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Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England)
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Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 14:31:17 MDT Print View


I currently hike in Salomon Quest 4D GTX hiking boots ( I like them a lot for the most part, perfect fit, fully waterproof, and great support.

I live in New England and most of my hiking consists of scrambling up rocks and scrambling down rocks. Mile after mile of rocks of all sorts of shapes and sizes. The boots are great because with their support, I can pretty much flop my legs and jog down a mountain carelessly and the boots essentially hold me up.

The problem with them is that they are fairly heavy at 2lbs 13oz (typical) and they're quite hot due to their Goretex lining. My feet run hot I'd say and they just feel like they're baking in there.

It seems the forum favors trail runners and they sound like they'd be amazing on a nice trail (ahem out west :P), but how do they work when it gets really rocky? Is there enough sole stiffness? Do you ankles just get stronger? I'd imagine you have to change your technique and start being more careful with foot placement? Is it worth it?

I'm looking at Salomon XA and La Sportiva Wildcats which I can find locally.


Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 14:36:36 MDT Print View

Yes, your ankles will get stronger. And yes, your foot placement will get better. Many here will tell you its the best change they've made in their backpacking style. They worked great for me on rocky new england trails. And on rocky western trails.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
merrel on 08/14/2013 14:44:44 MDT Print View

There have been a few companies that have released lightweight mids (ankle support). The low drop Merrel Proterra is a non Goretex shoe that I have had my eye on. What's nice about mids is that you do get less dirt and mud because it's like a built in gaiter.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 14:44:53 MDT Print View

Its pretty rocky here in the Ozarks, although probably not as bad as you have it. I've been using trail runners for 8 years or so, most of them with a pair of Inov-8 Flyrocs. I think after awhile you're feet get used to it and you definitely become more conscious of where you put your foot. I recently switched to an even more minimal shoe, Merrell Mix Masters, and noticed that I feel the rocks quite a bit in them. I have a feeling that after a little more use my feet will adapt just as they did when I transitioned from boots to trail runners.
I definitely feel like its worth it. My feet don't stew in their own sweat all day and I haven't had any problems with blisters since switching. I like that I can just splash through a creek instead of stopping to put on special creek-crossing shoes. I like that they're comfortable enough that I don't need to bring different shoes for camp to give my feet a break. I like that when they do get wet they dry fast. The only time I wear waterproof boots any more is when there's snow on the ground.


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 15:11:21 MDT Print View

Well, the west has it's gnarly trails, too. I used to live in Boston and now live in Michigan and like to hike in the Southwest canyons. Lots of rocks. I switched from boots to trail runners a few years ago and loved it; made me a lot more nimble and my feet were a lot less tired at the end of the day. I've hiked the Grand Canyon a few times in Wildcats and recently switched to Montrail Bajadas.

Then, this past spring, I slipped, twisted and broke my ankle on the Tanner Trail in the Grand Canyon. I was wearing the Bajadas and carrying 29lb (day 1 descent of an 8-day hike, carrying 6+lb just in water.) Obviously, I don't know whether a stiffer, beefier shoe/boot would have made a difference but I've definitely thought about it and am inclined to think so. That said, there could very well be a bunch of accidents/wear and tear that didn't happen because I was more nimble in trail runners... Hard to say.

I'm 4.5 months into recovery and not back to backpacking yet. My first planned hike is in November and will be an "easy" hike compared to the GC. I expect to be in trail runners for that one. I still haven't decided what I'll do for my first hike back in the Canyon, hopefully next spring.

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Re: Re: Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 15:18:47 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback. After work today I plan to test fit a few see how they feel.

I got a pair of NB MT110s used off here. They are quite minimalist imo and I only ran in them once in the winter because they're too small. They were fun, but I definitely have something more substantial in mind for hiking and from what it sounds like the Wildcats are so. I'll see soon.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
That was you? on 08/14/2013 15:32:21 MDT Print View

"Then, this past spring, I slipped, twisted and broke my ankle on the Tanner Trail in the Grand Canyon. I was wearing the Bajadas and carrying 29lb (day 1 descent of an 8-day hike, carrying 6+lb just in water.)"

Was that on a Sunday or Monday in April? I went down Tanner as well on 4/1.

In any case, because I expected rougher terrain than what I'm used to, I used low cut Merrell Moab Ventilators and I'm glad I did due to the beefier sole. I know my Inov-8 Roclite 295s would have been a little too thin for me on certain sections.


Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Trail Runners in Rocky Envoriments (New England) on 08/14/2013 15:38:17 MDT Print View

Dan, I use Solomon XA Comp5's with Dirty Girl gaiters to keep the dirt and pine duff out. I am in the market for some new ones and i'm looking at the various La Sportivas.. and i'm intrigued by the new Vasque shoes with the BOA laces.

either way trail runners feel so much better to me. your foot and ankle move much more naturally, grip on rocks is much better since they flex and conform instead of being stiff like boots. And you're much more nimble since they weigh half as much.

I still use my Vasque Breeze boots for snowshoeing when i want a more solid platform and insulation but that is about it.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: That was you? on 08/14/2013 15:45:51 MDT Print View

>> Sumi,
Was that on a Sunday or Monday in April? I went down Tanner as well on 4/1. <<

Mike, I hiked down on 3/30.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
mt110 on 08/14/2013 16:07:53 MDT Print View

I have a pair of these too! They are my go to shoes for hiking, basketball, racquetball, running etc. Very good traction and very comfortable sockless. For flat trails they work great, but rocky expedition terrain they are minimal. Like you said they are fun though, super light, and dry instantly.

Corbin Camp

Locale: Southeast
Proterras on 08/14/2013 16:35:58 MDT Print View

I've been using the Proterra Mids. They are relatively light for "boots" and dry fast enough when wet. What I like about them over trail runners is the sole is a bit stiffer. Seems like all the trail runners out there have too much flex under my toes and the weight benefit is negated by the fact the neuroma in my foot starts acting up (lateral flex). They aren't the absolute lightest things in the world but are lighter than just about any hiking specific shoe.

Stephen Murphy
(sjtm) - F
La Sportiva Raptors on 08/14/2013 18:50:42 MDT Print View

I recently made the transition to trail runners. I live outside Boston and it seems every trail is either roots or rocks (lots of hard edged granite). I succesively went from Merrel mid boots to Merrel Moab low ventilators to the Raptors. Also tried the Inov8 330, but the toe box was too narrow for me. Tried the Raptors because it was the shoe Andrew Skurka used for a few treks.

I am sticking with the Raptors for now ( actually bought 3 pair on clearance at $55 / pair from STP.) While I first feared the dreaded ankle roll, I have conditioned myself to think a little more about foot placement and " walk lighter". It seems to be working. As for the soles, the rocks do not feel significantly different than the Moabs ( which have a pretty heaye duty / stiff sole). I think the grip is much better with the Raptors. I have noticed more tendency to "feel it" when I catch the top of the toebox under a rock or a root when going uphill as there is far less protection on the topside of these shoes.

It is working for now, but ask again the next time I have a major ankle roll.

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Ultra Raptor on 08/14/2013 19:07:14 MDT Print View

+1 for La Sportiva Ultra Raptor. Just used them on the Sierra High Route, which is, well, rocky... The sticky rubber really works well for rocks & the Raptors have the stickiest rubber on any trail runner. You can get stickier approach shoes (such as the Sportiva Xplorer), but the fit is different (generally narrower in the toe box) and approach shoes have less cushion. Raptors are about 13oz per shoe.

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
tried some on 08/14/2013 20:39:53 MDT Print View

I went by REI today and tried on a few. I wear a 13 and tried the La Sportiva Wildcats. I like them a lot, the weight, sole stiffnesss, the meshy/airy uppers. I really wanted to love them, but the 47s were too small and the 47.5s were OK, but slightly big and just not quite perfect.

I was bummed they didn't have the Salomon XA Pro Ultra 2s in the 13s, but i tried a similar GTX version in an 13 and it fit well. It felt stiffer and clunkier than the La Sportiva, but the non GTX version i was after felt a little softer by hand.

The employee also recommended the Brooks Cascadia 8s which he personally owned. Unfortunately they didn't have a 13, but i tried on a 14 which was certainly too big. From what i remember they felt a little softer in the soles.

I tried on a few others, but nothing really jumped out at me.

So I think I might mail order all three and have a shoot out at home. I have high hopes for the Salomons because they tend to fit me well. I love the fit of my hiking boots and snowboard boots. Perfect, perfect fit. I really want to love the La Sportivas and I think i could get by with the 47.5s after they break in a little. I really like their design.

Or i could just stick with the boots for now and save some bucks and get more exercise. :)

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: tried some on 08/15/2013 10:30:00 MDT Print View

I don't understand why the Salomon GTX and non GTX fit different. i have the GTX because the same model, same size doesn't fit me.

I just ordered some Vasque Aethers on sale on amazon. I have the BOA system on my cycling shoes and love the adjustment that won't loosen up.

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Re: Re: tried some on 08/16/2013 19:31:02 MDT Print View

After another trip to the store I settled on the Salomons. The Wildcats were too short, the Cascadias fit decently, but seemed too light and wimpy, and the Salomons fit like a glove like they always do for me. They weigh 22 oz less than my boots, too. I'm looking forward to giving them a go.