The North Face Altamesa 500 Review

The North Face Altamesa 500 Introduction

The Altamesa line makes its maiden voyage for The North Face in 2024. Offering two versions; 300 and 500. The Altamesa 300 is a nimble shoe built for racing and technical terrain while the 500 is all about comfort and miles.

More specifically, The North Face touts the Altamesa 500 as a “highly cushioned and stable performance training shoe for trail running.

They use DREAM foam throughout the midsole for a pillowy soft ride. Under the midsole, you’ll find SURFACE CTRL rubber which is the outsole of choice.

Coming in at $155.00, this shoe is a new contender in the high stack, maximum cushion world of trail shoes. Obvious competitors are Brooks Caldera 7, Hoka Stinson 7 and Asics Trabuco Max.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Impressions

It took a few runs until I really started enjoying these shoes.

Sitting at a height of 30mm in the heel and 24 mm in the toe, the 6mm drop seemed to fit perfectly with the other features in the shoe.

I recently reviewed Brooks Caldera 7 which had an ultra soft ride and so I expected the Altamesa 500’s to be similar.

But after more time in the shoe, I realized the DREAM midsole is quite different. It’s moderately cushioned, yet still responsive. The rocker design in the Altramesa’s allowed for a more firm but still supportive midsole. You roll through your stride more easily which creates less impact and less need for the softer cushion.

The North Face intentionally widened the forefoot which they call the Dynamic stability zone. A wider footprint means you’re less likely to land on the edge of the shoe or step on a rock, root or in a divot resulting in rolled ankles.

I do have occasional issues with rolling ankles and was impressed with the added support and confidence I felt in the Altamesa 500’s.

This shoe really thrives on easy to moderate off road environments and the occasional stretch of pavement.

There’s no question that it could handle marathon and ultra marathon distances. Sure it can handle the occasional rocky section, but there are better options for highly technical terrain.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Protection

As with most trail shoes, protection is important. There are a few features that contribute to the overall protection of your feet with the Altamesa.

First and foremost, they don’t have a rockplate built into the midsole. All of your underfoot protection is found in the DREAM midsole itself.

The pure cushioning seemed to do a solid job preventing soreness from running over pointed rocks or roots along the trail.

Reinforced and protective toe caps surround the toe box to prevent wear and tear of the mesh upper in high contact areas. Overall the protection seems to be quite adequate for what most runners would need in this shoe.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Durability

I was quite impressed with the durability of the Altamesa 500’s. The shoe is built with quality materials which results in more miles and a greater value for anyone interested in buying them.

I’ve worn them longer than the testing period just because I like them and also to really see how durable they are. I have yet to find something about the shoe that has not held up to the grind of long trail runs and daily usage.

Of all the shoes I’ve tested recently, these would be my first choice for marathon distances or longer. One of the main reasons is because of their above average durability.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Responsiveness & speed

Nothing about this shoe screams fast and nimble. They’re an option for trails that you don’t have to think too hard about navigating.

Faster paced running takes quite a bit more effort and feels somewhat unnatural in the Altamesa 500’s. Running faster for short periods of time was possible but speed is not a strength of the shoe.

I mentioned before that the DREAM foam is a lot of cushion, but for all the cushion, they are still quite responsive.

Another reason for the responsiveness is from the rocker design. One step rolls into the next which keeps you moving forward and the impact of each stride feels less significant.

One observation or complaint, depending on how you read this, is that the outsole lug pattern and design might be on the timid side. The SURFACE CTRL rubber does not run the full length of the shoe, missing a section in the midfoot where DREAM foam is exposed.

Take this with a grain of salt because I didn’t have any noticeable traction issues, but I always feel more comfortable and confident in an aggressive, full length lug pattern.

Again, this did not seem to present an issue but it’s just worth noting.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Comfort and fit

The biggest reason I felt this shoe was so comfortable was due to the comfort focused fit in the toe box. They’re designed with a wider and deeper toe box. They were roomy and allowed for the right type of movement across the common obstacles found on trails.

However due to the larger footprint, they felt much bulkier than fellow maximal competitors. Narrow trail sections required additional focus to ensure my foot placement was where it needed to be. This is something to be mindful of depending on the trails in your area.

The North Face Altamesa 500 Conclusions

Outside of the testing period, the Altamesa 500’s have been my go to sneaker for family hikes, weekend activities and anything that requires shoes.

They look cool, are super comfortable and can withstand the rigors of ultramarathon distances.

I’d recommend this shoe for anyone looking to add a max cushion trail running trainer to their running shoe lineup.

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