Just before Christmas, Dan Burgess returned from running the full length of New Zealand for charity. Not only that, he arrived back from glorious New Zealand sunshine to a soggy, European winter of route-mapping in the south of France with his wife (and support team) Sarah. Perfect trailtest conditions for the new TNF Hedgehog Guides – so we gave them both a pair to try. (Pictured: The North Face Men's Hedgehog Guides in Mid Blue)
Having recently returned to UK winter from the long trip in New Zealand, my wife Sarah and I made a quick escape to a quiet place in the south of France, called Brantome. We came here to help my folks renovate their new home, and in doing so thought we'd be avoiding a chilly and wet winter in Sheffield. As it happens, Brantome is also pretty wet and chilly in winter. Perfect conditions for us to try out the latest shoe from The North Face – the Hedgehog Guide.
As a climber and runner, I'm acutely aware of how important it is to have footwear that is 'up to the job'. During the New Zealand run, I used ultra-lightweight shoes that offered the minimum in protection and stability. The reason for this was to replicate a barefoot running style, saving as much weight and energy as possible. I was therefore intrigued by the Hedgehog Guides’ wide range of features; in particular the 'dual-density Cradle™ Guide midsole platform'. I guessed this must just be a snazzy term for what most would refer to as being 'very comfy'. But having come from spending all day in my 'feel-every-pebble', minimalist shoes this sounded like a refreshing change. Due to a long road trip down to Brantome, I didn't test them out in the hills straight way. Like most people, I don't always use separate pairs of shoes for separate activities, so I used them every day whether I was walking on dry tarmac or slopping around along muddy paths in the rain. Once the shoes were on, I realised that I have actually missed the comfort of a nicely stable and padded shoe. The tough and durable build quality reminds me of the protection you get from walking boots, but being a trainer-style shoe the Hedgehog Guides have been totally fine for kicking around in all day.
Dan’s wife and support team, Sarah, wears The North Face Women’s Hedgehog Guides in Mid Pink.
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We took the shoes out on a reconnaissance mission to the local climbing crag - Forge du Diable. It was way too wet to climb, but we had great fun 'bush-bashing' among the huge limestone boulders down at the edge of the river. It's fair to say that had the Hedgehog Guides not had GORE-TEX® waterproof protection, we'd both have come home with cold, soaking wet feet.
We clambered between crags, bush bashing through damp trees. Great fun.
Sarah checking out the boulders.
In the conditions we've used the shoes in so far, we've not had the chance to see the full benefit of the Vibram rubber soles, but having used Vibram on many sets of ice boots in the Highlands of Scotland, I already know how good they'll be on wet rock. Size-wise, Sarah and I both found them to be spot on and no different to our usual trainers. All in all, we're very happy indeed.
The North Face Hedgehog Guides are exclusively available at Blacks until the end of January 2013.