Facts

  • Terrain
    Terrain

    Road

    Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.

    Trail

    Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

    Good to know

    As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

  • Arch support
    Arch support

    Neutral / cushion / high arch

    Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with normal, high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

    Stability / overpronation / normal arch

    Shoes for runners who need mild to moderate arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a low arch. See the best stability shoes.

    Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet

    Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

    Good to know

    - Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
    - More about arch support in this video.
    - Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

  • Use
    Use

    Daily running

    Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.

    Competition

    Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

    Good to know

    If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

  • Price
    Price
    $110
  • Weight
    Weight
    Men: 9.9oz
    Women: 8.2oz
  • Heel to toe drop
    Heel to toe drop
    Men: 6mm
    Women: 6mm

    The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.

    There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.

  • Heel height
    Heel height
    Men: 30mm
    Women: 30mm
  • Forefoot height
    Forefoot height
    Men: 24mm
    Women: 24mm
  • Width
    Width
    Men: normal
    Women: normal
  • Release date
    Release date
    Unknown
Show more facts

Summary

We spent 8.2 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

4 reasons to buy

  • A good number of buyers commented that the shoe fitted well on them.
  • According to some runners, the North Face Ultra Cardiac II was comfortable.
  • A handful of customers noted that the shoe was stylish.
  • Several wearers were impressed with the North Face Ultra Cardiac II's stretchable and smooth laces.

2 reasons not to buy

  • One of the testers said that his foot kept sliding when going downhill.
  • It was not durable, based on some reviews.

Bottom line

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II was admired enough by a significant number of purchasers who have tried it. A lot of them appreciated the comfort and style the shoe provided. Aside from its fantastic design, runners gave recognition to the shoe's excellent structure and construction. Although some of the runners have problems with its durability, others still recommend the shoe because of its performance. Overall, the North Face Ultra Cardiac II has made a lot of runners satisfied and happy because of its perfect fit and comfort.

Rankings

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

Are you an expert? Apply to contribute here.

81 / 100 based on 5 expert reviews

  • 80 / 100 | Andrew Dillow

    The North Face Ultra Cardiac II: Heart Attack or Love?

    Buy The North Face Ultra Cardiac II if: You miss the cushion and comfort that were in running shoes throughout the 90’s. Also, if you want a good all-around shoe that performs on the road as well as the trail.

    Avoid The North Face Ultra Cardiac II  if: If you are looking for a fast road shoe that allows for fast foot turnover and stability in quick turning.

     

    Specs

    • Weight - 311g / 11.2oz (US men’s 9)
    • Category -  neutral
    • Drop - 6mm
    • Fit - true to size
    • Upper - mesh upper with TPU overlays
    • Midsole - single-density, compressed EVA foam
    • Outsole - Vibram® Megagrip (a non-lugged version of Megagrip yet semi-sticky and durable)

    Initial Impression

    The model that I received to review were green and gray with the more modern knit look to them. The midsole offers a good depth of EVA foam that promises many well-cushioned miles to come.

    The outsole while missing big knobby lugs that most trail shoes have, I was pleased to see siping. (Please view some of my previous reviews where I’m begging for siping in the outsole).

    I’m pleased overall with the look of the shoe as it reminds me of some of the shoes I wore 20+ years ago. I know that you might be thinking why should you give these a shot if they are old technology but bear with the review as I walk through the finer points.

    Upon putting the shoes on, I thought the shoe was a bit heavy for road running but lighter than many trail shoes. I took them immediately out for a run on some wet asphalt for a quick 9 miles.

    The shoes were like an old friend. They're very comfortable like we had known each other from years back.  The traction was amazing on asphalt and provides confidence that I wouldn’t have to worry about falling.

     

    Functionality

    • These shoes offer a consistent ride with a single density piece of EVA foam used for the midsole. The Ultra Cardiac II has a predictable and consistent ride. I did worry the midsole will flatten out prematurely as most pure EVA foam midsoles do but after 123 miles, the midsoles are holding up very well.

     

     

    • The Ultra Cardiac II has a fit that is more forgiving. The heel hold is solid offering confidence in all conditions. The North Face included their own unique lacing system and I found the fit to be spot on as well.
    • The lacing system uses stretchy type laces that I thought wouldn’t hold my foot and that they would slip. Fortunately, I have yet to have an issue with them and they seem to allow my feet to swell and not cut the circulation off on long runs.
    • While the shoe has little to offer in control, I felt that these shoes gave me every bit of support that I needed. If you are a heavy pronator or supinator you may not want to try this shoe.

    What could have been better

    • If this shoe is going to be a trail shoe, a better toe guard would be appreciated. This shoe offers very little to no toe protection.

     

     

    • The amount of midsole should come down to allow for more control in quick turns and a faster feel.
    • Cut some weight, the uppers are thick and while comfortable they provide more than enough for a running shoe.

    Pro

    • An overall great shoe that performs well on the road and on the trail.

    Con

    • You have to explain to your running buddies that you’re not a yuppie but The North Face running shoes actually perform. If you are running in thick sticky mud, these shoes will slip through it without any bite to anchor you down.

    Should you buy this shoe?

    If you are looking for a road to trail shoe and miss shoes from days before the whole barefoot running came along these shoes will fit the bill.

    Conclusion

    My initial thoughts when I found out that I was going to be testing The North Face shoes weren’t positive.  I could only picture the city folks who come to my hometown to site see and hike with their pretty nonfunctional gear. My friends, I have been proven wrong and I’m glad to take back these thoughts. The North Face is making great shoes and while there is still some room for improvement, I am happy to be riding some of their shoes right now.

    The North Face Ultra Cardiac II put a smile on my face and provided this old body with the cushioning that it needs. I wish it was a little faster and not as heavy but in the end, it performs.

    See my other review of the North Face One Trail here.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

    Andrew Dillow

    Level 3 expert (6-14 reviews)

    I’m an avid runner, continually training for marathons and ultra-marathons, typically covering 50-140 miles per week. I ran my first 10K at 6 years old, ran NCAA Division I in college, and later ran for a shoe store. I now run for the fun of it but I still try to push myself to average 6 min/miles through marathons.

    10 reviews - average score 69/100

  • 70 / 100 | Kory Mueller

    The North Face Ultra Cardiac II. Much promise...but in the end...falls flat

    lightweight trail runner with the versatility to handle both road and trail surfaces.

    In many ways, The North Face nailed it with a shoe that performs well on many surfaces and distances. However, The North Face has missed the target.

    As you continue to read, you will come across 3 sections: Why?, Why Not?, and Conclusion. My review will focus on the reasons the shoe could work for you (Why?), what may not work for you (Why Not?), and some final thoughts (Conclusion).

     

    Why?

    1. The Upper

    I love almost everything about this upper. (except for the colors). The North Face has constructed a durable, breathable, and comfortable upper. Accomplishing all 3 of those at the same time is quite a feat.

    Upper durability

    I have put 75 miles on this shoes over the past couple of months and I cannot find a stitch out of place. No rips, no snags, no overstretched fabric.

    The series of crisscrossing overlays provide strength without sacrificing breathability or comfort. Also, the toebox overlay seems to provide plenty in the way of protection and durability.

     

    Upper Breathability

    I never felt as if the shoes were too hot or got uncomfortably sweaty feet with this shoe.

    It is not the airiest upper, as seen in some road shoes or racing flats but it is breathable, unlike many other trail shoes, for example, the popular Brooks Cascadia.

    Upper Comfort

    My feet never felt restricted or lost in the upper, it just worked.

    The padded ankle collar was an added bonus. At first glance, I was skeptical, but as the miles ticked it became one of my favorite features.

     

    2. Outsole

    This was the most pleasant surprise of the Ultra Cardiac II. At first glance, the outsole which lacks aggressive lugs appears capable of handling no more than a dirt road.

    Whoa, was I wrong! This sole griped almost every surface. Dry rocks, check. Dirty, check. Wet pavement, check. Wet rocks and roots, check again.

    The only surface it proved subpar was thick muddy sections of trail. In these sections, it lacked grip, and the mud tended to stick to the sole for a  mile or two.

     

    3. The Fit

    The North Face has built a shoe that is true to size. I am a true 11.5 and this shoe fit as if it was custom sized.

    The midfoot and toe box both have medium volume. In addition, my heel was locked down with the padded ankle collar.

    Why Not?

    1. Performance

    The performance of the Ultra Cardiac II is a huge disappointment. Especially after, taking into account a great fit, a solid upper, and a grippy outsole. There is no other word to describe it than BAD.

    At a slower pace, the shoe feels difficult to turnover as if it was a highly cushioned trainer, however, the cushioning just isn't there for me. At quicker a tempo there is no snap or responsiveness.

    Running in these shoes feels like someone took a great upper and glued some cardboard to the bottom. The EVA foam just feels dead.

     

    2. Weight

    The North Face as marketed this shoe as a lightweight trail shoe.

    However the shoe doesn't feel lightweight, it does ride like many lightweight trail shoes. And at 367g or 12.9oz there is room to shave some weight to make this truly a lightweight trail runner.

     

    3. Colorway

    The grey and olive green combination just don't do it for me.

    They have too much of a hiking boot look for my taste. However, there is a red and grey option that looks much more like a traditional running shoe.

    4. Laces

    To be frank, the laces stayed tied and were functional. I am just not a fan of round laces.

    The laces have a microfiber soft feel. I could see durability issues in the future as this fabric wears.

     

    Conclusion

    The North Face Ultra Cardiac II has really frustrated me. I really wanted to love it.

    The fit is great. The upper was on point. The outsole outperformed expectations. However, the performance and ride were so bad, I had to force myself to put some miles on these to give them a fair review.

    The North Face has a great start here. With some changes to midsole foam and maybe the addition of a plastic shank to provide a snappy response, a 3rd version of the Ultra Cardiac could be a winner. It's just not quite up to par at this point.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

    Kory Mueller

    Level 3 expert (6-14 reviews)

    Two of my passions in life are teaching and living an active lifestyle. As a middle school science teacher and cross country coach, I express both passions on a daily basis. I'm passionate about being active and the outdoors, which usually involves running both on the road or hitting the trails. In fact, over the past several years I have participated in 5k road races, as well as trail and road marathons.

    10 reviews - average score 85/100

  • 85 / 100 | Aaron Dye

    I can see this--due to the Vibram outsole--lasting a long time.

    Aaron Dye

    Level 2 expert (3-5 reviews)

  • 87 / 100 | Ultrarunner Podcast

    Overall, the Cardiac II is a good value door-to-trail option for folks who don’t need a lot of protection and like a consistent ride.

  • 89 / 100 | Elevation Outdoors

    There’s truly something about starting your morning or ending your day with fresh air and time alone with your thoughts. But as a habitual knee abuser, I spent most of the summer in search of a pair of running shoes that fit my specific needs, i.e.: provides a ton of support and stability, and performs equally as awesome on the dirt and pavement portions of the trails that I’m lucky enough to have right outside of my front door.

    Tyra Sutak

    Level 1 expert (1-2 reviews)

    1 review - average score 89/100

  • First look / Unboxing | Shop Zappos

    Joe

    This YouTube channel has only first look videos - no reviews

  • First look / Unboxing | Shop Zappos

    Nelly

    This YouTube channel has only first look videos - no reviews

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Updates to The North Face Ultra Cardiac II

  • The Jacquard mesh upper is integrated into the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. It aims to provide added breathability during the running activities.
  • Featured in the midsole area is the high energy return foam. The purpose of this material is to deliver a more consistent, responsive cushioning system. It is also centered on providing additional comfort to the foot.
  • The updated heel cradle is used in the shoe to deliver proper foot placement. This technology is essential in securing the foot.
  • Utilized in the upper area is the Quarter geo cable construction. The goal of this material is to provide a more improved fit.
  • Added protection is offered by the Molded TPU Toe Cap. It shields the platform from hazardous materials including hard rocks and roots when running on the trails.

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II size and fit

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II follows the standard running shoe length when it comes to sizing. This shoe is strategically designed for runners who have neutral pronation. Because of its semi-curved shape, it can follow the natural shape of the foot. The available widths are B –Medium for the women’s version and D – Medium for the men’s version.

Outsole

The Vibram Megagrip outsole is integrated into the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. It features a sticky lugged design which aims to provide increased traction. This kind of outsole also offers stability, support, and responsiveness to various types of running activities.

Midsole

Utilized in the midsole is the single-density CMEVA. This durable material is described as an industry standard foam that is focused on providing a smooth cushioning system.

In the forefoot area lies the High energy return foam. This component of the shoe offers a more consistent and responsive heel-to-toe transition.

Proper heel positioning is encouraged by the Heel Cradle technology. North Face added this feature to support and keep the foot in a secure and stable manner.

The OrthoLite footbed is used to provide comfort that is long-lasting. It also offers the right amount of underfoot support.

Upper

The Jacquard mesh is utilized in the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. Paired with seamless support, it also provides lightweight breathability. The fabric allows the moisture to be adequately and effectively transmitted through the mesh material.

With the use of the Quarter Geo Cable construction, it aids in the creation of a snugger and more secure midfoot fit.

Featured in the upper area is the Gusseted Tongue. This material is essential in keeping the debris out of the shoe.

The FlashDry collar is integrated into the North Face Ultra Cardiac II. This quick-drying material helps to increase comfort during the running session. This collar is significant in reducing the possibilities of foot irritations.

With the use of the Cushioned Collar Lining, a more comfortable upper fit is encouraged.

The North Face Ultra Cardiac II uses the Molded TPU Toe Cap. This material adds protection to the foot from the dangerous rocks and roots that can be found on a wide variety of trails.