GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews

GoLite Footwear has developed a unique underfoot suspension system that largely accomplishes their intentions. The shoes are comfortable, but there are durability concerns for the soles.

Overall Rating: Below Average

Both of these shoe models are light, comfortable, and have well-made uppers worthy of a Recommended rating; however, the soles have durability problems that are significant enough to make their overall rating Below Average, especially at these shoes' price point ($120 to $130 US).

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by Darin Banner |

Introduction

I haul myself out of my packraft and onto the rocky shore, wet from the tops of my farmer johns down to the GoLite shoes on my feet. Grasping my paddle with one tired arm, I reach down with the other and grab the pack, strapped to the bow of my packraft, and pull both it and the raft out of the water and onto the rocks. Looking down the river at the souse hole I narrowly avoided (by arresting myself on the shore), I wonder if I'm up to rafting Bear Trap Canyon, which is running at 4000 cfs. Time for some portage.

Mounting the pack and packraft onto my back, I join the other Backpacking Light instructors moving downriver over wet stones and up steep banks. As I move along, I'm impressed by how well my soaked shoes grip the rocks and dirt - I feel very stable on my feet and am able to move securely down to the next put-in site.

Brief History of GoLite Footwear

A couple of months earlier, I called GoLite Footwear and asked to test the two lightest models from their latest line of shoes. GoLite Footwear, whose name is licensed from GoLite, LLC in Colorado, was founded by Doug Clark, who had worked at Timberland as the chief innovation officer. While there, he and his team developed a line of shoes that were designed to stabilize the foot during off-pavement travel by combining a hard footbed with an outsole consisting of soft lugs made to absorb the uneven surfaces of the ground. They called this "Soft Against the Ground" technology. In 2008, Clark bought the rights to GoLite Footwear from Timberland and formed New England Footwear, which now manufactures GoLite Footwear shoes.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 1
2007 Sun Dragon upper

In 2007, GoLite Footwear introduced its first line of shoes. The lightest in the lineup, at 10.9 ounces, was the Sun Dragon.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 2
2007 Sun Dragon sole

Its Trail Speed outsole consisted of fourteen widely spaced lugs in a symmetrical pattern. Initial reviews of the shoes were very positive: Carol Cooker said, “My favorite shoe for backpacking is the GoLite Sun Dragon. When I wear Sun Dragons, my feet don't get that hamburger feel after a long day of hiking up and down uneven, rocky trails.” Andrew Skurka used them exclusively on his Great Western Loop hike and said, “These shoes are really great, truly revolutionary. For a backpacker, it means less pointy stuff to give you foot bruises, better traction on snow, and better traction on dirt and rocks.” After a backpacking trip to the Olympic Coast, Doug Johnson said, “While I was skeptical at first, this system has won me over. The shoe conforms to trail irregularities when running and hiking, keeping the foot level and providing better shock absorption. The large lugs also provided excellent traction in mud and sand - a difference that was obvious.” Everyone also seemed very pleased with the shoes’ large toe box design.

Then things began to fall apart - literally. Due to a problem in the manufacturing process, the fabric on the vamp of the shoe began deteriorating after about sixty miles of use.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 3
Courtesy of Carol Crooker

The company corrected the manufacturing problem, and the 2008 shoes showed increased durability. However, with both the 2007 and 2008 models, users found that the soles of the shoes wore down more quickly than other brands.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 4
Courtesy of Carol Crooker

The Sun Dragon on the left has three months of wear, compared to the new sole on the right.

The Shoes

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 5
2009 GoLite Footwear Competition

After great anticipation, my shoes from the 2009 line finally arrived in the mail. The lightest shoe in this year’s product line is called the Competition, or Comp for short. A men's size 9.5 US weighs 12.96 ounces per shoe (367 grams) by my scale.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 6
2009 GoLite Footwear Competition

The Comp features what GoLite Footwear calls a TPU Cage, which is the web of thermoplastic glued to the shoe’s mesh upper. It is designed to offer protection and stability to the upper shoe.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 7
GoLite Footwear Competition's loose mesh

The mesh upper, dubbed the NeoForm Seamless Upper, is a seamless loose mesh. The shoe also has GoLite Footwear’s Debris Shield, which is the thermoplastic and leather toe cap that protects the front of the shoe. The back portion of the shoe is protected by a sewn-in leather strip.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 8
Interlock Lacing System on Comp

One of the more interesting features on the shoe is the Interlock Lacing System, a piece of material that is sewn into the inner sole, wraps around the side of the foot inside the shoe, goes through eyelets, over the top of the tongue, and finally through the shoe laces. It is designed to keep the foot from sliding forward and hitting the front of the shoe. 

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 9
GoLite Footwear Comp sole

GoLite Footwear has changed the design of its uniquely lugged sole. It seems that people either really liked the idea of the big lugs or found them too aggressive looking and wouldn’t buy them. Responding to this feedback, GoLite Footwear has replaced the symmetrical lugged sole with what it calls Trailclaws and Paw Pads. The Trailclaws are lower profile lugs around the outside of the sole and the Paw Pads are smaller tread on the center of the sole.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 10
GoLite Footwear Comp Trailclaws and Paw Pads

By making these changes, the company hopes to maintain the Soft Against the Ground effect while providing a more versatile shoe that will work well on hard-packed trails.

As mentioned earlier, their Soft Against the Ground technology is designed to keep the foot stable and cushioned on rough and uneven surfaces. They achieve this through a rigid last with a rigid polyurethane layer under that, which protects the bottom of the foot. Between the rigid polyurethane layer and the rubber outsole is a very soft polyurethane layer that absorbs the irregularities of uneven terrain.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 11
GoLite Footwear Fire

The second lightest shoe in the 2009 lineup is called the Fire. It weighs 13.04 ounces per shoe (369 grams) by my scale for a men's size 9.5 US.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 12
GoLite Footwear Fire sole

The Fire’s insole, midsole, and outsole are identical to the Comps'.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 13
GoLite Footwear Fire upper

The difference between the two shoes is in the upper half: the Fire is designed to be more rugged and durable than the Comp. The Cage is made of EVA and is thicker and more protective of the shoe’s seamless mesh upper. The mesh is tighter and has a higher thread count than the Comps'.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 14
GoLite Footwear Fire toe

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 15
GoLite Footwear Fire heel

Instead of leather, the debris shield and the hill are covered with a rubberized fabric.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 16
GoLite Footwear Fire Interlocking Lacing System

Another interesting difference between the two shoes is the Fire’s Interlock Lacing System: instead of one strip of material linked to the laces, the Fire has two. More on this later.

The Testing

I wanted to compare the two models side-by-side, so for my first trips I wore a Comp on one foot and a Fire on the other. I switched the feet the shoes were on so the soles of each pair would wear evenly. I used the shoes for snowshoeing, backpacking, trail running, packrafting, bushwhacking, and even for some short races on asphalt. I took pictures of the wear on each model as the testing progressed.

The Review

First Impressions

Of course, the first thing I did when the shoes arrived was put them on. They were both very comfortable with no pressure points and with plenty of room in the toe box. The laces ran smoothly through each eyelet and were easy to cinch up. My heel tended to slip up and down a little as I walked, so I laced up the second eyelet at the top of the tongue, adding enough tension to secure my heel nicely.

Footbeds

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 17
GoLite Footwear adjustable footbed system

The second thing I did was take out the manufacture’s footbeds and put in a pair of Superfeet. In doing so, I discovered a virtually unadvertised GoLite Footwear feature. Their footbeds have a system where, by adding or removing attachments to the footbed, one can adjust the fit of the shoe from wide to medium to narrow. At first I thought this was a completely wasted idea, seeing as I never use the footbeds that come with the shoe. In this criticism, however, I was wholly unjustified.

As my sock needs went from heavy winter socks to thin running socks, I was able to add or remove these footbed attachments under my Superfeet so that my shoes always felt like they were the perfect width. This made the shoes far more versatile than any other trail running shoes I had owned before. I usually need a wide pair for winter trips and a narrow pair for warmer trips. Now I had two shoes in one.

Snowshoeing

It was then time to take the shoes outdoors. My first outings were snowshoe trips in the mountains of southern Oregon. The snow in the Cascades is either completely frozen or sopping wet. On these trips, the shoes performed like any others I had used snowshoeing: soaked during the day and frozen solid at night. But, as described above, the shoes were wide enough that I could wear my trekking socks and Gore-Tex oversocks in them without losing the blood flow to my feet. Between the two models, I found that the Comps, with the more open mesh, were a little colder and less protected from the snow than the Fires.

Backpacking and Trail Running

I began backpacking and trail running early in the season, which meant a mix of muddy ground and snow mounds. The shoes’ grip was phenomenal. While my trip partners were sliding around on the slippery terrain, my shoes were staying put pretty well. It felt like the lugs around the edge of the sole were grabbing the ground and keeping my feet where I had placed them.

I found that I turned my ankles less than I normally do. That is one of the intended features of the Soft Against the Ground concept. The shoe sole compresses on uneven ground and minimizes the impact of the feet and legs. Of course, this can only provide stability to a certain extent - when I moved on side hills or over rocks or in a washed-out trail, I still turned an ankle from time to time.

The shoes provided plenty of cushion against the ground overall, but not in a way that was noticeably superior to other trail runners I’ve used. After hiking in them for several days, the bottoms of my feet were sore (especially my heels), which is similar to my experience with other shoes. Perhaps my feet were less sore then they would have been in other shoes, but not so much that I could perceive a measurable difference.

The shoes fit me well. Using the variable width footbeds, my foot didn’t slip around, nor were they too tight, and by snugging down the laces, my heel stayed in place. I did, however, run into a problem with the Fires: before running or backpacking, I would tighten down the laces to secure my foot in the shoes. After a few miles, my fifth metatarsal (the bone just down the foot from the pinky toe) would hurt to the point that it became debilitating. Afterwards, I inspected the sides of my feet and found them swollen in the area of the fifth metatarsal.

The problem came from the Interlocking Lacing System (the straps inside the shoe that wrap around the foot and connect to the laces). Cinching down the laces put too much pressure on that part of my foot. I didn’t experience that with the Comps and concluded that the second strip of material in the Fire was the cause. I removed the laces from the front loops, in effect making them like the Comps. This eliminated the problem.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 18
Wear on sole after backpacking and trail running

Packrafting

I took the shoes packrafting; the Comp on one foot and the Fire on the other. As I stated at the beginning of the article, I was impressed with how well the shoes gripped the wet rocks along the shore. They were no match for the slippery, moss-covered rocks in the river, but I think the only solution to that problem would be crampons. The shoes transitioned well from the wet river to the dirty side hills. Both shoes drained equally well and stayed equally wet. The leather on the front and back of the Comps got pretty dirty, but this was an aesthetic, not functional, issue.

At the end of this instructor training rafting and packing trip, I noted something very interesting about the soles of the shoes: the soft polyurethane part of the sole, that was not covered by rubber, puffed out and lost its definition.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 19
Wear on the sole after packrafting

It didn’t affect the feel of the cushioning, but it did have an impact on the sole’s durability.

Wilderness Trekking Course

I chose to take the Comps on the 2009 Wilderness Trekking I course to see if the mesh and leather on the lighter shoe could stand up to a lot of abuse. I took the one shoe that had been packrafting and one that had not. We hiked from early in the morning to late in the evening every day, most of this off trail on aggressive terrain. The results were fascinating. 

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 20
Wear on upper after wilderness trekking course

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 21
Wear on toe after wilderness trekking course

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 22
Wear on heel after wilderness trekking course

As you can see from the pictures above, the upper part of the shoe held up very well. I wore ankle gaiters and, apart from dirt, there was not much difference between the protected and unprotected upper. Although the mesh had relatively large holes, particles did not get in my shoes. The surprise was on the underside of the shoe.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 23
Wear on sole after wilderness trekking course

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 24
Wear on sole after wilderness trekking course

The sole of the shoe that I had taken backpacking and running, but not packrafting, had obvious wear and tear compared to before the trip and one of the lugs had come unglued.

GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews - 25
Wear on the sole after packrafting and wilderness trekking course

The sole of the shoe that had been on the rafting trip, however, lost all of the rubber on the lugs and a significant portion on the heel. Clearly, the extended time being wet had a substantial impact on the adhesive material between the polyurethane and rubber.

Conclusion

GoLite Footwear has developed a unique underfoot suspension system that largely accomplishes their intentions. The shoes are comfortable and the uppers are durable. I would like to give them a Recommended rating; however, because of the lack of resiliency on the soles of the shoes, I can only rate them Below Average for the suggested retail price. If GoLite Footwear can fix this durability issue, these will be great shoes. I would definitely wear them again, but with the understanding that they will only last me one season.

Specifications

  Manufacturer:

GoLite Footwear

  Year/Model:

2009 Competition
2009 Fire

  Materials:

Competition - Upper: Ballistic Mesh and TPU Cage; Outsole/Midsole: Rubber, TPU and PU
Fire - Upper: Mesh and EVA Cage; Outsole/Midsole: Rubber, TPU and PU

  Last:

Competition - Anatomically Contoured
Fire - Anatomically Contoured

  Size:

Competition - Mens 9.5 with medium width footbed
Fire - Mens 9.5 with medium width footbed

  Weight:

Competition - 12.96 oz (367 g)
Fire - 13.04 oz (369 g)

  Colour:

Competition - Skyway and Rifle Green
Fire - Navy and Black

  MSRP:

Competition - $120
Fire - $130

What's Good

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Ample toebox
  • Adjustable width
  • Durable uppers
  • Drains water well
  • What's Not So Good

  • Speedy delamination of the sole

  • Citation

    "GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews," by Darin Banner. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
    http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_competition_fire_reviews.html, 2009-11-17 00:00:00-07.

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    Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews


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    Addie Bedford
    (addiebedford) - MLife

    Locale: Montana
    GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/17/2009 15:05:57 MST Print View

    Companion forum thread to:

    GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews

    David Chenault
    (DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

    Locale: Crown of the Continent
    doh! on 11/17/2009 16:28:37 MST Print View

    A shoe that can't get wet (without falling apart)? And that costs 130 dollars?

    Back to the drawing board.

    Dan Durston
    (dandydan) - M

    Locale: Cascadia
    Weight on 11/17/2009 17:35:26 MST Print View

    It's too bad these shoes have gotten heavier, because otherwise they would be appealing. I could probably live with a less durable shoe if it was significantly lighter, grippier and more comfortable than other shoes on the market. At 13oz there isn't much of a weight advantage over the average hiking shoe.

    Mark McLauchlin
    (markmclauchlin) - MLife

    Locale: Western Australia
    Re: Weight on 11/17/2009 17:53:43 MST Print View

    Nice report,

    The failure of the sole at such a rapid rate seems to be a common theme with GoLite shoes and really needs some attention.

    I am a big Golite fan and have several of their products, but shoes are definately off the list.

    Cheers

    Jonathan Ryan
    (Jkrew81) - F - M

    Locale: White Mtns
    Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/17/2009 19:04:21 MST Print View

    Read "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" and then try some Inov8's.

    Greg Mihalik
    (greg23) - M

    Locale: Colorado
    Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/17/2009 19:58:36 MST Print View

    I hope durability becomes an issue. GoLites might wear faster than others but not by much.

    I went through a pair of Inov8 330's on the JMT.

    I have about 200 miles on some Salomons that are now missing lugs, have much of the "color surface" on the sole worn off, and blow stitching around the toe caps.

    I think $.50 a mile is a bit much for footwear.

    M G
    (drown) - F - MLife

    Locale: Shenandoah
    Re: Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/17/2009 20:43:54 MST Print View

    "I have about 200 miles on some Salomons that are now missing lugs, have much of the "color surface" on the sole worn off, and blow stitching around the toe caps."

    In October I put 200 miles on a brand new pair of Comp 4's in the Sierra and brought them right back to REI after 10 days having worn right through the front upper part of the shoe where it flexes.

    Where can I find fit, performance & durabiity.

    Have two pairs of Inov8 that feel too narrrow for anything longer than a few hours.

    Thomas Burns
    (nerdboy52) - MLife

    Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
    Durability vs. "Gripability" on 11/18/2009 04:10:30 MST Print View

    "I hope durability becomes an issue. GoLites might wear faster than others but not by much.
    I went through a pair of Inov8 330's on the JMT."

    Both shoes illustrate the essential tradeoff that all trail shoes face. To get a good grip on wet rocks, they need small lugs and soft rubber soles. They won't last long. My Mudclaws from Inov8 are already pretty much worn out after 100 miles, despite their deep lugs.

    To get durability, they need harder rubber and less aggressive lugs. My Hardrocks will last forever, but I can't use them on trips where I expect a lot of wet rocks.

    Sigh. Where's modern technology when you really need it.

    Stargazer

    Thomas Burns
    (nerdboy52) - MLife

    Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
    Fit/ Vibram Five Fingers on 11/18/2009 04:24:25 MST Print View

    Trying hard to stay on topic, but drifting . . .

    "Have two pairs of Inov8 that feel too narrrow for anything longer than a few hours."

    Double dittos on that. Inov8s are good only if you have a narrow foot, especially in the toes. Mine are absolutely unwearable in winter because of the heavier socks. Sadly, my Mudclaws are a perfect fit everywhere but in the far-too-narrow toebox.

    The attractive feature of the Golites is the ability to adjust the fit. I can life with a short life if I don't die on the wet rocks of southern Ohio and my feet survive the adventure without sore toes.

    BTW, the best solution I've found for the wet-rock problem is the Neoprene version of Vibram Five Fingers. They weight about 6 oz. each, and their thin soles are essentially lugless, hard rubber. They appear to have been designed for scuba diving, so they grip like a sonofagun on most surfaces, especially wet rocks (and most other surfaces more than adequately). They also seem to be holding up really well.

    If the thought of wearing toe shoes doesn't ring your bell, consider it the next step from those heavy trailrunners. :-)

    The next step, is, of course, no shoes at all, but the Vibrams are the next best thing to barefoot, and the Neoprene keeps your feet SO warm, even when they are wet.

    Stargazer

    Andrew Skurka
    (askurka) - F
    The durability of trail running shoes on 11/18/2009 07:27:56 MST Print View

    I've gone through a few pairs of shoes in my day. Here are some observations...

    - The inspiration for the GoLite shoes -- the soft-against-the-ground approach -- was realized in their first generation shoe. But their fit was sloppy (too wide all over), their ability to side-hill was very limited because the center-of-gravity was too high, and their durability was in the toilet. I solved the last problem by lathering Aqua Seal on the toebox and other failure points, and just dealt with the other problems: I'm not sure I could have hiked 6,875 miles on hard-packed, cobblestone-laden trails with any other shoe without severely bruising my forefeet.

    - I destroyed a pair of Vasque Aether Tech's in 150 miles back in February while on the Hayduke Trail. The shoe lacks a skeleton -- it's all mesh -- and a small fray near the anchor system for the Boa laces developed into a 3-inch long rip that I had to glue and tape shut (or at least try). The shoe's toebox is also monstrous.

    - I put about 350 hard miles on the Solomon Tech Amphibian back in March in the Grand Canyon. They were light, extremely breathable, and dried really quickly after getting wet; and after 350 miles the core parts were no worse for the wear (upper, midsole, sole). However, I had to stitch up the heel cup strap because otherwise the buckle would slip and my heel wouldn't stay locked in the shoe. The laces were starting to fall apart -- they may have had a few more days until rendered completely useless. And, finally, the mesh paneling is just not a sturdy enough platform to keep one's foot over the midsole -- there's some give to the material, so when side-hilling the edges of my feet (particularly around my heel) would slide over the edge of the shoe. Oh yeah, they also don't fair well when brushed up against cactus!

    - I'm current sponsored by La Sportiva and have been wearing their shoes for the last year. My favorite shoe for backpacking is the Fireblade: the upper is absurdly durable (I put 500 miles on one pair and not even a seam had blown out), the sole is really grippy, and they're low to the ground and therefore great for side-hilling. They're also very light. The problem with the La Sportiva shoes is that they still use a EVA-based midsole, which over time collapses and doesn't come back, especially if you're doing lots of miles day-after-day. This was not an issue in Alaska because I was off-trail ~75 percent of the time and the ground was generally very soft; but this would become a problem if used mostly in an on-trail environment. I'm trying to convince La Sportiva to make a Fireblade-type shoe with a plastic plate in the midsole but haven't had too much success with that pitch -- yet!

    Andrew Skurka
    (askurka) - F
    Shoe durability tips on 11/18/2009 07:39:32 MST Print View

    In the last post I gave a brief history of my footwear experiences. Here are a few general tips about footwear durability:

    - Coat the seams and the known blow-out points with Aqua Seal before you take a step. If more blow-out points emerge, treat them too -- and then, with your next pair, treat them preemptively. Don't use SilNet -- it won't stick to fabrics other than silicone. And Seam Grip isn't as good.

    - Give your shoes a day off if you can. On a backpacking trip this is impossible, unless you want to carry 2 pairs of shoes -- I've done that before and don't recommend it -- it's not worth the weight investment. But if you're just day-hiking or trail running, have at least two pairs of shoes and rotate them.

    - If you are going to be on hard surfaces day-in-day-out, then I'd recommend either a GoLite shoe (note the associated problems above) or a lightweight trail runner or "day hiker" with a forefoot plate. Basically, your goal is to stay away from an EVA mid-sole, which is collapse-prone and after that your "cushioning" is gone. A growing number of people seem to be fans of minimalist shoes with no cushion, but I think this is impractical for hard-packed, cobblestone-laden trails while wearing a backpack -- your feet get eaten and eventually bruised. It might work for trails with soft surfaces, but at least in the Rockies you won't find many of those (or in the Northeast, or in the Southwest). Even so, I'm not sure it'd work day-after-day. The problem with "light hikers" is that they tend to want to control everything about your stride, which is where I have some agreement with theses barefoot advocates -- that will only lead to problems.

    Brad Groves
    (4quietwoods) - MLife

    Locale: Michigan
    Re: The durability of trail running shoes on 11/18/2009 08:53:48 MST Print View

    Awesome feedback and insight on shoes. Since you mentioned Sportiva and wanting a "shoe with a plastic plate in the midsole," have you tried out their Wildcat? It has a nylon shank. One of the most supportive shoes I've seen, but really easy gait, and light. Ordering a pair next check, though, so no field use...

    Andrew Skurka
    (askurka) - F
    Sportiva Wildcat on 11/18/2009 09:01:27 MST Print View

    I don't mean to get too far off topic here, since this forum is about the GoLite shoes (which, however, naturally raise the issue of footwear durability), but re the La Sportiva Wildcat. I've run in this model quite a bit -- 500 miles or so. The durability of the upper is very good and the sole is sticky; snow performance is limited by the lack of knobs on the sole -- it's pretty smooth. It's a roomy shoe and there's a bit more side-to-side movement than I'd prefer (though I tend to have a narrow and small-volume foot, so this might not be a problem for someone with a wider and/or larger-volume foot). As far as forefoot protection, it does a better job than the Fireblade but ultimately it's EVA midsole shines through and the cushioning will disappear in the forefoot.

    Brad Groves
    (4quietwoods) - MLife

    Locale: Michigan
    Re: Sportiva Wildcat on 11/18/2009 09:03:58 MST Print View

    Bummer, sort of. Sorry, folks. Back on topic! (Although I guess we could say that it looks like most trail runners have some issues, and less EVA in them would be great.)

    Gabe Joyes
    (gabe_joyes) - F - M

    Locale: Lander, WY
    What shoe does last? on 11/18/2009 10:39:41 MST Print View

    Does anyone know some trail running shoes or really light hikers that do have a forefoot plate? I've experienced the same problem with EVA mid-soles: they feel great at first and then poof, its gone. Golite might be on to something, but I wasn't a big fan of the orginal Golite Sun Dragons. For what it is worth to others, I tore through a pair of Montrail Hardrocks and Vasque Velocity VST's just this past summer. Durability seems to suck on all trail running shoes these days.

    ben wood
    (benwood)

    Locale: flatlands of MO
    Re: The durability of trail running shoes on 11/18/2009 10:49:01 MST Print View

    i can attest to the EVA problem as i was backpacking in some trail runners with no plate and EVA midsoles. the midsole completely gave out uner the ball of my left foot. i still had about 10 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain to go. by the time i got back to the car, i had a blister under my left foot bigger than a quarter.

    Lucas Boyer
    (jhawkwx) - MLife

    Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
    try mountain masochist on 11/18/2009 11:10:19 MST Print View

    I'm not sure why no one has mentioned the Mountain Masochist from Montrail here. It's marketed as a runner, has the aforementioned plate, and fits the light designation. I just returned from a 225 mile hike in mine. Packed rail bed (i.e. HARD surface). No foot issues on the bottoms of my feet. Unfortunately, my Superfeet's deep heel cups rubbed on the outside edge of my heel. I might give up on Superfeet from this experience. I don't wear insoles in my running shoes. Not sure why I think I need them in hiking shoes. The forefoot is a tad narrow for my foot in the Mt. Masochists. Rubbed my pinky toes, swelling occurred, downhill progression to very sore toes. Shoes are still looking pretty good. They already had 100 trail miles on them, along w/ some weekend errands.

    Andy, thanks for the hearty endorsement for the La Sportiva's. Unfortunately, they only go up to 13's I believe. Leaves us bigfeet out of the market. Golite does this too, IIRC. I understand being in the minority. Finding long enough sleeves, inseams, and shoes is a regular issue for those of us that are tall. However, a lot of people are 13's and when you consider feet swelling and the need for a size larger shoe....what happens then?

    Why not go the Ray Way? Get some New Balance or Nike runners and replace every few weeks or bounce box alternating pairs down the line until you kill them.

    ben wood
    (benwood)

    Locale: flatlands of MO
    Re: try mountain masochist on 11/18/2009 11:24:04 MST Print View

    i've heard really good things about the masochist, but never tried them. right now i am wearing some salomon XA3's (i think they are called), and so far they have been great. from what i understand they have a nylon flex control plate, and they do a good job at keeping those rocks from causing any pain.

    just my 2cents

    Adrian B
    (adrianb) - MLife

    Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
    Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/18/2009 13:02:18 MST Print View

    Some really useful posts here.

    >Have two pairs of Inov8 that feel too narrrow for anything longer than a few hours.

    The 330, 310 and 295 are all fairly wide models.

    I just ordered a pair of the new New Balance NB100, which have have some forefoot protection, and are *light*. I hope they aren't too narrow though. And I doubt the upper will last long. I've really been liking the NB MT840s because it comes in a 2E, but of course it's now been discontinued (sigh).

    The La Sportiva's sound good. The uppers on my shoe always wear out far before the soles ever do (soft/muddy overgrown trails here) even with seam grip on the stitching.

    The Inov8's in particular have an annoying habit of the lace loops getting frayed/torn very early on. You can melt a new lace hole in the shoe with a tent peg or similar when it happens though - just be careful not to melt the laces at the same time ;)

    Anyone know what the difference between the Montrail Masochist and the Streak is? I've been a bit put off either because they look too bulky/built up.

    Lucas Boyer
    (jhawkwx) - MLife

    Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
    re; masochist on 11/18/2009 14:00:18 MST Print View

    Can't speak for the streak. But the Masochist is no way what I would call a bulky shoe. They are a no frills trail runner. Lots of breathability, gusseted tongue, light wrap on the toe of a reinforced material. No toe cap though. I have not had trouble with stubbing toes or the like with them. Weight-wise, they would fall in the heavier class when compared with a traditional running shoe, mainly because of the reinforcement plate on the sole. I really like them and want to stick with them, but I'm afraid swelling feet are going to continue to treat me like your Inov8's treat you. I can't go wide though, because of my narrow heel. I'm left finding the roomiest toebox I can. Good discussion here.

    James Lantz
    (jameslantz) - F

    Locale: North Georgia
    Waterproof Comp vs. "regular" Comp on 11/18/2009 15:08:07 MST Print View

    Something that was not made clear in the review is that there are 2 types of Comps. Both of the black color Comps are said to be waterproof & my friend has a pair of these. I suspect the material on the upper is eVent as it is comparable to my Keen Shellrocks.
    I have a pair of Rifle Green Comps which are as described in the review with open mesh. Another difference is that the waterproof Comp does NOT use the forefoot stabilizer bands described in the review & hence had a slightly different lacing system.
    GoLite is aware of the durability issues & my new Comps were actually a free replacement for a destroyed pair of Versa Force shoes after only 80 trail miles. My Comps are going on their first trip this weekend but my initial impressions are that they seem to be more stout than the shoes they replaced. This remains to be seen.
    I have been impressed with New England Footwear's customer service & sense that they are trying to resolve issues with their shoes. Please know that I have no affiliation with New England Footwear.

    joe newton
    (holdfast) - M

    Locale: Bergen, Norway
    Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/18/2009 15:23:30 MST Print View

    Interesting discussion, I thought I'd add my observations:

    Firstly I've come to realise that we can't expect these very light shoes we wear to last anywhere near what we got out of hiking boots. The mileage, the terrain and the minimal padding and protection means we're going to wear these shoes out fairly quickly. We just have to deal with that. The environmental impact of this needs assessing though, that does concern me slightly, but if we want good grip, lightweight and good breathability/drainage then we have to expect to replace these shoes every few hundred miles.

    I still haven't found the perfect shoe. Some people seem to find one that suits them and then buy multiple pairs. I've had three pairs of Inov8s, Salomons, Montrail and Nikes. All of them have been good but every pair has also had a problem. The Inov8 310s came closest but then split across the sole after a four day trip.

    I agree with Andy's idea about rotating a couple or a few pairs of shoes. I've managed to keep a pair of Inov8 315s and some Salomon Comps going for over a year by doing this.

    On fit I found the Mountain Masochists a little narrow in the forefoot and 'fussy' in the shape of the footbed. They felt light and durable though so I was dissapointed they didn't fit me. Inov8s fit me better, especially the 310 and 330 which are wider for long days hiking but I'd still like the heel cup to be a wee bit deeper.

    The search continues...

    Adrian B
    (adrianb) - MLife

    Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
    Re: Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/18/2009 15:50:33 MST Print View

    >but if we want good grip, lightweight and good breathability/drainage then we have to expect to replace these shoes every few hundred miles.

    Practically this might be the case with the current shoes on the market, but fundamentally I don't see why light shoes can't be durable (eg sandals can be). It just doesn't seem like it's been a priority for designers.

    joe newton
    (holdfast) - M

    Locale: Bergen, Norway
    Re: Re: Re: GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/18/2009 15:57:39 MST Print View

    Adrian - I think the uppers can be made light and durable (like some sandals out there as you rightly point out) but the softer, grippier soles will always wear faster I think, like racing car tyres.

    Joe Clement
    (skinewmexico) - MLife

    Locale: Southwest
    GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/18/2009 20:21:47 MST Print View

    The first pair of GoLites I bought for my son wore out in a 9 mile hike up Guadelupe Peak. The last few pairs I've bought (of the older models) have lasted pretty well.

    David Chenault
    (DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

    Locale: Crown of the Continent
    ideal shoes on 11/18/2009 21:05:19 MST Print View

    I do feel bad about chucking a pair of trail shoes every 6 months or so. I'd certainly pay a bit more for ones that didn't wear out so fast. I do get better than a few hundred miles though, my vague guess would be more like 6-900 miles a pair.

    I've certainly had fits finding ideal shoes. I've had plenty that were good enough, but always left something desired.

    The ideal shoe should have:
    -a sole height as close to the ground as possible
    -tread beefy enough and with lugs well spaced enough to deal with mud (the Fireblades were horrible in this respect)
    -a full sole plastic plate that is still quite flexible
    -plastic grommets for all lacing
    -full toe rand
    -fast draining and drying
    -skinny heal, width toe box

    Still searching..

    Andrew Browne
    (andrew_browne) - MLife

    Locale: Mornington Peninsula AUSTRALIA
    Golite Shoes on 11/18/2009 22:17:07 MST Print View

    Ever since GoLite/Timberland launched their shoes(3-4 years ago??) I have been critical of their quality and complained to no avail. They didn't even reply to my emails. However I like the wide toe box (only shoe I'm comfortable wearing all day even after my feet swell) and I like their soft ride ( even if the underside of the outer sole show signs of wear and tear)...........have worn my last pair after my visual use by date told me to get rid of them 12 months ago but still can't throw them out). I'll persist with my current Golites until they fall apart.........hopefully not on the track. Then I'll probably buy the current version and as long as they are as comfortable as my current one's if they wear out after 100-200 miles I'll probably cope with that.
    Innov 8 for me have toooooo narrow a toe box!!!!!!

    joe newton
    (holdfast) - M

    Locale: Bergen, Norway
    Re: ideal shoes on 11/19/2009 01:35:47 MST Print View

    Dave - we're looking for the same shoe! When we find it we have to let each other know!

    Andrew - if you haven't tried the Inov8 310 and 330 then give them a go, they're the Inov8s that people with wider feet can wear.

    David Chenault
    (DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

    Locale: Crown of the Continent
    ideal..... on 11/19/2009 06:09:59 MST Print View

    Joe,

    The Sportiva Imogene's I'm using hit quite a few of those criteria. They lack a toe rand and a full plate, and I'd prefer the toe box a bit wider.

    They dry impressively fast, and their tread is brilliant.

    I should also add:
    -sufficient torsional rigidity to edge and kick steps in scree and soft snow (again, the Fireblade failed miserably here)

    Richard DeLong
    (Legkohod) - MLife

    Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
    Re: Shoe durability tips on 11/19/2009 07:39:02 MST Print View

    >>> "- If you are going to be on hard surfaces day-in-day-out, then I'd recommend either a GoLite shoe (note the associated problems above) or a lightweight trail runner or "day hiker" with a forefoot plate. Basically, your goal is to stay away from an EVA mid-sole, which is collapse-prone and after that your "cushioning" is gone. A growing number of people seem to be fans of minimalist shoes with no cushion, but I think this is impractical for hard-packed, cobblestone-laden trails while wearing a backpack -- your feet get eaten and eventually bruised. It might work for trails with soft surfaces, but at least in the Rockies you won't find many of those (or in the Northeast, or in the Southwest). Even so, I'm not sure it'd work day-after-day. The problem with "light hikers" is that they tend to want to control everything about your stride, which is where I have some agreement with theses barefoot advocates -- that will only lead to problems."


    Pretty much everyone I talked to on the PCT had "bruised feet" after a month on the trail. The balls of your feet become tender to step on for the first 5 minutes after you first stand on them in the morning. After they warm up they are fine again. This issue gradually goes away after you've been off the trail for 2 to 4 (!) months.

    I'm intrigued by the idea that "bruised feet" can be avoided, because we all pretty much accepted this as a fact of trail life.

    Edited by Legkohod on 11/19/2009 07:45:55 MST.

    Lucas Boyer
    (jhawkwx) - MLife

    Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
    re: bruised feet on 11/19/2009 08:43:10 MST Print View

    I think the bruised feet is highly subjective like the rest of the shoe discussion. However, spending a lot of time on your feet running, walking, and hiking can mitigate the problems when you hit the trail. Unfortunately, I think that weeks/months of walking daily will have its toll on any person's feet, especially if the shoes completely disintegrate. This is the first discussion that I've seen on BPL that unites those of us w/ narrow heel/wide toebox requests. Manufacturers are you listening? Someone needs to come up w/ some sort of variable lacing system that addresses the toebox volume more acutely. Perhaps a sandal like webbing across the toebox w/ the traditional lacing beginning higher up the foot? Too bad the MYOG movement hasn't transferred over to shoes.

    Back to the topic of rotating shoes. Different shoes support different parts of the feet. As a distance runner who has dealt w/ repetitive motion injuries before, I say the more variety in your foot's movement/support, the better. I'm still hung up on bounce boxing a variety of shoes during a long hike. Perhaps this should expand to including a Chaco or similar all terrain sandal, which would allow the feet a week(s) of breathing and support from a Vibram sole to aid in healing up from the softer running shoe hikers.

    Gabe Joyes
    (gabe_joyes) - F - M

    Locale: Lander, WY
    The North Face on 11/19/2009 10:50:24 MST Print View

    No one has mentioned The North Face trail shoes yet. Most of those include, including the Rucky Chucky and Ultra 104 and 105, have a forefoot plate. I haven't used them, but I tried a pair of Rucky Chucky's on once and they felt very supportive. I didn't get them because I has just bought a different pair of shoes. Say what you want about The North Face but the Rucky Chucky's seemed like a solid shoe to me and a friend of mine loves them.

    Stuart Steele
    (sbsteele) - F

    Locale: North Central New Jersey
    EVA midsoles and Seam Grip on 11/19/2009 17:28:51 MST Print View

    EVA midsole memory failure is a historical problem. Polyurethane midsoles last due to their excellent memory but are heavier. Combining the two has been done, but my research shows that performance - foot rotational speed is reduced due to the different material densities. My 18 years of research in biomechanics supports polyurethane over EVA for performance and midsole durability. Mid-sole, out sole, fit, comfort, performance, etc. - good luck in finding the ideal trail shoe.
    I'm surprised at Andrew's comment about not sealing seams with Seam Grip which I've used for over a decade with good results to protect stitching, frays and delaminations as well as protecting and waterproofing the "fabric" from the sole to about 1" high. I then use Seam Sealer 3 for the balance of the "fabric". Aqua Seal is a silicone and oil combination for a water resistant/waterproof coating. Perhaps Andrew can comment with further detail about his conclusion.

    Andrew Skurka
    (askurka) - F
    Aqua Seal on 11/20/2009 13:02:26 MST Print View

    My knowledge of the McNett glues comes mostly from Erin & Hig, who repaired their gear extensively during their expedition in 2007-08. Hig says Seam Grip is simply a watered down version of Aqua Seal, and prefers the latter for everything, including seams.

    Stuart Steele
    (sbsteele) - F

    Locale: North Central New Jersey
    Andrew and Aqua Seal on 11/20/2009 21:52:03 MST Print View

    I'll give it a try. Thanks for the response.

    Emmett Lyman
    (ejl10) - F - M

    Locale: Mid Atlantic
    Sun Dragon 2 Experience on 11/21/2009 06:23:45 MST Print View

    I wore a pair of Sun Dragon 2's for my Long Trail thru hike, and after 300 miles the shoes are officially dead. However, what's interesting is that the soles are still in good shape... it's the neoprene mesh uppers that really deteriorated all around the footbed. And the 2009 Long Trail wasn't exactly dry, either... it was one of the rainier seasons on record for a trail that's known for its mud!

    I just finished a circuit hike of Torres del Paine and some short hikes around Mt. Fitz Roy in a pair of Garmont Eclipse III shoes and I longed for my GoLites the whole time, except for when I was in the deep snow, of course!

    I'm very interested to see what the team can do to solve the sole delamination problems, but in the meantime I'll probably keep using their shoes, despite the difficulties.

    Chris Townsend
    (Christownsend) - MLife

    Locale: Cairngorms National Park
    GoLite Footwear Competition and Fire Reviews on 11/21/2009 09:19:42 MST Print View

    Excellent reviews and interesting comments. My experiences with the first GoLite shoes seem typical - comfortable but lacking durability. I haven't tried the latest versions. Finding a light trail shoe that lasts is asking for the impossible at present I think. That said, I have worn the same pair of Terroc 330s on the last three TGO Challenges, with other trips as well they've done around 650 miles in 50 days of walking over mostly rough terrain. On the last Challenge I did recoat all the seams to keep the shoes going beforehand. I reckon there's some life in the shoes yet, though not much. Given the weight I'm quite impressed though as I've worn out lightweight boots weighing far more with less use.