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Review: The North Face VECTIV Flight

Written by

Henry Howard

Ultra runner and certified running coach.

This expert review is written by

Henry Howard

Ultra runner and certified running coach.
Henry Howard has come a long way since a teacher called him "molasses" during a fifth-grade track and field event.


Now living and running in Indiana, he has completed more than a dozen marathons and is a regular age-grouper in shorter distances.

Weight

We usually consider 10 ounces a "medium" weight for a running shoe: less than 10 and we are entering the lightweight category and above 10 the shoes start to be heavy.

Heel-to-toe drop

Heel drop is the measurement in mm of the difference between the height of the heel and the toe of the sole.

A lower drop (0mm - 5mm) promotes running on mid-foot and fore-foot, while higher drops (8mm - 12mm) are more traditional and meant to support a heel-striking gait.
Expert score
8/10

Expert Review: The North Face VECTIV Flight

Quick overview

Best for
Regular training, long, slow training runs, speedwork on flat surfaces
Terrain
Best for moderate trails, technical trails
Grip
The VECTIV Flight provides excellent grip and traction on all kind of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Average Traction
Provide Traction
Cushioning
The VECTIV Flight offers just the right amount of cushioning
Little cushioning
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Weight

10.4

 oz
295 g
Heel to toe drop
Drop

6

 mm

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • The fit is very comfortable
  • Stable even though it’s a lightweight shoe
  • Midsole allows runners to maximize stride
  • World class grip
  • It’s expensive, around $199
  • White color isn’t going to last long on trails
  • Durability concerns

Our verdict

The North Face Flight Vectiv is a new shoe that has turned heads based on the success of some TNF athletes wearing it during Fastest Known Times (FKT).

There is a lot to like about the technology used to create a super fast, comfortable shoe with decent responsiveness. But given the shoe’s cost and durability questions, it may not be for everyday runners or used as a midweek trainer.

Introduction The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Toe

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Toe

The North Face Flight Vectiv (10 ounces for men’s size 9; 8.7 ounces for women’s size 8) is the first carbon-plated shoe created for trail runners.

The Flight is one of three models that The North Face released with the new Vectiv midsole technology.

The shoes effectively combine the carbon plate and dual-density Vectiv foam for a speedy, responsive, comfortable shoe that can help rocket you down the trail.

Cushioning Type
The VECTIV Flight is extremely responsive:... Read more provides energy return and speed over
Responsive
Plush
Cushioning Amount
The VECTIV Flight offers just the right... Read more amount of cushioning
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
The VECTIV Flight has a good mix between... Read more flexibility and structure
Rigid
Flexible
Stability
The VECTIV Flight has some inherent stability... Read more and support
Not particularly stable
Very stable

Impressions The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Heel Single

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Heel Single

I keep coming back to the description of “buttery smooth” to convey the feeling of the Flight Vectivs. They guide the runner to an easy stride on both light and technical trails.

Even though the Flight also offers superior cushioning, I would not want to run more than a 50K on these because of durability concerns.

I would also not want to take these out on a technical trail, or terrain that is muddy, snowy or otherwise sketchy.

Let’s get back to the cushioning. The new Vectiv foam offers plenty of cushion without being too soft. It is very responsive, as well.

The fit is very comfortable when first sliding on the shoes. However, those with wide feet may find that the toebox is too narrow. Additionally, I felt stiffness in the back of my heel and Achilles.

I ended up with an injury in the spring related to my ankle and heel. I don’t think the Flights actually caused the injury but they certainly didn’t help it.

The benefits of these shoes, in general, are clear. But whether the Flight Vectiv will be the right choice for your specific feet and gait is completely up to you.

Protection The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Closeup

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Closeup

The North Face used its Surface Control outsole on the Flight Vectiv, which led to strong performance as far the grip is concerned.

My training runs consisted of light to moderate trails, wet grass, some mud and crushed stone.

I found the shoes handled these types of runs quite handily. Though I have concerns about taking them into more challenging environments.

The 3.5mm lugs are interesting. I would not consider them aggressive, however, the way The North Face shaped and distributed them works well.

I would not choose the Flight Vectivs for technical terrain or if I expected to be running through a lot of mud or snow. But they can handle moderate amounts without any issues.

Rockplate
The VECTIV Flight does not have a rock plate.
Not present
Solid protection
Lugs
The VECTIV Flight provides excellent grip and... Read more traction on all kind of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Provide Traction
Water resistance
The VECTIV Flight provides a decent... Read more protection from splashes and puddles
Poor
Water Resistant

Durability The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Toe Sole

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Toe Sole

I’ve referred to durability concerns a couple of times here so let me expand on that.

After 50 miles of testing, I have not detected any significant wear on the protection or integrity of the shoe as compared with dozens of others I have tested.

However, I am skeptical that the Flight Vectivs will reach the typical 400 to 500 miles I get on shoes before I retire them.

The reason I say this is because the other shoes generally handle tougher trail conditions better and also are built with more protection. It does depend on the type of running you are doing, of course.

If you choose to keep the Flights on the easiest of trails and away from mud, snow and other yuck, they could definitely last upward of the mileage of other shoes.

But until I experience it with my own feet and see it with my own eyes, I’ll remain skeptical.

Responsiveness & Speed The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Top

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Top

This is where the Flight Vectivs are worth their (light) weight in gold.

As I propelled myself down the trail, it felt like the shoes were doing more work than I was thanks to the Flights’ excellent responsiveness.

This is due to the Surface Control grip in the Flights that maximizes energy conversion while creating propulsion to keep the legs turning over quickly.

It certainly helps too that the lightness of the shoes help the runner keep going strong.

After all, as mentioned, some North Face elites like Coree Woltering have had successful FKTs with these shoes.

While pro runners could have success in any shoes, it’s notable that there has been a string of successful and challenging FKTs using these shoes and technology.

Comfort and Fit The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Medial Side

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Medial Side

The North Face Flight Vectivs feel comfortable to wear right out of the box.

The upper boasts a “seamless circular knit” that does not cause any irritations.

I also like the seamless sock upper, which ties in well with the lacing system for a supportive yet comfortable experience.

The heel cup does come up high at the ankle, which might be an issue for runners, depending on their feet and natural gait.

I would definitely recommend trying these out in a local running store before deciding to purchase them.

Most retailers, locally or online, have a 30-day period when you can return the shoes. That should be enough time for you to decide whether they work well for you or you are experiencing issues.

Sizing
The VECTIV Flight has average sizing: buy the... Read more usual size
Buy size smaller
Buy size bigger

Conclusion The North Face VECTIV Flight

The North Face Flight VECTIV - Heel Single

The North Face Flight VECTIV – Heel Single

The North Face Flight Vectiv is a great shoe for going fast on trails. Given the cost and carbon plate technology, it definitely should be.

The shoe that I often find comparing it to is the Hoka One One Challenger, which does not have the carbon technology. But the other similarities include the comfort and grippiness.

While the Flights are meant for speed, there are durability concerns.

Whereas the Challengers won’t give you as much of a boost in speed, they will last longer and are better suited for regular training runs.

The bottom line is that the Flight Vectiv (and its two siblings) have elevated The North Face in the trail running space.

There is a lot to like about the Flights, including the successful carbon-plated technology.

However, there is still some work to be done for The North Face to connect this shoe with everyday runners who want a solid midweek trainer or seek adventure in muddy terrain.

All in all, it’s a good win for The North Face. And it will be interesting to see whether the second iteration improves on the weaknesses while maintaining what works so well in the first version.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Reviews Read what other runners say

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Dave

I run 0 - 20km per week, I use them primarily for running
Heels on these have significant wear after 5 months of running 15K a week. Most of my other running shoes do not show this wear in over a year of running in them -... Read more not pleased with this shoe - plus its hard to get on....

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