best trail running gear

Today I tell you about how to invest smartly when buying mountaineering gear. Choosing one type or another of equipment can become expensive, which will make you put your hand deep in your pocket or under the mattress.

First of all I must admit that I have a theory: you can run on the mountain with what you already have in the house but that does not mean it will be the most pleasant experience.

When I run I like to feel comfortable and that I cannot be taken by surprise by nature. I take my equipment suitable and appropriate to the weather conditions.

So, not to complain when I get wet and it gets cold. That I am a delicate. Of course you can run through the mud with asphalt equipment but the experience is much more fun with equipment designed for mountain running.

In addition to the clear difference in the construction of the sneakers, mountain running also requires other specific pieces of equipment.

The questions to ask when looking for the right equipment are:

How can I run that distance (21km / 42km) on my own? What options do I have for my food and water? How do I protect myself from the unpredictable?

I made a list of 11 pieces of mountain running equipment to add to your trail-macho wardrobe.

The good news is that most of the equipment has a secondary purpose. You can use it for running on asphalt, hiking and other sports.

FOOD (GELS, JEWELS, CONFIDED FRUITS, BUTTONS, SANVISH-URI, ALUES)

Mountain running is the perfect example of eating on the run and running to eat. If you still carry a backpack with you, why not have everything you need to satisfy your cravings? Take with you easily digestible foods and easy to chew.

Avoid sticks that chew hard. They will make your breath harder and you will feel suffocated.

TEST! That’s the key word before you take part in a competition. The food should be tested at training, at the long runs you have in the training plan for the respective contest.

The closer they are to their natural state, the better the food will make you.

MEDICAL KIT

– The piece of equipment for mountain running that is missing from many backpacks

It depends a lot on your spirit of adventure and how far you want to venture. The medical kit is necessary in the equipment for the mountain run, you just put in it only the basic things. Some leucoplast, wipes, gauze, sunscreen, lip balm are always useful. Here you can also add the survival foil you can use in extreme conditions to warm yourself up or make a shelter.

BUFF

Give up the old cotton bandana and choose a technical fabric buff. Can be used as headband, cap, face cover. It protects you from the sun, sweating, wind, cold. It’s a very versatile piece of mountain running gear.

Choose a model that will stand out to you. Be bold in your choice!

Trekking polls.

Mountain running with sticks is highly dependent on your terrain and technique. For contests with low level difference (eg Semimaraton Intersport) are only extra weight. But if you have to deal with a “monster” race where you climb the altitude of an Everest, the sticks can help you keep your balance on the descents and can also propel you up, using the power of your arms. It’s a piece of mountain running gear that I think is quite optional.

Because if you don’t have the right technique, I don’t recommend using them. You will feel more confused. The trekking sticks are slightly different from the ski ones but not very different. There are fixed sticks and folding sticks. With removable socket and normal socket.

Test before taking them on the run and see if they are comfortable with or without them.

Running socks

Running Socks (or without compression) are a part of mountain running equipment that will surely increase your comfort and prevent your bladder. They will protect you when your mud / sand gets into adidas.

And believe me you will have plenty. I recommend dark-colored wool and merino socks.

bleachers

Did you know that the main reason for abandoning an ultramarathon is bleachers?

Mud, sand, snow are some of the main factors that can cause this and get you out of the race. Therefore, at an ultra I think that gaiters are mandatory as part of mountain running equipment.

Choose a model that suits you best. The little ones are good so you don’t overheat on a hot day.

HYDRATION SYSTEM

The human body has 3 priority functions.

Thermogenesis – that is, the regulation of a constant temperature, relative to the external environment; Hydration – keeping a high osmolarity of the blood; Food – the supply of nutrients to the organs for energy supply;

These functions are interconnected. If function no. 1 will not work either functions 2 and 3.

Here is a key decision. Try to have a backpack with many pockets to give you the opportunity to have everything at hand (eg food, cans).

I personally prefer camelback hydration backpacks in my mountain running gear. This type of backpack gives me the opportunity to access the water can very quickly (but not to be placed in front, as it seems to me as a balancer).

Water HAND BOTTLE

I recommend it only when the running distances are shorter, the route is very well known and you will return from where you left in maximum 2 hours. You can only get one can to attach to a treadmill.

But be careful, you can easily be caught on the mountain by surprise.

GLOVES

Even in the hot weather, the mountain can be so bad that you need gloves.

It helps you to get a better grip on cold rocks, and maintain your body heat. 40% of body heat is lost through the extremities. If you have gloves, a hat, good quality socks you can get rid of the cold and even frost.

Rain jacket

Weather conditions can change instantly in the mountains. From here and the saying “You are changing as the weather”.

However, there is still a saying “There is no bad weather but bad equipment”. The wind and rain jacket is a mandatory piece of equipment at almost all mountain running competitions. Choose a waterproof one, in which the skin can breathe and which blocks the wind. The hood should be a kind of bonus.

trail running shoes

Oh, God, how much can we debate on this topic! I tell you from experience that there are no perfect sneakers. But you can adapt the sneakers according to your needs and the nature of the existing terrain. For example, there are very running competitions with 0 technical sections. And contests with almost 0 runs and extraordinarily many technical sections.

For technical contests you need very reactive sneakers. Which allows you to walk very fast, change your center of gravity from one leg to another very quickly. I recommend something with a low sole but still with some cushioning. Salomon S-lab are matched, Mutant and Bushido from La Sportiva.

The sole depends a lot on the nature of the terrain. On the muddy and snowy terrain choose something with greater grip and on the running terrain, choose something that gives you more protection (soft sole).

All pairs. Yes all. Choose them with a larger number. That way you will avoid blackening your nails.

PUMA IGNITE Speed 300 Review

We are back! The Bearded Brothers have been working long and hard testing some great gear and even greater shoes whilst we were away. We have even expanded and are super excited to have taken on a new, fairly hairless brother, Rory Scheffer.

Rory is an up and coming trail nutter that is mad about the mountains. You may have seen some of his previous posts on our blog. He will now be a more frequent writer and you can expect to see more reviews from him, so keep an eye out for some exciting posts!

He also placed 4th at this year’s legendary Otter trail run…. Machine!!

Last year Puma introduced the IGNITE foam to the world, the cushioning and propulsion of the IGNITE left us in a state of awe and left everyone else eating our dust. If you take a look at last years post on one the first ever Puma IGNITE shoe it is clear to see why the shoe has become so incredibly popular across the market. Since the release of the version 1 IGNITE the technology has slowly filtered down into the many other models.

The PUMA Speed 300 in it’s original colour way

Which bring us to the PUMA IGNITE Speed 300.

Outsole

The Outsole is made of EverTrack+ injection-blown rubber in the high wear areas for more durability and grip, resulting in a longer lifespan which gives you more mileage if using the shoe as an everyday trainer. PUMA have also included an engineered propulsion zone in the toe box for increased speed on the toe off.

This is basically a raised area that sits about 1mm off the rest of the sole at the centre of the forefoot, acting as a springboard to give you a little more energy return.

Interval training in the PUMA IGNITE Speed 300 is a dream as the added grip and propulsion zone give you a nice kick through the running gait.

Midsole

The midsole is made up of a dual layer foam infused with PUMA’s signature Ignite foam, which is great for energy return and is super responsive. The heel to toe drop is 8mm, not quite a racing flat, but the IGNITE foam in the heel portion of the shoe more than makes up for the fairly high drop.

The shoe, weighing in at 233g, gives any racing flat a good run for their money, pun intended. Unlike the pure IGNITE version 1, the IGNITE foam doesn’t run through the entire midsole. Instead, the IGNITE foam sits where it is needed most, in the heel.

Upper

The upper of the IGNITE Speed 300 is seamless yet very breathable, allowing your feet to stay cool during your run. With its snug fit, it hugs your foot comfortably without letting your foot slide around inside the shoe, especially when you need to change direction.

Its striking design is also a noteworthy feature and the white and red colour scheme will surely turn heads as you fly past.

😉

The Speed 300 is also the basis for PUMA’s Limited Edition IYC colour way which is not available for sale. To get a pair you need to know a guy who knows a guy

Limited Editon IGNITE Your City Speed 300 colour way

Conclusion

If it’s speed you’re after, you won’t be disappointed with these shoes. The Puma IGNITE Speed 300 are a great all-round shoe for both racing and long mileage training.

Coming in at around R1700 makes it an affordable shoe that will have you bolting around like the fastest man on earth, another pun intended. Our overall impression of the shoe is great and you definitely get your monies worth.

Available at Total Sports and Puma concept stores.

Adidas Response Trail Boost

“Nothing is impossible” – Muhammad Ali

It is this mindset that separates the hall of famers to everyone else. When Adolf “Adi” Dassler cooked up the idea of the brand with the three stripes, he literally cooked up the idea in his mother’s kitchen. He definitely had the idea to achieve greatness, and as a result Adidas was born and is now one of the leading brands in sports, making waves in the trail scene with the Response Trail Boost trail running shoe.

It is evident in the Response Trail Boost that Adidas have a unique way of thinking when it comes to creating shoes and one can clearly see that the “nothing is impossible” mindset has been applied in the creation of this shoe. At first glance we thought the shoe to be quite chunky looking and would probably be found in the ring up against other “Heavy-Weight” fighters. Don’t be fooled by this new kid on the block though, they may look a little heavy and awkward but we were pleasantly surprised once we put them to the test.

At any trail race, look around and you will see that not too many feet are inside a pair of Adidas trail shoes. We feel this won’t be the case for long as it is evident that Adidas are coming in hot with a a great range of trail shoes that will rival the greats of the trail running scene. The Adidas Response Trail Boost being one of them! Weighing in at around 326 grams, maybe these shoes will be classified in the heavy weight division. However with the unique and responsive Boost technology from Adidas, the energy return on the Response Boost Trail more than makes up for the extra bit of weight. At no point did we ever have the impression that we were running in a heavy shoe, as the boost foam technology makes these shoes feel super light.

Adidas Response Trail Boost Review

Outsole

With it’s mountain bike tyre like grip, the outsole of the Response Trail Boost is a rugged looking, rock gripping machine. Adidas have identified that multidirectional lugs are the way forward in terms of grip. Yes, the outsole looks gnarly, with the big lugs on the single compound rubber. The soft compound means the grip on the Response Boost Trail is sensational. The soft compound gives the runner a great ground feel and allows you to traverse over rocks like the mountain goat most trail runner’s aspire to be. At first we thought that the larger lugs would mean the shoe would only be suited to loose, rocky terrain, but not only do the Response Trail Boost transition from rocky terrain to smooth dry terrain effortlessly, the grip also gives you the confidence to bomb hills like its child’s play. The secret behind this success, from what we can gather, is that the lugs on the perimeter of the shoe are rotated sideways to give the shoe better traction on all surfaces.

The rubber on the outsole is made by Continental, which is no wonder why the grip is so durable. There is a reason continental are one of the leading tyre manufactures, GRIP! So it was clear why adidas joined forces with Continental to create the rubber for their soles, purely to provide the best grip as possible, a successful relationship in our eyes. With the company spending millions on R&D to help some of the fastest cars on the planet perform at their best  you can be sure some of that technology will filter down to the outsoles they manufacture for adidas.

Midsole

Unlike most road models by Adidas the Boost Foam technology doesn’t run across the whole length of the shoe, it is only added to the heel portion and a small section of the forefoot on the Response Trail Boost. This is done to provide stability over rocky, loose terrain while still providing the shoe with sufficient responsiveness. The Response Trail Boost has a broad toe-box and allows your toes to splay, giving you added stability. The Boost technology is a technology unique to Adidas and is a cushioning that is designed not to lose any of it’s density over time. It is a technology that has a higher energy return than any other type of EVA cushioning, according to Adidas.

We definitely found that the Boost technology was noticeably soft and allowed the sole to mould around rocks, in combination with the Continental outsole, this gave the shoe plenty of traction. The stack height of the Response Trail Boost is at 31.6mm at the heel and has a 10mm heel to toe drop. The shoe provides great cushioning for longer training and racing mileage.

Upper

This is where the shoe gets interesting, with its ‘bootie’ like exterior and high tongue, the Response Trail Boost will definitely be a conversation starter. To secure the shoe to your foot, Adidas have added a seatbelt-like webbing to the shoe, yet another unique characteristic. An issue we found with this unique upper is the overlapping panels on the inside of the shoe, while really comfortable, if dirt gets in there while you’re running in sandy or muddy conditions it can become a nuisance. The laces on the upper are textured to prevent them from coming undone easily, a great feature. The top part of the upper is made of neoprene, which is really comfortable and means one can run barefoot in them without the risk of blisters, if you’re into running without socks, that is. The mesh on the toe-box is very breathable and keeps your feet cool, both in looks and temperature. The design of the Upper does really well to give you a snug complete fit around the foot. There is very little slippage inside the shoe as the heel cup and front section work very well together.

Overall, the Response Boost Trail are great shoes for big mileage and gnarly conditions. This is just the beginning of what Adidas has to offer and we foresee some great things from them. Coming in at around R1600 you get way more than you pay for with these shoes. If you’re looking for a stable shoe that looks great, performs well and will be a huge talking point at any run with friends, then this is the shoe for you. Your wallet will thank you too. It’s safe to say that Adidas are going to be huge contenders in the trail scene internationally in the near future, it is evident that Adidas live by what they say,

“Nothing is impossible.”

Salomon S-Lab Sonic Review

What comes to mind when you think of Salomon? Is it the enormous mountains that tower over you as you traverse along the winding trails that take you to the summit, where only the brave dare to wander? Is it the numerous records broken by one Kilian Jornet as he summits yet another mountain, in speeds that leave you to believe that anything is possible? Whatever it may be, there is a reason as to why they are seen as the most iconic mountain running brand in the world. When we heard that Salomon, a brand that has dedicated itself to being the best in the business when it comes to mountain wear, was developing a road shoe we couldn’t wait to get our feet into them. Many were asking could the shoe perform well enough against Salomon’s seasoned competitors?

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Those questions the industry was asking were answered when Max King easily qualified for the US Olympic Trials in the shoe. Last year we saw the creation of the S-Lab X series which revolutionised the running game for die hard Salomon fans. The X series however was a hybrid shoe that was designed to handle road and light trails as Salomon launched their City Trail series of products. This year, a new racing stallion was born, the S-Lab sonic. Weighing in at 220grams, the Sonic are a bit heavier than most flat racers from other brands, but don’t be fooled, the comfort and glide of this shoe pack a punch that will leave your opponents in the dust.

This pure road racer is designed for speed. With technology taken from the soles of the X-series and a few improvements in the upper mean that this shoe is a strong contender on the battle field. They even have the laces to prove it. On any other Salomon shoe you will find the signature Quicklace system that a lot of us have grown accustomed to, however, these bad boys are sporting retro, traditional laces for those hardcore road racers. Salomon went with laces on these shoes to give runners more options when it comes to the fit and performance of the shoe.

Aesthetically the S-Lab sonic is definitely a head turner, to say the least. With it’s striking red all round, you won’t be missed as you fly past like “RoadRunner” being chased by the ever hungry coyote. With its 24mm stack height and 8mm heel to toe drop its far from minimalistic but ever closer to animalistic in terms of pure speed!

Salomon S-Lab Sonic

Outsole

The outsole on the Sonic Features Salomon’s highly robust CONTAGRIP rubber and their 3D Profeel Film. A technology that provides solid traction on any surface, wet or dry, while maintaining proper support leaving you with the energy needed to finish strong and fast. The 3D Profile Film is an X-shaped layer in the shoe that gives the shoe its smooth ride. Salomon don’t give much detail on the technology behind the 3D Film, but it is apparent that it is there to provide extra protection to the foot without compromising ground feel and flexibility.

The CONTAGRIP sole is made up of a dual density compound rubber to give you grip throughout the whole sole, wet or dry, smooth or rough. Trust me, you’ll feel like you could walk up the side of a building with the grip on these racing machines. In terms of durability, the grip is phenomenal, without compromising weight or flexibility.

Midsole

I have no doubt that the S-Lab Sonic is made for speed. The midsole is made up of Salomon’s unique EnergyCell+ foam with a layer of a denser EVA foam. A technology that gives the shoe superior absorption on impact without making it feel like you’re running on a goose down pillow. As we mentioned earlier, the stack height of the heel is at 24mm and 16mm at the forefoot (8mm drop), it does make one wonder if it really is a true racer. When one thinks of a traditional flat racer, one thinks of a flat minimal drop shoe. However, don’t be fooled by the 8mm offset, the midsole is designed in such a way that it makes the foot roll forward, giving you the propulsion of an F-16 fighter jet that would rival any other “traditional” flat racer. So hold on tight, and enjoy the ride!

Upper

It is evident in the S-Lab sonic that it is full of technology unique to Salomon. In the upper this is again the case. Inside the upper you will find the ENDOFIT technology. ENDOFIT is a neoprene layer inside the shoe to give your foot a snug feeling, as the shoe fits firmly around your foot. The upper of the S-Lab sonic has been completely upgraded since the birth of the X-series, as Salomon have introduced a single layer mesh to create the shoe. This saves precious weight and makes the shoe incredibly breathable, keeping moisture inside the shoe to an absolute minimum. All this, together with the seamless stitching in the Upper creates a super light-weight racing stallion of a shoe. If you have quite a wide forefoot, the fit may be a bit tight as the toe box and slim design of the shoe is geared more towards a slimmer foot. If you plan on purchasing online we would recommend fitting the shoe in a store first, just to be sure.

It is fair to say that this shoe will be rattling some cages in the road running industry. Not only is it a great racing shoe but with its great durability you can do some pretty heavy mileage in them. Cost wise, they are pricey (Approximately R2699) compared to other shoes in this range. Although you do get your money’s worth if you are looking for one of the best shoes in the business! If it’s colour you’re looking for, Salomon also have a variety of colours to choose from in the Sonic Pro, the ‘road trainer’ version of the Salomon S-lab Sonic. The Sonic Pro have a few differences in their make up, other than colour and are slightly heavier, but stay tuned for a review on them in the near future. For now the S-lab Sonic are only available in Salomon’s iconic racing red and are a unisex shoe. All in all, the Salomon S-Lab Sonic is a sensational shoe, with its fast and comfortable ride. It is clear as day that the once solely Mountain focused brand is making some serious waves in the road running department.

Saucony Kinvara 7 Review

Shortly after May 5, 2009 the whole running industry went completely berzerk! All of a sudden cushioned shoes with a large heel-to-toe offset were blamed for millions of runners injuries. The ‘normal’ running shoe was completely shunned and minimalist shoes were set up as the saviours of the sport of running. Minimalist and Barefoot shoes inspired a more natural form of running which many claimed would end all running injuries forever. Barefoot shoes hit the scene in a big way as runners scrambled to run like the Tarahumara Indians, who ran for days on nothing but tyre treads wrapped around their feet and a mix of Pinole and Chia in a brown bag. Why did the industry go completely berzerk you ask? All because of a book called “Born to Run“.*

Fast forward 4 years and suddenly barefoot shoes were the enemy and ‘maximal’ shoes were now being hailed as the answer. Shoes with insane amounts of cushioning hit the market as the pendulum swung through the masses of injured runners to the other end of the spectrum. The very shoes that were supposed to fix all running injuries were now causing new ones. In defense of the minimalist shoe it was mostly down to runners not transitioning correctly. Running 100km weeks in cushioned shoes does not mean you can go straight into 100km weeks in minimalist shoes. Nevertheless this outbreak of injuries was the catalyst for the ‘maximal’ movement and once again the industry went through a complete revamp.

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Before the industry was swinging from one extreme to the other, in late 2009 Saucony released a shoe that would effectively influence their entire future production catalogue and eventually the whole running shoe industry. The designers at Saucony had the foresight to find the middle ground before anyone else did. A product that could sustain runners over high mileage training weeks yet still encourage a more natural form of running. The legendary Saucony Kinvara.

The name of the shoe was inspired by Boston’s rich Irish heritage. Kinvara is a little town in the Irish country side surrounded by giant castles, steep cliffs and lush green fields. Saucony liked the town so much they even gave the mayor of Kinvara a replica of the shoe which was made of bronze.

Now in its 7th version the Saucony Kinvara has to have one the biggest cult followings of any shoe we know. We know of people who have at least 4 of the 7 versions, some even all 7. This intrigued us greatly – why were a whole bunch of people so besotted over a single shoe? No one knew just how popular the shoe would become when they launched it, even after it won numerous industry awards like the Runner’s World Best Debut award in 2010. Needless to say we were tremendously excited to see what all the fuss was about when we got a pair of the new Kinvara 7.

Saucony Kinvara 7 Review

Outsole

The Saucony Kinvara 7 features Saucony’s TRIFLEX outsole technology. Paired with the new EVERUN technology in specific parts of the midsole, the shoe is incredibly stable for a lightweight neutral trainer. With the lateral flex grooves along the base of the shoe the outsole design disperses pressure well throughout the whole shoe. Every runner who is training for a marathon has experienced that ‘hot foot’ feeling under their forefoot during long training runs. The TRIFLEX design does it’s best to disperse that friction throughout the midsole preventing that ‘hot’ feeling over certain parts of the foot. As far as we can tell in training, Saucony have nailed it. The base of the shoe is also incredibly wide as the midsole and outsole flair out from the upper to give maximum ground contact. Admittedly this has been quite distracting for us. The Kinvara 7 does lack that sleek racing shoe feel but then again this shoe is meant for logging high mileage in training and not necessarily for out and out racing.

That’s what the Saucony TYPE A6 is for.

The Kinvara is no slouch though, weighing in at 218g it will rival most racing flats in the weight department. The one advantage of the wide toe box is it allows your toes to open up inside the shoe, another great hand-off from the minimalist movement.

TRIFLEX outsole of the Ladies and Men’s Kinvara 7

Midsole

Probably the most exciting upgrade of the Saucony Kinvara 7 from the other derivatives is the use of Saucony’s new Midsole Technology, EVERUN. The previous models featured Saucony’s legendary POWERGRID which was excellent at dispersing the force generated while running throughout the whole midsole. This lessened the impact on the body greatly. So how is EVERUN different?

Saucony EVERUN

EVERUN is basically “continuous cushioning”, never failing, and always returning to its original shape. 83% Energy return. 3 x more durable than standard EVA. Bold claims but they seem to have the science to back it up (See video below for more info). We have only had the shoe for a couple of weeks so we can’t comment on the ‘never failing’ part but we can definitely comment positively on the comfort, energy return and response of the cushioning. We are noticing a significant difference between the feedback of POWERGRID based models compared to the EVERUN in the Kinvara 7. EVERUN, for us, feels to be by far the more comfortable material. Plush but not spongey. Just enough ‘bounce’ in your step to feed energy back into your stride. Rigid enough so it doesn’t give the feeling that you are running on marshmallows. We won’t be surprised to see EVERUN starting to feature in plenty more of Saucony’s models as it filters through the ranges. The new Peregrine 6 trail shoe has EVERUN in the heel which is probably the best news we have heard all year. We found the Saucony Peregrine 5 to have a distance limit of about 30km’s. With EVERUN the Peregrine 6 will comfortably get up to Ultra Trail distances like 100km and 100 miler events.

One of the reasons the Kinvara models have been so popular in the ‘natural’ running community is Saucony’s commitment to keeping the shoe at a 4mm heel-to-toe offset. The Kinvara was one of the very first ‘natural’ running shoes ever made and it remains at the pinnacle of the category. The best thing the minimalist movement did to the running shoe industry was to bring down those monster heel-to-toe offsets. Gone are the days of 17 and 14mm offsets with most brands settling on around 8-10mm. It is the offset and not the amount of cushioning that inspire a more natural form. The Heel Stack Height sits at 22mm and the Toe Stack Height 18mm giving an offset of 4mm, as we mentioned earlier. This keeps the minimalist feeling by ensuring the bodies centre of gravity remains closer to the ground, while providing enough comfort to sustain high mileage in training.

Upper

Saucony have a very exciting Racing department which focuses on producing shoes that perform in the most competitive of situations. Thankfully for us ‘slower’ runners some of the technology filters down through the rest of the ranges. One of those is Saucony’s FlexFilm Upper. Most running shoes have to have support built into the inside of the shoe to increase durability, this can be a problem as the seams where each layer is joined together can cause friction and friction causes blisters. Saucony developed the FlexFilm as an external exoskeletal support allowing for less support needed inside the shoe. FlexFilm is hot melded to the shoe instead of being stitched giving the runner a nearly seamless interior. Think of the suit that Human Torch wears in the Fantastic Four. Made to withstand his “Flame On” fun while protecting and supporting him from the elements. FlexFilm does exactly that, plenty support and less friction. Plus it is oh so pretty to look at.

Another great feature of the Kinvara 7 Upper is a support band that is built into the lace system. It is basically a panel that is stitched into the base of the midsole, is attached to the tongue of the shoe and the laces are fed through the top. We found this made the shoe incredibly stable and the support it gives over the arch of the foot is fantastic.

Support to the max!

In 2010 the original Kinvara effectively revolutionised the running shoe industry. After testing the new Kinvara 7 we are very confident that the Kinvara 7 is poised to do the same in 2016. With the new EVERUN technology the Kinvara 7 is set to take Energy Return and Durability to a whole new level. Watch out world, this shoe is coming out of the gates like a Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion with all of the luck of the Irish.

Something things are best enjoyed when shared #BeASeeker

*slight disclaimer: We are not for or against any specific type of running or running shoe, in fact Born to Run is one of our favourite books. We are more fans of moderation and what works for each individual runner, than the extremes. Minimalist running might work for Runner A but not necessarily Runner B. Find what works for you. As Kinetic Revolution says, “Form before Footwear.”

Puma FAAS 300 v2 TR Review

Let me ask you a question? Why is it that you think we as runners read these types of reviews? Is it for insight, or is maybe that we don’t always trust the marketing “schpeals” that come with the shoe? It could even just be for pure entertainment, for example I thoroughly enjoy watching the Ginger Runner reviews for a good laugh. Mostly though I think it is because we would like to know how the product handles in the real world on real trails etc. It’s easy to read a bunch of complicated high tech and fancy sounding words but until you actually run in the shoe one has no idea how it is going to play out.

It is because of this fact that I believe Trail and Mountain Running as a sport is really starting to hit a sweet spot at the moment. 5 years ago we were very limited in terms of shoe options, as well as kit and accessories options but as the sport has grown and as more and more events are filling up the calender companies are really putting their R&D budgets to work to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. (Sometimes they go a little too far ahead like these particular what-ya-ma-call-its??? but hey let’s not blame them for wanting to push the envelope). This also means that existing models are being revamped often, as technology improves and companies receive constructive feedback from their pro athletes and customers. What this means for us as trail runners is that we are no longer scraping the bottom of the barrel to find good quality products to feed our hunger for the dirt. Companies like Puma that were solely a lifestyle, road, track and field brand have started developing competitive ‘trail-specific’ shoes that are really going to shake a few tree’s once word gets out how good they actually are.

:)

Which brings me back to this review, the cool cats at Puma South Africa very generously sent me a pair of the FAAS 300 v2 TR in the recently launched ‘NightCat Camo’ edition and straight out the box these shoes were made to impress. (For our review on the ladies FAAS 300 TR version 1 click here.) Looks wise they are stunning, as you can see from the images they really are a very photogenic shoe with the “360 degrees of camo-inspired reflectivity which makes you visible in the dark” (hence the name ‘NightCat’). Let’s face it, running is way better when your kit looks cool whether it’s in the day time or at night

The outsole features a high abrasion resistant rubber in high wear areas which gives the outsole added durability, all that means is that they have put a material that lasts longer on the parts of the shoe that usually wears down first. Trail shoes take a pounding on sharp rocks, loose gravel, running through mud so added durability is always a plus in my book. This is also one of the key features that makes this shoe a great trail to tar shoe, not all of us live in the Alps or at the Western States trail head so some tar running is usually needed to get to the trail. These shoes are great for that, one of my favourite features of this shoe is that they are just as comfortable on the road as they are on the trail.

The multi-directional lugs, which are found in most trail shoes worth looking at, provide that added stability and grip on the steeper descents that we trail runners appreciate when things get a little hairy. I will be honest, when I saw the outsole I thought to myself that Puma might have made a decent road shoe with some off road capabilities but looks can be deceiving and I was sheepishly surprised after taking the shoe onto the trail and finding out that the grip was magic. The shoe holds it’s own out on trail and they did not shy away from the technical rocky sections. The rock grip of the shoe is decent, I experienced very little slippage jumping between the larger rocks. It usually takes me a few runs before I can ‘trust’ the capabilities of a shoe to really open up the taps but after only a few km’s into the first run I felt like I had been running in the shoe for months. For me that is one of the best thing’s Puma has going for this shoe. Have you ever met someone for the first time and after a coffee and a good chat you feel like you have been friends for years, that’s what it was like for me and the FAAS 300 v2 TR.

The midsole, as with all the other FAAS models, Puma has gone with their FAAS Foam which is a lightweight one-piece blend of foam and rubber and it really is light and it really is comfortable, oh and it really is fast! This shoe is light, in fact they are just over 230g for a pair of size 8’s which by our standards is very pleasantly light. Again the comfort of the midsole and the lighter weight make it a great tar to trail shoe. Not everyone has the finances to buy a pair of shoes for every kind of terrain so if you are looking for a shoe that isn’t a “jack of all trade’s and master of non” but actually performs when you need it to this is definitely one of the best shoes out there. The FAAS Foam takes the impact of the tar as well as protecting the foot from sharp rocks on the trail. There is no rock plate but I found that it really isn’t necessary as the midsole provides adequate protection, this also keeps the shoe very flexible and allows for a fast roll off on the toe, as you can see from the image below.

The Upper of the shoe has been designed really well, it features minimal ‘no-sew’ overlays which provide great support to the foot. On the trail the more support you get the better. The ‘no-sew’ overlays also mean less abrasion on the foot inside the shoe, this helps to prevent blisters very well. The shoe breathes and displaces water incredibly well, having water sloshing around in the shoe after running through a river or a stream is not fun at all, thanks to what Puma calls it’s “Air Mesh Upper” water is able to escape fairly quickly and your foot can breathe better on those hot summer days. One of the fun features that I have begun to appreciate is a small ‘pocket’ at the top of the tongue that you can fold the laces into, I hate having laces flapping around while I run so this was a great feature, plus it keeps the shoe looking super fast and sleek which my OCD enjoys thoroughly.

The only issue I have with the shoe is the narrow toe box, although in the shoe’s defense I do have freakishly wide feet so for a normal size foot they would more than likely be fine but I personally did find the toe box quite narrow. As you can see from the image below it could actually be the sole itself which is a bit too narrow for my feet (see how my foot stretches out over the sole in the load phase). Next time I will go for 1 size up (like I had to do with the New Balance Fresh Foam) and see if that makes a difference. If you, like me, have a more wider foot try fitting a half size or full size bigger than you would normally go for.

I do believe Puma has made a massive effort to improve a number of key areas of the shoe, some areas I would have liked to see an improvement were left out (specifically wider toe box) but the version 2.0 is monumentally better than the version 1.0 – in fact it is probably the best improvement I have ever experienced between different models of a shoe on all the brands of shoes I have run in. The key is that they made lots of small adjustments that most people might miss and say ah it looks just like version 1. Trust me, it is not! Those little adjustments and improvements add up to one great shoe. When those pesky software updates come out for my iPhone I don’t always install them, some of them are lame and change my phone so much I don’t even recognise it. This, though, is definitely one of those “software updates” you want to do. #ForeverFaster

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 Review

“A lone peak of high point is a natural focal point in the landscape, something by which both travelers and local orient themselves. In the continuum of landscape, mountains are discontinuity — culminating in high points, natural barriers, unearthly earth.”

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

Scan the horizon, any horizon, and the silhouettes of distant peaks against the backdrop of a clear blue sky will almost always churn up feelings of curiosity, adventure and freedom. Well, that is at least the case with us. A lone peak stands out above an otherwise monotonous horizon. It is separated from the rest of the earth, “unearthly earth” as Rebecca Solnit put it. It demands respect. It demands to be feared. It challenges the most hardened of adventurers to come conquer it. Characteristics we have found the new Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 to embody in every way over the last 2 months of rigorous testing.

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

We reviewed the previous version Altra Running Superior 2 a while back and found the shoe to be fantastic, there were some issues though that we had with the shoe and we are happy to say that Altra Running have addressed these issues very well. The shoe feels a lot more solid and stable under foot. It is no wonder the Lone Peak 2.5 is the choice of leading Ultra Marathon Runners, some of those runners include Ian Sharman (Leadville 100, 2015 winner), Josh Arthur (US SkyRunning series, 2015 winner) and Jeff Browning (Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, 2015 third place).

Before we get into the review let’s look at what is new compared to the Lone Peak 2.0

  • Redesigned Upper
  • Improved Lacing System
  • Improved Upper Durability
  • Slightly Firmer Midsole

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

Outsole

This shoe really stands out from others in the design of the outsole. The centre lugs are in the shape of a foot and look more like Bear Claws to us than feet. This makes the shoe feel incredibly stable as the points of the outsole that make contact with the trail underneath your feet are digging into the dirt like claws. The multi-directional lugs ensure you have grip whatever the gradient, whether you are going up or down the Outsole gives you a lot of confidence.  The Outsole is made up of what Altra call their “Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw”, aptly named as the shoe sticks in dry or wet conditions. One of the issues we found with the Superior 2 was that the grip in wet rocky conditions was almost non-existent. Altra has definitely sorted that out in the Lone Peak 2.5. The other aspect of the lugs that we enjoyed is that they aren’t too deep, so running on hard pack gives you a smooth feedback. Some trail shoes with very deep lugs can get uncomfortable on the hard stuff as you feel the individual lugs under your feet as you run.

In terms of durability we found the Outsole rubber to hold out well on jagged rocky terrain, we didn’t experience any of the lugs being cut off by sharper rocks. All in all we could not fault the Outsole, a seamless design makes it so much a part of the midsole that it is difficult to separate the two while running.

Midsole

The Midsole of the Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 is where things get exciting for us. A 25mm stack height with Altra’s signature Zero Drop (0mm) heel-to-toe offset is low enough to provide feedback on the technical terrain, yet plush enough to offer some added comfort on the longer runs. One characteristic that puts people off zero drop shoes is the transition from heel to toe while running can feel ‘sluggish’. As your stride adapts to landing on the forefoot your legs work more to continue the momentum through each stride. Picture cutting a pizza with a round pizza cutter and a knife, the knife takes more effort to lift and cut down while the pizza cutter rolls through with ease. Having a larger offset works like the round pizza cutter. A smoother transition from heel to toe. The guys at Altra know this and very cleverly developed what they call ‘A-Bound Technology’ which is built into the top layer of the Midsole. It is merely a built up piece placed under the foot to stimulate that transition while still giving you a zero drop shoe. If you take the insole out and wear the shoe without socks you can clearly feel it under the middle of your foot. The Lone Peak performs and feels like a standard running shoe with an offset but still gives you all the benefits of a shoe that encourages a more natural stride.

One of the great advantages of a more minimal zero drop shoe is that you feel the trail beneath you, it is also one of the big disadvantages as a sharp rock in the arch of your foot is not fun. The Lone Peak 2.5 are somewhere in the middle for us, enough protection through the Rock Gaurd protection plate and the dual layer EVA but still responsive enough to give you feedback as you skip along the trail. Altra Running have stiffened up the midsole of the Lone Peak 2.5 slightly which many runners were requesting, we thought the previous version was perfect in terms of flexibility. We found it now to be a little too stiff but that comes down to personal preference, South Africa trails are far more technical than ones in the States. Having a more flexible sole on the technical terrain can increase stability.

A-Bound Technology built into the Midsole

Upper

The body of the Upper is made up of Altra’s Quick-Dry Trail Mesh. A fantastically breathable material that allows water to easily drain out of the shoe when running on a very wet route, one thing we found though is beach running can result in some sand finding its way through the mesh into the shoe. To be fair it was very minimal, it is a fine line to have an Upper that breathes well and still keeps out the debris that the trail throws at the shoe. Durability on the Upper has been drastically improved which was a welcome improvement. The material feels far more robust than that of the Superior 2 Upper.

As with all Altra running shoes the Lone Peak 2.5 has ample room for your toes to open up inside the shoe. Used in conjunction with Injinji Performace Toe Socks  you will struggle to find a more stable set up for the trail. The seams inside the shoe have been covered which significantly decreases the amount of friction in the shoe. One really nifty feature of the shoe is the Gaiter Trap that comes standard on the shoe, it is a piece of velcro at the back of the shoe which secures your gaiter perfectly. Visually the Lone Peak 2.5 has also been improved in our books, the contrast of the grey and blue in the pair we tested is striking.

The Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 stands out in every way possible for us. Calling your shoe the ‘Lone Peak’ is risky as it can have two meanings. On the one hand it could mean separated, lonely, cast out but it could also mean set apart, unique or great. On the horizon of trail running shoes it really is a lone peak clearly visible from the rest. It clearly is unique, set apart and dare we say even great. They are “unearthly earth”, a discontinuity in the continuum of long distance trail running shoes. They demand respect. They demand to be feared and they challenge the most hardened of adventurers to come conquer with them.

AfricanX Suggested Kit List

2016 Cell C African X presented by ASICS

The 2016 Cell C AfricanX Trail Run presented by ASICS is less than 3 weeks away so we thought we would put together a ‘Suggested Kit List’ together for the event in conjunction with RUN Specialist Store on Bree Street, Cape Town. The race is run over 3 days with competitors running a total distance of around 90km’s over the 3 days. Although the routes are very runnable the cumulative effect of the distances run each day make this a very daunting event. Stillwater Sports puts on an incredibly well-organised event so thankfully there is little you have to worry about with plenty support and well-stocked refreshment stations along the route. Having the right kind of kit can make a massive difference on how much fun you will have on the day. After spending months in training, preparing for the event, the last thing you want is to come up short because of a kit issue.

We are very excited to be bringing you a fun competition with our suggested kit list. The guys at RUN Specialist Store have agreed to offer a 10% discount on the items on this list. Give them a call on (021) 4181051 to find out pricing etc. Not only are they offering a discount on the goods but we will be having a lucky draw prize on Monday 14 March. Everyone who purchases kit from our list at RUN Specialist Store will go into the draw to win 2 Gold Package Entries to the Cape Town 12 ONE RUN on 15th May 2016. Arguably one of Cape Town’s biggest road running events, the route is a flat and very entertaining 12k from Woodbridge Island to Bree Street. More info on the competition and the details of the prize can be found at the end of this post.

BBTR Suggested Kit List for Cell C African X

All of the Gear!

ASICS Mens fuzeX Heather Tee

Clothing is critical on a 3 day stage race, you want light and comfortable clothing that won’t chafe and hold moisture. It is sure to be very warm over the 3 days so a light breathable material that wicks sweat and keeps you dry will be best. ASICS fuzeX Tee is made of a soft lightweight yarn which is incredibly soft to the touch and comfortable, even while wearing a hydration pack. The top is seamless and features ASICS MOTIONDRY technology for superior moisture management. Keeping you dry and keeping friction to a minimum. Paired together with the ASICS 5inch Performance Black Running Shorts and you’ll be looking more superfly than Marty McFLy in the year 2030.

ASICS Fujitrail Ladies Graphic Tee

The Fujitrail Graphic Tee is dedicated to the trail. ASICS designed the top around the contours of the female figure so it fits like a glove, giving you confidence to attack the trail and not worry about your gear. The top also features ASICS MOTIONDRY technology keeping you dry and preventing chafing. Paired with the ladies fuseX Knee Tight and all you will need to worry about over 3 days is conserving your energy to get you to the finish line. An elastic waistband coupled with the same MOTIONDRY technology gives maximum comfort and active moisture-wicking capabilities without affecting range of motion.

ASICS Gel FujiAttack 5 Mens and Ladies

Mens ASCIS Gel FujiAttack 5

The FujiAttack is most people go to shoe when it comes to Neutral ASICS Trail Running shoes. They are lightweight and very comfortable. Durability is fantastic as the outsole is made of a slightly harder compound rubber than some competitors versions. This doesn’t sacrifice grip though as the aggressive lugs offer plenty of grip when the going gets rough. A 10mm heel-to-toe offset also make it a great shoe for longer runs. A built in Rock Plate offers extra protection on sharper rocky terrain. The midsole material is lighter than ASICS standard EVA and SpEVA + resulting in improved comfort and durability. Two things you need plenty of in a trail shoe.

Injinji Performance Toe Socks

These socks have been an industry revolution! You don’t need to be running in Vibram 5 Fingers to be able to wear these socks. We have been running in very little else over the last 2 years as these socks are incredibly comfortable and completely eradicate excessive blister-causing friction in the shoe.  The socks have a built-in arch support to keep the foot stable on the ever-changing terrain of the trail. A protective cushion and double cuff ensure maximum comfort and moisture management. These are an absolute must for for us when it comes to Multi-Day Stage Races.

Injinji Toe Socks

Compressport R2 Calf Sleeves

Compression gear has to be the most debated topic in Trail Running at the moment, one thing is for sure they do help. Whether it is placebo or actual performance benefits the fact is wearing compression gear, especially on longer efforts, aids in recovery. By supporting the muscle they help cause less fine microfibre tears in the muscles from the jolting and impact while running. According to Compressport the R2 Calf Sleeves “accelerate venous return preventing blood from stagnating in calves, ischia and quadriceps therefore making your legs feel ultra light.” We have found the best results in sleeping in compression gear but on a 3-day stage race, out on the trail any advantage is a welcome advantage. The R2 Calf Sleeves are very light-weight and feature Moisture Management technology.

Llama Bar 

Although the route has fantastic support with refreshment stations stocked to the nines with some amazing nutrition and hydration, having some backup in your pack in case the wheels fall off is never a bad idea.

Camelbak Marathoner Hydration Vest

We reviewed the Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest a few months back and since then have not been able to run with anything else. It is an incredibly comfortable lightweight vest. The Marathoner is the bigger cousin with a 2lt Reservoir Capacity and 2 Bottle Pouches up front for additional hydration. With multiple compartments to store gear and nutrition for longer runs the Marathoner is a very versatile hydration vest. Xavier Thévenard recently won the 2015 UTMB while wearing one of these vests. For more info click on the Heading.

For what to put inside the vest we love NUUN sugar free Energy tabs. Each tab contains plant based caffeine (green tea extract), Vitamin B, electrolytes and is gluten-free, dairy + soy free. This is by far one of our favourite ways to hydrate.

#nuunlove

So that wraps up our Suggested Kit List. If you are training for AfricanX we hope your training is going well and we will see you out there come 11 March.

Terms and Conditions of Competition and Prize Details:

  • Only stock on the suggested kit list is eligible for an entry.
  • For every different item purchased the customer will receive one entry i.e. purchasing a Llama Bar, Injinji toe socks and Camelbak Marathoner will result in 3 entries. Purchasing 3 Llama Bar’s will result in 1 entry.
  • All items must be bought at RUN Specialist Store. 7 – 11  Bree Street, Cape Town. Discount is available on items not already marked down or on special. Customer will be required to leave their name and contact details on the back of their till slip at the store.
  • Competition runs from 23 February 2016 – 11 March 2016.
  • The prize includes 2 x Gold Package Entries to the Cape Town 12 ONERUN taking place in Cape Town on 15 May 2016. Prize winner will need to ensure their own transport to the event.
  • Extra Social Media love and promotion of the competition will result in bonus entries added to your name.

The prize includes, for two people:

  • FNB Cape Town 12 Buff
  • Timing chip
  • Finisher medal
  • Route entertainment
  • Shuttle service to the start of the race
  • PUMA® Performance Tee
  • Exclusive access to the Gold entrants’ area pre-race (refreshments and tog bag drop included)
  • Exclusive access to the Gold entrants’ area post-race (massages, refreshments, ablution facilities and tog bag collection included)

Saucony Peregrine 5 Review

Saucony Peregrine 5 Trail Running shoe

Normally I like to start these reviews with a nice little build up, a story of sorts to whet the appetite for what’s to come. Today though I am going to hit out of the gates with some good old fashioned honesty. It might come as a surprise but before receiving these particular Peregrine 5’s I had never run in a pair of Saucony’s. Not in the last 5 years I have been trail running, or the 7 years of triathlon and road running before that, or even all the years of running cross country in school and for the life of me after testing these shoe’s the past month, I cannot figure out why. The main reason I guess has always been that I couldn’t quite get past the fact that a pair of shoe’s can sell for the same amount of money as the shoe’s that the greatest trail, ultra and sky runner that ever lived in the history of anything and everything running uses. A shoe that is arguably the most tested and developed shoe in the history of shoe manufacturing.

The Salomon Sense Ultra 5.

Having your shoes retail at the same price as what many consider to be the best trail running shoe in the world (simply because the best trail runner in the world, Kilian Jornet, runs in them) is like training in the same gym as Manny Pacquiao and occasionally slapping him when he isn’t looking. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, you just need to be able to back it up if he wants to go toe-to-toe with you! I am not sure whether or not Saucony meant to slap the “big boys” on purpose but let’s see how the Peregrine 5 would stack up in a Title fight.

Let’s get ready to rumble!

The thing that separates boxers like Pacquiao from the rest can be attributed to a number of things but for me it is, without a doubt, attention to detail. Some people call it Marginal Gains. Sky Pro Cycling have proven how successful it can be to focus on improving just 1% over a number of areas instead of trying to get 20% improvements over a few areas, especially with Chris Froome’s absolutely dominating performances. From the moment that I took the Peregrine 5 out the box that is what struck me most, attention to detail. Not just in the functional aspects of the shoe but also in the aesthetic aspects, Saucony have realised that even placebos are marginal gains if they have the desired effect of improving performance.

Pacquiao has spent hours in the gym and in the ring perfecting his boxing skills and fitness, this is Saucony’s Fifth version of the Peregrine. Have they perfected their skills enough to challenge for the title or do they still need more bag work? Let’s see what’s cooking…

Outsole

Grip much?

A trail running shoes grip could be linked to a boxer’s power. Without power you aren’t going to do much damage to your opponent. It is the same in running, without grip in your shoes you aren’t going to do much damage, to the competition or the Strava segments you’re chasing. When it comes to grip the Peregrine 5 are punching way above their weight. For such a light-weight shoe the amount of grip you will have at your disposal is phenomenal, regardless of the terrain. Rocky outcrops, technical single tracks and dusty roads will not be an issue for this shoe. We found the Peregrine 5 to be an out and out racer, if you are looking to log 1000km’s in training for a goal race don’t be surprised if the shoes don’t make it to the start line.

These are built fast and light, perfect for Sky Running. The lugs are flexible, so flexible we thought they would be torn off in the first run. I was happy to finish my first run in the shoes, the Matroosberg Sky Marathon Challenge, on some insanely rugged and technical terrain with all the lugs intact. The multi-directional 5mm deep lugs make for very good grip. Saucony went with their XT-900 rubber for the OutSole in the Peregrine 5 which makes for a very durable and flexible lower layer of the shoe. Having logged around 200km’s in just under 3 weeks across varied terrain I have been very satisfied with how the shoe is lasting. At the current rate of wear we estimate this particular shoe should be good for 650-700km’s which if compared to other shoes we have tested is a lot for a lightweight racing trail shoe.

#FindYourStrong

Midsole

The Midsole is made up completely of Saucony’s PowerGrid foam, I could go into the science of the PowerGrid technology but I am just going to mention my experience of it as I feel it will explain it better. There is only one other shoe that I have experienced the midsole distributing pressure throughout the whole sole so well that you can literally feel it as you run, and it was a road shoe. This is the first trail shoe I have come across where you can literally feel the midsole distributing the force coming from the ground as you run. The Grid technology really does absorb the impact and evenly distributes it throughout the midsole. This also means there is very little ‘foot slippage’ inside the shoe as your feet are centered well by the foam and upper.

The stack height is spot on for a lightweight racer. A height of 21.5mm at the heel and 17.5mm at the forefoot. Giving you a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm. Although the shoe might not feel like it rolls out of transition as nicely as a 8mm drop would, it does encourage fore-foot running which will keep you well balanced, especially on the technical stuff.

A Nylon Mesh rockplate has replaced the more rigid hard plates from previous Peregrines, this has been a brilliant improvement to Peregrine 5 for us. The midsole is still incredibly flexible even with the plate, yet it still offers the under-foot protection that most runners don’t want to go without.

All in all we found the midsole to be very responsive, as firm as you would like without sacrificing the much-needed flexibility.

PowerGrid MidSole at it’s best!

Upper

I have a problem, you see I have very flat and wide feet. So finding shoes that fit and give me enough space in the toe box is always a struggle. Thankfully that has not been my struggle with the Peregrine 5. The seamless FlexFilm Upper really fits like a glove, without cramping up my toes. The Tongue is attached to the sides of the Upper which effectively keeps trail debris out of the shoe and the shoe is fully compatible with Trail Gaiters if you really need to keep stuff out. The design and colour schemes of the Upper has also been a great aspect of the shoe for me. I read online that a few people had issues with the heel counter causing blisters but I didn’t experience that. My very first run in the shoe was a 3hour plus Sky Run with no blisters and I haven’t had one yet. Although having said that, this could be because I only run in Injinji

Run Anywhere!

Earlier on I spoke about attention to detail and the Upper is where we see the most attention to detail, even if it is just aesthetic. The top of the tongue features a rad Mountain graphic with the words “Run Anywhere” and the Heel Counter features a reflective Falcon graphic that is lit up at night by car lights etc. Saucony have realised runners enjoy the little things, even if it just looks cool and doesn’t necessarily make you run faster.

Flying High

The Upper breathes incredibly well, almost too well actually. If you plan on running in winter in this shoe you might need some warm socks. This also means though that the shoe drains very quickly if you need to run through water, and helps keep you cool on the hot days.  A solidly rubberised toe cap effectively protects all the little piggy’s as they enjoy the trails and not the market.

Conclusion:

For us Saucony have a legitimate title fight on their hands. If the Peregrine 5 was a young gun picking a fight with Pacquiao, Pac Man would seriously need to pull up his socks and get to work. The Peregrine 5 means business on every single front, there is no messing around with this shoe. I fear this review could come across too “glowing” but it is not our ethos to say lots of nice things about shoes to keep the brands happy so they can send us more stuff to review. If there is something wrong with the shoe we will say it, but honestly we have struggled to find anything wrong with this shoe. They are the real deal, across any terrain. The Peregrine 5 is like a punch-drunk pugilist who eats, sleeps, drinks, and breathes to break records and crush the opposition. I might not have convinced you but they sure have convinced me, these shoes are worth every cent and the big boys better pull up their socks if they want to keep their Titles. There is a new challenger for the “Best Trail Shoe in the World” title.

Punchdrunk kid!

Altra Running Superior 2.0 review

The Times They Are a-Changin’ – a review of the new Altra Running Superior 2.0 Trail Shoe

In 1964 Bob Dylan released a song titled “The Times They Are a-Changing”. It is said that he was inspired by Irish and Scottish ballads and it was his intention to attempt to inspire a hunger for change through the song. In 2005 it was ranked #59 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time.” The song became heavily influential in causing society to seek change where change was necessary and has been covered by many artists after Dylan wrote it.

When I think about the running shoe industry the song that comes to mind is this one, and boy the times sure are a-changing! For the first time in a long time shoe manufacturers are actually listening to their customers requests and feedback. They are finding what works through extensive testing with their Pro athlete’s out in the field as well as through the consumers who actually buy and use their products. The days when the companies set the trends, in terms of shoe function, are gone. The new era of the informed consumer seeking specific specifications has dawned. We as runners, have essentially changed the running industry. I think Bob Dylan would be proud.

A few years ago a book called, “Born to Run”, came out and people went ballistic for minimalism and barefoot running. Although you still get the die-hard fans (myself being one of them) the demand dried up quite quickly as the masses went straight into running barefoot without the proper coaching and transitioning, resulting in injuries and ironically a backlash in the industry to the other side of the spectrum.. Maximalist shoes (Think Hoka One One). I am not for or against any size of cushioning but one thing I am a huge fan of is the low heel-to-toe drop. The best thing that the barefoot running craze did for the running industry was show people how important a minimal (0mm-4mm) heel-to-toe drop is.

Altra’s award winning Superior 2.0

I first came across Altra Running on the net when it was still only available in America, to me it seemed like the perfect balance. Some shoes with minimal cushioning, some with maximal but thankfully everyone one of them with 0mm heel-to-toe drop. How the company started making the shoes in the first place could have been a music video for Bob Dylan’s song. Runners used to bring their shoes to Altra Running founder, Golden Harper, who began cutting up and melting down runners shoes to decrease the amount of drop between the heel and toe. It became more and popular as customers were seeing results that eventually Altra Running was born. Altra has carved a serious niche for itself in a fiercely competitive industry

So how does the shoe that has continued to inspire change, like Dylan’s song, perform on the trials.

The view 🙂

One word. Fantastic.

OutSole:

Let me start with the negatives so we can get to the good stuff, as fantastic as these shoes are I unfortunately have an issue with one aspect. I am sorry to say but in the wet this shoe is a hazard. It really has poor grip in the wet, and by wet I mean running in the rain over wet and slippery rocks. In the shoes defense no shoe is going to give you complete stability on the very wet and rocky surfaces but unfortunately I found these to be a little too slippery for my liking. It’s not all bad though because in the dry they are phenomenal. If Formula 1 teams have different treads for different conditions then these would be Ferrari’s dry tyres. There are a lot of different factors that have made this shoe one of my favourite dry ground, semi technical shoe. The TrailClaw™ outsole features canted lugs which, in the dry, provide you with fantastic grip regardless of the terrain. The low stack height gives you a low ground feel and the zero drop platform all come together in an incredible way. All 3 factors really do make for a fast and agile ride on a dry trail.

Photo: Chris Walley

MidSole:

As I mentioned earlier the shoe has a low stack height which is great for confidence. This gives you more of a feel of what’s going on underneath your feet giving you the confidence to push the pace. The stack height is 21mm all round which in my opinion is still minimal. The shoes come with a removable rock plate for really technical terrain, this works very well in releasing some of the pressure from below. There are grid like grooves in the midsole which allow your feet to flex freely. There is very little rigid feedback from the shoe. This also inspires a more ‘natural’ and agile feel to your run. The shoe for me feels like it has more than 21mm of cushioning as it is more comfortable compared to other shoe’s I have run in with a similar stack height. Altra uses what they call “A-bound” technology in their midsole, which according to them helps recycle the energy and return it to the running gait. Reducing the impact of hard surfaces and adding a spring to the step. I found this to be true, especially on tar or hard pack running. In fact this shoe for me has been brilliant on the tar.

Photo Cred: Altra Running

Upper:

The Upper has been very well constructed. As far as I have run in the shoes I have not seen the Upper coming loose from the sole or tearing in any places. My favourite feature of the Upper is the wide toe box, there is nothing worse than cramped toes in a tiny toe box so Altra have made sure this is not the case in the Superior 2.0. Use with a pair of INJINJI toes socks and all your little piggies will have as much space as they need. There are no stitching over lays inside the shoe the which adds to the comfort and the Superior 2.0 breathes incredibly well. Not only do your toes have space but the breath-ability of the shoe keeps them fresh. The shoes do ride a half size bigger according to Altra (I went a full size bigger) so if you are buying these online I suggest trying on a pair at a local running shop first. The grey and green contrast really give the shoes a ‘classy’ feel for me.

Conclusion:

All in all these really are an award winning shoe, very comfortable, and have all the right features to keep the performance levels up there with the best. They unfortunately aren’t great on large wet rocks but if you looking for a fast and comfortable dry weather shoe you won’t go wrong with these. The terrain I found these shoes to perform at their absolute best was desert / dune / beach running. The wide surface area of the outsole gives you a massive advantage on the soft sand, this along with the Gator Trap behind the heel and the high breath-ability make this the absolute perfect shoe for a Desert Race.

Beach Running Bliss in the Superior 2.0

Technical Specs

  • The Men’s Superior 2 runs 1/2 size short.
  • Weight: 8.7 oz
  • Cushioning: Light
  • Ideal Uses: Trail Running, Hiking, Fastpacking, Trail Racing
  • Designed to Improve: Running Form, Toe Splay, Stability, Traction, Comfort, Trail Protection
  • Platform: Zero Drop™ Platform, FootShape™ Toe Box
  • Stack Height: 21 mm
  • Midsole: Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • Outsole: Sticky Rubber TrailClaw™
  • Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed with Removable StoneGuard™ Rock Protection
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Trail Mesh, Minimal Seams
  • Other Features: Trail Rudder, GaiterTrap™ Technology