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Monday, November 04, 2013

The North Face Hyper Track Guide

After I retired my last North Face trail shoe, I promptly went and bought another pair of North Face. This time attracted by the bright colors of the North Face Hyper Track Guide, I scooped it up at a good price as it was last season's shoe and on the way out.

Design: In the past, North Face has not been known for its colorful shoes. Both my 2 previous pair of NF were rather dull looking but this time round, NF has out done itself proud by coming up with nice beautiful colors and the Hyper Track Guide is just one of them.

The bright color extends to the sole with its striking yellow and blue color.

I especially like that they put the NR logo on the heel of the shoe instead of the usual side like everybody else does.

Weight: Coming in at about 280 gm, this has to be one of the lightest trail shoes ever produced by NF. As a comparison, my NF Sentinel weights in at 650 gm and my NF Arnuva Boa is a hefty 710 gm. Even my beloved Altra Lone Peak 1.5 is heavier at 345 gm!

Cushioning: There is sufficient cushioning. This is after all not a minimalist shoes. It has a 8mm heel to toe drop. It also lack the NF signature rock plate and is not meant for technical trail.  But one of the reason I bought this shoe apart from its color was that it is touted as a road cum trail shoe and where I am, the trails are short and there are always plenty of roads in between the trails. And our trails are fairly easy to run on and not very technical indeed. So I figured this will be a suitable shoes. And in my runs to date, I find no issue with the cushioning. My first run was on the beautiful carpet grass of Tampines Eco Green and I felt I was almost like running on air. For my next run, I took it for a long run on road at the hard ground of the Punggol Promenade. Again, I had no problem with the cushioning even on the hard concrete. My final run before this post was on the more challenging trails of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The ground was wet and rather soft and on the little area where there were more rocks, I walked over most of these so I couldn't really test how well the shoe protect me from the rocks. But generally, cushioning was very adequate and good enough for people switching to minimalist.

Traction: From the Bukit Timah run, I was fairly pleased with the performance of the shoes. The trails were generally wet and slippery but the sole gripped well. I didn't feel any slippage but then again I said the same thing of my Altra and it failed me miserably in the harsh wet ground of Kinabalu. Hopefully the Hyper Track will only have to do duty in safe comfortable Singapore.

Flexibility: Unfortunately it wasn't as flexible as I could like it to be. When I flexed it, I thought it was flexible enough but for my initial 2 runs, I had some difficulty adjusting to the harder ride and there was some strains on my mid foot as I tried to flex my foot. But on the trails, it was flexible enough or maybe that was because I replaced the insole? But overall, this is more a trail shoe than a road shoe and I think it adapt better to uneven ground than flat ground. 

Water Proofing: The upper is made up of a fine mesh and it will appears that water can get in easily. However, on my run through the Green Corridors, there were many small puddles of mud and water which I happily went through but nothing went in. But looking at the mesh and design, it is definitely not waterproof but I expect just as the water will get in easily, it will also drain out easily.

However, I do have one bad thing to note about the shoe. In my earlier 2 runs, my left toe kept rubbing against the side of the shoe so much so that I developed a super duper blister. I read conflicting online review of the shoe fit. In my opinion, the shoe fit well. Is snug and not loose. There is very little side movement so I am rather surprised. I replaced the insole for my third run, applied some Bodyglide on the toe and went for my 2 hours run and came away unscathed! So the verdict is still out on this.

Overall, I like the shoe for its light weight, its flexibility for both road and trail and of course the bright color. But because of the toe box, I will be hesitant to use it for too long runs and will probably use it for shorter runs.

Running Lab Singapore is currently clearing stock of this shoe at up to a whopping 60% discount and for those looking to get their first pair of affordable trail shoe, this could be it! 

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