Rating: 2 / 5
After attending a clinic in Bozeman, MT in which Andrew Skurka and Ryan Jordan were presenting, I decided to give the Sun Dragons a look-see after Andrew Skurka showed up wearing a pair. I got them on sale and bought 3 pairs.
After putting approximately 50 miles on these both on trail and off (general walking) I can say that I am pleased on several fronts.
#1. "Precise-fit" Insoles - Generally in my lightweight boots (Vasque Breeze) I have had to wear Superfeet for arch support and have done so for a number of years. The Sun Dragons have a layering insole they call "Precise-fit" to allow for a variety of foot/sock sizes. I find that ingenious but admittedly when I first looked at it I thought it looked "el-cheapo" and seriously questioned whether they would work.
I can say that the insole system seems to do the trick rather well for me and thus far I have had no arch pain. However, I am flirting with some heel discomfort and have not decided yet if it is real discomfort or just a side effect of breaking in the shoes. I will watch that situation and evaluate further after I do a 10 + mile day.
#2 - Breathability - I personally could care less if my feet are wet or dry. So many people get hung up on water proofing and Gore Tex. My wife was this way until recently.
The GoLite Sun Dragons' along with my Vasque boots are by no means "water proof" or water resistant. In fact, you will definitely take on moisture but, you will start to lose that moisture almost instantly.
The breathable Powervent Mesh not only helps keep your feet cool, but aids in drying time after submersing in water. In addition, when wearing proper socks I find that my feet are generally more comfortable than when wearing my Vasque Breeze boots. Thumbs up on comfort!
#3. Traction - This has to be the best feature of these shoes. The Gripstick rubber not only gives you traction, but the way the soles are lugged make it an absolute dream when walking down rocky trails or over talus. More often than not when wearing my Vasque boots, my foot will easily roll when stepping on rocks. Not so with the GoLite Sun Dragon's.
When stepping over rocks or other debris, I find the lugs help spread and conform around the object giving you more stability and less roll. Andrew Skurka used this as a selling point for these shoes and I can attest that to be a valid point.
#4. Weight - GoLites website says these shoes are only 11.8 ounces. Mine weigh 15 ounces each. GoLite should probably include a disclaimer on their site and advertising material denoting that larger sized shoes will weigh more than advertised.
I found the weight reduction between the Breeze and the Sun Dragons to be an awesome benefit. I was so comfortable at the end of my hiking days I just kept telling my wife how much I loved these shoes.
My only negative thus far with the shoes are the laces. I would rather see a wider, softer lace. The laces do not hurt my feet in anyway, but I do feel the tongue of the shoe is going to wear out before the rest of the shoe does.
I gave the shoes a 5 rating because of the obvious benefits. Having always snubbed trail runners, I am pleasantly surprised with this product. I do believe however GoLite needs to bring the price down. $120.00 retail is a little steep and most hikers like me will not immediately see the "perceived" value. Sometimes we still have the stigma that "more is better."
Since my initial review, I am changing the rating to 2, and here are my reasons why:
#1 - The upper fabric has disintegrated on two pairs. I have yet to wear the third.
#2 - I contacted GoLite today to discuss the Shangri-La 3 tarp I was considering purchasing. I mentioned the issues with the shoes in passing and that I was concerned about the quality of construction regarding the tarp and whether it would last more than one summer.
#3 - The GoLite company told me in no uncertain terms the shoes are not theirs, that they belong to the Timberland company. Although I wasn't asking for anything regarding the shoes, they were nice enough to tell me they had a lifetime warranty. They then told me to contact the manufacturer.
#4 - Timberland can't replace the shoes. They can only refund you money after you send them the shoes.
I love the shoes still. Best comfort. But someone else manufacturers GoLite's shoes and they refuse to handle the warranty. You have to go thru the manufacturer. If these shoes were known to have this problem, why weren't they pulled off the market instead of continuing to be sold? Doesn't make any sense.
Moral of story, don't buy any "SunDragon" shoes and make sure to ask how the warranty will get handled. Will it be GoLite or some third party?