Disclaimer: Tara has reviewed shoes and gear for me before, and I trust her completely with her opinion and integrity. When she approached me about reviewing all the shoes she’s worn this summer, my first questions was in regards to her role as a Montrail/Mt Hardware Ambassador with FleetFeet Roseville. She promised to be honest and critical, and by the looks of things, she didn’t pull any punches. All thoughts and words are completely her own.
This spring Tara received four pairs of shoes, and subsequently spent the next several months trying them out. Here is a quick run-down of each shoe to help you in your search for your next trail shoe.
Weight: 8.3 oz
Shoe type: Neutral
The FluidFeel is a versatile hybrid shoe. Traction and durability for the trail, yet light-weight and cushioned enough for the roads.
This was the shoe I put on when I needed to put in longer miles, and also when I expected to hit both trail and road in the same run. It is light and cushioned enough to run 20+ road miles without feeling beat up, or like your feet weigh a ton. The traction grips well on the trail, with no slip-and-sliding, but crosses to the road well. There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the shoe. First, midfoot. This area of the shoe (where the laces are) seems too small to me. It took a lot of adjusting and tying and re-tying of the shoe to be able to run comfortably in it. Second: the laces. Given the small midfoot, and needing to loosen that area of the shoe, the laces ended up being on the short side. We all love to double and triple-knot our shoes, so an extra couple of inches of lace would be nice. After I got the lacing right, I put over 300 miles on this shoe. If you are looking for a hybrid, this is worth trying on.
Weight: 8.6 oz
Shoe Type: Stability
Like the FluidFeel, this shoe is a hybrid, designed to cross from road to trail easily. This shoe, however, has some posting, providing some stability for the pronators out there.
I ran in these a few times and each time had to abort the run earlier than planned. I just could not get the shoe and laces adjusted to fit comfortably. When I tied the laced tight enough to not slip, it felt too tight across the bridge of my foot and my two littlest toes felt tingly. Disclaimer though: I do not pronate, and never wear stability shoes.
Weight: 8.5 oz
Shoe Type: Neutral
This is a real trail shoe: rough and tough sturdy shoe designed to take on harsh and technical trails.
I was wary of the shoe, because I don’t like heavy, clunky shoes that tend to be the ones that will withstand the toughest trails. I was pleasantly surprised with how nimble these shoes felt over the miles while providing protection from rocks underfoot and rough conditions. I put these on whenever I hit the trail for more than 6 miles, and know I won’t be tackling any road.
Shoe Type: Neutral
Designed as a minimal, light-weight neutral shoe that allows natural foot movement, with traction and cushioning.
I’ll start by telling you that I am not into the minimalist movement. I don’t wear Vibrams or any other minimal shoe, and I am typically cautious when trying shoes that claim to be minimal, as I appreciate some cushioning and support over the miles. That being said, this shoe quickly impressed me and became my go-to summer shoe. Putting these on made my feet sing, and I looked for any and every opportunity to wear them. The body of the shoe feels roomy, but importantly, with no heel slippage. I wore the prior model (click for review) and had trouble around the heel/achilles, with unfortunate rubbing and causing skin breakdown in that area. With that pair, I loved them but had so much trouble that I cut about ¼ inch down the back of the shoe to relieve the pressure. That enabled me to wear them for many more miles. I was thrilled that this updated shoe addressed that problem, with added cushioning and redesigned heel tab allowing adequate space for my achilles. I took these shoes on every vacation I took this summer, and they easily handled each new terrain, including mountains, beaches, rolling single track, urban streets, rain forests, and muddy root-filled Southern trails. I did find that I feel a little beat up if I run too much further than 15 miles, so I typically keep it a little shorter, limiting myself to 10 in these. If you are in the market for a light-weight, fun, versatile shoe, this should be on your list.