The North Face Ultra Equity ReviewJuly 8, 2014
- Provides plenty of cushion
- Good protection
- Feels a little heavy and clumsy
- Traction is poor on loose surfaces
The North Face Ultra Equity is fairly typical example of the cushioned stability shoe. There’s nothing really remarkable about it—either good or bad—but for runners who need this type of shoe, it will get the job done. But note that during aggressive running the outsole starts to lose its grip and the upper struggles to keep the foot in place.
Overall the Equity has a good balance in just about every respect. The midsole foam is soft without being overly flexible, the upper material is protective yet still somewhat breathable, and overall control is reasonable at appropriate speeds. In many ways it is exactly what one would expect in a cushioned stability shoe—nothing more, but also nothing less.
If there is a drawback to the Equity, it’s that it doesn’t respond as well as one might like to being pushed out of its comfort zone. In particular during aggressive running the outsole starts to lose its grip and the upper struggles to keep the foot in place. Although this does not necessarily detract from the shoe’s intended purpose, it does limit versatility when, for example, you decide to spontaneously blast down a fun, technical descent, simply because it’s a fun, technical descent. This also could be an issue late in long runs when the legs and mind are tired.
As a trail and hybrid shoe, The North Face Equity appealed to runners who needed stability and support. The Equity also could make a decent shoe for very long runs and/or recovery days, provided the shoe is primarily kept on less technical surfaces. The decision will really come down to individual preferences for fit and feel.
Comfort & Protection
One expects a shoe of this type to be comfortable and protective and the Equity did not disappoint. It is not a super soft, plush shoe, but rather has a touch of firmness and responsiveness. Overall protection also is good, and in particular push-through protection—the result of the full-length outsole and ample midsole foam.
Security of Fit
The Equity felt secure at slower speeds without any hot spots or excessive lace tightness. During faster, more aggressive running however the Equity seemed to allow for increasing amounts of foot rotation, particularly to the lateral side. While one would not expect shoes in this category to excel in this regard, most can hold their own on technical trail for short periods.
Speed & Energy Efficiency
The Equity does a little bit better than average here due to the less aggressive outsole lugs. While these do reduce traction on loose surfaces, the flip side is that they contribute to a slightly smoother ride on firm surfaces like hard-packed dirt, bike paths, and short sections of pavement. Turnover also feels heavier than the weight would suggest, which is a consequence of the amount of cushioning.
Agility and Traction
The Equity is not a shoe built for precision footwork. Although the shoe feels stable and controllable at slower speeds, there’s just no getting around the weight, stack height, and 10mm drop. But this is about what one would expect for this type of shoe. The traction however was a little disappointing, particularly on loose surfaces. If the shoe had a bit more stick and aggressiveness to the outsole, it would actually be a credible long course mountain shoe for mid-packers.
The MSRP of $110 is on the low-end for shoes of this type so barring any durability issues the Equity is a good value.