Thursday, July 22, 2010

North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR Product Review

 After a long week end away at the Latitude Festival I returned home to find a box had been delivered. Who doesn't like a surprise or two and as a runner this one was gratefully received. Inside the box was a pair of the latest North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR shoes. I recently contacted the folks at and indicated that I would happily review these shoes if chosen to do so and luckily I was selected.

So this is my product review so far based on just a couple of runs to date.

Looking at the shoe box you cannot fail to take in the logo Never Stop Exploring. Combine this with the company name NorthFace and you are immediately thinking this must be an off road pair of shoes designed for trail or cross country running.

The North Face to me conjures up images of Mount Everest and survival. Here in Bury St Edmunds we certainly don't get any mountain conditions but for a county that is comparatively flat we do have plenty of hills.

Personally I like nothing better than to get off the roads and to run along paths and trails across farms and fields. I also like variety and I like to run new trails that I haven't visited before as a way of exploring whats on my doorstep in Suffolk. So the shoes should be ideal for wherever you live.

Inside the box the shoes themselves are not as bright as many a running shoe the colour being charcoal grey and sage green.

The laces also remind you more of a walking or hiking shoe . This along with the logo has set my initial thoughts on this shoe that it is somewhat of a crossover between a
hiking and running shoe. I know a lot of people who like to combine walking and running on a long day out in the hills and whilst this might be the ultimate use of these shoes I am going to see how they fare as an everyday running shoe both on the road and on the trail over the next few weeks.
Looking at the soles of the shoes they are  vibram outer soles with plenty of tread. Presumably where the Hedgehog name comes from!

As regular readers will know I haven't been able to run much recently due to a plantar fascitiis injury. I still have the injury but thought it time to give it a try out with the new shoe.I slipped on the shoes which were immediately comfortable. As a runner who is slightly over my recommended BMI ideal weight these  shoes seem to provide some  good support. There is a footbed in the shoe called a Northotic which is designed to give stability , support and cushioning on the trail.

Living in town I initially set off running on the pavement but the shoes felt comfortable and within half a mile I was off road and heading along a pathway besides a field. With the recent weather having been dry and warm I am probably not testing the shoes against their full capability as I suspect they would really cope well with wet and muddy conditions come the Autumn and Winter. However as I ran up hill over undulating conditions the hedgehogs give you a lot of confidence knowing that the tread gives good grip.

I didn't suffer from any blisters  after the 1st couple of wears which has happened with one or two pairs that I have had in the past. I also have wide feet but  the standard size 9 shoes felt comfortable with plenty of toe room. 

I have been able to complete a couple of short runs in the shoes below 5 miles without my plantar fascitiis in my left foot really bugging me. During the run I felt the odd twinge but nothing to prevent me from running.


Time will tell how durable the shoes are but given the tough looking treads I suspect if you are after a pair of shoes to run on the trails then these may be for you. I have tried many different running shoes since 1982 and believe it or not I was then running in a pair of Dunlop Green Flash! Since then I have used New Balance, Asics,Saucony , Reebok and Nike. All of these shoes and the North Face Hedgehogs are available at  the Fitness Footwear site . These are the 1st pair of North face shoes that I have had and so far so good.

didn't notice during the run but compared to many running shoes they weigh in slightly heavier than some at 862g. This is another aspect which leads me to conclude my initial thoughts that these shoes are ideal as I say for long distance trail running or hiking and would certainly lend themselves to be durable over the winter and it will be interesting to see how they cope in snow as the tread might be ideal for this.

If you don't know who Fitness Footwear are and haven't bought from them before then take a look at their blog. There are some useful guides to running shoes brands which will help you when making your next purchase.

I will let you know how I get on with them and give an update  in a few weeks time.

Sennheiser 5 FOR SPORTS – Running Song Charts

Many of us enjoy going on a training run and listening to music either as a distraction or as an aid to help us to focus perhaps when running to the beat. Running with music for me comes into its own when I am doing any faster paced work which includes some sprints or interval training. Running to the beat of music is definitely proven as a form of motivation.

The folks over at 5 for Sports would like to know what kind of music and which songs motivate you when you are running. With our input they are trying to create the basis for a statistical analysis of the topic running and music and thus develop the ultimate “Running Song Charts“: 

For 5 months sports fans all around the world can state their 5 favorite training- songs on the website . In cooperation with adidas Sennheiser raffles 250 prizes such as iPods, iTunes-vouchers or sports headphones and a voucher for sports equipment worth 5.555 Euro among all participants as a reward for their participation.
- Many renowned faces from the sports and music world are supporting this campaign. US-Sprinter Tyson Gay, the British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, the Chinese singer Hins Cheung are among the stars that disclose their „top 5“ songs for warming up, running and cool-down. The playlists of the NBA-players Derrick Rose and Nick Batum are already online. And there are more to come.
- The more people contribute their training songs to 5 FOR SPORTS the more extensive the analysis is going to be.  Sennheiser and adidas will share the results – for example differing musical preferences of men and women, or differing musical tastes in Europe, Asia and America – with all participants.

So give it a go there is nothing to lose and it is a bit of fun- for the record my 5 songs that I chose were

Warm up song Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes
Jogging Song Snow Patrol Run
Sprinting Song The Ramones Blitzkreig Bop
Cool Down Song Peter Tosh Downpressor Man
Relaxation Song Darwin Deez Constellations

This was my instant thoughts and I guess I could come up with another 100 alternatives!
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