North Face Altamesa 500: Maximum Cushioning Trail Shoes

North Face Altamesa 500 side overlays

The North Face Altamesa 500, a trail shoe offering maximum cushioning, is built to manage long distances, ultramarathons included. Its comfort and long-lasting resilience are among several enticing qualities you would appreciate if you decide to give these shoes a shot.

Do you deserve North Face Altamesa 500?

This shoe is perfect for those seeking a versatile option that excels both on road and trail. Its ability to withstand extensive distances makes it worthy of consideration for ultra marathon enthusiasts.

These shoes aren't designed for lightness or to offer a close-to-the-ground sensation for runners. If you're looking for either of these features, it's best to look elsewhere.

North Face Altamesa 500 Brief Introduction

Debuting for The North Face in 2024 is the Altamesa line, featuring two variations; the 300 and 500 models. The Altamesa 300 is a swift and agile shoe, designed for racing and tricky terrains, whereas the 500 version is designed specifically for comfort during long-distance runs.

To be more precise, The North Face describes the Altamesa 500 as a "performance training shoe, providing exceptional cushioning and stability for trail running."

The midsole features DREAM foam, enabling an incredibly soft journey. Beneath the midsole is SURFACE CTRL rubber, selected as the preferred outsole.

Related: Salomon Thundercross: Trail Shoes for All Types of Terrain

Priced at $155.00, this shoe is a fresh contender in the domain of high-stack, maximum cushion trail shoes. It is set to compete with notable alternatives such as the Brooks Caldera 7, Hoka Stinson 7, and Asics Trabuco Max.

North Face Altamesa 500 sole units

North Face Altamesa 500 Running Experience

I began to truly appreciate these shoes after a few runs.

With a heel height of 30mm and a toe height of 24mm, the 6mm drop appeared to blend seamlessly with the shoe's other characteristics.

Having recently assessed the ultra-soft ride of the Brooks Caldera 7, I anticipated that the Altamesa 500's would offer a comparable experience.

However, upon spending more time with the shoe, it became clear that the DREAM midsole stands apart. It offers moderate cushioning while remaining responsive. The rocker design of the Altamesa's provides a firmer yet supportive midsole experience. This contributes to an easier stride roll, resulting in less impact and a reduced requirement for softer cushioning.

The North Face deliberately expanded the forefoot area, which they refer to as the Dynamic Stability Zone. An enlarged footprint reduces the risk of landing on the shoe's edge or stepping on a rock, root or in a divot, which could result in twisted ankles.

As someone who occasionally struggles with ankle rolling, I was genuinely impressed with the extra support and reassurance the Altamesa 500's provided me.

This shoe truly excels in mild to moderate off-road settings and can handle the occasional span of pavement.

Undoubtedly, it is capable of withstanding both marathon and ultra-marathon distances. While it can deal with the sporadic rocky stretch, there are more suitable options for particularly technical terrains.

Related: Brooks Ghost Max for New Runners and Experienced Marathoners

North Face Altamesa 500 Safety and Protection

Protection is a crucial aspect of any trail shoe. There are several features in the Altamesa that aid in safeguarding your feet.

Primarily, these shoes lack a rockplate incorporated into the midsole. Instead, all the underfoot protection is provided by the DREAM midsole alone.

The pure cushioning appears to do an excellent job in preventing discomfort caused by running over sharp rocks or roots on the trail.

The toe box is surrounded by reinforced and protective toe caps to safeguard the mesh upper from wear and tear in areas of high contact. In general, the protection seems quite sufficient for what most runners would require from this shoe.

North Face Altamesa 500 heel

North Face Altamesa 500 Lifespan and Durability

The durability of the Altamesa 500's left a strong impression on me. The shoe is constructed using high-quality materials, which translates into extended mileage and increased value for anyone considering purchasing them.

I've extended my use beyond the testing period simply out of fondness for them and a desire to thoroughly assess their durability. I'm yet to discover an aspect of the shoe that falters under the strain of extended trail runs and daily use.

Among all the shoes I've recently tested, these would be my top pick for marathon lengths or beyond. Their superior durability stands as one of the main reasons for this preference.

Related: New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4: For Marathons and Tempo Runs

North Face Altamesa 500 Responsiveness and Speed

This shoe doesn't exactly radiate speed and agility. It serves as a choice for trails requiring less intricate navigation.

Running at a faster pace requires considerable effort and feels somewhat awkward in the Altamesa 500’s. While sprinting for brief intervals is achievable, speed is not one of the shoe's strong suits.

As previously stated, despite the considerable amount of cushioning with the DREAM foam, they retain impressive responsiveness.

The shoe's responsiveness can also be attributed to its rocker design. Each step smoothly transitions into the next, ensuring forward movement. Additionally, this design diminishes the impact felt with each stride.

One comment, which could be interpreted as a criticism, is that the design and pattern of the outsole lug might be somewhat conservative. The SURFACE CTRL rubber does not cover the shoe entirely, leaving a patch in the midfoot area where the DREAM foam is visible.

This should be taken lightly as I didn't encounter any significant traction problems. However, I always feel more assured and confident when using a shoe with a full-length, aggressive lug pattern.

Once again, this didn't appear to cause any problem but it's something to take into account.

North Face Altamesa 500 Comfort and Fit

The primary factor contributing to the comfort of this shoe was its toe box, which was designed with an emphasis on comfort. The toe box was wider and deeper, giving ample room for the feet. This extra space facilitated the right kind of movement while navigating typical trail obstacles.

Yet due to their bigger size, they felt more heavyset compared to other high-cushioned competitors. Concentration was needed to place my feet correctly on narrow trail segments. This is something to consider depending on the types of trails you frequently traverse.

North Face Altamesa 500 uppers

Summary and Conclusion

Beyond the evaluation phase, the Altamesa 500's have been my preferred choice for family hiking trips, weekend events, and any other activity that necessitates wearing shoes.

They have a stylish appearance, are extremely comfortable, and are robust enough to handle the strenuousness of ultramarathon lengths.

I would suggest these trainers to anyone who is considering adding a heavily cushioned trail running shoe to their collection.

User Reviews

Patrick: Exceptional support and cushion, however, the sizing is slightly large or more loose than some of my other north face shoes. I need to wear thicker socks to create a better experience. Awesome shoes and great traction as well.

Seth: Great design. This shoe is exactly what I was looking for. I run 16-20 mile trail runs and need a trail shoe with more cushion on my recovery runs.

Adam: Wonderfully comfy. Great if you work long hours on concrete floors.

Adam: I use these daily at work. Concrete floors and 10 hour days coupled with bone spurs make for a tough time. These shoes are the best shoes I have ever owned.

John: I love the accommodating fit and smooth ride. While the stack height is high, this shoe is not a marshmallow. I've only used it on easy days and that's what I think it's best for. The shoe is not light and I'm ok with that. The grip seems adequate although I wouldn't complain if NF used Vibram Megagrip. The heel to toe drop is just right for me and the lockdown is great. When I first got the shoe there was a little heel slip, but after two runs the shoe felt more molded to my foot. The fit is true to size length-wise but wider than other trail shoes I've used.

Rob: I'm a trail runner sponsored by The North Face. I was part of the beta testing for the Altamesa 500 and was stoked on the ride and comfort from early on in the process. These are now my go-to shoes for nearly all my long runs and easy/recovery days when I'm not in one of the VECTIV shoes. They are soft and plush but still feel responsive and stable for all but the most technical terrain.

  • Product: North Face Altamesa 500
  • Price: $155
  • Styles & Colors (NF0A83N3):
    • TNF Black/Asphalt Grey
    • Forest Olive/TNF Black
    • White Dune/Gravel
    • Indigo Stone/Summit Navy
  • Usages:
    • Long distance running shoes
    • Trail shoes
    • Marathon
  • Details:
    • Upper: Seamless, lofted, engineered-mesh upper made with 62% recycled material
    • Comfort-focused fit in the toe box with increased space for the big and pinky toes
    • Ultralight DREAM midsole foam offers a super-high rebound
    • Plush heel cup and collar for high-level comfort and heel lockdown
    • Reinforced and protective toe cap, stability overlays and lace guides
    • Ghillie lacing system for lockdown support
    • Reinforced internal heel counter for rear-foot stability
    • Gear-inspired pull-tab webbing at heel for ease of entry
    • Comfortable padded tongue with internal wings for added lockdown support at midfoot
    • Sole Unit: Dynamic stability zone at the forefoot is designed to provide inherent stability on the trail
    • SURFACE CTRL™ rubber outsole with grippy 4 mm lugs optimized for trail terrain