Approach Shoes: The North Face Hedgehogs
I'm fairly picky about names. I quite like kit that has a good name, and the Hedgehogs certainly don't disappoint on that front. Not quite sure why Hedgehog - they're not spiky and they don't roll up into a ball, but it's definitely memorable.
The North Face Flight Series is basically a range of technical clothing, footwear and equipment that is designed to be lightweight, yet practical. planetFear have tested a whole range of Flight Series kit and are generally very impressed. A friend recently completed the Coast To Coast walk, arriving home to complain of the heavy pack he wore along the way. Upon further questioning it turned out that he was carrying some pretty heavy kit. We ran a wee experiment, weighing his bag, and then calculating the equivalent value for a bag full of similar Flight Series kit. He looked rather frustrated - the difference was impressive.
On with the review. The key words in the manufacturer's blurb are ultralightweight (is that a word?), waterproof and breathable. I've tested them running, walking, cycling and climbing. They are certainly pretty waterproof, but don't expect the sort of protection you'd get from a pair of wellies! Deliberately running through puddles I kept my feet dry as long as I didn’t let the water in over the top of the shoes. On the other hand the downside to wearing wellies, or any other non breathable waterproof shoe, is sweating. The Gore-Tex lining kept my feet pretty dry and sweet smelling (which is saying something!). I suspect this has something to do with the anti-microbial footbed. They are lightweight (834g for the pair) to the extent that I have never noticed their weight whilst wearing them. The Vibram sole has a very pronounced bevelled edge to it which is great for running as it gives a very good degree of stability, but rubbish for scrambling or climbing, and also pretty scary to drive in - the edge of the shoe keeps catching the neighbouring pedals as well as the intended one! My one other complaint relates to the tongue. It is a generous gusseted affair, which on first acquaintance feels great. Whenever I run for more than a mile or so I begin to notice a slight rubbing on the outside of each foot as the outermost edge of the tongue bunches to form a mild pressure point. It is easily rectified by manually spreading the tongue, but this generally necessitates a stop which can be frustrating, or very welcome depending on the run. I suspect those with very narrow feet may suffer from this design flaw more noticeably so it is definitely worth testing them as thoroughly as possible.
Overall a nice looking, generally comfortable technical shoe.
Streamlined, ultralightweight, waterproof, breathable, Gore -Tex® XCR® low-cut with exclusive Vibram® outsole, designed for fast-paced outdoor activities.
Gore -Tex® XCR® waterproof, breathable membrane
Abrasion-resistant, bomber synthetic nubuck and waterproof, breathable sandwich mesh upper
AgION™ anti-microbial X-2™ footbed Compression-moulded, lightweight EVA midsole Heel
X-2™ O2 air pod Injection-molded TPU shank plate
Exclusive, lightweight Vibram® rubber outsole