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WinterTrailShoes.qxd

9/28/08

11:30 PM

REVIEWS

Page 28

Winter ’08 Trail Shoes

by Cregg Weinmann

Brooks Adrenaline ASR 4 $95

Saucony ProGrid Guide TR $90

The Adrenaline ASR (All Season Running) is built on the platform of one of the bestselling technical road running shoes on the market today: the Adrenaline GTS. The stability and cushioning of the two shoes are comparable; if you love the road version, chances are good that you’ll be happy with its trail twin. The newly added MoGo midsole is particularly well suited to providing a great ride on the pavement (as anyone who has run the the Adrenaline GTS can attest), but it also does a good job once you get to the trail. Paired with the effective tread design, it’s well suited to the roughest trails. While the upper is a closed mesh that sheds much of the water and protects from trail debris, it’s still quite breathable with well-placed overlays providing support.

The updated Guide TR brings ProGrid to the trail and proves that a good cushioning technology can work well on multiple surfaces. The upper offers the expected trail touches: closed mesh, a gaiter ring at the bottom of the tongue and a lace-keeper at the top, and abrasion-resistant bumpers at both the toe and heel. These trailspecific features are accompanied by the effective and supportive overlays that provide the distinctive fit of the Guide road models on which this shoe is based. The stable dual-density midsole handles both on- and off-road surfaces. The outersole is fitted for the trail with two densities of rubber, and is lugged for traction that matched anything our testers challenged it with. For its combination of value, features, and its performance both on- and off-road, the ProGrid Guide TR earned honors as the best shoe in the Hybrid Trail category.

“Really knew what to expect because of my success with the Adrenaline GTS. It was like having an old friend on the trails. Fit well, performed well, and the traction was everything I needed in the hills.” HYBRID TRAIL Sizes: M 7–13; W 5.5–11 Weight: 12.8 oz. (M’s 11); 10.9 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with mild to moderate overpronation

“Saucony has brought their comfort to the trail in a big way. The fit is just right. My feet felt secure and the traction meant no slipping on hills.” HYBRID TRAIL Sizes: M 7–13,14,15; W 5–12 Weight: 12.5 oz. (M’s 11); 10.6 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with mild to moderate overpronation

UK Gear PT-03 Winter $139 UK Gear worked with the British Army to develop a line of running shoes equal to their elite forces (though it’s so good that it’s also been adopted by the German, U.S., and Norwegian armed forces). The PT-03 Winter was over a year in development in the UK before final testing in winter conditions with the Norwegian military. The upper is a tightly woven, waterproof mesh called SEALTEC, with a gusseted tongue, and a full rand of abrasion-resistant synthetic overlays. The outersole features triangular lugs for traction that really dug into the trails when our testers put the shoe through its paces. The midsole has been specially formulated to stay resilient in cold conditions (down to –4º F), but it works equally well in warmer temperatures, which is where we tested it. Though a little on the stiff side, the PT03 Winter is supportive, responsive, and durable, like the dependable military conveyance it is. “Good fit for medium-arched feet; secures comfortably. Pretty good cushioning, no problems on long runs. Very stable, well designed. Good lugged sole, suitable for any terrain I encountered.” HYBRID TRAIL Sizes: M 6.5–14.5; W 6.5–12 Weight: 15.6 oz. (M’s 11); 13.3 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

La Sportiva Crosslite $90

Salomon Speed Cross 2 $110

La Sportiva is strongly committed to trail running and racing, and the Crosslite is a testament to that commitment. The Crosslite (and the Skylite, its lighter-weight sibling) now represents La Sportiva’s best trail racing offering. The Crosslite features Frixion rubber in an aggressively lugged outersole that, in addition to cushioning, allows the lugs to interact with the trail surface and actually improves their ability to grip the trail. The midsole is a low-profile EVA with the rubbery TrailShock insert in the heel for cushioning. The upper has been stripped down with minimal stitched overlays running heel to toe in an abbreviated saddle that still provides midfoot support. Three layers of protection ride on the thin, mesh shell: strategically placed, imprinted, high-friction overlays; a rubber toecap; and a stretchy mesh shroud that covers the laces for a little extra security and protection.

The Speed Cross 2 builds on Salomon’s tradition of performance trail running shoes. The outersole veers slightly from their usual Contagrip compound, employing instead a thin, carbon-rubber layer with tall, sharklike lugs that provide superior traction and a little extra cushioning. The breathable upper is a closed weave that provides some protection from the elements. The forefoot is doublelasted to reinforce the vamp and the lacing system is the kevlar cinching Salomon employs to great effect across its line. The dual-density midsole offers a good blend of stability and cushioning, especially on the trail. This combination of stability, traction, flexibility, and light weight earned the Speed Cross 2 our best Performance Trail shoe honors.

“Snug fit, but not too tight; nicely supportive. Amazing traction, really handles the trails well. Worked great for mid-length trail races.” PERFORMANCE TRAIL Sizes: M 6–13; W 6–10 Weight: 11.8 oz. (M’s 11); 9.9 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics, for trail racing

“Great traction in all types of terrain; no slippage in dirt, rocks, or uneven surfaces. Light trail shoe; doesn’t feel like you are even wearing a trail shoe they are so light and comfortable.” PERFORMANCE TRAIL Sizes: M 8–14; W 5.5–11 Weight: 11.7 oz. (M’s 11); 9.7 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics to mild overpronation, for trail racing

Cregg Weinmann is footwear and running products reviewer for the Running Network LLC. A competitive runner for the past 43 years, he also has coached runners at all levels for over 25 years. He can be reached via fax at 661.872.1233 or via e-mail at shuz2run@lightspeed.net.


WinterTrailShoes.qxd

9/28/08

11:30 PM

REVIEWS

Page 30

Winter ’08 Trail Shoes

adidas adiStar Revolt

$120

continued

Lowa Celeste Lo

$110

Significant changes resulted in a new shoe rather than simply an update. The adiStar name is the primary carryover here, indicating that it’s a top-tier technical product from adidas. The upper features HF-welded supports over open mesh with the requisite rubbery bumpers and a plush interior. The fit and comfort are retained, as expected, and set the Revolt apart from the other adidas trail offerings, as well as the Supernova and Response series shoes. The midsole is single-density, but incorporates a new dual ForMotion cassette that offers more gait variability than ever before. Because it’s tuned medially and laterally to accommodate the differences between runners and the variability they encounter on the trail, it’s a little like the suspension on a radical off-road vehicle. The outersole is pure trail and provides an outstanding grip on whatever trails you’ll encounter, whether wet, dry, rugged, or groomed.

Lowa has a long tradition of outdoor footwear (hiking boots, anyone?). Now it’s focusing on trail running, as well. The Celeste, Lowa’s soft shell counterpart to the meshy Arete Lo, is designed to handle cold and inclement weather running. The soft shell fabric is paired with the GoreTex water- and weather-proof membrane for breathability and comfort. The upper is a smooth fabric with supportive HF-welded overlays laid out like a rand but with varying spaces between them. The dual-density midsole is stable and supportive with pretty good flexibility, and an extra cushioning layer in the innersole adds a touch of support through the arch. A full-length TPU plate provides protection from rough trails and a bit of support without overwhelming the foot’s natural tendency to flex and roll. The carbon rubber outersole has an effectively lugged profile which our testers felt really dug into the trail surface.

“The cushion on these shoes is great. When running downhill, I didn’t feel like I was pounding the ground. Especially effective on rough trails.”

“Fit well, fairly roomy, with a plush feel. Very stable on the trail. Could have used a little better flexibility, but not boot-like or inflexible. They did a good job for me.”

RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: M 6.5–13,14,15; W 5–12 Weight: 14.4 oz. (M’s 11); 12.0 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics to moderate overpronation

RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: M 7.5–12,13,14; W 5.5–11 Weight: 15.2 oz. (M’s 11); 12.9 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with very mild to moderate overpronation

Montrail Wildwood

$110

Because the Wildwood is designed for tough trails and the hardcore trail runner, it has traded off a little flexibility for a little extra support. The upper is open mesh with overlays providing an almost complete rand, and its well-finished interior feels plush. The heavily lugged outersole is as good as it gets for traction, protection, and durability. The midsole, however, could use some improvement. Though the cushioned layers provide a comfortable feel when initially stepping into the shoe, its performance on the run left something to be desired in the flexibility department. The outersole features a wavy, cupped design of what are essentially convex lateral flex grooves that should have made the shoe very flexible. However, the Trail Shield layer made the shoe feel stiff and reduced the versatility of the performance we expected from the Wildwood. Some of our testers liked it, but others thought the stiffness compromised the feel for the trail. Bigger and stronger runners will probably find this to be less of an issue than will lighter runners. “The fit said Montrail, but they felt very stiff and bulky. They were protective, but the feel for the trail was dampened,” and “The stability was better than expected. These were well cushioned but firm, like a tank on rocky trails.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: M 7–12.13,14,15; W 5–11 Weight: 14.4 oz. (M’s 11); 12.5 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

North Face Chinscraper

$120

The Chinscraper is one of the beefier trail shoes in this review because it’s designed for negotiating rough running trails. The upper features a breathable soft shell with DWR for protection from the elements, a complete rand with a high-friction treatment at the toes and heel, and a supportive extended saddle for added protection. The forefoot is nicely flexible and features a serpentine thermoplastic structure called Snake Plate that protects the forefoot from rocks and roots without eliminating the ability to feel the trail. The outersole is aggressively lugged and omnidirectional, providing effective traction on all trail surfaces. The midsole is well cushioned with quality EVA foam and the rubbery, crashpad inserts are encased in the XDome TPU cage to stabilize the heel for overpronators without eliminating the effectiveness of the shoe for neutral runners.

Reebok Premier TR Exhibition GTX $95 Like all the Premier shoes, the Premier TR Exhibition GTX features the necessary trail ingredients, including GoreTex, without breaking the bank. The upper is a breathable, closed mesh with a gusseted tongue, PUcoated mud guard, and a full rand that breathes while it repels the elements and protects from abrasion. The dual-density rubber outersole, while more modestly lugged than some of the others we reviewed, employs “sticky rubber” in a tread pattern that’s effective for most trails. The single-density midsole has good flexibility and a soft step-in feel, but it’s durable enough to get you over both roads and trails with a nice responsive level of cushioning. The combination of overall performance and price earned the Premier TR Exhibition GTX honors as the best shoe in the Responsive Trail category.

“Very stable—not likely to turn an ankle in these shoes, and the traction is wonderful. They seemed a little bulky, but the protection was worth it, and the ride is stable, but cushioned.”

“These shoes have a good, roomy toebox and a sense that the shoe is ‘loose’ but not too much so. They have a lot of forefoot flexibility.”

RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: M 7–12,13,14; W 5–10,11 Weight: 13.3 oz. (M’s 11); 11.4 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with mild to moderate overpronation

RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: M 6.5–14,15; W 5–12 Weight: 14.7 oz. (M’s 11); 12.6 oz. (W’s 8) For: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

© 2008 by Running Network LLC. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be stored, copied, or reprinted without prior written permission of the Running Network LLC. Reprinted here with permission.


Winter08 Trail Shoes