The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid II GTX is a lightweight boot with minor design changes and an updated sole from its previous version. It sports a stylish look but unfortunately is quite uncomfortable due to minimal padding and a noticeable seam along the heel. The Ultra Fastpack provides good protection due to its higher mid cut and Gore-Tex lining. It also uses a Vibram outsole that provides good traction on most terrain. Compared to some of the other boots tested it provides less support and stability over the long run.
The biggest downfall of the Ultra Fastpack II is its lack of comfort. Testers could feel a vertical seam inside the boot that dug into the heel while hiking. This seam makes the boot extremely uncomfortable to hike in for any considerable length of time. In addition, it uses minimal padding around the ankles and tongue so that overall it doesn’t have nearly the same level of comfort as the highly rated Oboz Sawtooth and La Sportiva Nucleo.
Support & Stability
The boot uses embedded cables on the inside mesh panels to provide lightweight midfoot support and features TNF’s Ultra Protect Cradle technology for heel support. The Ultra Fastpack II felt more supportive than a low cut trail hiking shoe would, but when compared to a few of the other boots tested they feel much flimsier.
The North Face equipped the Ultra Fastpack with a Vibram Megagrip outsole that sticks well to most surfaces. The boots feature a U-shaped lug on the outside with interior multi-directional lugs that they claim provide improved traction from their predecessor. While they did well on rocky terrain they didn’t perform quite as well in wet conditions making them better suited for drier excursions – ironic considering the Gore-Tex waterproofing.
While these boots feel more like a running shoe, their mid cut and Gore-Tex lining provide much more protection than a low cut shoe would. The boots use mesh panels on the toe and sides that are less durable compared to the rest of the boot. It also sports a low rubberized toe cap that did a good job at protecting the metatarsal-head.
Weight is one place where these boots really shine. They are the second-lightest boot in the test and consequently feel more like a running shoe rather than a full-on hiking boot.