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need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions
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Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/05/2013 19:43:03 MDT Print View

I have three races this year that will involve lots of very rocky/talus conditions- I ran one of them last year in Montrail Sabino Trails and they were adequately beefy and padded; but while the toe box was roomy they were a little loose in the heel and mid-foot I've tried the Mtn Masochists and they are a no go- not enough room in the toe box for me

I'm currently running in Brooks PureGrits 2's and we've been getting along handsomely, but these are definitely not the shoe for really harsh/rocky conditions

whatever shoe I go w/ will have to have a roomy toe box (my toes are looooong!), I'd prefer a lower offset, but could live w/ a higher one if the shoe fit well and was beefy enough


S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/05/2013 19:46:59 MDT Print View

I love my Altra Lone Peaks for those type of conditions. With some Dirt Girl gaiters.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 05/05/2013 20:23:42 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 20:17:21 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/05/2013 20:34:17 MDT Print View

Mike - I like a snug fitting heal in my shoes.
one way I accomplish this is the way I lace them.
do you use that second upper lace hole that is on "most" trail runners?
simply run the lace tip thru this very last hole the reverse way from the other holes then take the lace from the oposite side and run it thru the small loop that was formed, then cinch the laces up.
I find this typically locks my heal into the heal cup just fine.

another way to tighten up the heal and mid foot, which I have used a few times, is to take a second pare of socks, cut the front third (or front half) off so your toe box doesn't get to tight, them pull them onto your foot and carefully pull your regular socks over them. if you are careful how you put them on they work wonders to snug up the back half of the shoe. you may want to do this with a fairly thin pair of socks so you don't snug up too much.

if that doesn't satisfy you, there are always the Cascadias which are plenty beefy, but they do have a bit of lateral instability for me.

a really nice, light, low to the ground shoe, with a rock plate are the Pearl Izumi Peak II. I love them for shorter runs ... meaning up to 25 miles or so.

Edited by asandh on 05/05/2013 20:42:13 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
rocky stuff on 05/05/2013 20:51:32 MDT Print View

hadn't thought about the Altras- I've heard they have a nice roomy toe box, I got to see them in person when we ran the GC last spring- they looked a little light for rough stuff (looked perfect for the GC though), but looks can be deceiving

I've heard good things from folks using La Sportiva, but didn't know how the room was in the toe box- good to hear, I'll see if I can find a pair to try on (heading to the "big" city next week)

Art- I haven't used that hole in any of my shoes, but I'll give that a go Like the idea on the sock, never would have thought of that, but makes perfect sense

heard good things on the Cascadia as well, I'll see if I can find pair to try on


Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: rocky stuff on 05/05/2013 21:29:55 MDT Print View

The lacing style that Art mentions is how Inov8s come and I swear that little difference is what makes their shoes lock my heel in place so much better than any other shoe (The rest of the shoe fits me well so I haven't needed to try other companies since).

This page has some diagrams to elaborate and some alternatives:

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: rocky stuff on 05/05/2013 21:54:06 MDT Print View


Good to hear from you. (*Would one of these races happen to be The Rut 50k!?)

I'll chime in a bit, because I feel like kicking the subject of shoes around a few. It's been a while!

La Sportiva X-Countrys (**discontinued now, but the Anakonda is the nearly identical replacement) are very flexible and nimble with gobs of traction on just about every surface. These have been my default shoe for the shorter technical climbing runs recently and might do the trick for some of your upcoming runs. I did a 9 mile run in them last week with some really techy rocky sections and a short stretch of mixed surface (jeep road) at the end. I haven't run in a shoe as confidence inspiring as these for loose trail conditions, but the lack of midsole cushion really limits the distance these maintain comfort (13 miles is about my limit!). The forefoot room in these is adequate but not generous. I'd say they're medium volume and hug the foot appropriately, considering the shoes intended purpose. The lack of upper overlays keeps them from constricting the forefoot, so there is room for your feet to move around, but the fit is lightyears away from sloppy.

The La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0 could be a solid option for your races, merging much of the original C-Lite protection and cushion with the lightweight/nimble nature of the Anakonda/X-Country.

Pure Grits.

You're absolutely right regarding rocky/talus/scree underfoot conditions. Mountain running wasn't really they're intended purpose. You can stumble your way through rough sections due to the large contact patch of the outsole and the ample cushioning, but it can be a sketchy ride negotiating techy bits in these cruisers. If conditions get wet and muddy, particularly slick granite.....fahgettaboudit! I was slipping all over the place last year at the R2R2R.

I'm wrapping up my fourth pair of the gen 1 Pure Grits and I'm overall pretty stoked on that shoe as a door to trail shoe, but the outsole is the achilles heel. I've read the Pure Grit 2 has a considerably better outsole pattern, but the compound Brooks is using is still pretty anemic.

Some other options for you to consider:

Trailroc 255 (*read Tom Caughlan's review at

Pearl Izumi Trail N1 (*I only have 3 runs in these so far, but I'm pretty stoked on these right now) The outsole isn't overly aggressive but handles our dry rocky trails considerably well, much better than the Pure Grits.

Edited by Eugeneius on 05/05/2013 21:54:54 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/05/2013 23:25:11 MDT Print View

Have to tried the Montrail Bajadas?

I hesitated responding to this because, while I loved the shoe, I did manage to break my ankle in them earlier this month in the Grand Canyon on exactly the kind of conditions you describe (Redwall descent on the Tanner Trail.) But I really don't think it was the fault of the shoe in my case and, right up to when it happened, I was feeling great in them.

I've worn Masochists before and the Bajadas have a wider toe box, which I prefer. I also think the sole is stickier, similar to the LaSportiva Wildcat soles.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
bajadas on 05/06/2013 01:04:49 MDT Print View

I don't post here a lot, lots of reading, not too involved in writing as of yet - but I have the Bajadas and have been testing them out quite a lot in the last couple of months so I thought I'd share my personal findings (with emphasis on personal).

Just for reference, I've been doing treks of 25~35Km per day twice a week, yesterday did a 54Km with a bit over 5000 meter accumulated height difference. Most of the trails were a mix of forrest and rocky ridges (in Japan the trails often follow the ridges).

For me/my feet, the Bajadas are the best fitting shoe I have ever hiked in. The heel is really nice and secure, and the toebox is roomy, giving me enough space to never feel cramped in the front. I lace down pretty tight in the front, normal in the mid section and a bit more loose on top. This way the Bajada's stay securely on my foot, no friction anywhere, without feeling constricted. I have not had any blister or hot spot anywhere, a first for me when doing these distances.

Why I reply is I have serious raw/bruised soles after doing more than 35Km on the rocky trails. Perhaps that is to be expected but it is definitely more pronounced than other light hiking shoes I have tried. If this shoe had a rock plate I would buy 10 pairs right now. I tried myog some rock plates but without success yet.

I have wondered about other people's experiences.
If your soles stand up better against rocks, or your trail conditions are different I think it's a very good shoe to try. But since you specifically mention rocky trails, I'm not sure.

Will follow this thread with interest.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
rocky stuff on 05/06/2013 07:44:11 MDT Print View

thanks gents for all the input!

Eugene- yup, I'm signed up for the Rut Run- wasn't thinking clearly at the time :) You should consider it- I'm pretty sure I can come up w/ a place stay relatively close by

short video clip

I've got the Grit 2's and can't compare them to the 1's, but the grip while decent isn't anything to write home about, definitely an area they could be improved

the 255 is on my list, I've always wrote Inov-8 off as they tended to run narrow, the 255 is on their new anatomical last which supposedly has a much roomier toe box

I looked at the Bajada, but visiting w/ Montrail they thought it might be a little tight in the forefoot- I read a couple of reviews that echoed this- I never have tried a pair on though to say for sure

I'm leaning a little towards the 255 or the Saucony Xodus as both of these shoes have mild drops (6 and 4mm)- the Grits feel very nimble and I think at least in part is due to the mild drop- could be in my head :)

never considered Pearl Izumis- not sure why, looks like they have a pretty beefy shoe in the Syncro Fuel

I guess it's better to have lots of choices :)

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Helios on 05/06/2013 08:32:05 MDT Print View

While you're at it check out the Sportiva Helios. 4mm drop, 230g, very wide toe box, excellent rock plate & good cushion for such a light shoe. I've also found them to be exceptionally durable, since they are using a harder (not as sticky) outsole rubber than many of the Sportiva models (e.g., VK).

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuel ? on 05/06/2013 08:42:26 MDT Print View

I have tried both the Syncro Fuel I and Syncro Fuel II (not much change between them).
I really wanted to like them because they fit my feet perfectly.
However, once on the trail the story changed a bit for me.
They are made with a somewhat soft cushiony rubber (like the Grits?) This by itself is ok if you prefer a softer ride.
But then it also has a very hard plastic mid foot/arch support structure. When I run rocky technical trail I sink into the soft rubber and my foot bones get bruised a bit by the hard plastic.
The uppers are also not as firm and supportive as I like for technical trail, meaning my foot moves from side to side too much.
I have relegated these shoes to my smooth fire road and my occassional road runs.
In my view it is really a road shoe trying to pretend its a trail shoe.

Since we're on Pearl Izumi ...
Once again I'll put in 2 cents for the " Peak II "
its a well made shoe.
I wore them at our recent Joshua Tree run.
Low to the ground.
Light weight by my standards (285g per shoe).
rock plate.
they hold the foot in very nicely.
a somewhat firm ride.
supposedly the drop is 8-10 mm but it runs like a much lower drop shoe because its so low to the ground.
I am generally a mid foot striker but for some reason I ran more on my toes with these shoes than any model I have ever worn. There is some good firm rubber on the heal but these shoes are not intended for heal strikers.

Edited by asandh on 05/06/2013 08:45:53 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/06/2013 09:49:37 MDT Print View

Mike - I just focused on the words talus and scree ...

you may actually want a sticky rubber approach shoe over a general trail runner, depending on the overall course.

La Sportiva makes some really great approach type shoes, but yes, they run narrow.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/06/2013 15:14:07 MDT Print View

Check out the Scarpa Sparks. Low drop (6mm?), rock plate, light weight (mine are roughly 11oz/pair), quick drying. The rubber is not as sticky as Frixion XF, but is better than most other brands. A little stickier than Inov8's endurance rubber by my estimation. I wore them on the high route and they offer plenty of underfoot protection for pointy rocks and talus but they are still light and agile.

Edit: I forgot to mention, they have the roomiest toe box of any shoe I've tried other than Altra Lone Peaks.

Edited by andrew.f on 05/06/2013 15:15:14 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/06/2013 16:58:21 MDT Print View

dang- you guys are making this tough! :)

I visited w/ La Sportiva today as I'm totally unfamiliar w/ their lineup, I explained what I was looking for and they recommended two shoes the Helios and their new Anakonda- both are sturdy, both have a 4mm drop- the Anakonda has a little more formidable outsole, but is less padded than the Helios (Helios has a higher stack height), both are built on their Tempo 2 last which is their roomiest last. He said the C-Lites and Vertical K's were built on a narrower last and probably wouldn't work for me

Art- I'll look into the Peak II's as well

Tom- thanks- I'll add the Scarpa (another brand I hadn't even considered) Sparks to the growing list- roomy toe box is what I want to hear :)


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/06/2013 20:56:28 MDT Print View

Sportiva is awesome- I wear their climbing shoes exclusively. The XF rubber is good stuff, second only to 5.10 Stealth rubber for grip. The XF + big lugs on the XCountry (now Anakonda) make for some awesome traction (I've climbed V4 in them.) That being said, there's no way I could wear them on any prolonged rocky terrain- I bruised the arch of my foot wearing XCountries on a sub-5 mile hike on hard packed gravel. Maybe the Anakonda is better now that it has a rock plate.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
making things harder on 05/06/2013 22:34:58 MDT Print View

You might want to check out the merrell mix master tuff's as well. Wide toe box, pretty close heel and good ground protection. A little stiff at first, but they break in well. Good for long days. Also they run a bit loose, so you might want to size down.

My surprise favorite shoe from last year was the vert K. My only complaint was the tight forefoot fit and lack of protection which the helios has addressed. The vert K excelled for off trail and light mountaineering work. The morpho sole makes for a nimble and grippy feel on talus and boulder fields. It made this particularly long talus field in indian peaks quite a bit of fun, and made me wonder why people complain about these sorts of things.
If its not too dizzy making: is a good way to get this sort of running shoe calculus figured out. They've got most of the above shoes, Free 2-day shipping, free returns and up to 3 months returns on used shoes that don't work out (so long as you don't abuse the policy.) They've got this cool virtual shoe fitter widget that lets you compare the fit of your current shoes to their options. Good luck and enjoy the races!

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
@ Eugene (or anyone) re: Anakondas on 05/08/2013 16:22:45 MDT Print View

Eugene, are you using the x countries or the Anakondas? I hadn't seen the Anakondas; they look really good. I've been eyeing the new Roclite 243s and the Anakondas look quite similar and would probably last longer. My only hesitation is the sportiva lugs look like they might have a bit less surface area for stuff like slab climbing/desert use and the heel counter looks pretty stiff. Thoughts?

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Re: @ Eugene (or anyone) re: Anakondas on 05/08/2013 16:35:40 MDT Print View

I've used the X Countrys and the Anakondas. They are similar, but the Anakonda does feel generally stiffer. I've had some rubbing issues on my heel with the Anakondas that I never experienced with the XCs. The outsole is the same. The rubber is very sticky, and I know people who use the XCs to scramble lower 5th class. There is a slightly disconcerting feeling that the big outsole lugs are peeling off the rock when scrambling. I think it takes a little getting used to. If you want something for hiking and scrambling I might go with the Xplorers - they have the best rubber & I do use them for up to around 5.4. The Raptors are also very good, and more of a real running shoe (Xplorers are kind of an approach shoe). Xplorer and Raptors are heavier than the Anakondas, something like 12oz vs. 10.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: @ Eugene (or anyone) re: Anakondas on 05/08/2013 17:57:02 MDT Print View

Good info, Peter. Primary use is backpacking, usually longish miles, off trail, often with canyon entries/exits up to short lower 5th class. I've been using trailroc 245/255 with mixed success. I like them okay for more mild stuff but the fit's a bit sloppy for more technical terrain and they 255s aren't nearly as flexible as I'd like. 285s have probably been the closest to perfect for me if they didn't have such a pointy toe (hence my interest in the 243s).

My only experience w/ LS was a pair of Fireblades years back. The fit didn't work very well for me, but the durability was the best of any shoe I've ever used.

Mike, the 255s might work well for what you describe. Like I said, the fit's a bit sloppy on me when the goin gets tough but I have narrow feet. Lots of protection, both underfoot and in the uppers. Probably the most durable Inov8s I've used. Traction is good on loose stuff.