Written by Martin Bell - https://thedeterminedrunner.wordpress.com
The 1st things that came to mind when I tried on the new Ultra MT’s were – Protection, Stiff Sole, Tough Upper, Steep Muddy Terrain & a roomy fit with a generous toe box.
I’ve only been for a handful of runs in them so far but I’ve made sure they’ve been tested in the right conditions, they’ve been up through the trees totally off path with a steep incline & they made me smile because it was a route I’d not normally do and they handled it no bother. Next few runs have been up Corbetts, some with a mile or so on well-defined path, then up steep rocky paths, followed by a pure bogfest that leads over boulders & more bogs! Great fun!!
I had thought they’d feel a little clumpy on the flat easy paths, but they were fine & I didn’t have an issue. Going up over rocky terrain they really impressed me, I used to love the older North Face Ultra Guides but my main gripe was when running Munros I’d trash the toes as there wasn’t enough protection from rocks & boulders, well with the new MT’s that’s been addressed & the protection they offer is superb, mainly at the toe & heel areas, but you also get a pretty water resistant ripstop mesh outer that looks & feels as if its built to last, not like on certain other shoes that end up splitting in the upper after just a bit of punishment. When you look inside the shoe you can see they have built lighter mesh panels at the sides of the tongue which will help with breathability. They have incorporated ‘FlashDry’ technology into the shoe which again will help with moisture management.
The laces are pretty thin & made from a tough cord, but as long as you double knot them they don’t work loose.
The overall fit of the shoe is quite roomy, but I prefer having extra room by my toes so when coming downhill my toes don’t bash the front. I have to lace the shoes pretty tight but when I do, there’s no movement inside.
The tongue comes up a little short in length compared to my other shoes but does have a nice padded backer to it.
They have an 8mm drop on the shoe (18mm/10mm) which is quickly becoming the norm nowadays.
Size 8.5 comes in at 300grams per shoe, which isn’t the lightest shoe out there but it’s certainly not heavy & I’d prefer the extra protection this offers & have an extra few grams on my feet, than going all out lightweight & them falling apart too quickly.
The sole itself is a Vibram MegaGrip sole. If you look at the picture above you’ll notice that they have changed the direction of the lugs under the rear of the foot to offer fantastic grip when going up & down in muddy conditions & I can confirm that they love mud!
So as a summary, this is the shoe you need if you are heading into the hills & mountains where you need extra protection. They’ll handle rocks & mud with steep technical terrain till the cows come home! This isn’t for well-groomed easy trails, they want to get off & explore the places where you’ll need the features this shoe offers.
My advice – try them on, if they fit & this is the sort of shoe you’re looking for? Buy them & get out & enjoy them!
Suunto Ambit 3 Peak movie of a run that the North Face Ultra MT took in its stride.