The North Face Ultra Fastback II Mid Gore-Tex Boots are yet another high quality piece of gear to think about this summer season. I recently reviewed the very similar GTX Boots by The North Face and were pleased with their comfort and overall performance. Much of my enjoyment when wearing the Fastback II Mid can be attributed to the Vibram® Megagrip outsole for durable sticky traction in all conditions. As boots become lighter with more innovative materials their footprint also shrinks in bulk which can be seen in the new Fastback II. In terms of day hikes and fast paced treks, small and lightweight most often wins my vote when selecting the right gear.
I have been wearing the Fastback II for some time now and always keep them in the car for my weekend and shorter stints. They are advertised accurately as being lightweight and protective for fast pursuits. To be honest that’s all that I have used them for and I haven’t been let down one bit. In fact, the local trails near me are fairly loose with gravel and fine dirt at the moment yet I haven’t taken any dives up until this point. As you might imagine, faster hikes often leave you vulnerable to unforeseen obstacles in the trail which is why The North Face also added a Rubberized toe cap and screens for toe and metatarsal-head protection.
The Fastback II are considered full waterproof boots with a GORE-TEX® membrane but they aren’t a closed system therefore it’s best to consider them as being highly water resistant for most trips. This comment comes after hearing many hikers proclaim their disappointment for experiencing soggy feet after dumbing their feet into a moving river. Since these North Face Boots are meant for moderate water crossing we didn’t hesitate to get them wet. I never once allowed water inside the boots as we crossed several streams which is vital when you aren’t wearing waterproof socks. The breathable, waterproof GORE-TEX® membrane that you may already have experience with provided an extreme level of confidence. The soft fabric lining only further aids in maneuverability and comfort for longer days on the trail.
Given that these boots are designed for spring and summer hiking and backpacking trips I wasn’t overly impressed with their temperature regulation. To their defense, their outer membrane is breathable and with the perfect socks I can see them performing much better. Sizing was my main conflict as they run much larger than predicted. I could have easily sized down a half to a full size from my normal boots for a snug fit. Given the extra heel and toe room I have been wearing extra thick socks which can explain the heat issue. I must also note the soft collar on The North Face Fastback II since it wicks away moisture from the inner shoe quiet well. It literally becomes wet to the touch which further proves its worth.
The low weight of the Fastback II hiking boot made it easy to walk long distances as there were times I could hardly feel them on. Arch support is superb with embedded cables beneath the foot and that should be weighted heavily coming from a guy with highly sensitive arches. It’s rare that I find a pair of capable boots that offer the comfort of my daily fitness footwear. I was honestly waiting for the pressure points to reveal themselves mile after mile. Whether it’s from the rigorous development process of shares features from The North Face trail running shoes the Dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsole with CRADLE™ surpassed all expectations. Scaling boulders and trekking through gravel terrain was effortless thanks to the TPU CRADLE™ heel-stabilizing technology with full-length Pebax® Snake Plate™.
Built for fast pursuits, the waterproof Ultra Fastpack II is loaded with new technologies and the Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® membrane makes a great case for planning a trip to Yosemite or Big Sur at the end of the summer. Although not perfect for inconsistent sizing and lack of an enclosed waterproof system, The North face has designed a very capable hiking boot that the majority of trail enthusiasts can benefit from.