I used to work in the boot and shoe section of an outdoor retailer and there was one shoe that really caught my eye – The North Face’s Hedgehog. In fact, it caught my eye so much that I saved up the money and bought a pair. Since then I’ve used and abused them in all sorts of places, from hiking trips in Morocco to multi-activity weekends in Ireland.
Like most North Face gear, the Hedgehog GTX XCR uses top quality components, reflected in the overall quality of the shoe (and also the price). For example, in the Hedgehog we’ve got a Gore-Tex lining to keep you dry and a quality, lightweight Vibram sole with a great, grippy tread.
The Hedgehog seems to have reached a great compromise between support and comfort. The midsole provides enough lateral stability to support the foot on tough terrain, and the upper features a tough heel cup to keep the foot in place. However, the shoe is also mighty comfortable to wear, even straight out of the box. It flexes where it should, and there’s some padding provided by the ankle cuff and tongue. There’s also a neat little cushioning device under the heel to provide extra comfort and padding while walking.
The toecap doesn’t really provide any protection from crushing and stubbing, but the sole extends to make a small bumper. There’s also protection from scrapes in hard-wearing areas thanks to an abrasion resistant fabric around the front and partly around the heel.
All in all, the Hedgehog performs brilliantly for most uses. It’s comfortable enough to wear on long distances, it provides enough stability and protection for tough terrain (although be careful of your toes), and I could see myself using these on a via ferrata. I also used these shoes as running shoes and they performed equally well, making them an ideal choice for lightweight, fast movers.
In a line: A brilliant all round shoe from The North Face.