Summary

We spent 7.9 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

7 reasons to buy

  • One wearer claimed that the Ultra Endurance II fitted like a glove.
  • A customer said the shoe looked more durable than other running shoes from the brand.
  • Several users found the outsole traction to be efficient.
  • The midsole was very responsive, some runners stated.
  • The Snake Plate™ did an excellent job of preventing rocks from causing pain, a commenter wrote.
  • The Ultra Endurance II was stylish enough for everyday use, according to a reviewer. Other runners also said that the shoe gave a premium feel despite the simple colorways.
  • The CRADLE™ feature was useful in fastening the heel comfortably, a runner observed.

6 reasons not to buy

  • A user had thought the tongue had very thin padding.
  • The rounded shoelaces were uneasy to tie, and they pushed against the foot uncomfortably when tightened, a reviewer mentioned.
  • One reviewer disliked that the sizing was inaccurate.
  • The toe box was too narrow, a wearer experienced.
  • The Ultra Endurance II did not have sufficient arch support, according to a disappointed user.
  • The cushioning was quite stiff, which made running on hard trails a challenge, a runner noted.

Bottom line

The second iteration of The North Face Ultra Endurance proved to be a reliable update, as numerous runners attested to its superb performance and functional technologies. Despite some criticisms regarding structural and design elements, many users were still happy with their purchase and had found themselves wearing the shoe frequently.

Facts

Expert Reviews

76 / 100 based on 5 expert reviews

  • 60 / 100 |

    Ultra Endurance Required: A Review of The North Face Ultra Endurance II Running Shoe

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    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.

     

    Preliminary Fit

    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.

    Shoe Length

    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.

     

    Toe Box

    For my feet, the toe box seemed pretty narrow. Even with the larger sized fit, the sides of my feet felt compressed and uncomfortable.

    Heel/Arch Support

    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.

     

    General Function

    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.

    Terrain Adaptability

    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.

     

     

     

    Pros

    1. Good stability on large, loose, gravel.
    2. Decent shoe for hiking on soft terrain.

    Cons

    1. Stiff.
    2. Narrow.
    3. Little to no midsole cushioning.
    4. Little arch support.
    5. Painful on long runs.

    Final Thoughts

    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.

  • 95 / 100 |

    The North Face Ultra Endurance II – Near the top and will take you there

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    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 Upper

    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.

     

    The inside

    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.

    The Midsole

    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.

    Full Specs

    • 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

    Concluding Thoughts

    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. 

  • First look | Shop Zappos |

  • First look | Shop Zappos |

Become an expert
  • 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.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com