The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Trail Shoe | Review - Outdoors Magic

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The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Trail Shoe | Review

Featuring The North Face’s impressive new carbon plated midsole… and more

Why We Chose It: Long-distance comfort, innovative design, good breathability

At a glance The North Face’s Exploris might just look like, well, a fairly normal pair of walking shoes with a snazzy design. Dig down into the tech that’s gone into them, however, and you’ll realise that there’s a lot of impressive innovation on show here.

First up, there’s the Futurelight waterproof membrane, then there’s the Vectiv carbon plate. These are both big innovations that have really been turning heads within the outdoor world. We’ve tested them both in a number of different products from The North Face over the last couple of years and we can confirm that they’re very impressive.

Photos: Chris Johnson

What’s particularly impressed us about the Futurelight membrane is its breathability. It’s made through a process of nano-spinning which, in short, is where thousands of tiny nozzles spray a liquid PU onto a sheet, creating a thin layer of millions of microscopic fibres with spaces between them that air can pass through but water can’t. The resulting fabric has a super high moisture vapour transmission rate and is more eco-friendly than other membrane fabrics (at least the ePFTE ones anyway).

“They are durable and have a brilliant grip.”

The Vectiv carbon plate, which was originally unveiled in The North Face’s Vectiv trail shoe collection, brings a number of benefits, the most notable one being increased energy return with each stride. Basically, it propels your feet forward, ultimately helping you to go for longer. On top of that it also provides a decent amount of protection from sharp roots and rocks.

Photos: Chris Johnson

This particular version of the Exploris comes with a smart suede upper with PU overlays for protection around the base of the upper and on the toe. Bear in mind that you can also get it in a synthetic version made using a ripstop cordura nylon.

The outsole has 4mm lugs with a large central cutout to increase traction and save weight. It’s not the most aggressive of soles but our testers found that it’ll do the job on all but the super slippery and muddy stuff. The compound offers a bit of grip on wet rock but, as you often find with most three-season hiking footwear, there are limitations there.

Sarah Baynham

South Wales-based outdoor photographer

“Initially I wasn’t so keen on the colour, as I prefer my shoes not to stand out, but this was forgiven as soon as I tried them on: perfect fit and instant comfort.

“They felt super durable and comfortable to walk in. I have quite weak arches and didn’t feel the need to add my insoles as the sole itself felt supportive enough. I could feel the carbon plate and rocker to the midsole doing the trick, especially when on a smooth track, I could easily get into a good walking rhythm and it did really feel like the shoes were propelling me on.

“So far they have stayed super waterproof. I got to test them on some pretty submerged paths (hard to tell if it was a path or steam!) and my feet stayed nice and dry.

“Lastly the grip. On our hike around North Wales, there was a steep descent that we had to make our way down. There was lots of loose slate on the track coming down and I felt that these shoes had plenty of grip on the difficult terrain and they didn’t slip once. I’ve also had the chance to try them out on some muddy steep banks and they performed well and have given me the grip and stability I need.

“I would highly recommend these shoes for hiking as they are durable and have a brilliant grip. I spend my day walking dogs for a living and have been wearing them nonstop as they are so comfortable for walking in all day long.”

The North Face

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