about, I never felt that urge I’ve felt with some other waterproof shoes to take them off and get some air between my toes.

“Since lockdown has eased I’ve taken these further afield and have continued to be impressed by that breathable waterproofness. The grip is decent but not massively aggressive. It’s fine for trails but on any really gnarly terrain you’re going to want something with a bit more bite.

“Durability-wise, they’ve lasted well through my testing but I’d be interested to see how these fare after a year of use. I’ll have to come back here and update my verdict when I’ve put a few more miles in them.”

The North Face Activist FutureLight

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