I purchased these shoes after seeing a few positive reviews and needing some trail shoes. Throughout this fierce winter and spring, I’ve run over 300k on these shoes, over snow, ice, mud, dirt and slush. This is one versatile shoe, at home in marginal grip conditions and yet feel fine on the road. The water-resistant uppers shed off most weather conditions. They are responsive, flexible and at 8.7oz, light enough for those go-fast runs.
One thing I’ve noticed about shoes is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the runner and the shoe, and one can’t really talk about shoes in a vacuum, without reference to the runner wearing them. Clearly, everyone is built differently, with a variety of body types, gaits, foot size and shape and running dynamics. So really, I can only share my experiences in relation to my own running. Hopefully, that will give you some perspective and reference point for my specific comments on each shoe and allow you to apply the right filter in relation to your own needs. I’ve posted my gory personal details in a separate post, so I can reference it in future reviews, and also not bore readers that want to continue to the punchline.
These shoes fit my feet really well. When I put them on, they look like the shape of my foot, that’s how well they fit. They have pods with an aggressive lug pattern that wraps slightly around the sides of the shoe for extra grip in slanty conditions. There is a nylon rock plate that prevents sharp stones from digging into the bottom of your foot. During this winter, I noticed it prevents bits of rock salt from digging into my foot as well. The rock plate only covers the front half of the shoe, and I did feel gravel and larger stones through the heel section.
The pod design leaves a lot of space for the sole to flex and the midsole feels quite flexible, without specific resistance in any direction.
The upper has water-resistant ripstop nylon which does a good job of keeping my feet dry when splashing through puddles. It also does a good job keeping out some of the cold wind. There are welded overlays that help snug the upper and also give a bit of structure to the heel counter. The overlays are a metallic blue colour, which lends a considerable amount of style to these shoes.
One cool feature are the slot-shaped shoelace eyelets. Most shoes have tiny round eyelets and the laces tend to bind in them. The slots match the profile of the flat laces and allow them to flow slightly up and down the shoe, evening out the tension. I normally use bungee laces in all my shoes, but made an exception here because the stock lacing system is so great. And they have matching aglets. How cool is that?
These are advertised as 4mm offset, and definitely feel like a 4mm shoe. There is no removable sockliner and the footbed is integrated into the midsole. I think this helps the shoe dry faster when it’s wet, since there is no space for moisture to get trapped.
The ride is most definitely firm. There is a bit of cushion – less than a Kinvara or PureConnect, but more than true minimal shoe like the Saucony Hattori or NB MR00. They properly deserve the Minimus moniker. The narrow and firm heel definitely promotes mid and forefoot striking with these shoes. The platform, especially at the rear, is narrow. I find that that this encourages me to maintain good form, since there’ no wide heel to soak up any errant sideways forces through the gait cycle.
The aggressive tread is quite effective for most conditions. In slush and moderate snow, when there is some pavement to gain purchase on, there is a reassuring amount of grip. On sheer ice and deep snow, not so much. In dirt and mud, they offer excellent grip. A nice design feature is that mud and snow which packs into the tread is quickly shed off in a few steps.
This is one versatile shoe. They are terrific in marginal conditions and yet feel fine on the road. I don’t feel the lugs on these, like I do on the Brooks PureConnects. The uppers fit me well and shed off most weather conditions. They are responsive, flexible and at 8.7oz, light enough for those go-fast runs. The only conditions were I think this model wouldn’t be ideal is in 1) super-hot conditions, because of the upper breathability. 2) Distances over 25k, where the lack of serious cushion may be an issue for those who need more shock attenuation over the long haul. A definite winner and I will be looking to add more of them in my shoe pile.