Friday, September 08, 2023

The North Face Summit VECTIV Sky Initial Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

The North Face Summit VECTIV Sky ($199)

Update: Full Multi Tester Review with 9 Comparisons HERE


The Summit Vectiv Sky joins the Vectiv Pro as the North Face’s carbon plated trail racing duo . At a touch under 9 oz / 255g in a US9 with a 26mm heel / 22 mm forefoot stack height and a forked front and back (and yeah flexible!) carbon plate, a PEBA foam insert at the forefoot and a TPU and ripstop upper,  it is intended as the shorter distance shoe in the collection. Our German team reviewed both Sky and Pro earlier with our US team now testing the Sky. 

After a very solid first run on one of my test routes with a mix of pavement, dirt, and technical rooty and rocky single track, collecting 4 Strava personal “podiums” the picture is clear for to me.

The North Face nails it!  Fast, very stable, well cushioned for its stack and highly propulsive, Sky for sure a top top shorter distance racer but I think much more too!


Approx. Weight: men's oz  8.98 oz / 255g  US9

  Sample: men’s 8.73 oz / 248g US8.5

Stack Height: men’s 26mm heel / 22mm forefoot ( 4mm drop spec) 

$199  Available now including at our partner Running Warehouse US HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

My sample is a serious black and optic yellow and says all business.  

The main mesh is an unusual TPU material more like a plastic than a fiber mesh. Run your finger over it and there is the unmistakable scratchy noise of a dense plastic. No question this mesh provides a lot of standalone front structure yet it is also quite pliable as well and wraps the forefoot extremely well while standing up on its own to provide notable over the toes volume that is well held. 

A very thin inner layer (seen as darker below) is bonded inside so the foot does not directly touch the mesh with an unlined window for breathability below the lace up (the yellow area). There is some toe bumper stiffening but not much.

The black outer upper material extending from lace up to the rear is a thin ripstop with a tiny bit of stretch which while it does appear to be open does in fact have tiny holes and is see thru from the inside.

Under the outer midfoot mesh is a soft thin somewhat stretchy neoprene like gusset which extends from the first lace up hole near the toe all the way around the inside around the heel. The tongue is part of this construction and of the same material but with light padding added. 

The laces.. they appear to be the exact same type as in the Vaporfly 3 somewhat skeletal, a bit stretchy and with small nubs that grip the eyelets. Really fine laces and can’t think of any other than these two with them.

The inner construction does retain some moisture as I found out as it was very humid and seems to dry slowly.  The sockliner is a EVA type material rising up on the medial side and does not absorb moisture as say Otholite sock liners do.

The heel has a real semi rigid heel counter as well as stabilizing carbon wings. 

The achilles is padded all the way up high by the inner bolsters.

The toe box is moderately broad and the fit is a perfect true to size fit for me with thin socks. If you wear thicker socks and plan long distances in them you might consider sizing up.

Overall this is an incredibly secure yet at the same time comfortable upper. There is no over squeezing anywhere. For me it is easily one of the best trail shoe uppers I can recall.


On the surface I was skeptical that the relatively firm to pressing main and I assume EVA based midsole foam, carbon plate and 4mm drop would work for me. 

Immediately on trying it on, I knew it would. The first thing I noted was how well planted the heel was with plenty of very stable rebound. Moving forward, and for sure after my first run, the forked carbon plate has plenty of flex and lots of spring in hand and on the run. No rigid stiff feel here as some carbon trail shoes have. The small black carbon wing up front is unnoticed, unlike the extended one in the Pro which caused blisters for all our German testers.

At the same time it is not over aggressive and rigid  (Endorphin Edge and even Ultrafly Trail come to mind) and as a result even slow paces were easy and fun. It is somewhat more flexible than the New Balance SC Trail and I find more stable.

That said it is when you pick up the pace that the shoe really shines. The combination of flexible, springy forked plate and the front PEBA insert are highly propulsive and dynamic with plenty of rock protection. The forked (front and rear) plate and main denser foam had them very stable at all times. Not easy to pull off in carbon plated shoes but recall the plate is forked front and back to move with terrain and the shoe is flexible. 

On hard surfaces the plate (assisted by the PEBA above it) is in no way harsh and clearly was springing me forward yet while on a rooty and rocky section I was able to be agile and quick footed, or at least quick footed for me. 


The outsole is Surface CTRL™ rubber outsole with 3.5 mm lugs. Grip was notably good on loose gravel over firm. The outsole was relatively quiet, a sign that it is well matched to the rest of the platform: not overly firm and flexing with the front of the shoe. 

Grip on wet rock and steeps is to be determined in our multi tester review.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

My initial test run was 5 miles on a mix of gravel/trail, pavement, and rooty rocky single track. I got 4 personal Strava segment podiums including a PR on a gradual road to trail to shale rock downhill with the other segments uphill and a  rolling uphill all road.  All segments were run around 8:15 min per mile.

Through the woods on the single track, I felt agile and confident although on this section a shoe such as the NNormal Kjerag or SalomonPulsar would be a touch better as long as I was moving quickly with the Sky having the advantage at slower paces. They performed better of rme here than the more rigid plated if softer foam SC Trail from New Balance.  

They climbed extremely well and descents were super stable with lots of rear rebound and plenty of cushion. On downhill pavement, they were considerably less harsh than the Hoka Zinal and more stable than the Salomon Pulsar SG taken on the same route. They were more cushioned than the lighter NNormal Kjerag whose foam is more energetic and without a plate beyond a “ground fliter”. They reminded me a lot of the Scrapa Golden Gate Kima RT but the Sky is far far lighter or a more agile quicker Tecton X but with a firmer more responsive ride and a more propulsive carbon plate. The Saucony Peregrine and Xodus Ultra, both fine shoes, are boring in comparison. 

So far, I am finding it closest in comparison to the Brooks Catamount 2 with its flexible plastic propulsion protection plate but here lighter in weight by 0.75 oz and yet more propulsive if slightly less cushioned.  I have not tested the Vectiv Pro with its big raised front carbon element but all three of our German testers had blister issues with them

It has a surprising amount of forgiving cushion (given relatively low stack height and dense foam)  to go with trail feel and its upper and platform security and stability. The ride is clearly amplified and super dynamic due to its extremely well implemented flexible carbon plate and PEBA front insert which takes the edge off while delivering rebound and its super secure upper. 

Called out as a “race shoe”, and priced accordingly at $199 . I think if durability is proven out, and given construction it should be durable, the Sky is one versatile fast and decently light shoe. I has enough cushion to go with its carbon plating to make it a very strong all around daily trail trainer on all trail surfaces to go with its clear race abilities. So value is strong despite the pricing.  

As far as its race abilities, clearly, and my testing has been brief to date, I would  pick it for any trail race on any surface up to at least 25K and for sure others faster and younger than me will take it further.

Our full multi tester review with many comparisons is coming soon. Our German review (use Deepl to help translate) is here.

The Summit Vectiv Sky is available now including at our partner 

Running Warehouse US SHOP HERE

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a now "old" 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very, very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

The sample was a personal purchase. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

What would you like between the Vectiv Sky and Nnormal Kjerag for a trail marathon featuring a mix or rocky, technical, rolling hills and runnable single track? I’m considering the Pro, but carbon plate wings have me worried of blisters.

Anonymous said...

Just got the shoes on discount. Amazing fit, and very light on foot! Unfortunately, the abrasive plastic-y mesh did not like the outside of the ball of my foot, and left a nice blood blister after only 5 miles. Sad. Beautiful shoe, which should be about $20 cheaper (cheaper shoes out there with similar performance).