The North Face S4K (2016)

Features

A very light boot for this category at just 1746g, the The North Face S4K is made with an upper comprising synthetic materials, a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a full rubber rand. The ankle cuff is quite high with a gaiter to help keep debris out of the boot. A Vibram sole with a smooth climbing zone under the toe and slightly shallow lugs is provided underfoot, with a shallower heel breast than some. 4/5

Fit

Sizes are men’s 7-13 and women’s 4-9, with a snug fit around the toe in particular. The ankle cuff is a good height, but there is more sideways and forward flex in this than in other boots. The forefoot generally feels quite ‘precise’, which some walkers may regard as too close but others will enjoy. 5/5

Comfort

This boot feels comfy around the ankle cuff but a little too close around the toe for walking, so it’s slightly less comfortable than a more spacious model. The relatively low weight of 1764g (pair, size 11) adds to the overall comfort, however, and nothing digs in, so the The North Face S4K is a comfortable option, if a little close at the toe. 4/5

In use

The outsole is better designed for climbing or use with crampons than walking on snow as it has relatively shallow lugs, a shallow heel breast and a smooth climbing zone at the toe. The ankle cuff isn’t the most supportive, so this isn’t ideal for traversing slopes. The flex at the toe is also a little softer than other B2-rated boots. 4/5

Value

The price is appealing, but for walking in snow you are getting less performance in return for paying less cash. 4/5

Verdict

The North Face’s S4K is a good easier mountain walking and mountaineering boot, but others have the edge for winter walking in tougher conditions. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine January 2016

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The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX (2015)

The Hedgehog claims to bring a running shoe feel to a solid walking shoe – and it actually does. The breathable upper is light and fits snugly like a trainer, with a Gore-Tex membrane keeping out moisture. Though thin and light, it’s stiff enough, and fits closely enough, to offer really good support over hard ground. The Vibram rubber outsole offers the solid protection of a more traditional walking shoe, but again emphasising its dual role, it has the precision shape of a running trainer. It’s helped along by TNF’s own Cradle Guide midsole, cushioning against rocky trails while still feeling light and transferring ground feel well. They’re made to last, with very few seams to come apart or chafe. They fit my narrow feet and heels beautifully, but those with broader hooves might want to opt for a half-size up.

Specifications

Sizes: 3-9 (including half sizes)

Membrane: Gore-Tex

Outsole: Vibram

Weight per pair: 648g

Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 0800 328 0012

www.thenorthface.co.uk

Verdict

A trim, light and grippy shoe that’s best for nimble-footed walkers.

Tested by Sarah Ryan

Country Walking June 2015

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The North Face Verto S4K GTX (2014)

Features

The stylish upper of the The North Face Verto S4K GTX is modern with synthetic materials including a rand, a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a high ankle cuff. There is a gaiter on the ankle cuff to help keep debris at bay. The outsole is Vibram with a smooth climbing zone under the toe and slightly shallow but well-spaced lugs and a minimal heel breast. 5/5

Fit

This boot is available in men’s sizes 6-13 and women’s 3-9, with a close fit that feels slightly more precise and neat at the toe and forefoot than some wider and more spacious options. The ankle cuff is a good height but there is enough flex here to allow a close but not restrictive fit. The outsole feels stiff and flat, rather than being precurved as some are.  4/5

Comfort

The fit is precise and slightly narrow at the toe, so it naturally feels less comfy than a more spacious boot. The weight of only 1764g (pair, size 11) does add to the overall comfort though. There is good padding throughout and nothing digs in so it is really only the neat, climbing-orientated design that impacts on the overall comfort. 4/5

In use

The widely spaced lugs have a shallower design than some, making this best for climbing or mountaineering rather than pure walking on softer ground or soft snow without crampons. But when climbing on rock it feels great. The flex in the sole is ideal for climbing too, but when walking others with more curvature in their sole are better. 4/5

Value

A reasonable price, but the The North Face Verto S4K GTX is not the best option if you are really tight on cash. 4/5

Verdict

A mountaineering-orientated design that’s also a good lightweight option. 

4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2014

www.thenorthface.com/eu

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The North Face Verto S4K GTX (2013)

The colour and style of the The North Face Verto S4K GTX 's upper give an impression of a more serious climbing boot than an all-rounder. At 1766g (size 11) it’s relatively light for its class, yet has a feature set and performance that makes it ideal for year-round mountain scrambles and easier mountaineering. The upper is synthetic mesh with synthetic leather overlays, and the PU rand encircling the boot protects it from abrasion. It's hard to judge whether it would be as durable as a leather upper and rubber-randed boot long-term. The ankle cuff has good support and allows easy walking action, so it's comfortable to wear below the snowline. The sole is a Vibram unit with relatively shallow, widely-spaced lugs and a smooth climbing zone under the toe – great for climbing and scrambling, but not so good on soft ground, especially once the shallow lugs wear down a little. On the foot the profile is neat and precise at the toe, enhancing its climbing performance. There’s more flex in the sole at the toe than other boots at this price, making it better for walking, but removing some of that climbing performance.

Upper materials synthetic leather, Panatex ballistic textile

Waterproof lining Gore-Tex

Sole unit Vibram Mulaz

Men’s sizes 7-14

Women’s sizes none

Weight 1766g (pair, size 11)

Website www.thenorthface.com

Verdict

I’d prefer a stiffer boot for rocky terrain and deeper lugs for snow or soft ground, but the The North Face Verto S4K GTX is a good lightweight all-rounder.

Review by Graham Thompson

Published in Trail magazine December 2013

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The North Face Hedgehog Guide GTX (2013)

The new-look Hedgehogs are lightweight and sporty-looking shoes which feel great to walk in. Sizing is a bit small so try before you buy, but an excellent lacing system ensures they’ll suit a variety of foot shapes. The mesh uppers are soft and flexible, yet the midsole is stiff enough to cope with gnarly terrain, so they feel great on rocky trails in warm weather. Shock absorption is fantastic, and a nice rolling action in the sole gives a real spring to your step. The uppers are seamless and very breathable, with synthetic leather panels for support and durability, and they have a Gore-Tex waterproof lining too. Multi-directional cleats give really good grip, especially on dry trails.

 

Sizes: 3-9, 36-42
Upper: Synthetic leather and mesh
Sole: Vibram
Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex
Weight: 650g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Verto S6K Glacier GTX (2013)

The 6K denotes that the The North Face Verto S6K Glacier GTX is designed to be used at altitudes up to 6000m on Alpine mountains, and for that environment it has a good set of features. So you get Primaloft insulation inside to help keep your feet warm and this boot is also very light at 2088g (pair, size 11) – both features that make it great for Alpine use. The upper is made of synthetic materials and a high rand protects it from abrasion, while underfoot you get a very aggressive Vibram sole with well-spaced deep lugs plus a smooth area under the toe for better performance when climbing on rock. The fit is very comfortable with a slight tapering at the foot, and while it does not feel quite as precise as some boots it certainly feels ideal for use with crampons while crossing glaciers and climbing on high Alpine peaks. When walking on British winter mountains the high ankle cuff feels a little restrictive though and you don’t get such a smooth walking action as with other boots. It is a great choice for what it is designed for, but at this price and with this performance it is not the best for British mountain trips.

Upper materials synthetic, Primaloft insulation
Waterproof lining Gore-Tex
Sole unit Vibram Mulaz
Women’s sizes none
Men’s sizes 6-12
Weight 2088g (pair, size 11)
Website
www.thenorthface.com/eu

 

Verdict
The The North Face Verto S6K Glacier GTX is a great boot for Alpine mountaineering, glacier travel and more challenging winter routes on British hills, but it offers more performance than most walkers will need on British winter hills.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013


The North Face Verto S4K GTX (2012)

A new boot from The North Face, the Verto S4K GTX is designed for ‘serious alpine challenges’, according to the manufacturer. The Verto is very light at 1766g (pair, size 11) for its class – that is, being stiff enough to use with crampons. But get it on your foot and the toe is a little bendier than boots at similar prices, despite remaining a good 3-4 season design. The toe is also quite narrow, which makes it more suitable for scrambling and mountaineering but not quite so good just for tramping up snowy Munros. This emphasis on scrambling is further enhanced by the sole unit as it has a smooth ‘climbing zone’ at the toe and a slightly shallower pattern of lugs along the remainder of the sole than some options. The synthetic upper adds extra style and helps keep the weight down; only time will tell if it will be more or less durable than a one-piece leather upper. The ankle cuff is quite high but it also very flexible, so this boot is easier to walk in than the height of that ankle cuff might initially suggest. This is a great choice for scrambling and mountaineering, but others have the edge for year-round walking.

Upper materials synthetic leather, Panatex ballistic textile
Waterproof lining Gore-Tex
Sole unit Vibram Mulaz
Men’s sizes 7-14
Women’s sizes none
Weight 1766g (pair, size 11)
Website
www.thenorthface.com

 

The verdict
The North Face’s Verto S4K GTX is a very good new lightweight year-round mountaineering and scrambling boot, but others may be better for year-round hill and mountain walking.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2012


The North Face Dhaulagiri II GTX 2011

The The North Face Dhaulagiri II GTX weighs 1472g (pair, size 8); 1.8mm suede leather upper with textile mesh panels; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; rubber rand protects toe; very stiff sole unit for rocky ground; very aggressive lugs; good cushioning. But sole is stiffer than it needs to be; upper is a bit soft along top of forefoot; upper may not be as durable as leather with less stitching.

The The North Face Dhaulagiri II GTX is a good hill-walking boot with an excellent sole unit.

First published in Trail magazine May 2011


The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR III 2011

The The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR III weighs 1052g (pair, size 11); Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining; mesh upper for max breathability; protection around upper; good sole stiffness; aggressive lug pattern; good cushioning. But mesh upper extends low so this area may suffer in terms of durability; toe box area is not as protective as some.

The The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR III is a good general sportily styled shoe for all-round use.

First published in Trail magazine May 2011

The North Face Jannu II GTX

The Jannu II is a heavy boot that is most noticeable for its tough, bomb-proof appearance. They took a bit of wearing in, feeling cumbersome to walk in at first. The fit is very spacious, which will suit women with high-volume feet. Unfortunately the lacing system doesn’t work particularly well – the locking eyelets are ‘grabby’, making it hard to get a really good fit. However, the high ankle cuffs offer plenty of support, and stiff midsoles deal well with uneven terrain.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: 3-9 (inc half-sizes)
Upper: Full-grain leather
Lining: Gore-Tex
Sole: Vibram
Weight (tested pair): 1,400g
Men’s available: Yes
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Vindicator GTX

Soft, suede uppers, and a fairly wide last make these feel like old friends straight from the box. An excellent lacing system makes it easy to achieve a great fit across the whole foot, and a locking eyelet by the tongue makes them incredibly easy to whip on and off. The Vibram sole has quite an aggressive tread pattern, which inspires confidence on rugged ground, and provides great shock absorption and traction on all types of terrain. The stiffness in the midsole is just right and a nice rocking action in the sole helps spur you forward as you walk, and helps keep your feet feeling fresh. Gore-Tex uppers will keep your feet dry in shallow puddles, and a gusseted tongue provides protection from unwanted debris getting inside.

VITAL STATS:
Sizes
: UK 3-8.5
Upper: Suede
Waterproof lining: Yes
Weight (pair): 850g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Dhaulagiri II GTX 2010

The North Face’s Dhaulagiri II GTX weighs 1472 (pair, size 8); suede leather upper with textile mesh panels; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; rubber rand protects toe; very stiff sole unit for rocky ground; very aggressive lug pattern; good cushioning. But sole may be stiffer than it needs to be; upper a little soft along top of forefoot; upper may not be as durable as leather options with less stitching.

The The North Face Dhaulagiri II GTX is a good hill-walking boot with an excellent sole for rockier ground.

First published in Trail magazine May 2010


The North Face Prophecy 2010

The The North Face Prophecy is a low-cut shoe with very open mesh, which affords excellent breathability. The outsole has a good lug pattern too to provide great grip in the mud. As it is very light it is great for running around in, and it looks pretty good too. Great for use in dry locations. But the ankle cuff is relatively low, so it does not protect the ankles from scrapes. Also the upper is not waterproof, and as the mesh extends low down on the sides water will enter very easily. Others are better for a day on the hills too.

Upper synthetic nubuck, open mesh
Sole UltrATAC rubber, EVA cushioning
Sizes 13.5-9
Weight 396g (pair, size 13)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 21

The The North Face Prophecy is great for valley walks in the dry, but it is not as protective as other boots.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010


The North Face Alkaline 2010

The The North Face Alkaline weighs 878g (pair, size 11); very breathable synthetic upper; excellent stiffness in the sole for mixed terrain, well-protected toe; good for running and general outdoor use. But not waterproof; very shallow lug pattern restricts performance on wet ground; doesn’t offer a major advantage over similar products.

The The North Face Alkaline is good for ‘fast and light’ activity, but others are better on rougher terrain or are lighter.

First published in Trail magazine May 2010


The North Face Hedgefrog 2010

The definition of a sandal is pushed to the limit with the The North Face Hedgefrog, a hybrid design which has open heel and ankle areas but an enclosed forefoot and toe. This does bring benefits when travelling though and makes the Hedgefrog a very useful piece of footwear for wearing around hot countries and for smart but comfortable travel. The upper is all-synthetic so it is faster-drying than leather equivalents. The upper has mesh material on the top and air vents on the sides to create more airflow than a fully enclosed shoe. Underfoot there is good stiffness for walking over earth and grass, and there is also good cushioning for harder surfaces. Use this for travel in warm weather and it will be a useful piece of footwear. But as the toe and forefoot area is fully enclosed, grit and water can be become trapped here. More open sandals than the The North Face Hedgefrog allow more airflow so are less sweaty and weigh less. The upper is slower-drying than synthetic strap designs without the extra material of this hybrid. The outsole does not have the grip on soft ground of some other sandals either.

Upper synthetic nubuck; stretch mesh
Sole HydroTrak sticky rubber; EVA cushioning
Sizes 6-13 (men’s)
Weight 712 (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 51

The The North Face Hedgefrog useful travel sandal hybrid, but dedicated sandal designs have advantages too for campers, walkers and travellers.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010