Sunday, March 14, 2021

The North Face Flight VECTIV Multi Tester Review

Article by Brian Metzler, Jeff Valliere, Renee Krusemark and John Tribbia

The North Face Flight VECTIV ($199)


Brian: The North Face has had a stake in trail running for more than 20 years, but, perhaps oddly, it has struggled to gain a foothold in the trail running shoe market. And that’s despite sponsoring a wide range of top-tier athletes for years, starting with Topher Gaylord and Dean Karnazes and all the way up to the current crop that includes Dylan Bowman, Hillary Allen, Coree Woltering, Kaytlyn Gerbin, Mike Foote, Rob Krar, Stephanie Howe, Seth Swanson and Zach Miller. The North Face has long been one of the premier outdoor apparel and equipment brands and it’s had success with trail running apparel and accessories over the past decade. But despite having accomplished people on its footwear teams, it’s never hit a home run with any of its trail running shoes. But the launch of the Flight VECTIV and a new line of trail running and hiking shoes looks like it will have the ability to change that. Under the guidance of Global Footwear VP Jean-Marc Dijan, The North Face is innovating to be disruptive. The Flight VECTIV, two years in the making, is the marquee shoe in the new line of off-road models The North Face is unveiling in 2021.




The Flight VECTIV is a well-balanced trail running shoe with a carbon-fiber plate technology similar to what the road running “super shoes” have utilized for marathon runners in recent years.


It can put a serious spring in every step, as the carbon-fiber plate provides a noticeable energetic boost on roads, hard-packed dirt paths and even on semi-technical trails as the foot rolls from midstance to toe-off phase of a stride.


After running 150 miles in it, it’s obvious how well the rocker geometry of the midsole/outsole chassis blends with the energetic boost from the plate and secure connection of the elastic upper to create a flowy, synergistic ride. While the carbon-fiber plate is interesting and certainly integral to the performance, it’s really the systematic interaction of the entire shoe (outsole, midsole, plate, upper) that make the Flight VECTIV a notable new model.  


The Flight VECTIV has a cushioned but stiff demeanor, meaning you only really feel the softness at the initial heel-strike. From there, the foot rolls through the firm plate and the rocker until the toe-off phase. The midsole cushioning is part of that process, but it’s less about foam decompression than it is about an undercarriage of the carbon-fiber plate.

Jeff: A carbon plated shoe!  Comfortable, Protective and well cushioned for long distances , dry traction, response from plate under certain circumstances

Renee: Cushioned and responsive for long sustained efforts.

John: Power hiking machine, comfortable upper, protective



The Flight VECTIV is a go-fast shoe, so naturally it is lean on protective elements and is not as well suited for technical routes or off-piste endeavors. It has a modestly reinforced toe bumper to offset toe bang and abrasion-resistant lower side walls but, runner beware, your pinky toes will be left exposed.


There’s a decidedly stiff sensation that contradicts the squishy foam feeling and shock absorption of most shoes. That’s not necessarily a con, but it is decidedly different that the trail running shoes you might be used to.


The Matryx section on my wear-test sample creased in an awkward place on the lateral side of both shoes at the point it meets the lower sidewall abrasion guard. It didn’t affect the fit or feel, but some of the synthetic fibers poked out in tiny loops by 1mm or so.

Jeff: Weight, fit, heel lift, heel counter not secure, laces

Renee: The upper has a high-volume fit and is loose around the heel opening. The responsiveness from the carbon-plated is not felt/useful unless striking the foot in a certain way at a certain speed/surface.

John: Heel fit, unpredictable ride, cost



Weight: 10.05 oz (285g) men's / (US9)  /  8.64 oz (245 g) women's / (US8)

  Samples: 10.95 oz (309.1g) men's / (US10.5).  11oz / 313 grams (US10). 8.4/238g (US women’s 7.5)

Stack Height: 25mm/19mm, 6mm drop

Available now.

Tester Profiles

Brian Metzler is a longtime running journalist and shoe-tester. He’s the author of “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” and has wear-tested more than 1,500 models of running shoes since the mid-1990s. He’s been averaging about 35 miles of running per week this winter (but rarely records his runs on Strava), while also skate skiing and swimming several times each week.

Jeff Valliere  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva , Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.


First Impressions and Fit

Jeff V:  The Flight Vectiv is the first carbon plated shoe I have run. I was  was very interested to see how a carbon plate performs,  how a shoe with a full length carbon plate performs on the trails and how the purported energy return translates to added speed/efficiency both on road and off.  

Out of the box, I was surprised at the weight of the shoe, expecting much lighter. A trip to the scale revealed that my sample size 10 weighed in at a solid 11 oz..  

Next, I noted the carbon plate revealing itself in spots between the midsole and upper, which of course prompts one to flex the shoe, as one does when shopping for a pair of skis.  They are STIFF!  

Fit is looong, as they run at least a half size long, if not even a full size.  The space between the tip of my big toe and the front of the shoe is at least as much as a thumb width and the ceiling/overhead is lofty, adding to the feeling of way too much space in the forefoot (though it is not wide by any means).

Editor's Note: Jeff has a second pair of the Flight and RTR Editor Sam has his first pair. Jeff's first pair may have been from early production or a sample. Jeff now notes a more precise fit in the toe box. He will be updating the review with new findings.

Brian: Having run in every version of road shoes with carbon-fiber plates in 2019-2020, I was eager to test out the Flight VECTIV to see what it would be like running with that kind of propulsive technology on the trails. I had taken some of the road shoes on hard-packed trails, but none had the traction or protection for much more than smooth dirt trails. When I got the Flight VECTIV shoes in September and pulled them out of the box, they felt about the midweight range I figured they might, not heavy but not light either. As I slid my foot inside, I noticed it took some additional effort to open the elastic heel collar in order to get my foot fully inside. Most of the meshy upper has an elastic tension that creates a sensation similar to an interior bootie that would normally come from a gusseted tongue. There is no gusseted tongue on the Flight VECTIV because the tongue is part of the unique, one-piece upper design.

Once the foot is inside, the entire shoe feels like it’s hugging the foot, so snug, in fact, that it might stay on without tying the laces. But tying the laces just completes the athletic fit and immediately gives a sense of agility. 

The reinforced heel counter and elastic heel collar keep the rearfoot in place, while the upper and laces keep the saddle/arch secure. (There’s a low arch inside the Flight VECTIV that’s supported by the slightly protruding medial midsole.)  

The forefoot has just a little bit of extra room for toes to wiggle and splay, but not much. Overall, the Flight VECTIV produces a locked-down sensation that makes your foot feel at one with the shoe and that converts to a better proprioceptive sensation and agility on the trails.

I have narrow feet and there is a decidedly low-volume and narrow-fitting feel to the Flight VECTIV, though I suspect runners with medium-width feet would feel as if the stretchy upper material would accommodate those too. The shoe fits true to size, but some runners might consider trying on a half size up if warm race conditions could lead to foot swelling.

Renee: My experience with the fit was similar to Jeff’s. I received a women’s size 8, and the length was long and the fit of the upper was voluminous. I normally wear a women’s size 8, sometimes a 7.5. I exchanged for a women’s size 7.5, and the fit was much better. 

I have plenty of room in the toe box and the volume in that area is perfect for long trail runs. The rest of the upper remained too voluminous for my foot, however. I recommend that runner’s between half sizes try the smaller of the sizes. The platform of the shoes felt a bit narrow in the midfoot area under my arch. My longest run in these shoes was 20 miles, and it felt great, but I do question if the midfoot might be too narrow for me to run an ultra distance with them. 

John: Overall, I have good first impressions. This is my second carbon plated “super shoe” (my first was the Craft Carbon Ultra). When I first put the Flight Vectiv on, I noticed a comfortable and well cushioned fit. The upper is practical and light feeling -- it hugs the foot well and my US9 men’s fits well on my slightly narrow foot. I find the sock entry with laces and heel fit challenging to get right. I tried to tighten as much as I could comfortably, but it never ended up with a completely secure heel.


Jeff V:  The Matryx rear and mid foot upper, combined with the breathable knit material upfront  is comfortable, breathable. I believe it would be effectively secure if not for the fit issues or if one sizes down a half size at least.  

The toe bumper is somewhat thin and flexible, but sufficient enough to offer adequate protection when running on more moderate terrain where the shoe excels.  Midfoot security is good, but I think could be much improved with better lacing, as the laces are particularly thin and as you pull them tight, they go loose the moment you release hand tension, so it is tricky to snug them up just right.  

As mentioned above, they run quite long and because of that added length, it feels a bit loose in the forefoot.  

Further complicating matters, in addition to the length, there is a lot of extra ceiling height and extraneous material.  (See editor's note above for comments on improved fit of Jeff's second pair and Sam's first). Width is fairly narrow, even for my narrow low volume foot and I feel a bit of pressure from the overlays at the widest point of my foot on the lateral side.  

The 3D molded heel counter is very flexible and wavers in any technical terrain.  I also get a good bit of heel lift on semi steep to steep ascents, which I think is at least in part due to the long fit.

Security is lacking and I feel hesitant if the terrain is even moderately technical and the hold wavers when when cornering at even moderate speed and especially at higher speeds.

Brian: Honestly, I didn’t initially notice the intricate design of the upper of the Flight VECTIV until after I had run in it for the first time. What I did notice immediately was the locked-down sensation it provided even before I laced it up. The unique, multi-material upper blends a Kevlar-enhanced, abrasion-resistant Matryx panel (integrated with Kevlar and high-tensity Polyamid), a 3D-molded heel counter with the carbon plate actually extending around the lower heel as a stabilizing cup and a stretchy, breathable knit material that encompasses the vamp, toe box, tongue and heel collar. 

It’s not quite a bootie construction (as explained earlier), but it simulates that snug, secure sensation. There’s some extra padding at the back of the heel collar and also in the tongue, but otherwise there’s a comfortable but not extravagant interior feeling. Despite the numerous materials comprising the upper, there aren’t any seams that should ever impact a runner’s foot negatively.

Renee: Brian and Jeff discuss the details of the upper well. For my low volume foot, the upper is more material than I need; otherwise, I found the material itself comfortable. I have plenty of room in the toe box (a must have for me). I had to tie the laces as tight as possible to get a good lockdown, which caused the booty style tongue to fold over itself. Likewise, I have too much room in the heel. Even with those issues, the upper remained comfortable on my 20-mile run. I did have debris/dirt/small gravel enter the shoes because of the gap in the foot opening. I don’t think the upper would be a problem for runners with higher volume feet. The toe box is breathable. When running on dirt roads, I had fine dirt enter through the upper and that coupled with sweat became somewhat annoying. 

John: Like Brian, I immediately noticed the snug and secure fit before lacing. The heel cut is dramatically steep below the ankle and, as a result, I find the ankle and heel fit to be not very snug as the rest of the shoe is. When combining the stiff footbed that seemed to push my foot out slightly with the low cut upper, I encountered quite a bit of heel slippage especially at faster paces (thanks to the soft materials, no blisters though!). I love that the Matryx mesh is enhanced with Kevlar for durability and includes a low profile reinforced toe cap. As an early morning runner, I also noticed that the upper has reflective elements throughout the upper to provide improved visibility.


Jeff V:  The dual density midsole, while very thick and substantial looking, does not have quite as much soft cush as it would appear.  Cushioning is relatively firm, yet surprisingly forgiving, even when running fast on paved descents or hard dirt.  

Response in my opinion varies wildly depending upon terrain and pace.  I expected that the carbon plate would provide a lot of pop at toe off, especially with the rockered midsole geometry, but I did not find that to be true under most circumstances.  

On uphills, I got the feeling that I was losing some energy simply because of the long and less than secure fit.  

On more level terrain, I still do not feel much advantage when just running casually at slower speeds, but once I start picking up the pace, the subtle, yet advantageous energy of the carbon plate becomes exponentially more significant.  It sort of just creeps up on you. 

At paces around 7:30 min/mile, I start to feel the added efficiency, but I feel it even more in the 6 min/mile range and even more so when bumping up the pace during testing on a subtle downhill at a steady 5:25 pace, which for my aging slow turn over legs is surprisingly fast (I came within a few seconds of my all time PR on this slight downhill, mile long road segment and I was not pushing in the least).

Brian: At first glance, the dual-density midsole of cushy and responsive foam compounds looks thick under the heel and very thin under the forefoot, but the dramatic difference was never really felt due to the rocker shape of the chassis. There is sufficient cushioning for a heel-striking gait, but the rocker helps quickly melt the impact into a rolling sensation. After the soft touchdown at the heel, you don’t really feel the midsole foam in a cushy kind of way because of the rolling sensation from the rocker geometry and the transition into the carbon plate embedded in the midsole construction. 

That shapeliness of the midsole helps reduce downhill impact and ease the effort of uphills. Overall, the feeling is slightly more soft than firm, but it’s definitely different than traditional trail running shoes that are based on midsole foam decompression.

If you've never run in a shoe with a carbon-fiber plate embedded in the midsole, you might be in for a bit of a shock. The forefoot doesn't flex very much and you don't compress the foam midsole nearly as you do in most shoes. Instead, you ride the wave from just after the time the foot hits the ground to the moment it leaves the ground at the toe-off phase. The carbon-fiber plate helps the foot roll and returns some of the downward energy into forward propulsion. (The plate also happens to act just as a trail-specific rock plate would.)

One of the unsung traits of this shoe is its inherent stability . The carbon-fiber VECTIV plate has a 3D design with curled up flanges that cradle the heel and each side of the forefoot for added stability that helps keep all momentum moving in a forward direction. The overall footprint of the shoe is relatively wide (114.3 mm in the forefoot, 91.4mm at the widest part of the heel) and also helps keep lateral motion to a minimum.

One key thing to note: Although the 3D carbon-fiber VECTIV plates are tuned differently for men's and women's shoes (along with the durometers of the midsole foams), the plates are not tuned differently for different sized shoes within genders. That means runners with varying foot sizes and other anatomical details (body weight, foot and lower leg strength, stride length, cadence) will likely result in different experiences in this shoe. Runners will naturally also experience different levels of energy return when fatigued deep into a race if they cannot continue to apply the same amount of energy into their stride.

Renee: The midsole offers a great balance between comfort and responsiveness (regardless of the carbon plate). The midsole is not plushy-soft, but it is forgiving enough on long runs. During my first run (10 miles on dirt roads), I could not at all feel the carbon plate. The shoes might require some “breaking in.” I was about 8 miles into my second run when I started to feel the propulsion of the plate, but even then, it was only periodically and depending on my stride and foot landing. Overall, I think the midsole is great for ultra distances and not uncomfortable for shorter distances either. 

John: The midsole is a nice balance of cushion and response. I found this combination effective for uphill and downhill. Moreover, the Flight Vectiv provides adequate protection over rocky terrain. The 6mm heel-to-toe drop works well for me and I like the slight rocker feel of the shoe. Admittedly, I don’t feel “increased propulsion” coming from the carbon midsole at moderate to fast paces. That said, I feel some major efficiency gains when power hiking. 


Jeff V:  The Surface Control outsole with low profile, but well designed and well spaced lugs provide good grip and performance on just about any surface, from hard packed dirt, loose dirt, rocky slab, off trail scruff, snow, mud, pavement, and is even OK on non polished low grade ice (with extreme care of course).  Wet traction is moderate.  Durability thus far seems to be average.

Brian: The outsole has a matrix of low-profile, directional 3.5mm lugs that provide excellent traction on a wide variety of surfaces, including roads, snow, dirt and even sloppy mud. On smooth, hard-packed surfaces the outsole allows the Flight VECTIV to feel more like a road shoe, while on varying degrees of dirt and debris it feels more like a durable trail running shoe with good hold and security. The only traction issues I had were running across sheer ice, but that had more to do with the ice than it did with the outsole of the shoe.

Renee: Brain and Jeff covered the outsole well. The lugs provide a decent amount of grip and traction without being intrusive on buffed surfaces. 

John: The outsole performs best on hard-pack dry dirt trails and is reasonably grippy on mud and wet surfaces.The outsole grips to rocks quite well too.



Jeff V:  The ride of the Flight Vectiv is smooth, predictable and precise, a bit subdued at slower speeds, but really comes to life in a quiet and understated sort of way once the pace increases.  Cushioning is firm, but adequate for longer distances, with excellent underfoot protection.

Brian: The magic of this shoe is in the ride, which is decidedly energetic but not in a bouncy kind of way. The shoe definitely has a stiff flex profile but unlike some carbon plate road shoes it can be flexed by hand with effort. Still, there’s not much bending and mushing of the midsole on every stride as you get in most trail shoes. Instead, it’s a soft initial encounter with the ground that immediately flows into a technical rolling sensation. 

It doesn’t take long to get in tune with the inherent vibe of the shoe. It accommodates variability in foot-strike patterns due to the changing terrain and trail debris. (Most road shoes with carbon-fiber plates are either super soft and springy or so rigid they require finding the particular rhythm of the shoe. The Flight VECTIV seems to be right in the middle but plenty accommodating for typical trail footwork.) The combination of the outsole foam and the carbon-fiber plate also serve as built-in protection against underfoot “stingers” caused by sharp rocks, jagged roots and other trail debris. 

The ride is especially smooth and consistent on flat, hard-packed dirt trails, but it doesn’t vary much even on semi-technical terrain. However, the energetic boost of energy can definitely be felt more on flatter terrain and faster paces. I ran as fast as 5:30 mile pace on sections of downhill dirt roads and as slow as 10-minute miles slogging up steep ascents. The sweet spot for speed running can definitely be felt in the 8:00-8:30 pace on smooth, flat terrain, but less so at slower paces on more rugged terrain.


The North Face has suggested via third-party studies the Flight VECTIV results in a 10 percent reduction of descending impact force, based on VO2max and accelerometer readouts. The footwear developers have said the shoe is able to convert downhill force into forward momentum, thus reducing leg muscle fatigue during ultra-distance running events.

Renee: The ride of the shoes is the “it” factor..or not, depending on the runner. I enjoyed the ride of the Flight, but hardly felt the propulsion factor I expect from a carbon-plated shoe. On a road shoe, I find the carbon plate to be beneficial in two ways: 1. propulsion for faster speeds and 2. fatigue reduction to maintain that fast speed for long distances. The Flight offers the fatigue reduction but not the propulsion. 

That said, I ran a 20-miler in the Flight with zero fatigue, and 6 of those miles were on bumpy horse trails. Surprisingly, the Flight rides well when being nimble and striking on the toe/forefoot. To feel the plate-propulsion, I had to adjust my foot landing and strike farther back in the midfoot-heel area, and I don’t naturally run that way. 

John: As I alluded to in the midsole section, the best energy returning paces for me were during hard slower sections where power hiking was often mixed in. Like Renee I didn’t experience the propulsion that I would expect from a highly engineered shoe like the Flight Vectiv. Though, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the ride. To the contrary, because of the carbon-fiber plate that complements the curve of the rocker, I appreciated the Flight Vectiv’s stability and stiff responsiveness through talus and scree. It felt lively and I felt in complete control through those sections of terrain.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff V:  The North Face is certainly onto something with the Flight Vectiv and despite the issues I had with the long fit and unstable heel, this shoe is a real speedster for running fast paces on non technical terrain, particularly when I opened my stride on long, low to moderate grade downhills.  I would not hesitate to pick this shoe for any non technical race or PR attempt and think it would work for me easily up to 50k.  I would love to see this shoe drop some weight and refine the fit/security of the upper, which would certainly raise it to a whole new level.  If you are looking for a more secure/normal fit, more cushioning and better day to day, all terrain versatility, consider the Vectiv Enduris.

Score:  Jeff V:  7.9 / 10

Ride: 9

Fit: 6 - The added length of a thumbs width or more and loose heel compromise fit and performance. (Score to be potentially updated after testing a 2nd pair with improved fit.)

Value: 7 - At $199, you are paying a premium for the carbon plate, but I find that to be a lot, especially given the fit issues.

Style: 8

Traction: 9

Rock Protection: 9

Brian: I ran more than 150 miles in the Flight VECTIV on all types of surfaces in Colorado, Utah and Oregon. Overall, I was very impressed with it as a speed shoe, but I also liked it for its long-haul comfort and consistency for runs in the 10 to 20-mile range. I liked the fit, agility and athletic vibe so much that I was actually drawn to continue running in the shoe well after I had thoroughly tested it. It combined the best aspects of a road shoe with the necessary aspects of a trail shoe without becoming too heavy, clunky or overbuilt. One of my acid tests of any new shoes debuting on the market is whether or not I would buy the shoe for my own running or racing pursuits, and I would definitely buy the Flight VECTIV for fast training and racing on courses without excessive technical features.

The real proof in the pudding of this shoe will be how well it performs on race day. I ran a few fast-paced time trials on smooth dirt and was impressed with the ability to keep a consistent cadence at paces  appropriate for 10K to marathon-length runs. I didn’t get a chance to run them in full race simulation mode — in which swelling feet might have become a factor — and only ran through limited sandy sections of trail.

Brian’s Score: 8.5 out of 10

Renee: The North Face succeeded in making a carbon-plate trail shoe that is friendly for runners who are not elites. I had issues with the upper being too voluminous over the midfoot area and too loose around the heel. Runners with high volume feet might disagree. Otherwise, the upper is comfortable. In terms of the carbon-plate ride, I had 15-20 miles on the shoes before I started to feel the propulsion factor, but even then, I only felt that ride when landing on the back half of my foot. If runner’s have a good fit with the upper and a foot landing that meshes well with the geometry of the midsole, then the Flight Vectiv seems like a solid choice as an ultra distance shoe in either a training or race setting and (even at $200). Although I don’t have a perfect fit and ride with the Flight, it’s still a good shoe and I had no issues running a 20-miler with them. 

Renee’s score: 8.7/10 (-.20 weight for a race shoe, -.30 voluminous/loose upper fit, -.25 slightly narrow in the midfoot, -.40 propulsion of the carbon plate felt only for certain foot strikers, -.15 cost)

It’s interesting to note that Kaytlyn Gerbin,  one of The North Face’s top American trail runners, wore a prototype of this shoe en route to setting a new women’s FKT on the Wonderland Trail in Washington last summer. (Another TNF athlete, Dylan Bowman, wore a different model when he set the since-broken men’s FKT a week earlier.)

In addition to the Flight, there are two other VECTIV running styles: the Infinite VECTIV (more protective) $169, Enduris VECTIV (cushioning) $139, using PEBAX or TPU plates, respectively. There will also be a women’s-only version: the Hypnum VECTIV $139, a light hiker.

John: The Flight Vectiv is, above all, a very comfortable shoe. The seamless Matryx knit is snug, soft, and causes no irritation. Add to that the light weight and phenomenal all-around traction, and the Flight is a shoe that nearly has it all. And, although I didn’t experience the propulsion effects of their carbon insert, I found the shoe performs well in a variety of terrain and at a variety of paces. To me, the sweet spot race distance on moderate to technical terrain would be around 50K, and if you’re measuring by time then 4-5 hours. 

John’s Score: 8.9 / 10

Ride: 8.5 (stiff and not as responsive as I had hoped)

Fit: 9 (snug and soft upper, but 1 point deduction for heel slippage)

Value: 8 (I think TNF has an opportunity to dial in on a second version of this shoe, so I would be apprehensive to spend $200)

Style: 10 (Bootie upper and White or Fluorescent Yellow colorway is awesome) 

Traction: 9 (Feels secure and precise on a variety of terrain)

Rock Protection: 10


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Brian: There aren't many similar shoes to the Flight VECTIV, but the Hoka One One TenNine (RTR Review) comes to mind with its firm flex pattern and rockered shape. 

If anything, the Flight VECTIV would be similar to a thicker, trail-oriented Saucony Endorphin Pro carbon-fiber road shoe (RTR Review). 

It feels like a fast race-day blade that's not as cushy as the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 and not as rigid and structured as the Hoka One One Carbon X 2 (RTR Review). 

While I have not run it yet the upcoming Craft CTM Carbon Ultra (RTR Initial Video Review) with more stack height also has a carbon plate and relies on a more aggressive heel to toe drop (at least 10mm) for its propulsion effect.

Brooks Catamount (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Catamount weighs 2.25 oz. less than the Flight Vectiv, has a much better fit, a more cushioned feel and comparable tread.  While the Catamount does not have a carbon plate but does have a plastic rock pla, the DNA Flash midsole is very responsive.  I might give a SLIGHT edge to the Flight Vectiv when really opening up the stride on a fast, straight, non technical downhill, but with the superior fit, drastically reduced weight and all around versatility (also costing $40 less), I generally lean towards the Catamount.

John: Like Jeff, the Catamount is my choice for its versatility and its responsiveness. The Catamount has a more comfortable fit that is easier to adjust out of the box too. Moreover, I would argue the Catamount can go the long distance whereas the Flight might only max out at 50-60K when it comes to comfort and ride. 

The North Face Vectiv Enduris (RTR Review)

Jeff V:   The Enduris has the same outsole and a similar rockered design, but instead of the carbon plate, utilizes a TPU plate instead, which gives good response and at more varied paces than the Flight, whereas the carbon plate of the Flight Vectiv is more noticeable and advantageous at faster speeds.  The Enduris weighs 3/4 of an ounce more, which in the 11 ounce range is negligible.  The fit of the Enduris is much more secure and "normal" and is true to size and much better suited to trail running than the awkward and insecure fit of the Flight Vectiv.  You also save $60.

Craft CTM Carbon Ultra (RTR Review)

Renee: Both shoes have a carbon plate and are friendly for road surfaces, but that’s all they have in common. For sizing, I wore a women’s 7.5 in the Flight and an 8 in the Craft. The Flight is by far the much better choice for any trail surface. The Carbon Ultra works on road and tame, buffed paths, but with given its stack height, higher drop, and thin upper, it’s not a good choice for trails. I found the fit and comfort better in the Carbon Ultra and had no issues feeling a tightness/narrowness in the midfoot/arch as I did with the Flight. The Carbon Ultra also works better with my stride and foot landing, so I benefit much more from its carbon plate as compared to the Flight. The Flight is lighter, which is noticed. For trails, choose the Flight. For paths and roads, choose the Carbon Ultra. 

John: Renee outlines the comparison of the Ultra Carbon and Flight really well. My only addition is that I much prefer the Matryx mesh upper on the Flight compared to the more rough and abrasive upper on the Ultra Carbon.

Photo Credits: Brian Metzler, Jeff Valliere. Renee Krusemark and The North Face

The tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received for the review of the Flight Vectiv. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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