The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro is a carbon plate trail-running shoe that provides a comfortable and efficient ride for long runs on hard ground, but I found the shoe rubbed the front of my foot and I’m not sure the performance matches the price.
- Efficient, rockered ride
- Better value from rivals
- Rubbing in forefoot
- On the heavy side
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The North Face Flight Vectiv was the first carbon plate trail shoe I tried, and while it impressed in certain conditions I wasn’t convinced by the benefits of the technology on the trails. Compared with the best carbon plate running shoes for the road, trail super-shoes are yet to prove as revolutionary, though they’re an increasingly common sight on the podiums at major ultra-marathons.
With the Summit Vectiv Pro, The North Face has taken instruction from road racers to produce a high-stack shoe with a softer midsole than the original. The changes have made the shoe better at its purpose—protecting the legs and providing extra pop for long runs on harder trails—but it is now more expensive than the Flight Vectiv, and I had problems with the fit around the forefoot.
If you don’t experience the rubbing I did, The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro is one of the best trail-running shoes for ultra-marathons on firmer trails, but runners on soft ground are better served by shoes with more grip.
The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro Review: Price And Availability
The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro launched in February 2023 and costs $250 in the US and £225 in the UK. That makes it one of the most expensive trail-running shoes, and it’s a jump in price on the Flight Vectiv, which cost $199/£180.
Design And Fit
The Summit Vectiv Pro looks and feels different from the Flight Vectiv. The midsole stack is higher, more rockered and made from a different material. The Pebax-based foam is softer and springier than the foam used on The North Face’s original carbon shoe, though it’s not as squishy as the midsoles used on road racers to maintain stability on the trails.
With a stack height of 32mm at the heel and 26mm at the forefoot, the Summit Vectiv Pro doesn’t stand as tall as road racers, but it’s still one of the most cushioned trail shoes I’ve tested. The shoe has a 6mm drop, and weighs 10.7oz/304g in my UK size 9.
Changes have also been made to the carbon plate, which is now forked at the heel and forefoot and has forefoot wings. This design allows for flexibility and creates stability when running on uneven surfaces, while still providing some of the pop runners expect from carbon shoes.
The shoe has a breathable mesh upper and fits well on length in my normal running shoe size, with plenty of room in the toe box. However, I’ve had rubbing on the inside of my right forefoot on each run in the shoe, which I think is caused by the forefoot wings of the carbon plate. The rubbing has meant that I’ve capped my runs in the shoe at around an hour, and it would be a major concern if I had designs on using the shoe for ultra-marathons.
There are 3.5mm butterfly-shaped lugs on the Surface CTRL outsole, which is primarily designed to provide grip on harder surfaces like rocky trails, rather than to bite into mud. The lugs are fairly shallow and widely spaced, which means the shoe is also comfortable on the road, and they grip well on wet surfaces.
How I Tested This Shoe
I’ve run about 30 miles (50km) in The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro on a mix of terrains, including gravely paths, muddy forest trails and grass, along with road running between trails. I’ve also tested The North Face Flight Vectiv and other plated trail shoes, such as the Saucony Endorphin Edge and Hoka Tecton X.
Initially, I found The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro a disappointment. The high stack of foam and plate promised a springy, propulsive ride, but it felt dull underfoot. My first two runs in the shoe were easy to steady progression runs and when I made a conscious effort to step up the pace, late in the run, the ride felt labored and the shoe a little heavy.
I enjoyed using the shoe more in my next two runs, which were at an easy pace. When running at a relaxed pace I found it easier to get into sync with the rocker on the shoe and tick along at a pace that was faster than I expected for my perceived effort level.
Given that it’s a shoe designed for ultra-marathons, this type of running is where you want it to shine, and it is fun to cruise along in the shoe. However, I was surprised that it didn’t have more punch when I pushed the pace, even on flatter trails.
As with the Flight Vectiv, the Summit Vectiv Pro is best used on harder trails. It provided reliable grip, including on uneven ground in the wet, and performed acceptably in mild mud on flat trails, though I’d hesitate to use it to dash down grassy or muddy hills.
It was comfortable to use as a road-to-trail shoe, while being stable when running hard along narrow trails. It’s a shoe that I’d have no fears about taking on mountain trails with jagged rocks and gravel underfoot, but when using it in the Britain winter on soft ground the grip wasn’t always perfect. The open mesh upper lets a lot of dirt in when running through muddy puddles, though it also drains quickly too.
The main problem I had with the shoe was the forefoot rubbing, and that does appear to be a problem other runners are having, judging by online reviews. The rubbing occurred only on my right foot, where the carbon wing is placed on the medial side of the shoe. Given that this is a shoe built for long runs, it’s concerning to have any rubbing on the runs I’ve done, which have all been less than 10 miles.
Is The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro Worth It?
If you don’t have the problems with rubbing that I experienced, then The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro is a great shoe for its intended purpose: running long distances at relatively easy paces on harder ground. It’s comfortable, helps you to tick along smoothly and feels like it’s reducing the effort involved, while feeling stable and gripping well on tricky, uneven ground.
Outside of that, it didn’t work so well for me. The grip is inconsistent on soft ground and when trying to push the pace the shoe felt a bit cumbersome. My personal preference would be to have a lighter, more nimble shoe on the trails, like the Inov-8 Trailfly G-270 or Hoka Tecton X, but I can see how someone who always runs long on harder ground might get more protection from the Summit Vectiv Pro.
The price of The North Face Summit Vectic Pro is eye-wateringly high, and I wouldn’t say it’s a big step up in performance to something like the Hoka Speedgoat 5, which doesn’t have a plate but is well cushioned with a rocker profile, and is much cheaper.
Overall, I’d say most runners will be able to find better value and performance by looking elsewhere, but the Summit Vectiv Pro will be the perfect shoe for some runners tackling ultra-marathons on firm ground.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.