Walk fast in The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX shoes.
The North Face has created a walking shoe, the Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX, which is lightweight and waterproof but also offers extra features normally found in running trainers.
The theory is that many people like to walk faster on off-road terrain and while they want walking shoe advantages, such as waterproof membranes and supportive, grippy soles, they also like the comfort and weightÂ of running trainers.
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX features include:
- An abrasion resistant and breathable textile upper
- Gore-Tex membrane
- Dual-density, compression-moulded EVA midsoles with â€œCradle Guideâ€. A Cradle Guide is â€œmidsole technology engineered to provide efficient full-phase impact control to enhance a natural stride transitionâ€. (Apparently!)
- Exclusive Vibram rubber outsole
- Reinforced heel and toe
- Heel pull tab
- Bellows tongue
- Weight: 548g
North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Lite GTX on test
If you like your walking shoes to be lightweight then the Hedgehogs are exactly that. They feel as light as a running trainer â€“ in fact, they feel lighter than some running trainers â€“ Â yet still offer lots of walking shoe features and support.
The sole of the shoe is stiffer than most running trainers, which means thereâ€™s good stability when walking on rough terrain. A running trainer might also do a good job for walkers but if you plan to cover lots of miles you really need a more robust walking shoe.
The soles have a design created by The North Face to offer lots of grip in mud and on rocks. The lugs are inspired by the cloven heels of a mountain goat â€“ they spread when in contact with the ground, and work a treat even when itâ€™s wet and slippery mud and rock. Just touching the sole of the shoes with your fingers reveals just how sticky and grippy they are.
When walking fast in these shoes I felt secure with every step. There was very little movement frontways or sideways thanks to the ultra grippy soles.
These shoes are not for high-altitude hiking but rather for hills and trails, in my opinion. The uppers have good reinforcement details, such as around the toes, forefoot and heel areas where you would expect most wear and tear. I can see the shoes being long-lasting.
The fit is average width. I have a narrow foot so they felt a little roomy in the forefoot but I was pleasantly surprised to feel my heels were kept securely in place. This is important for avoiding heel rubs and blisters when walking.
The insole gives a neutral fit. If you over pronate or under pronate you might need to putÂ in your own footbeds.
If you are expecting the springiness of running trainers you will be disappointed but I think this is an advantage. When walking you do not need much bounce, you simply want support, grip and for the soles to be hardwearing. Running trainers would wear out quickly if you were to use them for long-distance trail walking.
The Gore-Tex membrane is a bonus, especially if you plan to walk in the UK where weather is fickle. I would reserve these walking shoes for spring and summer walking and wear boots in the autumn and winter. There is a mid-ankle height version, which would be a good choice if you planned to take your hiking up a notch and to higher altitudes or rougher terrain.
The colour ranges for men and women are also lovely. I have said before that looks shouldnâ€™t matter as much as fit and purpose, but if products also look great then thatâ€™s a bonus.
The Hedgehogs do what they say on the label and offer a great alternative to traditional summer walking boots for hiking on trails and hills.
They come in men’s and womenâ€™s fit and cost Â£110. See outdoors and fitness retailers and www.thenorthface.co.uk.