I bought my first pair of The North Face Ultra 105 GTX XCR’s about 2 ½ years ago. I perused the colors and decided to go with the Alloy Grey/Sienna Orange. I can’t remember if that selection happened to be my favorite color combination or if it was all they had left at that time. Either way, I’ve been extremely happy with my choice.
The North Face claims the Ultra 105 GTX XCR is “an ideal running shoe for tackling wet, unforgiving trails, and is designed to hoof through any terrain.” It’s made with GORE-TEX (waterproof-breathable) and breathable mesh fabric and is recommended for over pronators. Specifications from The North Face:
- (Upper) GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Range waterproof, breathable membrane
- Bomber synthetic-leather upper
- Breathable open sandwich-mesh upper and tongue
- Molded rubber toecap
- Northotic ergonomic footbed
- (Bottom) Compression-molded EVA midsole
- Heel and forefoot X-2 cushioning with medial posted heel and midfoot
- Injection-molded TPU shank plate
- UltrATAC rubber outsole
If I remember correctly, I picked these up a few weeks prior to a trip to Colorado for some backpacking, climbing, 4-wheeling and general hanging out. I wore them just about every day for the next couple of weeks in an attempt to break them in before the trip. My goal was to significantly lighten my load for the upcoming 14’ers, so I planned on wearing the XCR’s for my summit attempts instead of my light hikers. I can honestly say that the break-in process required little to no effort. There were never any hotspots or tender areas from excessive fabric, folds, etc.
Go time…the XCR’s first real test came into reality when we pulled out of the town of Alma, Colorado, and headed northwest into the Mosquito Range. The goal was to make some sort of loop and climb Mount Democrat (14,148 feet), Mount Cameron (14, 239 feet), Mount Lincoln (14,286 feet) and Mount Bross (14,172 feet). Hitting all of those peaks in one day sounded like a good idea at the time.
For the XCR’s it was do or die.
The loop was 7.5 miles of uneven single track, rocky scrambling and slushy snow slugging. The XCR’s performed flawlessly. There were times when I wished for a little more ankle support, but for what they are, they provided everything I could ask for and then some. When it came to crossing the fields of snow, I would throw on a pair of mini gaiters and voilà. The combination of Gore-Tex and gaiters kept the wet stuff out and my feet nice and dry. In the really rocky sections, this combination also worked equally as well to keep all the intruders out of my shoes.
After a number of hours of hiking, scrambling and climbing, along with having to turn around because of the trail to the summit of Mount Bross being closed down, we made our descent to Kite Lake. Once we reached the bottom I was happy to pull of the XCR’s to find out I was blister free. I couldn’t have asked them to perform any better.
2 ½ years later I still have the same pair of XCR’s that found the summit of those Colorado mountains on that September day. They have been on trails out in the wild and in the concrete jungle. I use them weekly for one function or another. They have now turned into my everyday, go-to shoes when I need to get something done without having to worry about messing them up.
They have started to break down in a couple of spots, but nothing that has compromised their water proofness or structural integrity. One edge of the molded rubber toecap has started to come unglued in a small area on the edge of the shoe and some areas of the synthetic leather have started to show signs of abuse. Again, they look better than expected.
You can see the rubber toecap in the above picture pulling up.
I would highly recommend these shoes to anyone who is search of a quality low top, Gore-Tex trail running shoe.