Sunday, August 3

North Face Hedgehog XCR -Follow up

As you may recall early last week I looked at changes introduced since acquiring my original pair of these shoes, commenting:

"As the eyelets were an integral part of the quick lacing system (pull and tie - and worked great as far as I was concerned) I'm not too sure how this will now turn out during regular day to day usage. Or whether the integrity of the GT liner is compromised due to the two holes now punched through the shoe"

Too soon to report on the Gore-Tex, but after a few days wear the lacing system verdict is already in.

Oh dear. What a pity.

It's that damned lacing system I'm afraid. I know Aktoman has also had his own issues with the laces themselves, but I've not found that problem myself.

But as for lacing and fit.

Well I've tried using the three eyelets - and that feels slightly slack; Next trial was with Lace Hole #1 - and a tendency for the lace to lie across the top of the foot; A move to using both Lace Holes felt even worse - a tight fit, but the bellows tongue is now forced flat against the top of the foot making it feel mildly discomforting; Finally I went all out and used the heel lock lacing technique one reader suggested. Again a lovingly tight and stable fit, but too snug for my off-hill use to be honest.

Lets try to put this back into perspective before the Geek-O-Meter goes off the scale with all this pedantic stuff.

The old lacing system meant I could put my foot in the shoe, pull on the lace, tie it off and I was good to go. No matter what terrain I had in mind be it rough stuff or grooving on the mean city streets.

By comparison this new system is just so damned fiddly. From the variations I've tried above I can get a snug and stable fit, if I play with the options. But going through something like a heel-lock variation is a lot of faffing around just to get ready for a wander to my local newsagent.

I've experience of running shoes, including off-road stuff, so I do appreciate the lacing system benefit for that secure and stable fit. But providing this revised system means that for me the adaptability of the Hedgehog has been compromised.

Having said all that it remains a great shoe for fit & comfort.

There's one other change spotted since my last piece, which seems to work but feels strange at first. For some reason North Cape have decided to supply their Northopic insoles, with a noticeable bump running down the centre of the sole for a couple of inches.

It just looks weird. And each time I put the shoes on, it feels weird, at least for the first few seconds until forget about it.

Does it deliver any benefit? Well I've no idea to be frank. Marketing concept, or technical advancement? You've got as good an idea of the answer to that as I have.

I noticed a small piece in September's Trail Magazine under the 'Kit I Love' column. After a year's use that reader adores his pair of Hedghogs. And despite the lacing changes, I guess so do I, at present.

But speaking as one who bought this second pair, based on such a high satisfaction with the original design, I'm not so sure I'll be so ready for a straight replacement next time around. Which really is a measure of how any kit improvement may inadvertently divert the potential consumer away to other options. Not because the product is bad (it isn't!) but because its target market has been narrowed.

Whilst I was trying to buy these on-line I found a number of sites offering them in their 'Off-Road Running Shoe' category. A little heavy for that I would have thought. But one possible explanation behind some of the changes observed here?


But sometimes kit is just so right on its first appearance on the market perhaps it should just be left alone. Please.

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Mmmmhhh, me thinks I shall not be investing in a pair of hedgehogs. The same sort of problem occured with the brashers, the originals where fine but the sexy new versions, well!!?? Anyway, my inov 8's really need replacing, especially after the fiasco of the last week.
John, from yr pix of yr older pair of hedgehogs, they still seemed to have a few more miles in them to me - can't you go back to them for the moment?
Thanks for the vid-link, John. I think it is the same lacing that I copied across from the Inov8 shoes. Hoping to get out next weekend, so should give them a go then.
SW - old pair have mostly gone on the mid sole
It's so enormously frustrating when manufacturers introduce changes to excellent, existing products.

I've noticed in in particular with running shoes, though happily it hasn't yet happened with the Roclite 315s. I just wish they could get the blasted sole right, though. That would be a welcome change...
PW - thats just naughty to put a product out that repeats a previous mistake.
They still not using waterproof glue yet?
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