Traction and Stability8.0 /10
Water Resistance5.0 /10
- Great stability (due to the higher ankle) that allows you to carry more weight on your tough terrain hikes
- Breathable material
- Ankle is quite high for the mid range boot
- Stiff straight from the box and require some breaking in
- They will not last long for the serious hiker as the durability is questionable
The North Face have become the (forgive me) face of outdoor pursuits in recent years, transitioning as they have from the hills to the high street due to their lightweight, waterproof but nevertheless stylish clothing range. What we’re here to find out however is whether they have lost their way in the nitty-gritty world of outdoor trekking. The Hedgehog GTX is under the spotlight here, the North Face says that you can ‘Navigate tricky terrain with confidence with the reassuring support of the Men’s Hedgehog Hike Mid GTX boot.’ And they utilise many tried and trusted features to this end in an attempt to make sure this is true, but has it worked?
These particular hiking boots could be described as a bit of a mongrel. They are a lightweight hiking boot, but they are also very inflexible and the ankle is quite high for a mid-ranger. Of course, these factors in isolation don’t make for an uncomfortable boot, but it is telling that the lack of clarity in the design has produced mixed results in comfort. The Hedgehogs, particularly for such a light pair of boots require some breaking in and so fall behind to their competitors on that front. The ankle collar and a one-piece leather toe rand in particular need some wearing time to become flexible enough for comfortable use. However once this breaking in period has been completed these can be considered comfortable enough, their breathability and low weight being a particularly positive aspect.
At around 1340g for a pair, the Alterra model isn’t the lightest boot in this area of the market, A man’s size eight weighs in at 1022 grams, on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of mid-top boots. Their lightness means that they can be used comfortably for day to day use, if you’d like to fit in with the rest of those trendy lot with their North Face macs on.
Traction and Stability
Here the high ankle comes into its own, preventing rolling of the ankles and enabling you to carry a fair amount of weight on your hike. This stability comes in spite of how light the boots are, and this is where the TPU Cradle heel-stability and the accompanying full foot TPU tank come into their own. They ensure that the Hedgehogs perform above their weight class and become part of the reckoning for the best casual hiking shoes. In terms of traction however, they must be described as only average. They use Vibram rubber outsoles but have shallower lugs than many of the other market leaders, performing well in dry conditions but slightly out of its depth in truly tough terrain.
So far the Hedgehogs have been middling at best in this review, but this is where it all changes… for the worse I’m afraid. Unfortunately they are beset by durability issues. The EVA Midsole has to be highlighted especially as a problem, it is temperamental at best and at worst completely unreliable. For the price that they are sold for this is a fundamental issue and should make them a doubt for anyone who takes their hiking boots seriously. Like the Hedgehog, these lightweight hiking boots look fairly cute, have a spiky exterior but is often undone by its soft underbelly.
The Hedgehogs, using Gore-Tex alongside a full grain leather upper, on paper sounds like your standard light waterproof hiking boots. Using an old favourite tried and trusted technology should mean that this portion of our review becomes redundant. This, for some strange reason, is not to be however. Simply put, the technology is temperamental, often failing at the most basic water repelling duties. It’s hard to understand why straight away, the substantial amount of mesh seems to soak up the water more than other leading boots, but this does not go all the way to explaining the issues beset by the hedgehog. As a slight silver lining in amongst the clouds now drenching your feet, the extensive mesh lining does endure much breathability, making these fantastic in dry, hot weather. Not that this will cure the trench foot you will soon have. Sorry.
At the price you will be paying for the North Face Hedgehog GTX’s, quite frankly, you could do better, especially if you are planning on putting them through any sort of ringer. That being said, they are quite nice looking, lightweight and are part of a currently trendy brand. So if you prefer looking swish down the shops, by all means buy these boots. If you want to enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about your footwear falling apart I implore you to look elsewhere.
|Upper Material||Full-grain Leather
|Footbed||Full-foot TPU shank|
|Midsole||Compression molded EVA|
|Sole Material||Gum Rubber|
|Claimed Weight (per pair)||1.02kg|
|Best Use||Any terrain hikes|