Cushioned but responsive.

(This review originally featured in Wild #190, Summer 2023)

 By Megan Holbeck.

Shoe reviews are hard: So much is subjective, from how they fit, to cushioning, to the sole. What you like depends on your feet, the type of trails you run, and where you fit on the trade-off of cushioning versus being able to feel the ground.

The other hard thing about reviewing shoes is that you soon forget what others feel like: The new ones quickly feel normal, and you can no longer really compare them. So I decided to wear one old and one new shoe—the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 on my right, the Vectiv on my left—and compare them directly. (While I really like my Hokas, I’ve done hundreds of kays in them; meanwhile, the Vectivs are bouncy and new, but I did my best…)

What did I discover, except that you get strange looks when running around with odd shoes? The Hokas grip is thicker—occasionally I’ll clip a shoe when I don’t lift it high enough—and they feel like they’d handle anything, while the Vectivs are stickier on rock. I can also feel the ground better through the Vectivs (which I like), and they’re slightly more comfortable, holding my foot snuggly without rubbing. When I weighed them, the Vectiv Enduris 3 is 15g lighter (240 vs 255g)—completely unnoticeable in use. The Hokas have lasted really well, but thus far, the Vectivs have held up: despite the fabric being light ripstop—almost see-through—it looks and feels tough.

Having hedged my bets nicely, I’ll tell you what I think: These shoes are great. They’re comfy right from the box—not a blister—and you almost forget you’re wearing them, in the best way. They’re supportive and firm enough to hold my foot securely, give great spring, and they don’t rub. In fact, they fit (me at least) perfectly: Shoes often rub on the widest bit of my inner foot (a common complaint), but not with these, nor on my toes. They’re bouncy, light and cushioned, but I can still feel the ground enough to react.

One odd thing is that I’m a whole size smaller in European sizing in The North Face shoe than all others I’ve worn—I’m a US 9 in both shoes, which translates into EU 40 for the Vectiv, but 41 1/3 (!) for the Hokas.



Intended use:

General trail-running