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Suggestions Needed - Trail Runners
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Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Suggestions Needed - Trail Runners on 05/24/2009 14:31:37 MDT Print View

Hello Ladies and Gents,
I’m a short time reader and a first time poster on BPL. I really appreciate the information and knowledge everyone brings to this site. I’ve learned a lot of information in the few months I’ve been around and am thinking I’m going to enjoy turning into a gear head.

And now for the point of my post… Let me start out by saying that I do know how to use the search function, but I don’t know a whole lot about footwear and I’m getting frustrated with all the options. It’s time to start narrowing down my choices.

I bought a pair of Vasque Breeze Boots last year and have gotten to the point where I need to try something different. The boots were okay, but best used for dayhikes, not the 4-5 day backpacking trips I went on. The stitching on both outer sides have come undone. The boot itself has seemed to acquire some permanent “lumps” towards the bottom of the toe box. I’ve tried to replace the insoles with no luck.

I think I’m going to make the switch to trail runners, based on what has been said on this site, and the typical over-kill that comes along with boots. Here are my requirements:

-Comfortable (I’ve been looking at a few models from New Balance because of the comfort reputation). I have a slight arch and my feet require some sort of a ‘wide’.

-Waterproof / Quick Drying(One of my concerns about switching to a shoe is that I’m worried about stepping in a deep mud or water puddle only to find the mud / water coming over the shoe and in).

- Decent traction (I live and mostly hike the Colorado Rockies, so skipping wet boulders and rocks will come up eventually)

My pack never weighs more than 25 pounds, and the most extreme climbing I do is mild scrambling. Price doesn’t matter, comfort and performance is the biggest thing.

Thanks for reading!

Stephen Cohen

Locale: Southeast U.S.
salomon on 05/24/2009 14:44:29 MDT Print View

I have a few pairs of salomons that I have used for most outdoor pursuits sub 30 lbs. The XA 3D pros, amongst others, are goretex lined. This is great in rain, but like you said about water spilling over during crossing etc, they get soaked and take a loooong time to dry. For this reason I am trying out some tech amphibians. I used them on an overnight last weekend with lots of water (hiking on shallow creek bed) and they were great, but not as stable as the XA pro. The arches are medium-high, and the area around the ball of the foot is pretty wide. Not sure if they size "wide" but I have a high volume foot and they fit great. Hope this helps a bit.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Suggestions Needed - Trail Runners on 05/24/2009 16:28:05 MDT Print View

Hi Tim

Well, every foot is different, so what suits one may not suit another. However ...

> Price doesn’t matter, comfort and performance is the biggest thing.
You are starting from the RIGHT premise here.

New Balance offer quite a few very good models with a 4E width fitting. For those with wide feet they can be heaven.

Salomon offer some with a 2E or E+ fitting. They are good shoes too, but they are narrower.

Many other jogger companies offer only a D fitting, especially in the Running models. They don't tell you the width on their web sites, so you are left wondering. Some of them claim 'wide' but it is still just D.
(I welcome technical information about other 4E companies.)

> -Waterproof / Quick Drying
Get over the worry about 'wet feet'. They DO NOT MATTER (except in the snow). You will find that many of the more experienced walkers here and elsewhere prefer light mesh shoes so the water drains out. If you hike in wet weather you will get water in your shoes, regardless.
There is folk-lore that wet socks give you blisters, but that myth seems to be mainly pushed by the heavy boot companies. Good socks are worth exploring however.

> - Decent traction
Most any reputable jogger company will provide good traction. Greasy slimy rocks - well, chuckle. We all have that problem.


Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Inov-8, Montrail, New Balance, Salomon on 05/26/2009 11:17:14 MDT Print View

I've transitioned in the last year from Asolo Fugitive (2 lbs per boot) to Salomon Gtx trail runners (1 lb per shoe) to Inov-8 Roclite 295s (12.5 oz per shoe) and my hiking enjoyment has increased with each step.

I have wide-ish feet myself, not officially measured but I think about E-EE. I know I should be looking at a wider shoe like NB, but I'm finding the Inov-8's much to my liking. I probably go half a size larger to compensate. I've never had problems with blisters, but I have had problems with toe-bump, so going a little longer doesn't bother me. For my next pair of shoes, I think I'll find a reputable running store and get fit by somebody who knows what they're doing.

But after trying on the Roclite's, my Salomon's feel like I strapping a pair of Hummers to my feet.

Definitely forget the gortex. I thought it made a diffference, but it doesn't I much prefer the draining and drying of mesh shoes.

A pair of trail runners will never cost close to what a pair of hiking boots do. You're feet might hurt a bit at first because the soles aren't as stiff, but they'll toughen up. You're feet might get tired faster as well, as the flexible soles mean using muscles you don't with stiff hiking boots, but that'll change over time as well.

The Inov-8s are really grippy, and I like feeling the trail under my feet, much more nimble and balanced.

Inov-8s website helps you pick out the best shoes by activity/terrain.

There's quite a bit on Inov-8 shoes in the forums here,

Edited by jrmacd on 05/26/2009 11:22:08 MDT.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Fit is foremost on 05/26/2009 12:23:42 MDT Print View

Hi Tim, welcome to the community! As you have probably seen over the last few months, it's about the best group of folks you'll find in cyberpace!

On the matter of shoes, you're starting with the right premise. For all our talk of various bits of gear, footwear is probably the most important gear system. Afterall, everything with hiking/backpacking is dependent on walking. Nothing can ruin/end a trip like poorly fitting/functioning footwear. This is where to start with selecting footwear: consider your experiences with the footwear you've used, both good and bad. Right them down if you want.

Then, as James suggested, find a reputable running shoe store and start trying things on. If you're in Colorado, I'm sure some of the forum members could suggest some good shops. Make a few trips; go in the morning, then go back in the evening. Listen to what the fitter tells you; I've dealt with a few customers who were really set on certain models regardless of fit. The fitter really has your best interests at heart, as he wants your return business, and also your word-of-mouth advertising. Plus, alot of the best fitters I've known had their own history of footwear problems, so they have lots of experience with fit issues; many have been trained as pedorthists or have been through the Phil Oren/Anatom programs.

As you can probably tell, I like to buy footwear from local shops, unless I'm loading up on a closeout or something. My time outside is precious to me, and for something like footwear, I'd rather pay a little more money and spend a little more time; shoes are just too important to what I do. To be able to try things on and discuss fit with an expert really removes alot of the unknown, and is probably cheaper in the long run.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: salomon on 05/26/2009 18:19:16 MDT Print View

I've pretty much been using and championing Salomons as well. Contrary to the post above, Salomon does make a version of the XA Pro 3D's in without Goretex and they do drain well & dry quick. They also now come in a 'wide' size. This is the shoe I've been using year-round and am very happy with it, outside of a few minor quibbles.

How do they stack up compared to some other popular trail runners? I tried Inov8's Flyroc model and the Inov8's win hands down for traction. I like the fit of the Salomons better. The forefoot felt tight on the Inov8's, so if you choose those, definitely size up at least a half size. I also like the quick lace system of the Salomon XA's because my shoelaces always come untied when my feet get soggy. I have yet to have the kevlar laces on a pair of Salomons break, despite the reports about this problem.

Its also been my observation that the Salomons are more durable. I have only owned one pair of Inov8's but I noticed marked wear on the uppers inside the first 100 miles of use before I gave them away (they just didn't fit my feet). I've read lots of reports about the lace points breaking as well. The Salomon XA's aren't all that durable either but at least the uppers haven't shredded on me. That just seems to be the way trail runners are built. I don't expect more than 300-400 miles of use before something breaks, the lugs wear off the soles, or the midsole/underfoot padding is mashed flat and the shoes feel lifeless.

I really, really wanted to like the Inov8 due to the ridiculous mud-tire treads on them but they didn't work well on my feet and I was disappointed to see the fabric uppers wearing so quickly. Perhaps I'll size up and try them again but for now, it's back to the Salomon XA Pro 3D's.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Thanks. on 05/26/2009 19:12:36 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses guys. I've been scouting the local shops around the valley and have narrowed down the choices between some NB and Salomon models. My choices have been pretty limited and I'm definitely rushing my decision to due an upcoming trip this weekend.

All of the NB I've tried on have felt great, while the Salmons that are usually in stock haven't been wides, thus feeling a little too tight for my liking. I really wish I could have found the XA Pro 3D's in my size.

I tried on some NB 875's today, liked them, came home and read some reviews and thinking I'm going to pull the trigger. So now that its almost a guaranteed fact that my feet are getting wet, what quick drying socks should I check out? All I have are models of Smart wools that love to bathe in moisture.

“Definitely forget the gortex. I thought it made a diffference, but it doesn't I much prefer the draining and drying of mesh shoes. “

-I learned this lesson with my Vasques. Gore Tex 'certified' is a big crock of you know what, IMO.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thanks. on 05/27/2009 00:19:24 MDT Print View

Hi Tim

I have 875. They work.

Socks - you will get many answers. I will vote for Darn Tough Vernmont full cushion boot socks. Imho, they are beyond every other brand - and I have worn plenty other brands. I like some Gobi Wigwam liners inside them.


John Fry
(m6amba) - F
GO-LITES on 05/27/2009 01:01:41 MDT Print View

hey there Tim,
i have worn NB sneakers/runners for the past 10yrs or so, and like you, i have a slightly wide foot, and NB seems to fit perfectly
i found that go-lite trail runners are built to the same specs as NB, therefore you can order the same size(which is the only reason i actually ordered a pair of shoes online without trying them on first)

so far i have 3 trips in them, and they are holding up like brand new, fit great, light, comfy, and my feet do not feel tired after a day of hiking, even on PA frequnetly runs really good sales on the go-lite shoes, i haev the storm dragons, but they make several different styles
highly recommend them!
oh yeah, they are quick drying

and i wear the smart wool adrenaline hikers, in no-show, i prefer the look on no-show socks, but you can get them with the small ankle, mini crew i think they call them
i have worn a single pair on a 3 day trip, without taking them off, and they were still comfy, and had very little odor ( less than a pair of cotton socks have after a day on "street use" )

Edited by m6amba on 05/27/2009 01:09:14 MDT.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Socks on 05/27/2009 06:45:16 MDT Print View

You're Smartwools should work fine. I like to carry low-cut Smartwool Hikers on trips where I know I'm getting wet; the thicker socks seem to hold their loft when wet better. All socks are gonna soak up a lot of water when crossing creeks and such, but as long as they don't totally flatten out I'm fine. On hot, dry hikes I like really thin wool running socks.

Michael Landman
(malndman) - F

Locale: Central NC, USA
Re: Suggestions Needed - Trail Runners on 05/27/2009 11:49:05 MDT Print View

I have been using New Balance trail runners for 4 or 5 years. I stick to them because the last they use (the form that the shoe is designed/made on) fits MY feet. I currently have the 908 model. The only bad thing I have found is that they do not work in beach sand. In the woods, desert, Great Smokey Mountains they are great. The mesh that is used lets the fine sugar sand collect and then deposits it around my toes.
I have had 30+ lb. packs to start week long trips, most recently 7 days in the Grand Canyon, exiting via the New Hance trail, which is very rough and rocky.

Find a brand that fits, REI has a no questions asked return policy and I have returned shoes that did not work after I have hiked in them. Go to review sites, Backpacking gear review for example, and see how your choices hold up.

Good luck and cheers,

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Suggestions Needed - Trail Runners on 05/27/2009 13:19:14 MDT Print View

I too am an innov8 man,they seem narrrow but wear em for a minute and they'll be fine. I got some big old dogs and they fit me.If it's not well below freezing forget the goretex. It will just make your feet sweat and then they're wet anyway. Just get meshy, quick drying shoes and splash thru anything. Screw it they'll dry. Wear 'em in stream crossings too it's macho. This is all my opinion obviously, hyoh, but I love my innov8's and I'm a size 14 wearing shoe snob. I am much happier with no goretex and I'm a soggy, muddy, east coast hiker.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
trail runners on 05/27/2009 14:32:21 MDT Print View

Vasque makes trail runners. I find I must wear 1/2 size longer than what works around town. My feet swell quite a bit when I hike and more than once I have worn too short a pair. The worst was when I realized I was wearing a women's size shoe, ie. an 11 women's not a man's 11. I did not notice the difference until I started hiking down hill. It was sold to me by a well know outfitter, so check labels carefully!

(puddlemonster) - F

Locale: SF Bay - East Bay
- on 01/07/2011 17:42:04 MST Print View


Edited by puddlemonster on 02/09/2012 22:01:43 MST.