I am a 41-year-old runner, about 170 pounds and 6’ 1” tall. I race all distances, from 5ks to Marathons, and spend at least half of my year training for an upcoming marathon.
Hiking is something I don’t regularly do, so I was not sure what to expect from the shoes. However, on the detailed description of the shoe, the website claims that the shoe may be used for “scrambling up hillsides, running forest trails, or going for a long day hike.”
What I found out of the box was a somewhat comfortable shoe, though it was very stiff and bulky.
I ordered the size I normally order for running shoes.
Though the toe box is not excessively wide, for my foot it was wide enough. My toes had no problem splaying as needed.
The back of the heel is comfortable enough, but I noticed the mouth of the shoe is far too wide for my foot and no amount of cinching the shoe laces closed the gaps on either side of my heel.
This proved to be detrimental, especially in debris-rich trails!
Unfortunately, the One Trail does not provide as much arch support as I need in my shoes, though it is a touch better than the Ultra Endurance II.
I have been dealing with a minor plantar fascia tenderness during my testing of the Ultra Endurance II, and unfortunately, the One Trail did not help in its healing.
The upper is a mix of breathable, rigid mesh, and a hard rubber toe guard.
My first thought was that the shoe would let water in through the top, but not let it escape since the toes were wrapped around completely by rubber. The upper, inner lining of the shoe is very plush, almost unreasonably so.
The North Face got the midsole cushioning right with this shoe.
They boast of an XtraFoamTM rim and core, and it provides exceptional comfort on foot strike, especially noticeable on hard, rocky surfaces. This construction far surpasses the comfort provided in the Ultra Endurance II construction.
True to the website’s claimed usage, I used these shoes for 53 miles of “scrambling up hillsides, running forest trails,” and for a long hike.
I even encountered a little North Texas wildlife on one my trail workouts (copperhead snake).
While I was not as eager to get the shoes off my feet as soon as possible, I was thankful when it was time to stop.
The One Trail is heavy, stiff, and clunky. After a particular run, I made the specific notation that this shoe is not for you if you require warm, dry feet at all costs.
Apparently, I had dealt with freezing wet conditions. I also noted that this is not a good shoe if you require any kind of speed.
The traction this shoe’s outsole provides makes it useful for nearly every kind of terrain. However, the potential terrains begin to be eliminated as you move from the bottom of the shoe to the top:
- As you move upward from the bottom, you have to deal with the shoe’s extreme stiffness. This makes the shoe inefficient in terrains where flexibility is required. No nimbleness of foot here.
- Next, the shoe is not waterproof. Not only is it not waterproof, it allows water to enter, but does not allow it to easily escape. If you encounter water, you will have wet feet for the rest of the journey.
- Lastly, at the top of the shoe is a very wide mouth which refuses to cinch closely to my ankle, no matter how tight the laces may be. In terrains with loose sand, or small rocks, twigs, or leaves, I collected all sorts of debris inside my shoes. If you use these shoes, I suggest wearing long pants to cover the opening at the top or a set of gaiters.
Here is a list of terrains for which the One Trail is ideal, from the best to the worst:
With 53 miles on the shoes, I notice very little wear and tear.
My prediction is that my patience with these shoes would wear out before their usefulness would. That said, 500 to 750 miles would be an accurate predicted lifespan of the One Trail.
- Plush inner liner.
- Comfortable midsole cushioning.
- Great traction.
- Wide mouth lets debris into the shoes.
- Too stiff.
- Lets water in, but not out.
- Too heavy.
- Not enough arch support.
- Feel like boots.
This is not my favorite shoe. It is not very comfortable and is not ideally suited for every terrain.
At the end of the day, however, the major reason I will not wear this shoe on trails again is simply that I do not want to deal with debris getting into my shoes. That alone makes it almost useless for me.
The One Trail will receive a little higher score than I gave the Ultra Endurance II mostly because at least The North Face categorizes it correctly, putting it with the “hiking” shoes.
Check out my video review here.
I admit that when I found out that I was going to be testing The North Face shoes I had serious doubts that the shoes would be worth the time that I like to put into testing. I am an avid hiker and have spent many nights under the stars and thus put a ton of abuse into my hiking/camping gear.
Twenty years ago, The Northface equipment was worth the price and held up well. Then things changed in my experience with their hiking gear.
The prices went up and the quality started to fail with every bit of Northface equipment that I had. The only reason that I saw to have any of their equipment was to fit in with the yuppy crowd.
I have to eat my words on Northface running shoes because the two pairs that I received performed well beyond my expectations and better than almost every other shoe that I have worn in the past 2-3 years.
When the shoes arrived, I opened the box to look at a shoe that was mostly black and wasn’t too impressed with them. My initial thought was that these shoes would be great if I had to use them as work shoes in the food industry.
While there was nothing to write about with their looks, I was immediately impressed with the fit.
I am a very picky person when it comes to shoe fit and it was as if I were Cinderella and the slipper had been placed on my foot. No kidding the shoe felt like it had been made for me.
This spring has been unseasonably warm which has allowed for more road running and muddy snowmelt trails.
Because the roads have been easier to get to and safer to run on, it took me a little longer to get enough miles on the shoe to feel that I could give a good evaluation of the shoe. Finally, I have been able to log a touch over 100 miles of trail runs in the shoe.
This grips as well as any other on the trail without lifting rocks out of the ground (which I have had happen in other shoes). Through the mud, this shoe handles with confidence, only slipping once the traction is fully packed with mud.
Also, in the center of the midsole is a what they refer to as “Xtrafoam” which allows for the shoe to flex horizontally. I found that this was a nice feature when running on the rocks, it allows for the metatarsals to move better with the shoe.
The shoe has a wonderful toe guard that has saved me a few toenails since I have a tendency to kick every rock on the trail, especially once I get tired.
The shoes have holes in the tongue and all throughout the upper.
This allows for lots of air to move through the shoe keeping your feet cool. The holes also allow for water to escape from the shoe quickly and then the airflow will help to dry out the shoe.
I did put in some road miles during a speed workout and this shoe is not fast doesn’t feel light and wasn’t designed to do so either.
The only issue that I had with functionality was with the shoelaces. The sling fit, at the top lace, allows for too much movement that over time allows the laces to pull loose.
The shoes show little to no wear after 100 miles of trail running.
The soles have what I would consider little to the average amount of wear considering the terrain. I expect these shoes to give me 500 miles of trails without issue.
- Great fitting
- Breathable trail shoe
- Laces have a tendency to loosen up
Buy these shoes if you want a trail shoe with good grip, breathes well and has plenty of toe protection.
Avoid these shoes if you rarely run on trails or need a fast feeling shoe.
In the nice printed brown box, I found a pair of shoes with a super interesting design, a well-done pair. Despite the neutral mix of gray/brown color, they look superb.
The shoe name promises to be a dynamic shoe capable of taking trail running and hiking. That is what the shoes from the guys of North Face offer.
Before we continue with this review, let me show you the numbers that have become a standard on the new generation in the shoe industry.
- Upper TecTuff® toeguard and mudguard for durable protection
- Sling Fit™ lace system secures feet in the proper position (they can’t stay in place)
- Breathable mesh upper (nice and cool upper by the way)
- OrthoLite® footbed for long-lasting comfort
- Forefoot inner-sock construction and gusset for a secure fit and comfort
- Sole: Midsole constructed with an XtraFoam™ rim and core for superior comfort
- TPU CRADLE™ heel-stability technology
- UltrATAC™ rubber outsole with toe wrap for ultimate traction and forefoot protection
The drop of the shoe as a first impression looks like a high drop shoe. But once you get into them, you will notice something different and turns out I was wrong. They may seem like a high drop shoe, but they are the normal 4-5mm.
The actual drop is like almost all the trail shoes between 5-6mm, which is good. The drop feels much lower than other North Face shoes or brands.
Let's take a run
Wow, when I started to walk on these shoes, they felt like an easy going puppy. The outsole shape seems to me as a fast shape design ideal for gravel or some solid ground. I like the shape of the outsole a lot - the orange “Xtrafoam” line crossing in the middle of the shoes shaping a stretched S and the tread moving forward can give you an idea of a fast trail shoe!
When I started to run with them rather than walking on a sidewalk or hiking, I thought they are fast. You cannot feel that mood of slowness on your legs while you run on the asphalt or gravel. The only black spot for me is they have loose laces that in every 2 or 3 km's I have to stop to relace them.
No matter how hard I tighten them, they lose the grip again. Even on simple walks, the laces are not keeping in place. I'm not sure if it's the material or the shape, but if I compare the laces from the North Face Ultra Endurance II, those are very different, and they stay in place no matter what.
The upper is very flexible (very comfortable), with a very well protected front with a brown rubber lip connecting to the outsole. If you hit a root or rock your toes, it will be protected with this shoe. It's a sign that this design works!
Marked with 334 grams, it's always an issue with any trail shoes. There is no light thing on trail shoes, nor in hiking shoes. With that concept in mind, I care more about the comfort and cushion rather than their weight.
This may not be the lightest, but they are a comfortable pair. I ran/hiked a very rocky trail route one day (8 hours) with no hot spots, no blisters, no pressure on my feet.
It has a nice shape designed for a fast run on a gravel road or any hard surfaces. This pair shine like crazy!
But due to the flexible upper, when you twist a tight turn, your foot goes out of place. They can't hold your foot in this kind of situation. For me, this is critical to keep it on track to avoid injuries.
They are oriented for easy trail run or hiking for a long period. I am not sure what they thought when they design the One Trail shoe, but if the idea was to cover hiking with a short trail run at the same time, then they reached their goal.
- Superb grip outsole
- Excellent toe protection
- Very light upper
- Nice for long hiking rides
- A lot of room for toes
- Limited colorways
- Laces too lose they never stay in place
- Not a racing shoe
I'm not going to lie to you guys, when I first got The North Face One Trail, I was completely skeptical. I mean, they weighed more than 12 ounces!
I'm glad to say my skepticism has completely vanished! They are made to take heavy beatings to the trails, avoid slipping in the mud and staying comfortable for many miles.
A problem for online shoppers is that there are no other specifications like heel-to-toe drop or anything else besides the weight, so you don't exactly know what your buying into.
The North Face's TecTuff® toe guard and mudguard are waterproof for increased comfortability for running on wet terrain.
Even though it's a toe guard and most toe guards are really stiff, this one is actually decently flexible which is unusual. The toe guard is also very easy to clean. One swipe with a wet paper towel and it looks good as new.
What isn't waterproof is the mesh. Water seeps through very quickly. It is, however, very breathable in return which is very helpful since most of the shoe is very thick. This is where most of the flexibility comes into play.
I would recommend wearing some socks because the inside is kind of rough especially near the heel but as long as you wear socks, you shouldn't feel anything out of the ordinary. The entire upper is tough. From all the things I ran through, I see almost zero signs of fatigue. It's perfect for trying to get the most life out of your shoes.
The One Trail come with 2 pairs of laces which are great except both aren't good at staying tied, which is kind of the entire point of laces.
It is very annoying to stop every run because your laces untie. You would either need to double tie them or completely change the laces.
When you first run with these, they feel extremely tight. The heel was rubbing a lot even with thick socks. I thought it could have been a sizing error. It was a mess but when I broke them in after about 5 miles, they started to form to my feet.
The heel rubbing stopped and running in them became much more comfortable. In fact, extremely comfortable. My foot locked in place. It is probably as stable as you can get!
The midsole's shock absorbers on the bottom perimeter are firm for stability to help take some stress off your legs to reduce injuries, and overall just make you run faster. Right on top of that is the softer cushioning for comfort.
The sock-liner has The North Face's name on it but is actually made by OrthoLite. Ortholite is a company based around sock-liners. Literally, all they make are sock-liners so you know they're good.
It has a high arch by the midfoot and a small arch by the toes. I feel that the OrthoLites definitely does improve tenfold the overall comfort of the shoe.
The tongue was secure so it doesn't rub at all.
Also, what I realized is that they are pretty great for running on roads too. I have run a lot of 5Ks and even a few 10Ks on the roads and they feel fine besides them being a little heavier than the road shoes I'm used to running in.
The comfortability is the main feature of the shoe and probably one of the two sole reasons to buy them.
The One Trail is meant to last!
I have seen almost no wear and tear. It looks like they got discolored a little, almost like they have been in the sun too long but that's it.
The support has stayed perfectly intact, the midsole hasn't faded at all, and the outsole has minimal wear and tear. The outsole would be the part that starts to fade out first which is pretty typical for most trail shoes.
North Face has a 1-year guarantee so if the shoe has defects, they will give you another pair for free, excluding normal wear and tear. I think the durability is way above average than most trail shoes which is perfect for the price. This is the second sole reason to buy them.
Looks & Design
The looks are kind of bland and boring. They come in a few colors like black, gray, and dark green but none of them really stand out. The look isn't the most important part of the shoes though. In fact, it is probably the least important part.
Nothing stood out to me about its performance. The One Trail is not meant for racing nor speed.
They will build up your speed for long distances though. Coming in at 12 ounces, if you continue to run in shoes heavier than what you used to, you will get stronger and faster. It does take a little getting used to but it does help you in the long run.
I would say the responsiveness is pretty average for trail shoes. They aren't the fastest but are more of a comfort shoe. They are made more for longer distances. I would say 5k to 10k.
The traction is good through mud, sand, and gravel but that is typical for trail shoes. Nothing out of the ordinary. It does its job. The thickness of the shoe will affect the breathability. For winter running it is fine but for summer running your feet will be dying.
Most of the weight is in the front half of the shoe which affects your foot strike. It makes the heel lift easier but the kickoff slightly harder. A hard kickoff is going to help develop muscle strength and endurance in the hamstrings.
If you need a lot of support in your shoes or if you run trails a lot and you want an affordable shoe that's going to last you a long time, the One Trail is meant for you.
- Very comfortable
- 1 Year warranty
- Waterproof toe guard
- Flexible but sturdy
- Very durable
- Great ability to switch terrain
- Comes with 2 pairs of laces
- Not very breathable
- Not speedy
- Laces untie frequently
- Really bad feeling before you break them in
- Specifications are not online
- Colors are boring
- I would recommend the One Trail to runners training for 5-10Ks
- They are perfect for long runs and long distance intervals
The North Face One Trail is a comfortable & affordable trainer that will last for a lifetime. They are tough to break in but once you do they feel great.
That being said, The North Face has a lot of improvements they need to make to their shoes. They are relatively new at the running shoe game so improvements should be on the top of their list to becoming top running shoe dealer.
I would recommend fixing the laces first, then trying to make the shoes lighter. Once they do that, I think The North Face can have their name up as one of the top running shoe companies.
I really can't wait until the One Trail II comes out to see what improvements they made 'cause these had many great elements to make a great shoe but they can still DEFINITELY still improve.
Updates to The North Face One Trail
- The North Face Men's One Trail is the all-around running shoe that runners need in hitting the ground. The shoe features a breathable mesh upper. This component of the shoe encourages proper ventilation in the foot chamber.
- It uses the Dual-density XtraFoam midsole. The goal of which is to deliver exceptional underfoot comfort.
- Integrated into the footwear is the UltrATAC rubber outsole. This material focuses on providing the right amount of traction needed on a wide variety of surfaces.
Size and fit
The North Face One Trail is a durable trail running shoe that is crafted for those who need additional support. When it comes to size, the standard measurements are followed. Its breathable mesh upper is sure to keep the foot comfortable for long hours of walking, hiking, running, biking activities. The available widths are D - Medium for the men's version and B - Medium for the women's version.
The UltrATAC rubber outsole is integrated into The North Face One Trail. This component of the footwear aims to provide excellent grip on a wide range of surfaces. This traction is important in tackling the trails effectively and efficiently.
Underfoot comfort is offered by the Dual-density XtraFoam midsole. This material is focused on providing the runner with a more comfortable and hassle-free ride.
The midsole is created with the CRADLE technology. The purpose of which is to encourage a correct stride. It also aims to absorb impact in a natural way. This technology is a stability system that is strategically-designed to support the heel area. This is essential in keeping the foot in place.
With the goal of providing underfoot stability and comfort, the Ortholite footbed is added as a feature of the shoe. This is significant in experiencing a smoother and softer feel underneath the foot.
The breathable mesh upper is integrated into The North Face One Trail. This component of the shoe provides proper ventilation throughout the running session. This material is significant in keeping the interior environment cool, fresh and dry.
Added comfort and a secure fit are offered by the Gusset tongue. This tongue unit is responsible for preventing dirt, rocks and other hazardous materials from entering the platform.
To keep the foot secure, the Sling Fit lace system is utilized. This technology ensures that possible shoe removal during the run is prevented. As a result, a snugger fit is experienced by the user.
Additional protection is encouraged by the TecTuff toe guard and mudguard. This material will make the runner feel confident to tackle the trails without worrying about any possible injury in the toes.
With the utilization of the breathable textile lining, a healthier and fresher foot environment is offered.