Rating: 4 / 5
I use Golite shoes because the toe-box is shaped a lot more like the front of an actual human foot. More specifically, most trail runners or other shoes give me problems due to bunionettes (little toe side bunions). My foot doctor told me my options were foot surgery or a shoe that's wide at the appropriate point, and Golites work for me.
The problem that so many of us have is that the shoe manufacturers are always changing models, so it's hard to know what will work and what won't. I used Sun Dragon's and Sun Dragon II's on the PCT in 2008, and on the AT this year I used a pair or two of left over Sun Dragon II's, but those can't be purchased any more, so I got one pair of Versa Force and multiple pairs of "Force" models, the latter looking most similar to the Sun Dragon's.
Both new models worked fine. I wish I had got more Versa Force models as now that I'm back from my thru-hike I can't find those for sale any more (!), so I just ordered 7 pairs of Force models, mostly to use on the CDT next year but also for just my general purpose shoe that I wear all the time. In color black these are fairly unobtrusive.
The newer models are tougher in the uppers, no more tearing out across the top of the toes like the Sun Dragon's and other earlier models. They're also a bit heavier; not too bad, but not as light as I would like. In size 11.5 (US) mine weigh 37.5 oz, i.e., 2 pounds 5.7 oz, or 18.85 oz per shoe. In contrast, the Versa Force weigh about 32 oz for a pair in the same size, and the original Sun Dragon's were about 28.5 oz
The Force models have the same "precise fit" foam inserts included that all Golite shoes have had since the beginning; it's a pretty good insert for something included from the factory, IMO. I personally use a custom orthodic most of the time, but I sometimes carry the factory inserts too --- at 2.8 oz for the pair, they give me the ability to wash my orthodics when in town and have clean, dry inserts to wear with my newly washed and dried socks on a NERO or full day off.
Durability: per above, the uppers are a lot tougher on these shoes, Golite has that issue fixed, and they still seem to breathe and dry out *reasonably* well. Not the best of all shoes out there in this regards, but okay IMO. I can and do "walk them dry" after stream crossings or rain.
The "Force" model has the same deep lugs on the tread that the Sun Dragon's did, and this is a mixed blessing. In terms of durability, the pair that I finished the AT in (wore through the Whites in NH and through various terrain in Maine) ended up missing I think four of the lugs, all towards the instep, i.e., the lugs closest to the heel. I presume these got caught in rock cracks and just ripped off (all were shorn off pretty close to the underlying sole), though on that rough trail who knows. In any event, out of 9 unique lugs, I had only 5 on one shoe when I climbed Mt. Katahdin (interestingly, all 9 were still there on the other shoe).
The other issue with these is that they were not the optimal choice for the NH and ME stretches of the AT in particular, because with those lugs, Golite shoes in general I think have just less surface area contact with the ground. Walking on ice, slimy logs or planks, and in NH and ME on the AT on a lot of smooth and too-often wet slabs of rock wasn't pleasant. Mind you, any shoe can slip in those conditions, but my speculation is that Golites are worse than average in such conditions. In any event, despite a good sense of balance I fell multiple times in those last two states.
I still like Golites; short of finding another brand that allows me to avoid surgery for my bunionettes, I can live with shoes that are perhaps a little less safe on smooth low-friction surfaces. And are a bit heavier than I'd prefer (the improved durability offsets the weight hit).