by Derek DeBenedetto.
The North Face (TNF) released the Ultra Kilowatt Shoes as part of the new Mountain Athletics line, which has been developed for indoor and outdoor training similar to workouts that can be found in CrossFit. TNF has several sponsored athletes that train in this fashion, so they figured they ought to develop apparel to support this type of training. I have been very happy with the overall quality of the Mountain Athletics Line, and they continue to outshine beyond the products their competitors are currently producing. However, I have never seen or tested anything like these shoes before.
The North Face Ultra Kilowatt Shoes are light and breathable — two very important qualities for shoes that you are going to be working out extensively in for a long period of time. At first glance, I thought the shoes were big and bulky, especially because I am used to seeing shoes built on a more narrow last for work outs. However, once I actually tried the shoes on, I realized how light TNF had managed to develop them. While they are not a minimalistic or barefoot shoe, I think these give you the most “bang for your buck” as far as design and weight go. Also, the FlashDry technology that lines the inside of the shoe really helps to keep your feet dry and allows the shoe to breath much better than others on the market.
I really enjoy the support that these shoes provide. Since they are not angled as much as a pure running shoe is, you feel much more “grounded”, which is a huge help for movements where your feet are planted (squats, deadlifts, clings ext.). I was glad to see they did not sacrifice comfort or weight in order to create a very supportive shoe. The Ultra Kilowatt Shoes have something called Pebax CRADLE technology, which is a plastic type of material that runs through the whole shoe and makes it snap back to form after every motion. I’ve also noticed that the shoes are round on the sides of the soles, so you can roll off of a motion such as a “suicide drill” without as much pressure being placed on your ankle.
Finally, the durability of this shoe cannot be matched by any other in the market. This is not a cross training shoe limited to indoor gyms, and it performs just as well if you are training in any climate conditions. The North Face shoes includes a Vibram sole that gains traction on tough services and is more solid than the average training sole, so it can withstand a ton of wear and tear before grinding down. TNF has always developed products that can withstand very harsh conditions, and these shoes have continued that tradition.
. Appalachian Outdoors and TNF came to LionHeart Gym in State College to do a demo of these shoes. We had about 40 people participating in a workout that consisted of a mile long run, 100 pull ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and finally another mile run. It was a race that is part of the Warrior Games, and some of these guys were in such good shape that they did the whole workout with a 20lb vest on! I was actually working the event (and even got to run the race in the shoes), and was very happy to hear the feedback from the athletes. Of the 40 athletes participating in the demo, 35 said they were satisfied with the shoe’s performance.
Overall, I really would highly recommend this shoe to people looking for a different type of sneaker than they currently have. While at first it may feel different from what you are used to in cross training sneaker, I guarantee you will enjoy the comfort, support, and durability that The North Face has given the Ultra Kilowatt Shoe.