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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 - M

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 - M

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.

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Vertical K on 05/08/2013 18:13:06 MDT Print View

Sportiva Vertical K is another option for your desert stuff Brenden. Buzz wore them for our Maze / Happy / SMBC loop and found that sand stayed out of them very well. They won't be as durable as some. But at 200g it's hard to find a lighter shoe. Same Sportiva sticky rubber.

I do some product testing for Sportiva. But, NFI.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
update on 05/10/2013 13:21:06 MDT Print View

short update- tried several shoes thus far- tried Cascadias in 9.5 and size 10, the 9.5 were too cramped in the toes, the 10's had decent toe room, but even tied as Art suggested the heel was slipping; tried Exodus's in 9.5 and 10- exact same thing, 10's felt good, but too loose in the heel- they did feel better than the Cascadias w/ the lower drop however- the outsole is very aggressive and beefy (made by Vibrahm)- they had me try on some Peregrines- these definitely don't work for me- the toe box is very tapered

tried Pearl Izumi N1's they felt very good, toe box room was great, felt snug in the heel/mid-foot- low stack height felt good- very similar to the PureGrits, very breathable- outsoles not very aggressive, but maybe aggressive enough- low drop as well

they had the new Lone Peaks (1.5)- these felt very good as well- the shape of the toe box is exactly what my toes looks like- a box :)

I'm hoping to find some La Sportivas to try this afternoon, no one carries Inov-8 in MIssoula, but there is a place in Bozeman on the way back that I might get to try a pair there

edit- no one had either the Helios or Anakonda- REI had the Wildcat, which fit well in a size 10, looked plenty beefy w/ an aggressive outsole- the drop is 12mm which I'd prefer to keep lower if possible

Edited by mtwarden on 05/10/2013 19:13:26 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Helios on 05/17/2013 08:04:45 MDT Print View

REI is having a sale, so I ordered a pair of Sportiva Helios's- figured if they didn't work I can send them back at any time and then try another pair, probably the N1's if the Helios's don't work out

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
255s for me on 05/17/2013 08:31:48 MDT Print View

I love mine, and have just ordered a replacement pair. I have about 4-500miles on them, including a 50k and a 100k. The 100 included a fair bit of granite stones and rocks underfoot. My only blisters either run were the ends of my 2nd toes (Mortons) I always thought my Salomon XAs were good, but the 255 is a whole other shoe.

Lots of toe box room. No real heel counter. Good, low profile cushioning with a rock plate. No problems with the grip at all, wet or dry, although I have almost worn down the tread under the ball of the foot. FWIW I'm a significant over pronator, 63kg, 175cm. Mid to heel striker.

The downside for me is that the mesh isn't good for keeping out fine sand, and I find that they take a while to drain/dry.

Cheers, Rod

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Any thoughts on Montrail Mountain Masochists or Innov-8 Flyroc 310? on 05/17/2013 09:48:05 MDT Print View

I want shoes for hiking with midweight pack for a family trip this summer. (me at 185 + pack at 30 pounds) We will be hiking a popular 211 mile trail, which is well maintained but often quite rocky. The last time I did the same trail I had Montrail Continental Divides and wanted more rock protection under my forefoot. I switched to Montrail Hardrocks and they protect a lot better, but they are hotter and the sole is very thick and clunky at the back. I've gone through three pair of the Hardrocks over the last couple years.

My goal is a shoe that has similar forefoot protection to the Hardrock, but with a lower heel-toe drop and cooler upper. Checking the selection at my favorite discount retailer I narrowed it down to the Montrail Mountain Masochists or Innov-8 Flyroc 310. I ordered both but can't decide which to keep. The Flyroc 310 has much less drop and is lighter, but I'm not sure it will provide the forefoot rock protection. Masochist seems a lot like the Montrail Continental Divide, but does have a hard plastic plate under the forefoot. I have regular width but high volume feet and both seem to fit well, though the Innov-8 is definitely narrower.

Any folks out there who have used either of these shoes and have comments?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Masochist on 05/17/2013 13:18:07 MDT Print View

the Masochists are a very popular shoe w/ the mountain ultra runners- good protection, good wear, good grip and not too bad on the weight- if they would have fit I probably wouldn't be looking at all these different shoes :) they aren't "narrow", but the toe box is slightly sloped vs "boxy"- unfortunately I need the "boxy"

^^ I never got try on a pair of 255's- not a pair in the entire state :( if I don't find a suitable shoe, it's still on my list- encouraging they are working out for you

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Any thoughts on Montrail Mountain Masochists or Innov-8 Flyroc 310? on 05/17/2013 13:30:21 MDT Print View

the old Montrail Hardrocks were the stiffest shoes I ever owned, didn't care for them.

the old Montrail Continental Divides were Excellent shoes, but verrry heavy by modern standards.

the Salomon XT Wings offer similar protection as the Continental Divides, but a bit more support in the mid foot, which you may or may not like. they are a modern mid to heavy shoe.

I'm still voting for the Cascadias for anyone who needs a lot of protection under foot. Similar weight to the XT Wings but a more neutral shoe.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Flyroc 310 on 05/17/2013 13:32:41 MDT Print View

Jim, I haven't worn the Flyroc 310's but my understanding is they are almost the same shoe as the Roclite 295 which I've worn extensively. Personally I would have no problem hiking that popular 211 mile trail in them. Inov8's meta-shank thing works pretty well for underfoot protection as long as you are at least a little bit careful where you step.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Helios's are out :( on 05/20/2013 19:29:55 MDT Print View

well the Helios's aren't going to work :( they feel great in the heel and mid-foot, but even though I have a good thumbs width from the top of my toe, they are too tight laterally in the toe box

it's too bad, they feel very good besides that

not sure if the photo shows it well, but I can see side by side that the PureGrits have more toe room

a pair of N1's on the way

 photo nexttohelios_zpscd809061.jpg

Danton Rice
(drice) - M

Locale: Bozeman
Re: Helios are out :( on 05/21/2013 08:12:25 MDT Print View

Mike, +1 on the Ultra Raptors. I'm in the same area and have spent time dealing with the same conditions. I have "duck feet" (narrow heels, wide forefoot) and have spent way too much time and $ trying to find good trail runners that don't squish my toes. I measure 11.5 and generally wear 12's in most trail runners but went to a 46.5 (12.5+). They seem to have a more rounded toe box that avoids the problem with the Helios.They have plenty of cushioning and a good rock plate. Might be worth checking out.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 05/21/2013 08:32:59 MDT Print View

Mike - you seem to be as crazy for shoes as me ...

just reread your original post, and what you mean by roomy seems to simply be longer. not wider, since you have long toes.
can't you simply size up by a half size in whatever shoe you really like ?

also, you say you're looking for a beefy shoe yet you are searching in the minimal and near minimal categories. you aren't gonna find a beefy shoe that weighs 300g or less. a bit of a disconnect between your claimed needs and your search.

lighter weight is not better if it doesn't protect what you need protecting.
although for shorter races (50K or less) you can suffer thru with a light shoe as long as it fits well.

what is the heaviest shoe you are willing to consider ?

Edited by asandh on 05/21/2013 08:50:24 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
shoes on 05/21/2013 09:12:50 MDT Print View

Art- not crazy about shoes- just need to find the right ones :)

my toes aren't just longer than average- they are all the same length (except my little toe)- so there isn't the classic taper from big toe to little toe, because of this they take up a lot of volume laterally- the Helios were long enough, but cramped my toes from the side, going a half size larger I'm 99% sure wouldn't help in this regard

I should also note that the PureGrits are a 9.5 (all Montrails were 9.5 as well) the Helios a 10, so I did size up a 1/2

the N1's coming are also a 10, I tried both a 9.5 and 10 in this shoe- the 10 was the better fit

I'd like to go light, w/o going too light :) I also am enjoying the lower stack height and drop of the PureGrits, so would prefer a shoe that has those traits, but they aren't deal breakers if I find something that will work in rock AND fit

fit is definitely where I'm running into problems- I think the Cascadia and Xodus would be fine shoes for running in rocky conditions, but when I size up to get adequate toe room, the heel and mid-foot is too loose (even using your trick w/ the lacing, btw the knowledgeable gal at the shoe store knew this trick as well :))- the Helios felt wonderful in the heel, mid-foot, but too constrictive in the toe box

the Lone Peaks did have very ample toe room, I worry a little about the 0 drop- maybe needlessly????? they seemed a little light for rocky conditions, but thats just a perception- they may be more than up to the task????

once I do find a suitable shoe, I'm very likely to stock up on them :)


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
N1's on 05/26/2013 10:46:35 MDT Print View

the N1's arrived on Friday,tried them on while they felt a little "funny"- no fit issues I could point to Saturday was a long run, so didn't want that to be their maiden voyage, had an easy 6 miles this morning that I ran w/ the N1's- they felt pretty good, no cramping in the toes

I'll get 3 or 4 shorter runs w/ the N1's and if all is still going well, give them a go on a long run

they are actually pretty similar to the PureGrits- fairly lightweight, low stack height, kind of a rockered profile when viewed from the side- they are definitely beefier and firmer than the Grits in the mid and outsole though

view from the top, you can see the seamless design of the N1 and the relatively rounded toe box- both contribute to room in the toe box

 photo nexttoN1s_zpsd56d521d.jpg

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
short update on 06/02/2013 07:52:44 MDT Print View

appears the N1's are going to work, at least in the fit department- I've got ~ 35 miles on them (nothing over 8 miles however) and they feel pretty good- they have a firmer feel that the grits, firmer/denser mid-sole is my guess???

I've got a 13 mile trail race next weekend, but the country isn't overly rugged so I'll probably go w/ the Grits, I do plan on bagging Stuart Peak two days later which is a 19 mile day hike w/ some scrambling- I'll give the N1's a shot at that

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: short update on 06/02/2013 08:35:56 MDT Print View

Mike - did you ever try the N2's as a comparison to the N1's ?
yes I know more drop which you apparently don't like, but also a bit more protection and cushion.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: short update on 06/02/2013 08:52:51 MDT Print View

Art- to be honest I didn't know they offered a N2, 4mm drop isn't a problem for me as that is what the Grits are. I wonder if fitment is the same between two? I'll have a some time to experiment w/ the N1's, if they prove to be too little for the rock/scree- I'll definitely look into the N2's

and here I thought I had researched everything so carefully-doh!!! :)


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions" on 06/02/2013 09:17:01 MDT Print View


The Pearl Izumi N1's have been my staple shoe the last several weeks since picking them up. In a nutshell- I freaking love them. Ran the nasty rocky bits coming down the length of Guaje Ridge on the Jemez race course last weekend and never felt like I lacked any protection. However, I definitely wouldn't want to run anything longer than a 50K in these if I had a choice, but that's only because I favor cushion and protection for the longer runs these days. I feel pretty confident going up to about that distance comfortably without my feet feeling trashed. My longest run in the N1's was a 23 mile run a 3 weeks ago in the Franklin mountains on rocky trails and that was about the threshold.

They're a little stiffer than the Pure Grits that I had been using for well over a year, but offer similar amounts of cushion and a nice wide outsole platform. The lower stack height on the N1's is definitely felt over really "jagged" rock sections and I find I have to be fairly conservative in my running to not have any sharp foot strikes. I think the N2 is going to be a better shoe overall with the added midsole cushion.

I'm ordering the N2's this week as my long run/trainer and will throw in the N1's into the fold for shorter duration runs. I'll let you know my comparison.

Check out the Pearl Izumi EM Trail M2 as well. The M2 still has a neutral shoe platform and basically the same design as the N2, but has mild stability in the midfoot.

*fwiw. I've experienced cramping in the toes in the past and from what I remember it has always been attributed to a sloppy fit. If heel fit was sloppy and allowed any foot slip in the shoe my toes would compensate by curling and "flexing" in to keep my foot from slipping further in the shoe. I'm of the camp that likes a secure/snug fit vs. a voluminous fit in the forefoot. I tried sizing up a 1/2 size in the Pure Grits but experienced toe cramping on long runs over rough trail due to a heel fit that wasn't as secure as it could have been with my feet, so I dropped back down to my regular size 12.

Edited by Eugeneius on 06/02/2013 09:25:57 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Pearl Izumi on 06/02/2013 09:17:09 MDT Print View

Pearl Izumi's new line offers the N1, N2, and M2

Pearl Izumi

Edited by asandh on 06/02/2013 09:21:20 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Pearl Izumi on 06/02/2013 10:40:33 MDT Print View

Eugene- very encouraging on the N1's- thanks That would be outstanding if you could give me a report on the N2's :) my Grits are a 1/2 size smaller (9.5 vs 10) than the N1- that was the runningwarehouse fitter recommendation and it appears to be pretty spot on.

went to Art's link and the fitter shows the N2 and M2 being the same size (9.5) as the Grits- so they must be sized slightly different than the N1

they all have seamless uppers which might be what is helping my longish toe situation???

funny different places show different drops for the PI's, might because they have a fairly good rocker shape and would depend on where you measure???


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
N1's on 06/12/2013 13:25:50 MDT Print View

a little more feedback on the N1's now that I'm creeping up on a 100 miles- I like them :) they fit well- roomy toe box, but the heel and mid-foot are secure, cushioning is adequate at least on moderate rock conditions (nothing hardcore yet)

they don't have much traction in the snow though :)

 photo mikeandsnow_zps5c8a1974.jpg

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
N1 update on 06/23/2013 08:04:20 MDT Print View

Finished a 55k w/ the N1's, had one surprise- early in the race I got a bad blister on top of my left big toe, of course I let it go too long (waiting for the next aid station) and it bled through the shoe a little. I put a little Benzoin and some Luekotape and it never gave me any further trouble. I'm still not even sure what caused this blister????????

The course was not technical, but very rocky (w/ several stretches of loose gravelly rock) so I was pleasantly surprised that my feet were in good shape at the end (I wish I could say that was the case w/ the rest of my body! :) )

I did order a pair of N2's, but haven't ran in them yet. They are beefier than the N1's, but surprisingly not much heavier. Looks like the fit is going to be very similar, if so they should be up to the task for more rugged conditions.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
more updates on 08/02/2013 19:56:03 MDT Print View

well I had to send my N1's back as they developed a hole near the top of big toe on the left foot- kind of a weird spot??? about 250-ish miles on them, got a new pair back (was within 60 days of road runner purchase) yesterday

I've been running a little in my N2's since my N1's were sent away, only have a bout 50 miles on them, but they feel good- have had them in some really technical, rocky stretches and they performed very well, might be pushing things a bit w/ them, but will use them tomorrow for the Elkhorn 50k- a course that has a lot of rock

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Re: need trail runners for very rocky/talus/scree conditions on 08/03/2013 10:04:04 MDT Print View

Hands down you are looking for the Hoka Mafate. For running long distances on rocks this shoe is a blessing and a very popular ultrarunning shoe for rocky conditions. Where I live (Utah), if you go to a big race like the Wastach 100, Wasatch Speedgoat, Squaw Peak 50, Bear 100, you will see a large % of runners using these shoes. The main reason is that trails in Utah are VERY rocky. Karl Meltzer, the guy that has won more 100 milers than anyone swears by these shoes (okay, they are a sponsor of his). He ran the entire length of the Pony Express Trail in multiple pair of Hokas. That is 2000 miles.

I personally own a pair and love them for trails with a lot of rocky downhills. If you can get past the silly clown shoe look, these might be the shoe you can consider. Good luck.

Edited by smarchet on 08/03/2013 10:05:46 MDT.

Chris Kannen
(cmkannen) - MLife

Locale: K-T Boundary
N1 stuff on 08/03/2013 20:40:27 MDT Print View

Mike - funny, I developed a blister in the exact same spot wearing the N1's. It didn't bother me on the hike/run, just noticed it later when I took my shoe off. (Then again, I didn't go 50K.) Otherwise the shoe is really great. Curious to hear how you like the N2 after putting some time in them.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
rocky stuff on 08/04/2013 09:25:56 MDT Print View

Sara- I saw a couple of folks w/ Hoka's yesterday, they definitely look cushy. We have a couple of running stores here, not sure if they carry Hoka or not- if they don't have a large toe box then it's non-starter

Chris- yeah, it's a cray spot for a blister- must be the toe flexing??? The N2's performed great yesterday, lot's (and lot's) of rock and my feet were great the entire 50k, lots of water too- my feet were wet probably half the race and not even a hot spot. I do need to shop for a new stomach though, hurling halfway into 50k is not overly fun :)

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Re: rocky stuff on 08/04/2013 10:52:55 MDT Print View

I don't log as many miles as you but I've had good luck with Patagonia's line of trail running shoes. I wore through one a pair of their 9 trails and have the tsali 2.0's now. Both of those shoes are lightish implementations of the classic-drop running shoe that have enough protection and traction without being overtly techie.

The EVERmore looks like it is designed to be just what you want...a minimal drop shoe for above tree line terrain:

We are in Hamilton and feel your shoe trying on pain...we even stopped at mountain gear's retail store in spokane on a trip west and were disappointed by their in store selection.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: rocky stuff on 08/04/2013 10:59:59 MDT Print View

Brooks Cascadias work really well on rocky rugged terraine. a bit clunky if you're a front of the pack guy, but less clunky than Hokas in my opinion.
I use them for all my 20 & 30 mile training runs and feet feel great after.
don't really need them for something as short as a 50K race.
but if you ever decide to do long mileage :-)

Edited by asandh on 08/04/2013 11:15:46 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: rocky stuff on 08/04/2013 11:32:18 MDT Print View


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
rocky stuff on 08/04/2013 12:30:34 MDT Print View

I own a lot of Patagonia stuff, but have never tried any of their shoes- a couple of reviewers mention wide toe box which is definitely a necessity w/ my alien like long toes :)

Art- I tried a pair of Cascadias on and they were a little tight in the toe box for me, they did look beefy- after yesterday's 50k, I've put 50 miles completely out of my mind :)

^ the N2's out of the box look like the cartoon, but after 30+ miles of slugging through creeks, mud, dirt, rocks- they lost all the neon pizzaz :)

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Toe bo on 08/05/2013 08:26:35 MDT Print View

My Hoka's have a huge toe box (almost too big). I read about a lot of ultrarunners who say this. The key is a good lacing system that keeps your foot snug in the shoe yet allows your foot to move around inside the toe box. Nothing worse than the unrelenting bashing of your toenails against the front of your shoe. I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

I also wear Brooks Cascadia. I've owned the last three seasons except this year (I heard there is a recurring issue with the lacing system that plagues this year's model.) I absolutely love this shoe for trail running, fastpacking, backpacking. Too bad they don't work for you.

You should also take a look at anything by New Balance. If I remember correctly, they have wide with shoes you can order. I definitely don't recommend the MT110s or Minimus as they only have the most rudimentary rock plate. I'm sure they have beefier models.

Have you shopped online at Zappos? These guys are great because you can return shoes at any time if something doesn't work out for you.

Good Luck!

Edited by smarchet on 08/05/2013 08:28:13 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
rocky stuff on 08/05/2013 17:43:36 MDT Print View

Sara- good to hear on the Hoka's- all the shoes that haven't worked for me were because of lack of room in the toe box

I've tried a few wide size shoes and often the toe box issue is resolved, but the rest of my feet evidently aren't that wide and they've been too wide in the mid-foot and heel-although that's definitely a lesser "evil"


Sean Smith
pg II on 08/06/2013 11:26:27 MDT Print View

Glad I ran across this thread. I'm following it carefully!

I have the Brooks Pure Grit II and while I like them I think there's something better out there for me. Sounds like our ideas of a fit are similar. i have morton's toe, and they are long...some say like a monkey as I'm able to easily pick things up with them.

I need more durability but otherwise would like to keep similar to the pure grit II.

I'm intrigued by the Hoka's and may give them a shot but really have a hard time accepting the very thick sole and the high $$$.

I wore the Pure Grit II for the first time this past Sunday on a long day hike, the great range traverse in the Adirondacks, which I hiked very fast throughout.

Anyways, after 7.5 hours of hiking I already have 3 holes, two on the tips of the toe where there is supposedly stronger material, and the other on the side above the arch, and the foam is shredded all around the edges.

Two days before this hike I tested out a pair of Altra Lone Peaks running up algonquin peak, not the current 1.5 version, and loved them. I think they fit a bit better than the Brooks due to the huge space for my toes. The padding is not as thick and It lets pointy rocks pop through more than the pure grit II. but i think it's totally reasonable. Traction is about the same, in my opinion.

Edited by Spookykinkajou on 08/06/2013 11:29:22 MDT.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Hoka detail on 08/06/2013 17:17:11 MDT Print View

One thing I also forgot to mention and this will really be an issue if you aren't buying your shoes from a store where the staff are seasoned trail runners is that you want to buy trail shoes larger than your normal sneakers. Most trail runners you want 1 size larger. Having toes and other parts of your feet crammed into your shoes only leads to bruised (or lost) toe nails and blisters galore. This is where a good lacing system comes in handy. Unless I didn't mention it previously, I Vaseline my feet before a long trail run to prevent blisters because I want to reduce friction between my foot and my sock in a less restrictive shoe. Works like a charm. For some reason (and I'm not sure about the newer Hoka models), I've heard you should get your Hokas 1.5 size larger. This naturally will lead to a larger toe box.

Edited by smarchet on 08/06/2013 17:18:28 MDT.

Sara Marchetti
(smarchet) - MLife
Re: pg II on 08/06/2013 17:27:32 MDT Print View

Sean, regarding the big foam bottoms of the Hokas. When I first tried them on in the store the saleswoman grabbed a bunch of metal pieces of the shelf (big ball bearings, a metal coat hook, some big bolts) and dropped them on the hard floor. She said, "Step on them." The foam soaked them up like they weren't even there! Now, what does this mean on the trail? It means that all those little nagging sharp rocks you normally avoid on the trail are non issues. Just run right over them! Normally, when I encounter skree or rubble on a trail, I walk over it, because I don't want to wear out my feet. With Hoka's I just keep on going. Where Hoka's really shine is the downhills as you get a spared a lot of the pain.

I have two small problems with Hoka trail shoes. One, is that they feel a little sloppy in the uppers and until you get used to them, you feel like you are going to roll on the edge between the upper and the sole. Over time, this goes away. Second, you are a little higher than other trail shoes. For some reason this changes your stride slightly forcing you to engage muscles differently, particularly on uphills. As you adapt, over time, this feeling goes away.

Edited by smarchet on 08/06/2013 17:29:08 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Hoka on 08/06/2013 18:18:50 MDT Print View

as luck would have it, our local running store is having a Hoka rep tomorrow evening and is bringing 50 pairs of shoes to run in, so if they have my size, I plan on giving them a go (wife is too)

one thing someone pointed out to me on the Hoka's is that they are quite as thick as they appear, as your foot actually sits down in some of that padded area- so the tall looking stack height is not quite what it appears

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Hoka on 08/06/2013 19:57:26 MDT Print View


Not sure if someone has already mentioned this or not, or perhaps you're familiar with it already, but check out Running Warehouse. Choose a shoe you're interested in (they have four different Hoka shoes). Once on that shoe's page, click on "Show me how it fits!" You choose a shoe that you already wear that fits you well in the correct size, and they'll recommend the appropriate size shoe of the one you're considering, and even show you how it compares in both 3D and with footbed overlays. I've found it to be pretty spot on, and it'll give you a real good idea on how a new shoe will fit based on a shoe you already wear.


Stuart .

Locale: Mountains
shoefitr app on RW on 08/06/2013 20:32:57 MDT Print View

The shoefitr app on runningwarehouse is excellent in helping with sizing. Just be careful with brand new models. Their data may not be as accurate as with older models. Last fall I ordered a pair of inov-8 Trailroc 255s in the same size as the Trailroc 245s I'd been wearing for 6 months or so. shoefitr confirmed the sizing should be identical. Yet the heel felt too tight, and I returned the 255s. Earlier today I was on RW looking at the Altra Lone Peak 1.5, and I happened to check the Trailroc 255. shoefitr now states that I should go a full size larger in the 255 than I wear in the 245. That explains a lot.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: shoefitr app on RW on 08/06/2013 20:57:43 MDT Print View

Doug- yeah that sizing application is really nifty! ^ usually when I look up a brand new model on there, they show it hasn't been scanned yet (seems like it takes several months to get a scan), it's definitely not perfect though- I've had a few shoes it said would fit the same and they didn't, but for the most part a pretty nifty app :)


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Hoka on 08/07/2013 20:51:23 MDT Print View

well I went out w/ the local running shoe crew this evening (at the peak of the heat-90 degrees!) after strapping on a pair of Hoka Bondi's- they didn't have any of the trail lineup to demo, but the rep said the overall feel would be very close. they picked a very rocky technical trail, 6-ish miles. I did have to size up a 1/2 size to give my toes the room they needed. I have to admit they soaked up the rocks like no other shoe I've run in. a little less nimble than my PI's or Grits, but not terribly so. when my PI's give up the ghost I just might try a pair, probably their Stinson trail shoe- they were very comfy

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Hoka one one on 08/07/2013 21:27:14 MDT Print View

Hoka one one were responsible for my recovery from several very painful years of plantar faciatis. Just enough cushioning from the painful ever present rocks all over down here...I was able to get out enough to strengthen my feet and wore thru three pairs and now can wear my regular Keen shoes again. They take a bit getting used to but not much. I thought they would be terribly clunky but the benefits outweighed the look.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
N2's on 09/15/2013 16:25:14 MDT Print View

well I can say with confidence that the N2's are most definitely worthy on very rocky/talus/scree conditions after just finishing the 50k Rut Run :)

not my pic, but here's the start to summiting Lone Peak

 photo lonepeak_zps8acc6fc5.jpg