The North Face Mountain Sneaker

Not Just for Hippies and Playing the Devils Advocate

Filed under: , , , , by: TRuC

The North Face (TNF), once regarded as the premier technical apparel and equipment manufacturer, has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations since its inception in 1966. They've been praised for their innovation and persistence, scorned for their tastelessly generic line designed for sororities and the general masses. However, their apocryphal strategy seems to have resulted in what has become a trendy line for both the backcountry masochist and the off-the-couch day tripper. Ask most civilians about technical apparel and you'll probably get a blank look...mention The North Face and even the most foreign person you know will most likely exclaim "Oh!!! The North Face! YES!"

I own a couple things from TNF and despite their humdrum branching, the quality still seems to be there. Just today I read a survey that the company was voted 'best vendor to do business with' by SNEWS. Still, I vomit a little in my mouth when I hear someone in a store asking "Do you have any North Faces?" - this link is a must read.

Although I haven't bought any new storm shells - or clothing for that matter - from TNF in years, I have bought a few (3) pairs of their shoes. I got my first pair at a North Face clinic when they first started making shoes circa 1998; and they haven't let me down...yet.

Case in point, enter the new Mountain Sneaker. The North Face shoe boasting the mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle. Here's what they say about their own shoes:

"The Mountain Sneaker salutes the off-mountain, outdoor lifestyle and let's its wearer leave a smaller eco-footprint thanks to the metal-free suede and cotton canvas uppers, and cork-blended midsoles. Even accents such as the Tibetan Prayer Flag motif reflect the eco-friendly theme, as it's made from recycled plastic bottles."

  • The definitive, off-the-mountain shoe for outdoor athletes, built with eco-ideals in mind for those who always strive to walk the walk
  • Combination metal-free suede and cotton canvas upper
  • Crepe mudguard and heel protection
  • Plant cellulose fiber foam sockliner
  • Forty percent post consumer recycled rubber outsole
  • Cork EVA midsole with plant cellulose fiber heel cushioning
  • Bamboo shank provides midfoot support and stability

The Mountain Sneaker out of the box has some great attributes. One thing that I've found over the years is that their sizing has always been pretty dead on (read: true-to-size). I have somewhat narrow to "normal" feet and they've always fit comfortably. These sneakers were designed for casual wear and light trail use in which the form reveals the function. The only qualm I have with them is that the arch support was a little weak and a pair of superfeet were the solution. There have been some reports of these shoes being a little on the heavy side and although I did find them to weigh more than the typical shoe ([Pair] 2 lbs 2 oz (950 g) *based on Men’s 9), it wasn't significant.

The details in these shoes are obvious; from the branded bamboo shank visible through the sole, the rubber toe and heel bumpers (for all of us who kick our shoes off instead of properly untying them), the simple yet substantial lug soles to the eye-catching color accents. I found it difficult to determine my feelings on their use of the prayer flags, not because it offends me or anything, but there's definitely a cheese level to it. Fortunately, the flags are so subtle that it just adds a great accent to the otherwise neutral color of the shoes.

The rubber soles are a little slick on wet, hard surfaces - which took me by surprise compared to the 5.10 Impacts - my trusted zapatos for the last few years. So why would I want to leave the comfort of my Stealth? The high carbon content of climbing shoe rubber is infamous for one thing once it leaves the sanctuary of the climbing world, and that's leaving it's mark just about everywhere it goes. Especially on the bamboo floors and the cedar deck of my house - which was one of the reasons I got them. The Mtn. Sneaks performed great under dry and normal conditions.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about these shoes is the stigma that they've garnered from retailers labeling them as "a shoe for the hippies." When will it become NOT a hippie movement to purchase something that's better for the world? C'mon guys, is that the best marketing you can come up with?! For shame. I hate to think about how many potential buyers you might've turned off with that branding job.

All in all, these shoes are great and exactly what I was looking for in a casual pair of kicks.


On June 7, 2010 at 8:52 PM , Beverly said...

Woa... nice sneakers. Look so durable.

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