After using The North Face Hedgehog Hike II GTX as his go-to hiking boot for the past couple of months, Nick wanted to share his thoughts and experiences, and provide a comprehensive review for those considering this boot as their next pair.
I feel sorry for these boots, I’ve thrown a lot at them these past couples of months; they’ve seen mud, rivers, rain, mountains, rock walls, airports, train stations and cities and yet they still (apart from a few scuffs) amazingly look and perform as well as the day I got them.
Design & Aesthetics
The Hedgehogs are designed with hiking and the outdoors in mind. The kind of boot you can tackle multi-day hikes with or wear for short walks at your local park. From a beginner to the advanced, these boots will appeal to anyone looking for a reliable boot. Being a sturdy, heavy duty boot does come at a weight cost, with the pair weighing in at just over 1kg, so make sure you wear them on the plane instead of packing them into your luggage!
The new colour-way available from The North Face is Bone Brown/Rage Red, whereas my pair is Burnt Olive/Tarmac Green. I’m not one to overly care about the colour of my hiking boots, but the Bone Brown/Rage Red would be the more casual ‘fashionable’ colour-way of choice.
Straight out of the box, the Hedgehogs were STIFF, and when I say stiff, I mean they felt like I was wearing steel capped boots. Thankfully, they’re not steel caps, but the stiffness means one thing for us adventurers and travellers – breaking in the boots.
Compared to other boots I’ve owned in the past, the hedgehogs took a LONG time to break in. The VIBRAM XS Trek Outsole and Ortholite Sole were spongy and cushiony straight out of the box, but the leather upper was stiff and had absolutely no flex. Before I even considered taking these boots on a hike, I put about 80km into them which seemed to be enough to loosen up the leather upper to flex with my toes.
Three months on, and the leather has completely softened. The boots are extremely comfortable now, so just keep that in mind if you choose these boots as your next pair. The other notable consideration is the hedgehogs don’t provide a huge amount of arch support, which for the flat-footed folk like myself, I personally prefer.
Durability & Stability
As you’d expect from a pair of well designed and well-tested boots, the Hedgehogs have exceptional support and stability. The Vibram Trek XS Outsole is more than capable of downhill descents on unpredictable terrain, with the multi-directional lugs ensuring you’re not going to end up on a surprise muddy slip n’ slide.
I’ve personally found the outsole to be extremely durable, with almost no signs of wear, which is amazing considering I’ve worn these shoes on 10+ hikes. The North Face has also engineered a TPU Heel plate and implemented their own ESS Snake Plate into the shoes, which ensures your foot is able to move naturally without compromising support.
The Hedgehog Hike II’s feature a leather upper, which provides exceptional waterproofing, but they also have that little yellow Gore-Tex tab which is synonymous throughout the outdoor industry. Anyone who’s used Gore-Tex knows how good it is, and these boots are no exception. You can wholeheartedly trust no water will be getting into these boots, unless of course, you like to go swimming with your boots on.
I’ve been caught out in the rain a few times on the trail, as well as encountering some muddy routes, and the boots have held up extremely well. As well as being 100% waterproof, The Gore-Tex membrane also ensures the boots are breathable. I always wear merino hiking socks with these boots and can vouch for the breathability of the boots. Considering the boots are leather, the breathability of the boots surprised me. I’ve had leather boots in the past which didn’t breathe well and basically became mini saunas for your feet. When you’re hiking 8 hours a day with sweaty feet, it’s not fun.
Whether you’re a newbie to hiking or an experienced outdoorsman looking to replace your old thrashed boots, The North Face Hedgehog Hike II’s have to be considered as your next shoe. Whilst they’re on the higher end of the pricing scale for boots, having supported, dry and pain-free feet on a hike is priceless.
These boots have constantly surprised me in the time I’ve had them. Following the break-in period, they have been almost flawless. The only negative I have found is the weight, but hey, when has that ever stopped you buying a good boot that you know will last for many years?
Nick bought these boots for himself and sent in this review to We Are Explorers purely to share his thoughts. The views are entirely his own.
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