The North Face Ultra Cardiac

This is our one-shoe solution for trail and road running.
Ultra Cardiac

Support

If trails are only part of your itinerary, get this versatile shoe. A plastic insert wraps around the heel cup, providing a firm platform and heel protection for hard surfaces, while the single-density midsole supplies enough cushioning for long runs. After a 20-mile run (18 road miles and only 2 on trail), one ultrarunner said, “The Cardiac has just enough cushion to take the sting out of running on concrete, yet it doesn’t sacrifice responsiveness on rocky trails.”

Breathability

The mesh upper kept our feet cool and dry during hot runs. It dries fast, too: Our feet were dry within a half-mile of a creek crossing in 80°F temps.

Traction

Multi-directional lugs bite into dirt and rock, but they’re low-profile enough that they don’t feel like cleats on pavement.

Comfort

The forefoot mesh gives way to a soft, cushioned tongue and ankle cuff. “My feet swell on long runs, and the padding kept the laces from digging into the tops of my feet,” says one tester. Gripe: Toe protection is minimal.