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The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX Review

TNF Hedgehog Hike GTX
Price:   $140 List | $123.53 at Amazon
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Pros:  Lightweight, good foot support, all-around traction
Cons:  Durability concerns, break-in period required
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor
Friday

Our Verdict

The new North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX delivers good rough terrain performance and carries light and medium loads well. Quite light among the shoes we tested, we like it for both dayhiking and short backpacking trips. The full leather toe is a nod to durability for rocky terrain, but the mostly mesh upper keeps the weight low and breathes well.

Compared to our Editors' Choice winner The North Face Ultra 109 GTX, the Hedgehog Hike takes longer to break in, has a little more foot support, and has a higher volume fit. While we love the Ultra 109 for its do-everything versatility, the Hedgehog Hike may be a better choice for backpacking over rough terrain.

Our Best Buy winner the Keen Targhee 2 is a more comfortable shoe for most hikers. Meanwhile the La Sportiva FC Eco 2.0, our Top Pick for Backpacking, is a good bit heavier, but also delivers more foot support. For folks with wide feet, the ECO might be a bit narrow.

New Colors for The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX - November 2016
The Hedgehog Hike GTX is no longer available in the color we reviewed; keep reading to find out more.


RELATED REVIEW: The Quest for the Best Men's Hiking Shoes of 2017

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Measured Weight of Pair, Size 12 Waterproof Lining Upper
85
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX $120
Editors' Choice Award
2.3 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Mesh and PU-coated leather
83
Keen Targhee 2 $125
Best Buy Award
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Nubuck and textile
83
Vasque Juxt $110
2.1 lbs. None Suede leather
78
La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 $150
Top Pick Award
2.5 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Footwear Nubuck Leather/ 100% recycled Nylon Mesh/ Uretech
78
The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX $140
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Full-grain leather, textile mesh, synthetic overlays
76
Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo $210
2.7 lbs. Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX Nubuck leather
75
Keen Marshall WP $130
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Lightweight mesh, synthetic overlays
73
Salewa Wildfire GTX $169
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Microfiber Forefoot, Ballistic Mesh, Exa Shell
69
Merrell Moab Ventilator $100
2.1 lbs. None Dura leather and mesh
68
Adidas Outdoor AX 2.0 GTX $120
2.15 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Air mesh and synthetic upper

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Version of The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX vs. The Older Version


After investigating, we have determined that there have been no changes to the shoe other than color. It is now available in Zinc Grey / Rosewood Red.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the latest version of the Hedgehog Hike GTX pictured on the left and the older model shown on the right.
TNF Hedgehog Hike GTX


Hands-On Review


The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX scores well for support and traction, and is one of the lightest hiking shoes we tested. However, for a lightweight product, this model takes a little while to break in. The full leather toe and large protective rubber rand led to flexpoints that caused top of foot discomfort for our lead tester at first.

Performance Comparison


The Hedgehog is well-matched to steep rocky trails. In addition to the foot support provided by the full TPU plate  we appreciate the protection from pointy rocks underfoot too.
The Hedgehog is well-matched to steep rocky trails. In addition to the foot support provided by the full TPU plate, we appreciate the protection from pointy rocks underfoot too.

Comfort


Most super light hiking shoes are comfortable right out of the box, but our lead tester found this product became more comfortable after brief break-in period. It takes a little while for the one-piece leather toe to become supple and mold to your toe and forefoot flex. The lacing system used on the Hedgehog is mostly traditional, but includes the two eyes close together up at the top. Having a choice of using one or both allows you to adjust the ankle collar fit better than you could with a single upper eye. A big plus in the comfort metric for this product is great breathability thanks to the mostly mesh upper and mesh tongue.

This product is relatively stiff and supportive considering its light weight. After a break-in period  these shoes become more comfortable for dayhiking.
This product is relatively stiff and supportive considering its light weight. After a break-in period, these shoes become more comfortable for dayhiking.

Weight


The size 12 model that we evaluated weighed in at 2.2 lbs The Vasque Juxt and Merrell Moab Ventilator are both a couple of ounces lighter, but do not provide as much foot support. This is the lightest product we tested that earned an eight in our foot support metric. The Keen Targhee 2 is a little more supportive, and only a fraction heavier. Overall, however, we found the Targhee 2 a much more comfortable product.

Support


We found that the EVA midsole and full foot TPU plate delivered better-than-average foot support. The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 provides much more foot support for backpacking, but is much heavier. All told, we feel the Hedgehog Hike's support is quite good relative to its weight.

Traction


Overall, the Hedgehog Hike earned a good traction score. In dry conditions, it provides good grip on loose gravelly trails and scrambles over talus well enough. It holds its own in a little mud, but its shallow lugs don't dig in as well as higher profile lugs.

Versatility


We did not find this shoe to be appropriate for trail running, not even a little bit. Otherwise, we found it works well for hiking for the variety of terrain we play on, and it has the foot support for carrying light loads. With a bright "The North Face" logo emblazoned on the outside of the toe, you probably won't be wearing them out to dinner or to the office.

Unfortunately  the bright white logos detract from what would be an unassuming everyday and casual shoe.
Unfortunately, the bright white logos detract from what would be an unassuming everyday and casual shoe.

Water Resistance


Our feet stayed perfectly dry in this shoe. The Gore-Tex liner does its job perfectly, but the substantial mesh bit of the upper soaks up more water than other shoes. We also have concerns about the long term durability of the liner at the forefoot flex point.

Durability


We have a few concerns about the durability of this shoe. On our test model, we experienced a couple of delaminations. The rubber toe rand at the inner forefoot flex point was beginning to come loose from the leather toe material; and on the same shoe, the EVA midsole began to come unglued from the leather upper. Although only a few millimeters, we've found over the years that delaminations like this grow as sand and dirt get inside.

Best Applications


While we liked this shoe for dayhiking, especially on warm days where its good breathability helped with comfort. The North Face Hedgehog Hike has the most foot support of the lightest models we tested and we feel its best use is light backpacking trips.

We feel the best applications for the Hedgehog are dayhiking in rough terrain  or light to medium weighted backpacking trips. This shoe received the highest support score among the lightest shoes.
We feel the best applications for the Hedgehog are dayhiking in rough terrain, or light to medium weighted backpacking trips. This shoe received the highest support score among the lightest shoes.

Value


With a full price of $140, we don't feel this shoe is a great value. We found the Hedgehog Hike an average performing shoe with an above average price.

Conclusion


The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX is a good hiking shoe for folks that want good foot support in a very light shoe.

Other Versions


Hedgehog Hike Mid Gore-Tex
Hedgehog Hike Mid Gore-Tex
  • Mid-cut version
  • Cost - $150 ($10 more than Hedgehog Hike GTX)
  • Approximate weight - 2lb (.2 less than Hedgehog Hike GTX)

Hedgehog Fastpack
MEN'S HEDGEHOG FASTPACK
  • Cost - $100 ($40 less than Hedgehog Hike GTX)
  • Weight - 1 lb 13 oz (.5 oz less than Hedgehog Hike GTX)
  • Trail runner version

Brandon Lampley
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