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.
I was excited to receive these shoes since I have been pretty impressed by clothes produced by The North Face. I had never run in shoes made by The North Face, so I had no experience, though my expectations were high.
Depending on the shoe and purpose, I either wear a size 12 or 12.5 in US Men’s.
I ordered size 12 for the Ultra Endurance and noticed they fit rather large. For me, the shoe fits a little long.
For my feet, the toe box seemed pretty narrow. Even with the larger sized fit, the sides of my feet felt compressed and uncomfortable.
The heel is plush and firm, keeping my heel firmly in place. The arch support is too minimal for my foot, however.
Although I’m not sure if it’s related, I experienced a minor injury to my right arch during the testing of these shoes.
Upper and Midsole Cushioning
The upper is amazingly plush; almost unnecessarily so. Its thickness is nice, providing an extra element of security.
Unfortunately, the midsole cushioning is not as comfortable. The bottom half of the shoes felt extremely hard and unforgiving.
The Ultra Endurance II worked well enough for short runs. I did some longer runs – one more than 12 miles – and did not enjoy the shoes at all. The longer I ran in the shoes, the sorer my feet became, and I could not wait until the run was over.
This was perhaps due to a combination of the narrowness, minimal arch support, unforgiving mid-sole, and hardened outsole. On one of the longer runs, I commented to my running partner that it felt like I was running in baseball cleats.
I do not hike much, but maybe this shoe is a better choice for the walker/hiker, than the runner. Although, after every run, whether it was 30 minutes or 90 minutes, I was anxious to get the shoes off my feet.
As poorly as this shoe performed, in my humble opinion, there were some terrains it seemed better suited to than others. The tread provided decent traction, but because of the hard tread and firm midsole, I preferred to run on softer terrains than firmer.
The outsole protrudes well beyond the heel which, I think, provides additional stability on uneven or loose terrains. Below, I rank the terrains for which I think this shoe is best suited, from best to worst:
I was able to muster a little over 76 miles in these shoes, and I see virtually no wear and tear.
Not only that but with seemingly no soft foam in the midsole, there is probably very little cushioning to break down over time. That being the case, these shoes seem like they would, unfortunately, last forever.
1. Good stability on large, loose, gravel.
2. Decent shoe for hiking on soft terrain.
3. Little to no midsole cushioning.
4. Little arch support.
5. Painful on long runs.
The North Face Ultra Endurance II will require some ultra endurance on the part of the athlete to get long term use from them.
If you are a trail hiker, they might work well. For the runner, these shoes would make some great recreational softball cleats or, as in my case, will be perfectly decent yardwork shoes.
Check out Ultra Endurance II's video review here.
At first glance, The North Face Ultra Endurance II reminds me of a black Hummer with “Hummer” emblazoned on the side in large white lettering. The similarities don’t end there. The rugged look is complemented with the power and drive you to feel when you hit the trail.
There is not a lot of cushioning so you can feel the ground – which I like, but plenty of protection from rocks and roots. The floral-patterned Vibram outsole does hold a bit more dirt and mud than I’d like but provides great traction in most conditions.
The uppers breathable mesh allows for a cool ride and the wide toe box provide unparalleled comfort even in warm conditions or long runs.
I love the extra protection on the toe box for my great toenail that seems to eat through uppers like a hungry rat. The thermoplastic polyurethane toe cap is resistance to oil, grease, and abrasion but as you can see a sharp rock will cause cuts in the thin material.
The gusseted tongue seems to be a North Face feature on all their running shoes and it is a blessing on a long trail run. No stopping to shake out debris or worrying about blisters from sand and small pebbles.
The split-top tongue gives freedom of movement without any pinching.
This shoe incorporates bubble-style laces. They provide extra friction against each other so even a habitual double-knotter like me can get away with only one knot.
The heel cup incorporates an external cradle for added stability and the small nylon string pull helps to get the shoes on while still half asleep for that early morning run.
Inside this shoe is an Ortholite sockliner. This insert provides breathability and great comfort. After 280 miles in this shoe, there is little wear to the sockliner. The inner material is almost seamless. The only seams are inner sewn each side giving your feet additional comfort.
Compression-molded EVA is fitted between the durable Vibram Megagrip outsole and the upper. The neutral ride and level of cushioning is just right for me. The 8mm drop is just what the doctor ordered. If you are looking for 4mm or less this shoe may not work for you.
The Vibram outsole reminds me of the durability of my old hiking boots. After only 20 miles on the roads and 260 miles on various trails, there is little wear even in the usual places.
The depth of tread is about right to give good grip in rocky, sandy or muddy terrain. It does tend to hold more debris than I like when really muddy, as I mentioned in the introduction. The traction-designed outsole adds to a stable, confident ride in tough trail conditions.
- Upper - Breathable mesh
- Welded TPU and synthetic quarter overlay for midfoot support
- Gusseted tongue keeps out weather and trail debris
- Molded TPU toe cap for protection
- OrthoLite® footbed for long-lasting comfort
- Sole - 17 mm/9 mm heel/forefoot EVA underfoot
- Single-density, compression-molded EVA midsole
- Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology
- ESS Snake Plate™ forefoot protection
- Durable Vibram® Megagrip outsole for sticky traction
- COLOR - Black/Black (also available in Blue/Yellow
- WEIGHT – 11.5 oz (327 g) each for men’s size 9
- DROP - 8mm
- Regular price 120.00 USD
The North Face Ultra Endurance II is very near the top of my favorite trail shoe. The overall feel of this shoe is like climbing into a Hummer and knowing you own the road ahead no matter what obstacles lie before you.
It has a feel-the-trail ride. For the retail price of $120, this shoe offers great value for the potential mileage. At present, it looks like plus 500 miles is highly possible.
I`ve never had a North Face shoe before. I received this shoe the under RunRepeat testing program. After a couple of months and training in different terrains, I could not recommend it more.
I usually go for darker colors but this time I received the blue/yellowish one and actually liked it.
The only negative here is the BIG yellow brandmark on the upper part; they should simply NOT put it. The shoe would be much more beautiful and sleek without it.
As you can see, the yellow brand mark is so big it can be seen throughout. In terms of color variation, there are around 5 color schemes such as black and grey.
Comfortability & Upper
The upper part is really nice, with premium fabric and sleek details and surely great durability of the toe box.
There were people complaining about the shoelaces but I actually liked it, you can feel from the material it will also be durable and its curves is a plus.
In terms of comfortability, as I have a high arch so I am not easy to please, but with Ultra Endurance II I did not have anything bothering the foot at all. On the contrary, the shoe perfectly fit my foot. I saw users complaining about shoe size but for US size 11, mine was just fine.
The upper layer is well built and thick in order to comfort and protect the foot at the same time. You can`t feel manufacturing marks or any seam that could bother you.
In terms of toe protection, the toe box part is also very solid with double layered fabric on the tip of the shoe. And despite is its closed fabric, ventilation can also be felt from the top and side of the shoe which makes the whole experience great.
If you are a long distance runner like me, shoe weight is very important for you. And I found it is just in the low quartile of my shoe weight (US size 11) which is good news.
Each pair weighs 360 grams while my Asics more than 400 while my Nikes 340.
Running (Cushion, Stability, Sole)
Ultra Endurance II is known to be Northface premium training shoe, and after a couple of months using it, I can tell you it does its job very well not only on trails but other sorts of terrains.
As I am a heavyweight runner, the cushion is very important to me, and for this, I give a half-minus.
Half-minus because it is not that the cushion is bad, but just wished it could be a little bit better. Don`t get me wrong, if you are not heavyweight (90kg+) you probably going to like the cushion which can be felt throughout the midsole.
Stability wise, it's a plus. It is simply amazing and you can feel your feet is simply stuck to it on curves and uneven terrains as well. Great!
The yellow back part is well structured in order to improve ankle stability and overall stability experience, without being felt from the inside, it is just great!
The sole is another plus. From the pic below, you have probably noticed the thickness of the sole, which is indeed great.
You can be sure you won`t have any kind of grip issues. Traction is just great on all surfaces: asphalt, sidewalks, earth, rocks, and grass, etc.
The Day After
A very important part of shoe wearing for me is the impact of exercise on the day after.
And with Ultra Endurance II, not only I did some longer training from which I am used to due to its great comfortability, but I also was happy with the day after impact, or better, the lack of impact and aches on my legs, ankle, knees, and joints. It was great after running experience.
I have been using Ultra Endurance II for a couple of months now and it has already become one of my favorite outdoor shoes.
I have already tackled some of the topics above and durability-wise, it is great! Yes, you can feel it will take a long long time to wear off. You can be sure you will use it for a long time.
- Well built, modern & sleek looking shoe
- Great level of comfort while running
- Awesome stability level
- Perfect sole construction in order to provide good grip for different terrains
- Durable well-built shoe with good upper support and high-quality materials
- Big brand mark on the upper
- The cushion could be better
- Lack of retroreflective mark for night runners
North Face Ultra Endurance II is a cross training shoe with premium materials and manufacturing quality. It is the second of its line and brings a smooth running feeling with good stability and grip for different surfaces. It’s not the lightest of its category and I believe the design and cushion could be improved.
If you are looking for a good cross training shoe I would definitely recommend UEII due to the good comfort, fair weight, and stability scheme. It gives an overall good experience on all surfaces for short long distance range.
These shoes arrived late this summer so unfortunately, I didn’t have this before the Vertical KM last July. Anyway, I got amazed by the packaging nice carton box with a picture of El Chalten, Argentina: an underdog invite to go outdoors and run!
Nice try North Face; you accomplish your hidden message. Well, let’s start to torture the pair of shiny blues.
- Sole of 17 mm/9 mm heel/forefoot EVA underfoot
- Single-density, compression-molded EVA midsole
- Ultra-Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology
- ESS Snake Plate™ forefoot protection
- Durable Vibram® Megagrip outsole for sticky traction
- 8 mm offset
I cannot deny my favorite shoe - the Hoke One One. I love their road and trail shoes or any neutral shoe from these guys. But I have to be honest that I've been attracted to The North Face brand, and finally got the luck to get this pair and put them to the test.
I can’t hide my high expectation from them. At first glance, the box and content are very attractive, and I fell in love with this shiny pair. When I grab it out of the box, the shoe seems light with a weight of 11.5 oz. I also noticed that they feel stiff in the toe box with a plastic skeleton.
The drop as a first impression feels like 9 mm rather the 8 mm claimed. This is more a personal matter rather the real measure. If you care too much about the measure of drop despair of 1 mm and performance, keep your eye on this.
The outsole is VIBRAM (kudos for that) while the insole is very well constructed for long runs.
As soon as I put the shoes on, I felt like I have had a clip on my road cycling shoes. The toe box felt narrow and stiff due to the plastic skeleton cup. I decided to do a quick hike rather than speed on trails.
After a few kilometers, the stiff sensation goes away. Hiking for around 5k’s was very pleasant due to the Vibram outsole compound. The grip on the wet trails did a great job - no hot spots, no stiff toe box, and the fingers of my feet can literally dance with freedom.
This is a great shoe if you plan to run an Ultramarathon. The North Face Ultra Endurance II is true to size fit. It fits like a glove. I know that some of us often complain about the size of X or Y brand sizing issues, but not with Endurance II.
While we were pushing limits of pain and suffering from these puppies, hunting some PR’s in the woods, we discovered that TNF shoes are a built to bring you far in the mountains.
I notice the deep treads on the outsole which is very good for soft ground, grass or mud but bad for asphalt. The Durable Vibram® Megagrip outsole has good traction as well portrayed on the commercials. The treads did a great job to keep the momentum either going up or down.
The bright yellow back of the shoes has a function - protection and stiffness. TNF guys call this the Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology.
This technology works so well that I can’t feel anything while running downhill at open gravel roads, single wet trails, or whatever our mother nature brings us for adventure. The construction is solid, stable and works with all the test I put into.
The footbed or what TNF call OrthoLite® footbed (very comfy), the rock plate guard or the ESS snake plate that protects you against rocks. Those little details make it a very nice shoe that works in the trails, short or very long distance.
- Nice color
- Aggressive outsole (built to last)
- Good for rocky trails
- Stable outsole -Vibram
- Little heavy
- Not built for asphalt or concrete roads
- little cushion
- 8mm drop
They are supportive but almost too supportive. They are tight so if I try to do a distance run, my feet start to lose blood circulation or something and I actually get fatigued faster. Also, the weight doesn't exactly help either.
The tongue also is too thin and flimsy and always seems to cause problems during my run. It always hurts the top of my foot and cuts off circulation to my feet.
One thing the Ultra Endurance ll actually do is absorb shock which is its job. I guess since there is so much padding all around the shoe it absorbs literally everything. The padding is so thick my feet die on every run. My feet sweat so much when I wear these and it really does hold me back.
The shoe does feel pretty good on a wet cold day. The traction is great and when it is cold outside your feet don't sweat as much. The sock liner is made by OrthoLite. A trusted company I feel is cushioned perfectly and will make any shoe more comfortable.
The laces are really weird. I can't really describe it so please look at my picture. Anyways, they untie themselves sometimes during my runs.
The Ultra Endurance ll has good durability. There is almost no wear and tear.
Some of the colors have faded but that is it. The shoes are still as tight as they ever were so I guess the support hasn't faded at all either.
All of North Face's shoes have a 1- year warranty so if the shoes have any defects, they will give you another pair absolutely free, excluding normal wear and tear. The durability is definitely very good compared to other trail shoes.
Looks and Design
There are 2 choices of colors. There is the all black like I have and the blue and yellow. I personally like the black. It just depends if you want them to stand out or not.
Nothing stood out to me about its performance. The shoes were not overly springy and since they were so heavy they kind of take some energy out of you. It just feels like weights. The traction I have to say is great in mud and sand.
Not much in wet rocks though. ( Personal story: I was running one day and slid down a rock maybe about 10 feet and fell into a pond about knee deep.) Anyways, yeah the Ultra Endurance ll don't exactly excel in performance.
- Absorb shock
- Very uncomfortable
- Not Breathable
- Tight fitting
- Laces untie themselves
Good to know
- The modest success of The North Face Ultra Endurance has inspired the second release to be more breathable, more cushioned, and more supportive. Like its predecessor, the Ultra Endurance II intends to excel on any trail, distance, or running intensity.
- An updated upper leads this new release, as it shows new materials, a modern design, and overall a new wear sensation for the runner. However, individual protective elements have been retained, such as the gusseted tongue and the molded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) toe cap.
- Because of its effectiveness, this North Face running shoe still makes use of the single-density compression-molded ethylene-vinyl acetate (CMEVA) as its midsole. The material has proven capable of bringing sufficient cushioning and responsiveness for the trails. The outsole is a Vibram® Megagrip™ rubber that gives the right amount of traction on various surfaces.
The North Face Ultra Endurance II has a true-to-size fit. The shoe’s overall structure caters to runners with a moderate foot volume, and the midfoot construction is for wearers with high arches. The Ultra Endurance II is available in medium for both men’s and women’s versions.
The Vibram® Megagrip™ has long been a trusted outsole material for trail running shoes, and for the Ultra Endurance II, it delivers. The rubber material, which is also used in other durable running shoes, gives the shoe a durable quality, and it also enables the runner a steady grip, even on the most uneven surfaces.
This second version of the Ultra Endurance uses the same lug pattern, which is a display of multidirectional arrows that work superbly on uphills and downhills.
Underfoot protection from rocks and other sharp trail elements are guaranteed by the Snake Plate™, the brand’s proprietary rock shield situated in between the outsole and midsole. Its unique shape provides foot balance and prevents the shoe from being too bulky.
The single-density CMEVA midsole of the Ultra Endurance II enables a smooth ride and an efficient gait cycle because of its responsive quality. The 8-mm stack height encourages a midfoot strike so that the heel gets less fatigue and fewer chances of injury.
Meanwhile, additional cushioning is offered by an OrthoLite® sock liner. It also helps in absorbing impact to promote underfoot comfort.
An Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ is installed in the heel area. This technology helps in stabilizing the heel, thus assisting each step while also cushioning the area. The result is a seamless and comfortable transition.
The breathable mesh upper of the Ultra Endurance II ensures adequate ventilation, allowing the shoe to present a healthy environment for the foot. Welded TPU-and-synthetic overlays aid the mesh at the midfoot area.
Foot protection comes in the form of the shoe’s gusseted tongue and TPU toe cap. These features keep out debris and prevent toe injuries respectively.