Last week I decided that it was the right time to put my three pairs of The North Face Ultra Endurance aside. It was a though decision since they shared with me many kilometers in the last three years (more than 2600 km).
However, it was a good occasion to generate this review, which aims to provide some technical details after a good number of kilometers, in addition to the general features that can be easily found in internet or at the retailer.
Table 1 summarizes the main features of the reviewed shoes. The weight was not the lightest compared to other trail-running shoes, an acceptable sacrifice to ensure higher protection over time.
Terrain & Distances
TNF Ultra Endurance: in 2017, I used both pairs for trail footpaths. No road at all: about 50% in alpine area (Italy and Switzerland) and the other 50% mainly along forest roads or trail footpaths in Germany (Taunus mountains). I used them mainly for distances below 40 km, but I have not hesitated to use them for longer distances: Ultra Trail Monte Fallere (59.7 km with 4500d+), Trail del Moscato (54 km with 2800d+) and Ultra Trail del Lago d´Orta (82 km with 5600 d+). In 2018, I limited the usage to distances below 40 km but still using them in competitions both without technical difficulties (for example, Trail de Charleroi in Belgium or Pfalz Trail in Germany) and with rocky and steep footpath (for example, the 31 km with almost 3000 d+ at Gebirgsmarathon Skyrace in Germany). In 2019 and 2020, I limited their use for training along forest road.
TNF Ultra Endurance II: in 2018, I limited the use to short trail-running distances. The reason is that, at first impact, I did not feel comfortable compared to the first generation. In 2019, after about 450 km, I decided to use them for all the competitions between February and May independently from terrain and distance (i.e. Three For Team in Italy with about 21 km, or Trail du Petit Ballon in France with almost 60 km).
Protection & Duration
After many kilometers, both versions still ensured a good protection in the back side. Heel counter and heel stabilizer were still in good conditions. Only for this aspect, I think I could have used for minimum other 4-500 km.
The middle part of the shoes (around the quarter) demonstrated very good durability as well. The specific design with the reinforcements from the Midsole to the eyelets worked well. I had no damages in this part, despite running often in terrain with sharp stones or roots.
The area between the Toe Vamp and the Toe Tip showed to be the weaker and less protected. With the first pair, I had already some damages after a few hundred kilometers. This was confirmed when I started to use the second pair as well. I was expecting that the newer generation would have improved in this regard. But, definitively, it was not the case. The damages were on both sides of the shoes.
Instead, the Toe Tip itself was still in very good conditions and it helped a lot to protect the fingers when I accidentally hit stones while running.
The Midsole featured EVA cushioning in both versions and it made its job until the very last few days (see Image 2).
The Outsole of both versions was the Vibram MegaGrip: a certainty to provide a great grip that lasts for long time. The whole outsole was made in one whole piece, which helped to maintain a good performance over time. The arrows shaped lugs were distributed in many directions and this design helped for a good traction while running uphill and downhill. After 6-700 km, they were only slightly worn, with good conditions especially in the lateral part and in the rear part. After 1000 km, the status was still ok but many lugs in the central part of the outsole basically disappeared.
The shoe laces did not satisfy me. They quickly deteriorated at the tip which made insertion into the eyelet complicated. With the Ultra Endurance II, the status was even worse, but I liked the presence of a rubber band to lock the tied laces. This feature was not present in the former version.
The collar line and the top line was still relatively in good shape at the end, with few damages around the heel notch. The pair with more than 1000 km had more damages in the inner side, compared to the other two pairs.
The insole by Ortholite was the same for both versions and I never changed during the complete usage of the shoes.
Overall judgment & summary table
With these shoes, I found possible to run everywhere in nature, from challenging terrain to easy forest road. In my opinion, they fit well for distances below or around 50 km. The general status of the shoes after 1000 km is still good, indicating a long last durability of this product. The only significant weakness is the damage in the area between the Toe Vamp and the Toe Tip, where the reinforcements are not present.
If you want more information or technical details related to this event, please do not hesitate to contact me or comment below.
Andrea De Filippo