With the pandemic driving up interest in solo activities like running and hiking, The North Face’s new trail-focused footwear system—two years in development—arrives at an opportune time.
Dubbed Vectiv, the line will launch eight trail running and hiking styles, three of which—the Flight Vectiv, Vectiv Infinite and Vectiv Enduris—are available for purchase or pre-order now. Additional silhouettes will become available online and in-store through The North Face next month.
The Vectiv line takes the carbon fiber and composite plate technologies typically reserved for road running footwear and brings it to the trail running and hiking markets, The North Face said. Underneath, a rocker midsole optimizes foot strike and forward momentum and a new high-traction outsole ensures surefooted confidence on any terrain, the company added. A light, protective mesh upper rounds out the design.
In developing the Vectiv line, The North Face said it teamed with 14 athletes to put the design through more than 6,000 miles of testing. They set 17 records along the way, including Katlyn Gerbin’s 18 hours, 41 minutes, 54 seconds on the 93-mile Wonderland Trail.
“The Flight Vectiv are fast, light and responsive,” Gerbin said in a statement. “The plate gives the shoes a responsive and high-performance feel, and the streamlined upper keeps the shoes lightweight while maintaining the ‘fits like a glove’ feeling.”
On the upper end of the Vectiv line’s $125-to-$199 range, the Flight Vectiv is designed for high-performance, long-distance trail running. According to third-party studies, The North Face said, the sneaker reduces downhill tibial impact by 10 percent, “allowing runners to comfortably log more miles without compounding impact.” The shoe features a TPE footbed, as well as a reinforced toe cap for additional durability.
The Vectiv Infinite, “designed for a smooth and stable ride,” prices in at $169. Like the Vectiv Flight, its product description touts an abrasion-resistant upper made with Kevlar and polyamide. The shoe also sports a perforated microfiber tongue for additional breathability.
At $139, the Vectiv Enduris is the cheapest shoe in the line currently listed on The North Face’s website. It, like the Vectiv Infinite, includes an OrthoLite X55 footbed made with 5 percent recycled rubber content.
Though running and hiking footwear sales declined in the mid-single digits last year, both showed signs of improvement in the second half, according to Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry adviser, sports at NPD Group. Looking to 2021, he predicted running and hiking, as well as trail running “to a lesser extent,” will outperform the overall market.