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Earlier this year, The North Face completely overhauled its line of trail running and hiking footwear. It dubbed the new shoes Vectiv, and engineered the line with a combination of the most innovative materials in running shoes and a sleek style that'll surely appeal to New York City fashion kids and ultrarunners on the Trail du Mont-Blanc alike.
More recently, TNF debuted a winterized addition to the Vectiv line—the Flight Vectiv Guard Futurelight—and it's every bit as wildly attractive as we had hoped.
The new shoe is as loaded with technical features as its name is with words, the most apparent of which is the gaiter that's integrated into the upper. This sleek feature gives the Flight Vectiv Guard Futurelight a look that calls to mind Nordic ski boots and well, equipped with The North Face's proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane, they will surely do the job of keeping snow, slush, and mud from getting anywhere near your feet just as well.
Beneath that gaiter is a proper trail shoe, laces and all, which is where the features that make Vectiv stand apart really live. Supporting the abrasion-resistant inner-upper is a molded carbon fiber plate that locks the foot onto the shoe's platform and provides energy-return for forward propulsion (similar carbon fiber plates are the gold-standard component in high-end marathon running shoes like Nike's ZoomX Vaporfly Next%).
Beneath the plate is a lightweight midsole that can handle hundreds of miles of trail wear. This lower portion of the shoe is rockered—meaning convex—to help roll the wearer from one step to the next and keep the momentum going forward (this too is a common feature in premium running shoes). Below that is TNF's proprietary grippy rubber outsole.
Available in both women's and men's, the Flight Vectiv Guard Futurelight is pricey at $250, but it's as technical as winter running footwear gets. Components aside, it's pretty darn sleek, and its waterproof gaiter makes it a likely candidate for replacing the typical clunky snow boot for walking around town.
Stay tuned for a hands-on (feet-in?) review once the weather really begins to turn.