The North Face Altamesa 300 Review

An in-depth review of the The North Face Altamesa 300 trail running shoes.

By on May 16, 2024 | Comments
The North Face Altamesa 300

The North Face Altamesa 300. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Having loved The North Face trail shoes over the past few years, I was excited to test The North Face Altamesa 300 ($130). This was especially the case after enjoying the shoe’s more cushioned sibling, The North Face Altamesa 500 (review), much more than expected. As a sleeker and lighter shoe, in theory, the Altamesa 300 seemed closer to my ideal shoe.

In many ways, this is a middle-ground shoe. Its actual weight is 10.3 ounces (293 grams) for a U.S. men’s size 9, and it has a moderate 6-millimeter drop with full stack heights of 36 millimeters at the heel and 30 millimeters at the toe.

While it’s proved to be a suitable daily trainer on smoother trails, it didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations I’d placed on it when things got more technical. Ultimately, the shoe just doesn’t make the cut when things get steeper and rougher. But, given its price point and ability to excel on certain types of terrain, it’s well worth a look. Read on to find out why you still might find the shoe a good value for its intended use.

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The North Face Altamesa 300 Upper

The North Face Altamesa 300 - lateral

A lateral view of The North Face Altamesa 300.

The North Face Altamesa 300 upper is both durable and comfortable. The toe cap provides extra protection against rocks and increases the upper’s longevity. Despite the lower price point, the shoe is made with incredibly high-quality and light materials. The seamless engineered mesh is composed of 53% recycled materials. This reduces its environmental impact without compromising on the shoe’s breathability. The upper material kept my feet cool and dry, even during extended wear.

The padded collar and heel cup provide plush cushioning, minimizing the risk of chafing or discomfort and securing the heel for a snug fit. While the shoe is designed with increased space for the big and pinky toes, I found the toebox to be noticeably narrower than that of the Altamesa 500. It wasn’t a problem for me, but notable if you’re someone who wants more space up front.

The laces didn’t like to stay tied, and I recommend double knotting them to keep them in place. With TPU-reinforced lace guides, you can tighten the laces confidently, but I still struggled to feel secure in these shoes. I didn’t find the internal stability wings at the third eyelet particularly effective for midfoot lockdown. During runs on technical trails, I experienced some instability, with my feet feeling a bit wobbly in the shoes.

The North Face Altamesa 300 Midsole

The North Face Altamesa 300 - medial

A medial view of The North Face Altamesa 300.

The North Face Altamesa 300 midsole presents a compelling blend of features to deliver comfort, stability, and durability on the trail. Contrary to its counterpart, the Altamesa 500, this shoe does not incorporate The North Face’s Dream midsole foam. However, it still performs. The heel boasts 25 millimeters of plush foam. The cushioning is indeed comfortable, and it offers quite a bit of rebound. Combined with the slight rocker, I felt like the shoe was responsive given its 36- and 30-millimeter stack heights at the heel and toe. The 6-millimeter drop is fairly middle-of-the-road for a trail shoe.

The shoe has a dynamic stability zone at the forefoot and a reinforced internal heel counter for better performance on technical trails, but I found that it didn’t quite deliver as expected. I experienced some instability during testing as I took the shoe on increasingly technical trails. I will say that the wider footprint of the shoe offers a more stable platform, albeit with a slight increase in bulkiness.

The North Face Altamesa 300 Outsole

The North Face Altamesa 300 - outsole

The outsole of The North Face Altamesa 300.

The North Face Altamesa 300 has the brand’s Skycore rock guard at the forefoot. This technology offers light and flexible protection from the ground and creates a smoother ride. The rock guard, combined with the 25 millimeters of foam plushness at the heel, provides ample cushioning and protection against rocks. I did not experience any foot soreness or pain from missteps on stabby rocks.

The outsole is engineered to tackle the diverse challenges of trail terrain with confidence and grip. Featuring the brand’s Surface Ctrl rubber, it offers exceptional traction on a variety of surfaces, from rocky trails to muddy paths. The grippy 4-millimeter lugs are strategically placed to optimize traction and provide stability and control with every step. I ran on many types of surfaces while testing this shoe, including muddy and grassy trails, roads, bike paths, slickrock, and dusty and dry trails. The shoe punches above its price point in its ability to perform on many different types of terrain. I was particularly impressed with how little mud stuck to the bottom of the shoe, though, to be fair, I wasn’t in deep peanut butter mud — but it did a great job at shedding what I went through.

The North Face Altamesa 300 Overall Impressions

The North Face Altamesa 300 - top

A top view of The North Face Altamesa 300.

I won’t sugarcoat it, I have mixed feelings about The North Face Altamesa 300, which is surprising. I thought this would be my new go-to daily trainer. But, let me explain. At $130, this shoe feels like a bargain. The North Face did a great job investing in certain important areas of this shoe to keep the quality high and the price relatively low. For me, the highlights of the shoe are the midsole cushion, the Surface Ctrl outsole rubber, and the overall weight.

The big drawback is how unstable the shoe felt on really technical trails. I ended up walking trails I normally run because I was so worried about twisting an ankle, which is a problem for trail running shoes. That said, this shoe is great for smooth flowy trails, dirt roads, gravel paths, and other non-technical surfaces. In these conditions, its performance is exceptional. I was particularly impressed by the shoe’s quality and the midsole’s responsive rebound, which greatly enhanced my overall experience.

Shop the Women's The North Face Altamesa 300Shop the Men's The North Face Altamesa 300

Call for Comments

  • Have you had a chance to run in The North Face Altamesa 300? What did you think?
  • Do you think you’d prefer the more cushioned The North Face Altamesa 500 to this shoe?

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Check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article to learn about our current favorite trail running shoes!

Reese Ruland

Reese Ruland enjoys spending her time exhausting herself in the mountains and desert, either on foot or by bike. She is a Pop Tart enthusiast, gear addict, science nerd, and mom to two French bulldogs, Loaf and Oatie. When she’s not out on some big adventure, she enjoys working with athletes on developing a healthy relationship with endurance sports and their bodies.