Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctors of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance, bring you cutting edge articles, reviews, and research reports.

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

North Face Vectiv Infinite Review

Matt: While there have been some North Face running shoes over the years, none have made as big of a splash as the Vectiv series. As some of the first trail shoes with plates to enter the market, a series of three were debuted. The Flight Vectiv is the carbon fiber racing model (review soon), the Vectiv Infinite is the pebax plated lightweight trainer and the Vectiv Enduris is the TPU plated, super stack height max shoe. I decided to get my hands on the middle child as I like pebax plates AND I was really curious in the plate stability design. I am very impressed for version one of the Vectiv Infinite. Those training and racing on the trails should definitely take a look at these models, especially if you want a different take on stability.



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.8 oz / 306 g (men's size 9) 9.6 oz / 273 g (women's size 8)
Measured Weight: 11.4 oz (men's size 10)
Stack Height: 25 mm / 19 mm
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Trail Uptempo Trainer



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite is a durable, smooth, pebax plated trail trainer/ultramarathon racing shoe. Featuring a secure fit from heel to midfoot with just a hair bit more room in the forefoot, the fit should work for narrow to medium width feet (with a little wiggle room for wider feet). A pebax plate, rockered sole and VECTIV design provide a smooth ride from heel to toe. With the plate elevating into sidewalls, the ride is stable, doing well at easy long mileage and mild uptempo work. For those with medium width feet looking for a stable trail trainer/ultra marathon racer (50 mile +) with a rockered ride for efficiency, the North Face Vectiv Infinite may be worth a look.





FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite fits me true to size in my normal men's size 10. The initial try on felt almost a hair short, but that is due to the fairly thick toe guard. Despite 15-20 mile runs, I never had any chaffing up front from the toe guard, but it is noticeable on the warm up. The upper is made from a reinforced knit material, which does not stretch but has some flexibility in movement to it. There are Kevlar and Matryx material panels around the foot that with the elevated plate reinforce the upper and do a great job keeping the foot stable on the platform. The fit is on the medium to slightly wide side, but is very secure. The heel is fairly normal in width, however the 3D molded heel counter locks in the heel really well. I never had to lace lock the shoe and never had any slippage or heel movement in the shoe. Although because of this, getting the shoe on and off can sometimes be a little challenge. The heel counter is actually fairly flexible, so those with sensitive calcani (heel bones) will have zero issues. It does however work very well. 




     The heel collar is thin and a bit pointed. I had some chaffing initially as the Achilles notch comes up a little too high. Definitely make sure you wear tall socks with this shoe. The midfoot is medium to slightly wide. The laces are extremely secure, enough that I had to really tug on them to tighten them down. They stay tight once they are down (just be ready to fight a little bit to get the shoe off). There are additional overlays in the midfoot that do provide additional security on the medial side. The forefoot has a little extra room, but as mentioned is limited from stretching further due to the thick toe guard. As mentioned this never caused me issues even though I was worried about that. The tongue is gusseted and is locked in very well. It is a bit firm and thin. I WOULD NOT wear this shoe sockless due to a combination of the toe guard and the sharp heel collar. Overall the upper is very secure and extremely durable. I have used this shoe on very technical terrain and despite running through thorns, couldn't make a dent in the upper.





PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite features a pebax plate, a rockered sole, a lugged outsole and a mildly firm ride. The rocker is very noticeable and it took me a few minutes to figure the ride out when I first tried these on. There is plenty of cushioning underfoot that is slightly firm on road and slightly soft on dirt. There is plenty of midsole for road use and I have done up to 10 miles just on roads. The only issue is that you will start chewing through the lugs, but I have not been able to start chewing into the midsole. For those looking for a great road to trail shoe, the Vectiv Infinite can certainly handle this. I am not sure exactly what material the midsole is, but the VECTIV design has a duel density flavor to it. The foam in the rear is a bit softer, while up front things are firmer. Those who land farther back will feel that softness, while those landing further forward will get a bit more firmness.

     Despite the 11.4 oz weight in my size 10, this shoe feels much lighter in hand and on foot. The rocker action feels extremely smooth once you figure out how to use it. There is a little kick from the pebax plate, but there is actually some flexibility up front for the MTP (metatarsophalangeal joints). Thus the toe is really smooth both at easy paces and uptempo paces. The foam and plate work very well for long steady uptempo efforts, but the shoe is a little too heavy for anything faster than that. At easier and slower paces, the ride is very protective, stable (more on that later) and consistent. I notice that this shoe feels the same at mile one and at 20, so those looking for both a trainer for trails and an ultramarathon shoe should take a look at the Vectiv Infinite. The lugs are also very grippy and I have not had an issue even in slick mud or gravel. Even after wearing down the rearfoot lugs on my left shoe, the grip is still very good, even on technical trails.

     Durability of the outsole has been just like the upper. Other than wearing down the lungs, I have not been able to make a dent in the outsole despite a large amount of road use and even after 50 miles of total use. So I expect these to last FAR beyond normal industry standards. There is a 6mm heel toe drop, but honestly I did not notice that at all given the rockered frame. So for those sensitive to high or low drop, you will be fine in this. Of the three North Face Vectiv shoes, the Infinite would be my first choice for a majority of people looking to race a trail half marathon to 100k. The pebax plate provides nice stability while there is plenty of protection and durability for long miles.





STABILITY

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite is technically a neutral shoe, but is one of the most stable trail shoes I have tried. The most significant factor to this is that the pebax plate comes up around the sides and creates guide rails/walls along the medial and lateral sides of the each shoe. This provides the feeling of a very stable and guided ride throughout the shoe. There is a surprising amount of flexibility in the forefoot for a plated shoe, which combined with the rocker only further adds to the stability and smoothness of the transition. The North Face Vectiv Infinite does not have a post, but is a very unbiased stable shoe. As someone who prefers a little stability, I definitely noticed this in a positive way as my feet legs did not fatigue as much over long runs. So for those used to mild to moderate stability shoes, you may feel right at home (with a slightly different feel) in this shoe. For those with neutral mechanics, given the lack of posting, you should feel right at home and should not have issue. Those who are sensitive to guide rails may notice the elevated plates. Initially they pushed into my arch a little, but that sensation disappeared. So overall a very stable ride in a technically neutral shoe.




THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite does several great things footwear science.  The first notable thing is the unique use of their plate design. As you can see in the photos, it comes up around the foot, creating a nice cradle in all directions. Rather than a biased medial post, this is a great way to not only lock the foot on the platform, but help guide motion. Then, at the appropriate places where you want motion, ie the forefoot under the MTP joints to allow some flexibility, it does not do this. This allows for appropriate control of flexibility along the sole WITH guidance in the right places. I really like this design. It is not new as Xtep does this in their 160X (REVIEW) to a lesser degree, but it still has some of the same concepts.

     The other interesting bit is the 3D molded heel counter. Having a flexible counter that still locks the foot does exactly what heel counters should do without the problem they often cause. I frequently discuss heel counters in regards to both how stable they make a shoe as well as how rigid they are. The rigidity and stiffness can be uncomfortable or problematic for people with sensitive Achilles insertions and/or those with Haglund deformities (which can occur for a number of reasons, including excessive pressure causing a bony outgrowth). My heel was locked in extremely well in this shoe and I never had any issue or pressure there. Let this be a lesson to companies that you can create a secure heel counter design without making it uncomfortably rigid.

    My only challenge with this shoe is the toe guard. I understand with trail shoes that you want protection up front in case of rocks. While it is protective, it narrows the toebox. This may be a problem for some people as the forefoot needs to splay and will definitely swell during longer efforts. This shoe is designed for long distance trail/ultramarathon events, so as I suggest below, something needs to be modified to allow that little bit of flexibility up front for that issue. Those with narrow feet will not notice this, but those wanting a bit more room should be a tiny bit cautious.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The North Face is off to a great debut with the Vectiv series, particularly the Infinite, although I do have a few recommendations. I would suggest lowering the height of the Achilles tab as it is really high and caused some chaffing. The heel collar is a bit sharp, which could be a risk for chaffing around the ankle. Making that a bit softer/thicker would be helpful. The toe guard is thick enough that it does limit toebox space and has the potential to cause some chaffing. I would suggest reducing how far back it goes or giving it a bit more flexibility (like the Flight Vectiv). Finally, I challenge North Face to reduce the weight. 11.4 oz for my size is hefty and although it feels lighter than that, I want to see them bring that weight down a little.




WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The North Face Vectiv Infinite is for those wanting a plated, rockered, very stable and durable trail shoe that can handle some road, training mileage and ultramarathon races. The upper is extremely secure and will work best for those with medium to narrow feet. There is some room in the forefoot, but it is narrowed in the toebox a bit due to the toe guard. The plate adds both to the rockered transition of the sole as well as provides great guidance medially and laterally. Those who are looking for a trail shoe with mild stability or a very stable neutral shoe will be very happy with the Infinite. It is not the stiffest ride, so those wanting a shoe that has some kick but isn't carbon plated should look here. A frequent question that we get but haven't answered for many footwear models: Is this shoe worth $170? I would say yes. This is one of the most durable shoes I have tried and the consistent feel is something I feel comfortable grabbing for almost anything on the trails (and actually for somethings on the road). For a great, stable, durable trail and road to trail shoe, the North Face has made a great debut.

(Check back soon for our comparison to the North Face Flight Vectiv)



GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B (Medium width fit with a hair extra room. Very secure, but toe guard and sharp heel collar cause some chaffing without good socks. Could use a bit more forefoot room/flexibility)                     
Performance: B+ (Smooth, protective ride for long distances. Could be a bit lighter) 
Stability: A (Elevated plate/guide rail is very effect for guidance. Ride maintains forward moment very well. Unbiased stability) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Really great use of plate for stability along with rocker design. Great heel counter design. Toe box could be a bit better with less aggressive toe guard limiting space) 
Personal:  B+ (I keep reaching for this shoe because it is reliable and I trust it. I just wish it was a bit lighter and the toe guard was less aggressive) 
Overall: A-/B+ (Solid, consistent, durable, and trustworthy debut from North Face. Some upper issues that need to be addressed, but thus far this is my favorite of the three Vectiv shoes)      

DOCTORS OF RUNNING Q&A ON THE NORTH FACE VECTIV INFINITE



Interested in a pair of The North Face Vectiv Infinite? Check out Running Warehouse (Men's Vectiv Infinite / Women's Vectiv Infinite) or
visit Fleet Feet (Mens / Womens). Using these links helps support our work at Doctors of Running! Thank you so much.
 

FURTHER READING

Compare
Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte
- Lightweight trail runner from Asics
361 Taroko 2 - A favorite war cry of the DOR team, and a fun offering in general from 361
Newton BOCO AT 5 - Contributor David Sala's trail shoe of 2020

Recently at Doctors of Running
Asics EvoRide 2 Review

Puma Ultraride Review
Saucony Ride 14 Review

Podcast Episode 36: Karhu's Jordan Kinley on the History of the Finnish Running Brand

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased through a Running Warehouse Affiliate program in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Running Warehouse for working with us!  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running 

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!

Podcast EP. 38: What is a Carbon Fiber Suspension Shoe, with Inventor Lenn Hann

Featured Post: Mizuno Wave Inspire 17

Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 Multiple Tester Review

Bottom Ad [Post Page]