First Look: North Face Ultra Vertical

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The North Face Ultra Vertical is an offshoot of the company’s Ultra MT trail runner, with an aggressive outsole, high breathability in the upper, and a nice blend of cushioning and protection through the midsole.

Features:

  • Weight: 10.7 oz
  • Stack heights: 20mm heel / 14mm forefoot
  •  6mm heel-toe drop
  • High resilience EVA in top layer of midsole for stability
  • Cushioned EVA in bottom layer of midsole for comfort
  • Forefoot Snake Plate for rock protection
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole with directional 5mm lugs
  • Reinforced toe offers protection
  • FlashDry moisture wicking ankle collar
  • Three color options
  • MSRP $120

We’ve logged extensive vertical mileage through the spring in advance of upcoming mountain ultras this summer, and the Ultra Vertical has become one of our favorites for steep training. One standout feature is the aggressive outsole with multidirectional 5mm lugs to help you grip ascents and control your speed and direction when descending.

The upper is very airy and ventilates well without letting too much grit through it. The entire shoe dries very efficiently after water immersion, and the ankle collar rides comfortably on full-day outings. Tightness and fit can be nicely customized with the welded suede tongue and lacing system, with thin TPU overlays looped into the laces to keep the fit secure on irregular terrain.

The underfoot achieves a great blend of comfort and protection. A forefoot Snake Plate helps disperse impact in the front foot, while thicker EVA foam in the heel area cushions the rearfoot landing. The overall platform is fairly low to the ground for stability, and the 6mm offset is the sweet spot between accommodating forefoot strikers but allowing you to push the pace with increased heel impact.

The North Face Ultra Vertical is available now online and in stores.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America’s National Parks. When he’s not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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