Getting to grips with trail shoes

One aspect of trail running I love is its simplicity and the fact that’s its relatively inexpensive as sports go. Once you have your basic running gear your most expensive item is your shoes. I don’t have any huge requirements when it comes to shoes – I am no major techie on the ins and outs of trail runners – but I know what I need.

Your shoes are often your most loyal, and only, companion for hours on end. You kinda of never notice them – until you do – and then it’s not good, comfort is vital. These days you can buy a new pair of trail shoes and run 5 plus hours straight off without so much as a hint of a blister.

When descending Platteklip in misty and wet conditions on sandy and wet rocks – nothing really sticks too much but you do need to be able to rely on your shoes’ grip, especially when descending at pace…or so I’m told.

I need my shoes to be hardy. I’m no twinkle toes and I’m running on rough often rocky terrain. I need shoes that can take that kind of shit – not shy away at the first sign of a loose pebble and fall apart like a girl scout who can’t sell cookies. Hardy – get out there, get dirty but keep it together. Which brings me to lifespan.

How long should a pair of shoes last? Well how long is a piece of string? It also depends on how many pairs of shoes you own and how much you run. I like my trail runners to last me a year, I only use one pair at a time and I hike in them as well. I budget on them to last me a year and less than that I get a bit pissed – o.k. 9-12 months but no less than nine. I do run regularly but not that much.

I have no brand loyalty. I haven’t yet found a brand to stick to and I have tried many. I enjoy the fact that more and more brands are targeting trail specific shoes and that there is plenty of choice. I wore Salomons a few years back; very comfy, good drainage and I like the draw string laces but the ankle support was not good and I found my ankles frequently going. I moved onto a pair of Montrails; hardyish and o.k. comfort wise but the sole started pealing at about 8 months. So for R50 bucks I had them glued and I got another 6 months out of them.

Salomon Crossmax

Salomon Crossmax - 9 months. RIP

I had a pair of New Balance thrown in there somewhere but this pair couldn’t hack the trails at all so had to be relegated to beachfront strolls only. I then went back to Salomon with their very good Crossmax – very good in all departments but they only lasted nine months.

Desperate for shoes I saw a pair of Hi tech Infinities still on sale at Cape Union Mart. At R500 bucks it seemed good value – but after a month the shoe was falling apart – I swapped them for a new pair and the same thing happened. That’s not a trail shoe that’s a slipper.

Saucony Xodus 3.0

Saucony Xodus 3.0

Luckily, at about the same time a brand appears to have found me. I won a lucky draw competition on Saucony’s Facebook page and within two days a new pair of Saucony Xodus 3.0s arrived at my door. The fit was perfect – lucky as I had never tried them on before. They are very comfortable, and the thick sole has good grip and is looking as solid as ever. Time will tell as to its longevity but I am loving this understated shoe. She’s no looker but she is a goer. That’s no disrespect to Saucony – I don’t really like lumo and brightly coloured shoes – I like these!

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