The North Face Hedgehog Mid 2008

Part of The North Face’s Multi-sport range, the Hedgehog Mid is a lightweight 3-season boot that’s bursting with branded design features like the EVA midsole,  X-2 O2 cushioning system, Northotic ergonomic footbed and Vibram sole unit. The upper is mesh with a Gore-Tex lining and at 1132g (for a pair of size 11s) it’s among the lightest here.

Design
Clearly based on a running shoe design, the Hedgehog Mid looks like it’s going to encourage you to move fast. The upper has lots of mesh for maximum breathability, and as this extends right down to the sole unit in places, long-term durability could be an issue, if it comes into contact with too much rock. There is protection around the toe but the toe box area is not very stiff, so this is not the best option for rocky ground. The upper generally feels quite soft and flexible, which is great for comfort but not so good for stability or foot protection. The outsole has lots of very small lugs, which look as though they will not claw their way up mud too easily – and these may also wear down sooner than deeper lugs as well as clogging easier than more widely spaced lugs. There’s no heel breast either, so braking traction downhill could be better.

On the hill
Get these on and they instantly feel great. My narrow feet found them a little ‘baggy’, so I had to add a volume adjuster. On rocky bridleways in the Lakes I found the underfoot cushioning ideal and I ended up wearing them around town too as the cushioned ride was so comfy. But on the hill the lack of stiffness in the sole was evident and this, coupled with the soft upper, made my feet work hard, especially over the rocky ground. On the grassy, open slopes of Red Screes they gripped surprisingly well at first, but once the ground became really muddy, the sole clogged and I longed for more grip. After just a few months they are starting to show signs of wear, especially on the stitching and I can’t see them lasting as long as others here.

The low-down
The price is attractive and if you can tolerate the lack of support on rocky ground then these are a good option. But for durability I think others here are going to last longer and in the mud there really isn’t sufficient grip. Very comfortable but don’t have the support, durability and grip that other models here offer. 

Comfort 4   
Waterproofness 5    
Grip 3   
Durability 2   
Value for money 4
 
Upper synthetic, Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining
Sole unit Vibram with  EVA cushioning
Sizes  6-13 (men’s);  3.5-9.5  (women’s)
Weight 1132g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Contact – tel. (01539) 738882; www.thenorthface.com

Verdict
Pros underfoot cushioning and light weight, while breathable mesh upper keeps feet stay cool and dry
Cons shallow outsole lug patterns reduce grip on mud, while others are lighter, more durable or better for scramblers
Overall a light and bouncy shoe that is superb on level ground, but lacks performance on more challenging terrain, so use it for lightweight travel on easy terrain and it should perform well.

Stop press! A couple of weeks after the above review was written, these boots started to leak.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2008