The North Face Ultra Trail II

The North Face - Ultra Trail II Running ShoesWith the release of the Ultra Trail II Running Shoe, The North Face® has updated and improved the original, award-winning Ultra Trail.  Designed to tackle long runs, the Ultra Trail II maintains several features of the Ultra Trail, but makes changes where it counts, with a significant difference to the Upper.

The Ultra Trail II was the featured product at this year’s The North Face 100, one of 11 ultramarathon trail races on the Ultra-Trail® World Tour.  The North Face 100 has been held in Australia since 2008, with both 100 Km and 50 Km endurance events running through the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park west of Sydney.  And there’s no better testament to the performance of a shoe than when an athlete wears it on the way to victory.  The winner of The North Face 100 Men’s 50 Km event, Andrius Ramonas, broke the course record running in Ultra Trail II’s.

The North Face 100 - May, 2015 (Race Photos)The Ultra Trail II starts with the same Vibram® tread from the Ultra Trail.  Long distance runners have called the traction sensational in either wet or dry conditions on road or rocky trail.  There are some differences of opinion in mud and snow due to the closely-spaced lugs, but that’s what beefier shoes like the Ultra MT are for.  The North Face has also maintained the 8mm heel-toe drop that sits in the compromise zone between a midfoot strike and a light heel-strike.  The Midsole uses The North Face’s proprietary CRADLE™ Technology, found on most of the Ultra series, which varies the density of the EVA in thickness and firmness, absorbing impact, particularly in the heel and under the bursa, and adding stability on variable terrain.

What differentiates the Ultra Trail II are the improvements made to other areas of the shoe.  The heel cradle now uses Pebax®, a thermoplastic elastomer, which combines properties of plastic and rubber for better heel support and stride alignment, as well as energy return and a responsive feel.  The real innovation, though, is the Upper.  The North Face has changed from mesh in the Ultra Trail to a rip-stop tent fabric in the Ultra Trail II in order to produce a lighter weight, but more durable shoe.  The new fabric ensures a glove-like fit, securing the foot in place better than mesh.  The tent fabric is also more water resistant in a rain shower, keeping your feet drier for longer.  These changes also help reduce the weight to 230 g (8.1 Ounces) per shoe based on a Men’s US Size 9.

The North Face - Ultra Series (Video Link)With the introduction of the Ultra Trail II and sponsorship of events and athletes, The North Face continues to bolster its Trail Running credentials.  The Ultra Trail II Running Shoes are available in Australia at The North Face stores and online at www.thenorthface.com.au for an RRP of A$190.  In New Zealand, the Ultra Trail II is available through the same Australian channels for an RRP of NZ$230 or search online for local retail shops.  A New Zealand country specific website for The North Face is in development.

Don Jurries

Featured Product Photos:  The North Face Media Images

The North Face 100 Race Photos: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

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