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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > The North Face Ultra Fastpack GTX boots > Test Report by Frances Penn

THE NORTH FACE ULTRA FASPACK MID GTX
TEST SERIES BY FRANCES PENN
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 03, 2015

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Frances Penn
EMAIL: oldhikergirl AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: Santa Ana, California USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for eight years mostly on long weekends in Southern California with two or more 5-day trips per year in the Sierras. My total daypack weight, including food and water, is usually 15 lb (7 kg) and my total backpack weight, including food and water, is usually 22-26 lb (10-12 kg) depending on the need for a bear canister. I have converted to a tarp and bivy sleep system instead of a tent to keep my pack weight down. I have experienced all night rain, hail, heavy winds, camping in snow once, but mostly fair weather.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: The North Face
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: www.thenorthface.com
MSRP: US $150.00
Listed Weight based on Women's 7: 1/2 Pair: 11.1 oz (315 g) / Pair: 1 lb 6 oz (630 g)
Measured Weight: 27 oz (765 g)
Colors Available: Black with Beach Glass Green accents and Cosmic Blue accents Rocket Red accents
Color Tested: Black with Beach Glass Green accents
Size tested: Women's 9 ½

IMAGE 1
courtesy The North Face website


The Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX hiking boots are designed to cover maximum miles in challenging conditions with the women-specific protection of a waterproof Gore-Tex® waterproof membrane. The mid-cut features TPU CRADLE™ heel-stability technology for proper alignment. The Ultra Series provides critical impact and element protection while eliminating excess weight.

The boots are constructed with a Pebax® shank for impact protection next to a rigid Snake Plate™ that prevents stone bruising and provides lightweight protection with energy return. The upper is water-resistant and constructed with minimal-weight material. The boots have a TPU quarter weld for structure with reflective webbing and a reinforced toe cap for protection against rocks. The soles are injection-molded with a dual-durometer EVA midsole and a Vibram® rubber outsole.

IMAGE 2
courtesy The North Face website

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impression upon putting on the boots was WOW! These are really lightweight! The boots feel almost like there is nothing holding my foot on top of a very supportive sole. The sole feels a little stiff when compared to how comfortable the upper feels. The boot height is completely above my ankle bones. The color I am testing is black trimmed with beach glass green on both sides of the soles, the bottom of the soles and the laces. The lacing hardware consists of eight loops, two metal rings and four metal hooks at the top. The green laces are round with a black line on both sides of them and slide through the lacing hardware easily.

The website indicates the upper portion of the boots are constructed of a water-resistant minimal weight material without specifying the exact materials. It appears to be synthetic with mesh inserts. The black gusseted tongue is padded. The boots have a reinforced toe cap and a TPU CRADLE heel for stability. There is a reflective webbing design on both sides of the boots that radiate out from the laces. There is a tiny Gore-Tex label on the outside upper portion of each boot. There are reflective designs on the toe, both sides of the heel, the rear ankle and on the top of the tongue.

The midsole is injection molded, dual durometer EVA with the Pebax shank and Snake Plate. The outsole is constructed of Vibram rubber. The boots have TPU quarter weld integrated into their supportive structure.

IMAGE 3
courtesy The North Face website


The manufacturer provides a limited-one year warranty.

These boots appear to be sturdy, well-designed and attractive. I can't wait to wear them on and off the trails in the cold weather months during the test period.

TRYING IT OUT

I put on the boots and went for a walk around the neighborhood. I immediately noticed how lightweight the upper portion felt along with the supportive sole. The boots fit slightly larger and looser than the boots I have been wearing. I have a tendency to develop blisters if my boots don't fit my foot tightly. I usually wear toe socks as liners to prevent blisters from my sweaty feet and toes that slide under each other. I will experiment with different thickness of socks to get the fit just right for these boots.

SUMMARY

The boots are comfortable, supportive and lightweight. I look forward to getting them on and off the trails. Since they are so lightweight, I will pay close attention to if they keep my feet warm in the colder weather months that will be during this test period.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #1:
Location: Toad Lake, Mt. Shasta area, California USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2,134 m)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: off trail in the forest with stream crossings
Temperatures: 70 F (21 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 6
Miles hiked: 8 (13 km)

Trip #2:
Location: Sugarloaf Mountain area, Big Bear Lake, California USA
Elevation: 9,200 ft (2,800 m)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: on and off trail in the forest with stream crossings
Temperatures: 60 F (15 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 12
Miles hiked: 15 (24 km)

Trip #3:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: on trail in the forest
Temperatures: 75 F (24 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 6
Miles hiked: 5 (8 km)

Trip #4:
Location: Eureka Peak area of Joshua Tree, California USA
Elevation: 5,500 ft (1,676 m)
Trip Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Trail Conditions: sandy desert on and off trail
Temperatures: 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C)
Weather: clear and sunny
Hours wearing boots: 20
Miles hiked: 22 (35 km)

Trip #5:
Location: Warren Point area of Joshua Tree, California USA
Elevation: 5,100 ft (1,554 m)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: sandy desert on and off trail
Temperatures: 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C)
Weather: clear and sunny
Hours wearing boots: 18
Miles hiked: 18 (29 km)

Trip #6:
Location: Ashland, Oregon USA
Elevation: 1,950 ft (594 m)
Trip Duration: 2 day hikes on trail in the forest
Trail Conditions: Dirt forest trail with wet portions after a rainstorm
Temperatures: 40 F (4 C)
Weather: Sunny one day and rainy the other day
Hours wearing boots: 12
Miles hiked: 8 (13 km)

Trip #7:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: on snow in the forest wearing traction device
Temperatures: 45 F (7 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 5
Miles hiked: 6 (10 km)

Trip #8:
Location: Huntington Beach, California USA
Elevation: sea level
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: wet sandy beach
Temperatures: 50 F (10 C)
Weather: sunny with light winds
Hours wearing boots: 6
Miles hiked: 5 (8 km)

Trip #9:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Trip Duration: 1 day hike
Trail Conditions: on snow in the forest without traction device
Temperatures: 40 F (7 C)
Weather: sunny
Hours wearing boots: 5
Miles hiked: 6 (10 km)

IMAGE 1
on top of Eureka Peak

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On the Mt. Shasta trip, we day hiked to a local mountain lake. We crossed a stream and marshy area during our off trail hike. I made a point of stomping through as many water, mud and marshy areas that were available. While this was fun, I was accused of acting like a little kid stomping through the mud.

IMAGE 2
on top of Warren Point


On the Sugarloaf trip, there wasn't much water, but I did manage to stomp through the small streams and muddy areas as I crossed them.

On the snow hikes in Big Bear, my feet were warm and comfortable while hiking. On the last Big Bear trip, a few of us stood around in the snow setting up gear and trying out different configurations of tarps and other backpacking gear and sharing ideas for future trips. I noticed my feet were starting to get cold after two hours of standing on the snow. Once we packed up our gear and started the hike out of the forest, I noticed that my feet got warm quickly.

On the beach hike, we walked along the water's edge in the wet sand on a beautiful sunny beach day. The boots were very supportive in this terrain and my feet remained dry and warm. The wet sand that got on the boots was quickly removed by hitting the bottoms together once the boots were removed.

On all of the above trips, the boots kept my feet dry and warm after contact with snow, water, mud, and the marshy areas. Due to the plastic outer material of the boots, the water rolled off and the boots did not look wet immediately after contact. The grip of the soles after contact with water continued to be excellent.

I have worn thin toe socks and midweight wool hiking socks with these boots to prevent blisters on the longer trips. I have worn wool hiking socks without the toe socks for the shorter day hikes which works well. The fit of the boots is comfortable with both configurations of socks.

IMAGE 3
Big Bear snow

SUMMARY

I have enjoyed wearing these boots. They are very supportive and comfortable. I have worn them on as many different surfaces as I had available. I like how the high tops cover and provide support for my ankles. I tend to twist my ankle at least once a day and this has not been as noticeable while wearing these boots.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #10:
Location: San Jacinto area, California, USA
Elevation: 9,500 ft (2,900 m)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: on and off trail with light snow
Temperatures: 20 to 35 F (-6 to 1.67 C)
Weather: Stormy snow flurries
Hours wearing boots: 10
Miles hiked: 10 (16 km)


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

There was a snow storm coming into the area of this last trip which was the perfect opportunity for the final test of these boots. I brought my snow shoes and microspikes for traction in all snow storm conditions. I wore the microspikes in the beginning of the trip because the snow was not very deep and appeared to be icy in some places. After the snow storm dropped several inches of fresh snow, I wore my snow shoes. The boots were comfortable and supportive and kept my feet warm while we were hiking to camp. I noticed that after we set up camp and were just standing around visiting, that my feet were getting cold from standing on the snow.

After wearing microspikes and snowshoes, the boots sustained minor damage to the green foam portion near the soles. This change in the appearance of the green foam did not alter the performance of the boots.

IMAGE 1
damage to green foam area on the sides
IMAGE 2
damage to green foam area around the heels


The soles still exhibit a lot of traction similar to when they were new.

IMAGE 3
remaining traction of soles

SUMMARY

These boots performed well during this test. They are lightweight, waterproof and comfortable. They do not appear wet just after walking through a stream. My feet stayed dry during this entire test period. The boots keep my feet warm in winter snow conditions while walking to camp, but not for more than two hours while standing around on the snow in camp.

I leave you with a picture of the boots in their current condition.

IMAGE 4
current condition


This test is now concluded. Many thanks to The North Face and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Frances Penn

Reviews > Footwear > Boots > The North Face Ultra Fastpack GTX boots > Test Report by Frances Penn



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