Monday, November 18, 2013

The North Face Hyper-Track Guide | In-depth Review


Introduction

Sometime during the late-summer, I got in contact with The North Face about their Winter 2013 line-up of running gear (review forthcoming next week!). As part of a box of goodies that they sent us, I was pleased to find a pair of the TNF Hyper-Track Guide.


Before I talk more about the shoe, here are the specifications from The North Face:

Featured in Outside Magazine's Buyers Guide as a top product for 2013. A lightweight trainer that enables you to run on the road or out of bounds without compromising performance on either surface. Construction features a seamless upper and mesh for reduced chafing and allows your foot to breathe. Comfortable EVA Northotic™ footbed rests atop the CRADLE™ GUIDE dual-density midsole to enhance your natural stride. Abrasion-resistant rubber pods are strategically placed on the soles to provide additional traction on the trail.

Heel-to-toe drop: 16mm-8mm for an 8mm drop.
Weight: 9.4oz (men’s size 9)

Cool note: Mike Wolfe wore this shoe at UTMB, where he placed 3rd!
Information courtesy of TheNorthFace.com

The TNF Hyper-Track Guide is not a shoe I would normally pick up off of the rack because of its weight, 8mm drop, and the fact that it is a bit narrow in the forefoot, but why not try something new?

Image courtesy of TheNorthFace.com

Initial Impressions

I have to admit, I am a HUGE fan of the colors! This is, to me, an aesthetically appealing shoe. When I first put the shoe on, I was immediately shocked by how comfortable it felt on my feet. In fact, Hyper-Track Guide kind of feel like slippers—they are that comfortable.

First Run
Since my feet felt so comfortable in this shoe, I decided to take try them out immediately. Interestingly, my first run in this shoe was on an 18mi training run that was a mix of trails and road. The first run was extremely pleasant. After this initial run, I had no leg fatigue. In this sense, it is very similar to my experience of the Newton Energy NR, as well as the Skora Form (which is a zero drop shoe with minimal cushioning).


The Good

I have done a number of runs in Hyper-Track Guide on both roads and trails, and here is a bullet point list of some great things about this shoe:

·      Comfort: My feet feel comfortable the entire run, regardless of distance, and despite the narrow forefoot, but the nails on each pinkie toe cut into the adjacent toe making it bleed.  Again, it feels like a wonderful slipper, but this does not seem to interfere with ground feel that much. My heel feels very secure in the shoe.

·      Distances: Great for long races / runs, and good for shorter races that might be hilly. While I would generally not choose this shoe for racing distances of shorter than a half-marathon, I could easily see wearing this shoe for a shorter, very hilly race. I found pounding out sub-7 minute miles downhill to feel incredibly smooth on hard road surfaces with no residual pain after. I've logged about 4-5 15+ mile runs on these!

·      Road or Trail: As mentioned above, this shoe is great for the road, but it’s also solid on the trail. A true hybrid. I would use this shoe on any trail that isn’t very technical, but that’s my personal preference since I usually need shoes that are lower to the ground for stability reasons on technical trail. Seemed to perform well in muddy conditions, too!
Image courtesy of TheNorthFace.com. Note the road-trail friendly sole.

·      Drop: The 8mm drop on this shoe feels more like the 6mm drop on the Newton Energy NR or the 4mm drop on the Skecher GORun2. Thus, it does not interfere with my running form.

·      Weight: The weight is not noticeable. As a daily trainer, the weight is fine.

·      Breathability: My feet don’t sweat that much. They seem to be very breathable.

·      Durability: After about 130+ miles of this shoe on roads and trails, LOTS of long runs and faster, shorter runs, there is no noticeable sign of wear. Incredible!  The North Face also put fabric over the lateral part of the upper, so it seems like I will finally not tear through a pair of shoes!
Not much wear on these! Pleasantly surprised!

Note where the arrow is: I usually tear this part of the shoe after 200-400 miles, but TNF has put fabric over this part, so I do not foresee the upper going out on this shoe any time soon!

 

The Bad

I will be honest: it’s difficult for me to right a “negative” section for this review because I really love this shoe. The “bad” is based on my personal running style (same for “the good”), but I hope this might help for you:

·      Bleed: My toes bled on the first run or two because the nail on my pinkie toe would cut into the toe next to it., which is due to the fact that the shoe is a bit narrow, but not TOO narrow. The Fix: cutting my toenails! Toes haven’t bled since then.

·      Drop for Trails: For more technical trails, I prefer a 4mm drop, 6-7oz shoe since my ankles tend to roll very easily.

·      Price: At $120, it is a bit expensive, but the price seems to be in line with what most other companies are selling their trail shoes at.

·      Cushion: For fast running, I prefer a bit less cushion. For longer runs, the cushion is great, but sometimes on faster, shorter running I feel like I don’t have the ground feel I would normally like. Again, shoes are tools! Use the tool for what it is designed for.

Conclusion

The most important lesson for me from trying out the Hyper-Track Guide is that you should once in a while try a shoe that might not be exactly similar to the specifications you prefer for a shoe. Over the last 3 months, The North Face Hyper-Track Guide has been one of my most reliable shoes in my stable.  As the winter months are approaching, this could be a great shoe for snowy conditions, too. Plus, since they are durable, they’ll be ready to go for the Spring racing season on both the road and track.

Overall, I am a huge fan of The North Face Hyper-Track Guide. It is my go-to shoe for LONG runs because I know my form will remain true, my feet will be comfortable, and my legs never seem to be in pain the following day. I am super stoked to see what The North Face has for 2014. Keep it up!

2 comments:

  1. hey nice post mehn. I love your style of blogging here. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Quotes About Not Impressing Others .
    keep up the good work.

    Regards

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