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inov-8 - Roclite 295

posted Apr 26, 2015, 4:25 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Apr 26, 2015, 4:59 AM ]




We tested the inov-8 Roclite 295, probably the most popular trail running shoe produced by the British brand. They have now become a real classic. We tested the 2014 model, but in the meantime the new, slightly revised 2015 model is already available in stores.

Technical Description

The Roclite™ 295 is a high mileage off-road running shoe, that now (since the 2015 model) has a new, greatly improved fit. Its durability and deep cleats make it perfect for long training runs and adventure
races, when the kilometers are big and the terrain unpredictable. The new 2015 model features inov-8's on-the-shoe gaiter pockets, so the inov-8 race ultra™ gaiter can be attached and all debris kept at bay. A new, wider rubberized toe bumper delivers added protection.

Technologies:
META-FLEX: a groove in the forefoot of the outsole that provides a natural flex point in the shoe, allowing the forefoot to flex naturally.
FASCIA BAND: technology that replicates the anatomical position and function of the plantar fascia ligament.
META-SHANK: Multi finger polymer that aligns with each individual metatarsal for increased underfoot impact protection and flexibility.
Upper: nylon and plastic.
Type of fit: "Standard Fit" - a wider toe box allows the toes to splay when running naturally
Insole thickness: 6 mm
Drop: 6 mm

Weight: 295 g per shoe (UK size 8)

Our Test

We tested the Roclite 295 exclusively for running: we ran more than 600 km in 4 months across winter and spring. We ran for about 70% of the time on soft and loose terrains (mud, grass, sand, gravel) and the remaining 30% on more compact ones (asphalt or solid rock). We used them mainly in wet conditions (rain and light snow) and temperatures between 0 and 10 ºC.

First Impressions
The first impressions are lightness and stability: the Roclite 295 immediately feel very light and stable. On the model we tried (2014 model) the sole is relatively wide. When you run on loose rocks you feel well protected thanks to the large toe- and heel-bumpers. 
Thanks to the numerous, solid, and well designed cleats, even on the most difficult terrains (like snow, slippery and wet rocks) the sole always has a good grip. Forefoot-strike running is facilitated especially downhill, but on rocky trails and mountain terrains the thin and soft sole can cause some problems to those who have more sensitive feet.
NOTE: keep in mind that, as all shoes with reduced drop, you need time to get used to the different running style and they should be
approached gradually if you are not used to the 
"natural running". With a drop of 6 mm, the Roclite are still a good compromise between more minimalistic 0-drop shoes and the more cushioned high-drop (>9mm) shoes.

Lightness
It is not the most minimalistic inov-8 model, but with less than 300 g per shoe, the Roclite 295 still offers a good level of protection. If we must really find something in excess on the Roclite that is perhaps only the length of the laces!

Grip
The grip of the sole is excellent on mixed, wet terrains, both up and downhill. On dry and dusty terrains the grip is less good, especially uphill. Overall, the grip of the Roclite can be considered very good, better than that of many competitors. During turns we noticed its biggest flaw: the upper tends to slide sideways and, consequently, the foot loses stability. For this reason, initially you tend to press with your toes on the footbed to keep the foot more stable. The increased work done by the tendons of the plantar arch actually has the positive effect of strengthening the tendons themselves. After about 100-150
km you start to "adapt" to the slipping. The strengthening of the muscles and tendons of the foot, obviously helps a lot in the transition to 
lower-drop shoes. On the new 2015 model, which has a narrower sole and a tighter fit of the upper, the slipping of the forefoot has been eliminated.

Comfort
The Roclite 295 are very comfortable shoes. So comfortable that you barely notice them on your feet. The 2014 model we tested fit better on wider feet (notice that the new 2015 model has a redesigned fit, with significantly reduced footbed width). On uneven terrain, such as rocky mountain trails or on loose rocks and stones, the soft and relatively thin sole can cause some problems to those who have more sensitive feet.

Protection from the Elements
The Roclite 295 protects sufficiently from light rain and from splashes of mud and water, but it has a highly breathable upper, therefore it is better suited to dry, good weather. The upper offers little protection from cold, so it is a shoe more suited to intermediate seasons or moderate temperatures. During more intense showers the upper
tends to get wet inside, although not excessively so. Thanks to the excellent breathability, however, the foot does not remain wet for a long time. Mud and debris do not penetrate easily and they have never caused problems to us.

Breathability
We hardly ever noticed sweaty feet... but we did get wet, though. Generally, water resistance is inversely proportional to breathability and Roclite 295 are highly breathable shoes. This means that they prefer good weather and medium/high temperatures. The remarkable drying speed, however, never leaves the foot wet for a long time, except during the most intense rain showers.

Flexibility and Responsiveness
It is certainly not a "nervous" shoe. The response of the sole in the boost phase is delicate and gradual, which makes it suitable for different running styles. Probably not the best shoe for those who lack precise footwork and safe hold on uneven terrains, but in most circumstances it is relatively easy to control.

Cushioning
Despite its thinness the soles of the Roclite 295 provides a reasonable level of cushioning, thanks to the soft and flexible 5.5 mm cleats. The heel absorbs the impacts very well, therefore downhill you can still opt for a mild heel-strike running.

  
  
Stability
The torsion resistance is mild and the upper side tends to slip in extreme situations, such as a fast downhill bend or on irregular 

  
  
ground. Lateral support is only provided by a more rigid material applied on the upper, but there are no stiff plastic structures, thus the shoe tends to flex sideways. On tight downhill bends you are forced to reduce your speed (on the new 2015 model the tighter fit on the forefoot eliminated the side slipping). However, it should be noted that, if you are not used to "natural running", with time and practice the feeling of stability may improve progressively, thanks to the strengthening of muscles and tendons of the foot and ankle.

Versatility
Their strength lie in their extreme versatility and their ability to adapt to different kinds of terrain. They do not excel on any particular type of surface, but they are suitable for a wide variety of terrains, conditions, and running styles. They can be used almost all year round, but they prefer mild temperatures and dry, or low-humidity conditions in spring, summer, and autumn. The best performances with the Roclite 295 are probably reached on dry or slightly wet terrains. They are also excellent on the asphalt, but it is a real pity to wear out the aggressive soft cleats of the sole!

Durability
After the first 100 km the shoe softens considerably, but after that it keeps its characteristics almost unchangedAt the end of our test, after more than 600 km, the Roclite 295 show no signs of excessive wear or breakage. The excellent quality of materials of the upper, especially around all the most critical parts, has certainly contributed to increase the life of the shoe.


Our Verdict

In our opinion the Roclite 295 are trail running shoes well suited for those who approach natural running or low-drop shoes for the first time. Thanks to their intermediate drop and their versatility the Roclite 295 are shoes intended for a wide audience. Their strengths are definitely their versatility and quality of materials, the latter fundamental to extend their average life well beyond 500 km. In conclusion, if you are looking for high-quality shoes with good performances on various terrains that may accompany you in the largest possible number of adventures, then the Roclitte 295 are perfect for you!

PRO
+ Great Versatility
+ Good comfort
+ High-quality materials and great durability

VERSUS
- Poor stability due to wide footbed (problem solved on the new model 2015)
- They do not like rain

 Lightness   8/10
 Grip   7/10
 Comfort   8/10
 Flexibility & Responsiveness   6/10
 Cushioning   7/10
 Protection   6/10
 Breathability   8/10
 Stability   5/10
 Versatility   9/10
 Durability   8/10
 Total Score  7.2/10

La Sportiva - Bushido

posted Jan 21, 2015, 8:30 AM by Italo Balestra   [ updated Jan 22, 2015, 12:05 PM ]




The Bushido are shoes specifically designed by La Sportiva for Skyrunning competitions, an intense and extreme use, where grip, stability, and accuracy are key factors. Since their debut the Bushido had intrigued us, at first for their captivating look, but most of all for their technical features. As you know, we love to put gear to the test in our favorite lab: the outdoor! So we took the Bushido, we put them on, and we went out running!

Technical Description

The Bushido is a highly technical shoe specifically designed for mountain-running competitions. Its construction is a feast of technical features that La Sportiva has been able to combine very wisely, creating a product of the highest technical level: dual-density outsole with aggressively designed lugs for high traction on loose terrains, tightening system precisely and firmly wrapping around the midfoot, protective rubber toe-cap, upper with mesh reinforced with
rubber inserts for enhanced structural support, and much more... in short, an 
extremely technical tool for trail and mountain running.

Technologies & Materials
Upper: AirMesh/Thermal Adhesive Microfiber/High Frequency Welded Ripstop/TPU Toe Cap
Foot bed: Mesh/Highly breathable lateral mesh inserts/Stretch AirMesh Tongue
Midsole: Compression Molded MEMlex/ 1.5mm Dual-Density compressed EVA Rock-Guard in forefoot/ TPU Shank
Sole: Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove™ with Impact Brake System™

Drop: 6 mm
Weight: 305 g per shoe (size 42)

Our Test

We tested the Bushido for such a long time that, rather than publishing a test, we could write a book about them! A whole year
through four seasons and for several trips in different continents
: from the extreme humidity and heat of the jungles of
Thailand to the snowy mountains of the Dolomites in winter, from sandy beaches to rocky trails. We ran and hiked for about 400 km, during heavy showers and dry conditions, on mud, rock, sand, grass, and snow.

First Impressions
As soon as you hold them in your hand you have the clear feeling that they are a highly technical product: the Bushido are full of technical features and carefully designed, small details, each one with its specific function. The quality of the manufacture is excellent. The design is very aggressive. Maybe not exactly a featherweight, but relatively light considering their complex construction. Flexible enough on the forefoot, but "as stiff as a stone" from the midfoot to the heel.

Lightness
Certainly not the lightest pair of shoes we tried, but with
approximately 300 g (per shoe), the Bushido are relatively lightweight shoes, especially if considering their complex construction and the good quality of the materials used. The weight is slightly unbalanced toward the rear part of the shoe, due to the massive and very structured heel. When you lift the foot off the ground such a weight difference is quite noticeable.

Grip
The sole has a very pronounced tread. The lugs, made of two different rubber compounds, are oriented in different slanted directions to provide maximum traction, breaking power, and side grip all at the same time. The design of the lugs placed along the sides of the sole is peculiar. They reach up to the midsole to offer additional traction on steep traverses and on rough or irregular terrains. The prominent lugs sink deep into soft and loose terrains, providing excellent traction. However, we noticed that on hard and wet surfaces the grip is less good, especially in the central part of the forefoot: we often noticed some loss of traction in the last phase of the thrust. For those who need secure traction on ice and snow, dedicated metal studs are also available (sold separately).

Comfort
If we were to describe the Bushido in two words, we would define it a "precision tool". It fits so well, following excellently the shape of the foot, that the feeling is that of wearing the most accurate running footwear you could wish. The tip is very stiff, thin, and tacky, providing maximum precision: you can always place it exactly where you want to. The 'STB Control' construction, which works in synergy with the lacing system, wraps the midfoot superbly. It forms a semi-rigid structure, which basically fuses the shoe and your foot together. The heel-cup is quite tight, so that the heel almost "gets stuck" in it. Indeed, at the beginning, most of us suffered the rubbing of the heel-cup collar against the malleolus. Finally, we really liked the 6 mm drop, which allows for more freedom to switch between heel-strike and forefoot-strike running.

Protection from the Elements
The Bushido protect quite well from cold wind and mud splashes, but, lacking a waterproof membrane, they have no sympathy for rainy days!

Breathability
The number of insets applied to the upper, such as the rubber toe protection, the external reinforcement frame, and the Ripstop, tend to hinder transpiration and breathability. The heels and the toes are the only parts through which excess heat and moisture find their way out. In hot and humid conditions your feet suffer quite a lot the overall lack of breathability. The Bushido are definitely better suited for the winter months or colder climates!

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The Bushido is not very flexible due to the impact-protection systems located inside the sole. Unfortunately, we found this a big limitation. All of us appreciated the high degree of protection of the sole, but we also agreed on the fact that such a stiff sole prevents the natural function of the foot: that is to flex! We would have preferred less protection in favor of some more flexibility. The forefoot has a better flex, but the rear and mid sections of the sole are "as stiff as a stone", especially in torsion. However, the sole has in its favor a good snap and reactivity in the thrust phase.

Cushioning
The particular kind of EVA (compression molded EVA) used for the
sole of the Bushido results in a stiffer material
 with lower shock-absorption capability compared to the standard EVA. The feeling is that of a somewhat "woody" shoe, especially in the striking phase. However, while not very flexible, the sole is quite stable and reactive.

Stability
The 'STB Control' construction wraps around the midfoot always keeping the foot exactly in its correct position. The rubber tip helps to keep your toes in the right position without letting them slide inside the footbed. The heel-cup locks the heel in a "clamp". The sole is much wider than the foot, having a large and very stable base, which leaves a large footprint on the ground, The prominent lugs literally bite into the ground. In short, when you touch the ground you could not wish a better stability and you have the feeling of being "one with the ground". It's almost impossible to roll or twist your ankle: the Bushido have a fantastic stability!

Versatility
Nothing prevents you from using the Bushido not only for trail running, but also for many other outdoor activities. However, because of the absence of a waterproof membrane, you will have to stay away from heavy rain, snow, and mud. For dry conditions and for almost any type of terrain they are great!

Durability
After 400 km the tread of the sole still looks almost new! This is because the compounds used for the outsole are quite hard. However, while extending the life of the shoes, this also hinders the grip on hard and wet surfaces. Thanks to its numerous microfibre-inserts and the robust rubber frame applied to the Ripstop fabric, the upper of the Bushido is highly resistant to cuts and abrasions and almost immune from the typical deformations due to the use! They are not only durable... they are almost IMMORTAL!

Our Verdict

In conclusion, we really appreciated the high quality and the high
technical level
 of the Bushido. More than a running shoe, it could be defined "a highly technical tool for running on rough terrain". It behaves very good on the rocks, but the kind of terrains that the Bushido prefers are the dirt trails, especially if they are steep. If you are a demanding trail runner and you need a shoe to attack the mountains without compromises, the Bushido is exactly what you are looking for!

PROS
+ High stability
+ Very precise
+ Great durability

CONS
- Limited traction on hard and wet surfaces
- Annoying heel-cup collar
- Poor cushioning


 Lightness    8/10
 Grip    7/10
 Comfort    8/10
 Protection from the Elements    7/10
 Breathability    6/10
 Flexibility and Responsiveness     7/10
 Cushioning    6/10
 Stability    9/10
 Versatility    8/10
 Durability    9/10
 Total Score  7.5/10 

inov-8 - X-Talon 212

posted Sep 1, 2014, 12:30 PM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 17, 2015, 1:07 PM ]




Without any doubt the inov-8 X-Talon 212 are among the most successful "off trail" running shoes. These ultimate off-road running shoes were awarded numerous prestigious prices and they won several mountain running world championships! How could they still be missing among our tests??

Technical Description

The X-Talon 212 are trail running shoes (or "off-trail" running shoes, as inov-8 defines them) designed for "natural" running on loose ground and rough terrains. Sticking out of the sole there are 43, almost 1 cm long "claws", that sink deeply into any kind of soft and loose terrain. The upper is made of a durable and thick fabric coated with water repellent treatment (DWR). Additional support is offered by two slender rubber panels that connects the sole to the eyelets.
Along the entire perimeter of the upper a layer of a robust synthetic, leather-like material protects from impacts and abrasion.

Technologies 
META-FLEX: more flexible front area of the sole to allow a more natural movement 
FASCIA BAND: technology that replicates the function of the plantar ligaments
ROPETECH: plastic inserts on the central part of the sole that provide better grip in rope climbing 

Upper: synthetic Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) mesh with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment. 
Type of fit: "Precision Fit" - the width of the shoe is reduced by a few mm compared to the standard, for a more precise fit of the foot and reduced internal movements. 
Foot bed: 6 mm 
Drop: 6 mm 
Sole: Sticky rubber X-Talon

Weight: 212 g per shoe (UK size 8)

Our Test


We used the X-Talon 212 for trail running for approximately 150 km during three months between spring and summer. We ran for about 90% of the time on soft and loose terrains (mud, grass, sand, gravel) and for the remaining 10% on more compact ones (rock or dry and compact ground). We used them mainly in sunny conditions or during light rainfalls with temperatures between 5 and  25° C. We have also tested them for a few short hikes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Hey runner, if you expect to experience with the X-Talon the same feelings you get when wearing any other trail running shoes, sorry, but you're on the wrong track! If you've never heard about inov-8 and their philosophy in designing shoes for natural running, you may want to read their "Guide to transition" in order to fully understand the fundamental concepts behind these shoes and our test (see also our tests of the Trailroc).

First Impressions
At first sight the X-Talon 212 seem pretty "massive" and super protective, but when you actually hold them in your hand you discover that that they are a featherweight! When you put them on they wrap perfectly around your feet and they are quite soft and comfortable. Under your feet you can clearly feel the very aggressive claws attached under the sole, although these are relatively soft and flexible.

Lightness
With 212 g per shoe they can be considered extremely light trail running shoes! They are the ultimate racing shoes for the most slippery and steep terrains. Despite they provide a high degree of protection, their weight is hardly noticeable on your feet while running. They definitely represent an optimal balance between weight and protection.

Grip
The tread of the sole leaves no doubt: the X-Talon stick to the ground
like the claws of a hawk in the flesh of the prey! The spikes sink in any soft or loose ground and consequently the traction is amazing on those terrains. On dirt, mud, sand, gravel, and grass you couldn't wish for a better sole. Both uphill and downhill they provide a grip that's beyond any expectations, thanks also to a rubber compound that is very well chosen. At first, since you cannot imagine such a response, you tend to be cautious, but when you discover to which extent they actually grip, you release the brake and you start running up and down the slopes without any worries! Only on some of the smoother, wet rocks sometimes we noticed some loss of grip.

Comfort
The X-Talon 212 fit quite well, particularly on the central part of the foot, thanks to the excellent lacing system, which also guarantees a good overall control. They are quite soft and comfortable shoes with which you can devour kilometres without major hassles. The protection offered by the synthetic material that covers the entire perimeter of the shoe is also very good. This is actually an essential feature on rough terrains to protect against sharp objects (stones,
branches, etc.).

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The sole of the X-Talon is soft and flexible over its entire length and the META-FLEX system adds even more freedom to flex the toes. In addition, thanks to the quite thin, minimalistic upper free of thick support structures, the sole is also free to flex almost without constraints. Only around the central area the sole is slightly stiffer, probably a technical solution to better support the arch. Overall the flexure of the foot inside the shoe is quite natural. The sole doesn't have a very high degree of responsiveness and much of the work will have to be done by your tendons and muscles.

Cushioning
If you think that a 9mm-sole is not enough, well... maybe it's better ifyou look for another pair of shoes! If you are experienced with natural running you'll find that the degree of cushioning is in general more than enough. You must also consider that you will mostly use these shoes on soft terrains and that the rubber compound that
makes up the sole and cleats is very soft.

Stability
The lack of strong support structures hamper a bit the lateral stability, as it's often the case on minimalistic running shoesHowever, the combined action of the tapered upper and the good lacing system that wraps the foot very well and keeps it week bound to the sole, therefore compensating, at least in part, the lack of support.

Protection from the Elements
Despite their very low weight the X-Talon 212 offer a high degree of protection. The secret is in the synthetic fabric that makes up the upper, which is very solid and coated with durable water repellent (DWR), combined with the synthetic leather which covers the lower edge along the entire perimeter of the upper. The degree of protection from impacts is excellent. However, sand and debris can penetrate from both the shoe collar and from the sides of the tongue, which, is detached from the upper, unlike most footwear of this type. For this reason it is advisable to use some appropriate gathers (e.g. 
inov-8 gaiters). Protection against water is more than enough for a run under light rain, but they are not Gore-Tex shoes, so if you sink your feet in the water, inevitably you'll get wet. Finally, given the thickness of the upper, they are quite "warm" shoes.

Breathability
Let's be honest... the X-Talon 212 are not the most breathable shoes we tried! They are better suited for use in low to medium temperatures when the need for breathability is less strong. In summer or, in general, for temperatures higher than 20 °C, the lighter version of the X-Talon (X-Talon 190) is definitely preferable. Despite the quickly drying lining placed on the most critical parts of the footbed, the thick outer fabric that makes up the upper precludes the air exchange with the outside. Therefore when running with the X-Talon 212 your feet tend to sweat more than in other more breathable shoes. On the other hand, though, they offer a high degree of protection.

Durability
The compound of the sole is very soft, which makes it more comfortable, but less resistant to abrasion. However, the X-Talon are designed for use on soft ground, where abrasion is generally minimal. So, if they are used properly, they last more than what you would expect. The upper, is well protected from impacts and tearing, thanks to the robust material that covers the upper all around the perimeter of the shoe. The X-Talon 212 won't give up very easily... they are hard to die!

Versatility
Obviously they are not the most suitable shoes to run the New York Marathon! Not because they wouldn't be comfortable on the road (the cleats are very soft and flexible and do not press under your feet), but because the cleats, although very durable, would wear out quickly. To get the maximum performance and life from the X-Talon is advisable to use them, as much as possible, on soft terrains. We have found them excellent for workouts on the beach, for example! We tried them also for some hiking and for a light and fast use on the trails they offer the advantage of being very comfortable and always well anchored to the ground, allowing you to be faster even on steep and wet terrains. Again, also for hiking the only limit is the wear of the
cleats on harder terrains (especially on rocks). Finally, when it's warmer you suffer a bit the lack of ventilation.

Our Verdict

The X-Talon 212 are the perfect racing shoes on the most rough terrains. They offer a high degree of protection despite being amazingly light. You have to have some experience with "natural" running to really appreciate them fully. On mud, sand, grass, and any soft terrain they deliver the best performances, especially up and downhill. They are the perfect choice for a Sky Running race where coming in second is not an option. If you're looking for traction where you wouldn't even think you could walk, the X-Talon are the right shoes for you!

PROS
+ Lightweight and flexibility
+ Excellent traction on soft and loose grounds
+ Good protection

CONS
- Limited breathability
- Restricted range of usability


 Lightness    9/10
 Grip    9/10
 Comfort    8/10
 Protection from the Elements    8/10
 Breathability    6/10
 Flexibility and Responsiveness     7/10
 Cushioning    7/10
 Stability    7/10
 Versatility    5/10
 Durability    8/10
 Total Score  7.4/10

inov-8 - X-Talon 190

posted Aug 26, 2014, 12:44 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Sep 3, 2014, 11:46 AM ]




The lightest "off trail" running shoes that inov-8 offers in its 2014 collection are the X-Talon 190. With only 190 g (per shoe) these are probably also one of the lightest off-road running shoes in the world! We couldn't resist... we had to put our feet in such a "record shoe"!

Technical Description

The X-Talon 190 are ultra-light trail running shoes (or, as inov-8 define them, "off-trail" shoes) designed for "natural" running on very soft and loose terrains. Sticking out of the sole there are 43, almost 1 cm long "claws", that sink deeply into any kind of soft and loose terrain. The upper is made ​​of a lightweight, yet durable mesh with a 3D pattern. Two slender rubber panels, branching in 5 arms on each side, extend from the sole to the eyelets, providing some additional lateral support to the feet. The tip has a very thin rubber coating to protect from abrasion.

Technologies 
META-FLEX: more flexible front area of the sole to allow a more natural movement 
FASCIA BAND: technology that replicates the function of the plantar ligaments
ROPETECH: plastic inserts on the central part of the sole that provide better grip in rope climbing 

Upper: synthetic Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) mesh with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment. 
Type of fit: "Precision Fit" - the width of the shoe is reduced by a few mm compared to the standard, for a more precise fit of the foot and reduced internal movements. 
Foot bed: 3 mm 
Thickness toe/heel: 6 mm/9 mm 
Drop: 3 mm 
Sole: Sticky rubber X-Talon

Weight: 190 g per shoe (UK size 8)

Note:
The X-Talon 190 is the lighter, simplified, and more minimalistic
 version of the famous, award-winning X-Talon 212 (see also our test). Even if the 190 derive from the 212 model, the entire structure of the upper is different, making the new, lighter model totally different from its predecessor. The thick protecting material around the edge of the shoe has been eliminated, the mesh of the upper has been made much thinner, and the lacing and stabilisation systems minimised. The drop of the sole is reduced from 6 to 3 mm and the weight dropped from 212 to 190 g per shoe.

Our Test

We used the X-Talon 190 for trail running for approximately 150 km during three months between spring and summer. We ran for about 90% of the time on soft and loose terrains (mud, grass, sand, gravel) and the remaining 10% on more compact ones (rock or dry and compact ground). We used them mainly in sunny conditions, often after rainfalls, and temperatures between 15 and 30 °C. We have also tested them for a few short hikes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Hey runner, if you expect to experience with the 
X-Talon
 the same feelings you experience when you wear any other trail running shoes, sorry, but you're on the wrong track! If you've never heard about inov-8 and their philosophy in designing shoes for natural running, you may want to read their  "Guide to transition",  in order to fully understand the concept behind these shoes and our test (see also our previous tests of the Trailroc).

First Impressions
When you hold the X-Talon 190 in your hand for the first time it's hard to believe that you can really run off road in those shoes. They weighs like a pair of thongs!!! However, the more you look at them the more you understand the crazy minimalistic idea from which they were born. When you put them on, they fit perfectly and wrap around your feet like a sock: perfect, smooth, accurate... and the feeling you have is that of wearing only a rubber sole with some claws.

Lightness
The X-Talon 190 is most probably one of the lightest "off-road" running shoe in existence: 190 g is close to the typical weight of a racing shoe! Running with them is an experience that everyone should do at least once, forgetting about all the "technical principles"
and all preconceptions. They are so light that you don't even notice them on your feet!

Grip
The tread of the sole leaves no doubt: the X-Talon stick to the ground like the claws of a hawk in the flesh of the prey! The spikes sink in any soft or loose ground and, obviously, the traction is amazing on those terrains. On dirt, mud, sand, gravel, and grass you couldn't wish for a better sole. Both uphill and downhill they provide a grip that's beyond any expectations, thanks also to the well chosen rubber compound. At first, since you cannot imagining such a response, you tend to be cautious, but when you discover to which extent they actually grip, you release the brake and you start running up and down the slopes without any worries! Only on some of the smoother, wet rocks sometimes we noticed some loss of grip.

Comfort
The X-Talon 190 stick to your feet, especially the slimmer ones, in an excellent way, particularly on the central part of the foot. This gives a good overall feeling with the shoes. However, they are also quite minimalistic shoes, on which comfort is somehow put into the
background in favour of performance: tongue, insole, and cushioning are cut to the bone. They also lack the typical protections used on off-road running shoes, such as rubber tips, semirigid impact-protection systems, and heel-support structures. This is something to take into account when choosing these radical shoes.

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The sole of the X-Talon is soft and flexible over its entire length and the META-FLEX system adds even more freedom to flex the toes. In addition, thanks to the quite thin, minimalistic upper, which is free of thick support structures, the sole is also free to flex almost without constraints. The sole is slightly stiffer only around the central area, probably a technical solution to better support the arch. Overall the flexure of the foot inside the footbed is quite natural. The sole doesn't have a very high degree of reactivity and much of the work will have to be done by your tendons and muscles.

Cushioning
If you think that a 9mm-sole is not enough, well... maybe it's better if
you look for another pair of shoes! If you are experienced with natural running you'll find that the degree of cushioning is generally more than enough. You must also consider that you will mostly use these shoes on soft terrains and that the rubber compound that makes up the sole and cleats is very soft.

Stability
The lack of strong support structures hamper a bit the lateral stability, as it's often the case on minimalistic running shoes. However, the combined action of the tapered upper and the good lacing system wraps the foot very well and keeps it well bound to the sole, therefore compensating, at least in part, the lack of support. 

Protection from the Elements
The X-Talon 190 are not much more than a thin mesh around your feet. Even if the upper has some water repellent treatment (DWR) and a thin rubber layer protecting the tip, they cannot do much to keep water, sand, wind, and dust out. The tongue is also detached from the upper, unlike most trail running shoes, where it is instead common to see it sewn to the upper in order to avoid the intrusion of dust and debris. The collar is also very low, therefore mud may get in
quite easily. We recommend some appropriate gaiters (e.g. inov-8 gaiters).

Breathability
Excellent! The same thin mesh that provides only limited protection from the elements, allows instead a good air exchange with the outside environment. When running with the X-Talon 190, you rarely sweat much. Of course, it is advisable to always wear socks with adequate breathability, in order not to vanish the good work done by the shoes.

Durability
The compound of the sole is very soft, which makes it more comfortable, but less resistant to abrasion. However, the X-Talon are designed for use on soft ground, where abrasion is generally minimal. So, if properly used, they last more than what you would expect. Even if thick protections are lacking, the upper has a good resistance to tearing and abrasion. Unfortunately, the lack of support structures make the whole shoe more susceptible to
softening. Therefore, the shoes tend to lose their original shape, their excellent fit, and their precision with the use.

Versatility
Obviously they are not the most suitable shoes to run the New York Marathon! Not because they wouldn't be comfortable on the road (the cleats are very soft and flexible and do not press under your feet), but because the cleats, although very durable, would wear out quickly. To get the maximum performance and life from the X-Talon is advisable to use them, as much as possible, on soft terrains. We have found them excellent for workouts on the beach, for example! We tried them also for some hiking and for a light and fast use on the trails they offer the advantage of being very comfortable and always well anchored to the ground, allowing you to be faster even on steep and wet terrains. Again, also for hiking the only limit is the wear of the cleats on harder terrains (especially on rocks).

Our Verdict

The X-Talon 190 are extremely minimalistic off-road running shoes designed for those who can do without all the superfluous and who count every gram they are wearing. You have to approach them with an "open mind" and you have to be experienced with "natural running" to appreciate them to the fullest. On mud, sand, grass, and any soft terrain they deliver the best performances, especially up and downhill. They are the perfect choice for a Sky Running race, where coming in second is not an option. If you're looking for traction where you wouldn't even think you could walk, the X-Talon are the right shoes for you!

PROS
+ Lightweight
+ Excellent traction on soft and loose grounds
+ Good breathability

CONS
- Limited protection against impacts
- Poor protection from the elements
- The upper tends to soften and deform


 Lightness  10/10
 Grip    9/10
 Comfort    7/10
 Protection from the Elements   6/10
 Breathability  10/10
 Flexibility and Responsiveness     7/10
 Cushioning    8/10
 Stability    6/10
 Versatility    5/10
 Durability    7/10
 Total Score  7.5/10


inov-8 - Terrafly 313 GTX

posted Mar 1, 2014, 10:44 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Mar 5, 2014, 12:42 PM ]




For more than 10 years inov-8 has promoted the so-called "Natural Running", a concept that essentially aims at reestablishing the natural movement of the feet during running. Always looking for innovative concepts in all outdoor sports, Go Out Project decided to try the inov-8 Terrafly 313 GTX, Gore-Tex® all-rounder shoes designed for long distance runners.

Technical Description

The Terrafly are designed for running both on trails and on the road in rainy, humid or cold days. The upper is constructed with a synthetic mesh with a Gore-Tex® membrane protecting from rain, snow, mud, and wind. On the sides of the upper a number of rubber inserts, connecting the eyelets of the laces to the sole, help to give more structure to the whole shoe. Toe and heel reinforcements, made ​​of synthetic material, protect against abrasion.
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The DFB (Dynamic Fascia Band™) technology uses four very elastic plastic insert in the midsole running from the heel to the toes along the entire sole. The purpose of this system is to deliver a more energetic thrust at each flexion.

The sole has a good tread pattern, comprised of blocks and rods, designed to provide maximum traction on any terrain. The Meta-Flex™ system increases the flexibility of the sole by removing material in a stripe around the metatarsal area, under the toe joints.

Finally, for more safety at night, reflective patches are present on heels and toes.

Weight: 313 g (size UK 8)

Our Test

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We tested the Terrafly tirelessly for more than 6 months, running for more than 250 km on the road and off-road
Detail breakdown of the usage during our tests:
  • 45% Trail
  • 35% Road 
  • 20% Off trail
We've also used them for hiking and medium/short approaches carrying heavy backpacks. We've tried them in all weather conditions, but mainly in VERY BAD conditions: rain, snow, cold.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Hey runner, if you wear a Terrafly expecting to experience the same feelings you have when you wear any other trail running shoe, sorry, but you're on the wrong track! If you've never heard about inov-8 and their philosophy in designing shoes for natural running, you may want to read their "guide to transition", or one of our latest tests of inov-8 shoes (Trailroc Test) to fully understand this test.

First Impressions
With a thin sole, minimum difference in thickness between the heel and the toe (only 6mm), a well-wrapping upper, toe and heel protections, and rounded edges of the sole, the Terrafly provide more than adequate protection, while preserving all the benefits of "natural running".

Lightness
The Terrafly 313 GTX are much more "solid" than most other inov-8 trail running models, but 300g for a pair of Gore-Tex® running shoes can still be considered a featherweight!
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Comfort
Good feeling of protection and damn comfortable! The Terrafly fit superbly. The upper is joint to the tongue and this helps to keep water and debris out, while giving you the feeling of slipping into a kind of sock. The heel is well wrapped in its housing, as well as the central part of the foot, thanks to the good lacing system: this always allows safe and precise movements during running.

Grip
The sole is designed by inov-8 specifically for these shoes with a little shallower tread, which clearly suggests the attempt to find a good compromise in terms of performances both on and off road. The grip is good on hard and dry terrains, although the relatively soft sole is not always super precise. Fairly good grip on hard and wet terrains, slightly worse on muddy or soft ground.

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The Terrafly are very soft and flexible shoes, considering the high
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level of protection they offer. At each flexure the DFB returns a very strong and pleasant elastic thrust, which amplifies the responsiveness in the boost phase. The Meta-flex in the forefoot area effectively enhances the flexibility by removing material in the metatarsal area, therefore creating a preferential bending line where it is needed. The feeling you get flexing your foot is indeed "natural".

Cushioning
A little more than the bare minimum. Not enough for you? Choose a different pair of shoes!

Weather Protection
The Gore-Tex® membrane keeps your feet dry in any condition: snow and water are never a problem. However, for the longest running sessions in rain, snow, or mud, it can be advisable to wear a pair of gaiters to prevent water or snow from getting inside from the shoe collar.

Breathability
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Whenever a waterproof membrane is used on a footwear, breathability is inevitably compromised. So during more intense running or when the temperature rises, your feet will obviously tend to sweat a little more compared to what you may be used to when running with shoes without a waterproof membrane.

Durability
The materials used are of excellent quality. The upper is constructed with a mesh of very strong nylon that doesn't fear branches, roots, or rocks. By the end of our tests, after a good washing, the Terrafly look almost new! The sole, made of a very soft rubber, is the only spot that shows the signs of the mileage: some points are very worn and some cleats are torn. Let's just say that the soft sole of the Terrafly doesn't like very much asphalt and sharp rocks.

Our Verdict

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The Terrafly are the right shoes for those who are already experienced with Natural Running and who are looking for a single pair of shoes that they can use for both road and off-road running in those days when the weather is really miserable. They are light, flexible, comfortable, and multi-purpose. Go Out Project really liked them!

PROS
+ Great sensitivity
+ Good balance between weight and protection
+ Excellent fit

CONS
- Low traction on muddy or soft terrains
- Limited durability of the sole
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-UvDrIzJGSZw/UwPLuiDRaWI/AAAAAAAAHt0/5opFtsBMUlc/w1031-h690-no/DSC_3513.JPG


 Lightness    8/10
 Grip    8/10
 Comfort    9/10
 Breathability    7/10
 Cushioning    7/10
 Stability    8/10
 Versatility    8/10
 Durability  7.5/10
 Total Score  7.8/10







inov-8 - Trailroc 235 and 245

posted Oct 21, 2013, 2:01 PM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 23, 2014, 4:13 AM ]




For 10 years inov-8 has been promoting the so-called "natural running", which essentially means to run free from anything that interferes with the natural movement of the feet. Today, inov-8 pushes this concept to the extreme and after years of development and improvement, it now offers a vast catalog of natural-running footwear.

It is important to remind that natural running needs a quite long process of readaptation to a completely new way of running compared to one most of us are used to. If this process does not take place gradually, it may cause injuries, such as annoying tendon inflammations. The transition process consists in gradually reducing the thickness of the sole differential from heel to toe, until reaching a completely flat sole. inov-8 produces models with different differential thicknesses of the sole (9mm, 6mm, 3mm, 0mm), which are designed to accompany the runners on the long road that leads to the natural running (i.e. flat sole, differential=0 mm).

Go Out Project decided to try one of the most interesting models for off-road running: the Trailroc. We tested this model with two different types of sole: one with a differential of 3 mm and one with 0 mm. We have chosen the two most extreme (flattest) differentials in order to properly assess, with the help of on our testers, what are the real dangers and contraindications of the natural running. And, here, after months of injured ankles, tendinitis, and the creation of new, imaginative, and very complex swearing, our testers report on their experiences.

Technical Description

The upper of the Trailroc is made of a very light and thin mesh, reinforced with rubber bands on the sides and around the eyelets of the laces. The sole, that has a slightly thicker and more robust heel, is composed of three sticky rubber compounds of varying hardness having a very aggressive design with spaced cleats.
In both versions tested (the 235 and the 245) the thickness of the inner sole is of 6 mm.
The 245 version has a differential profile of 3 mm, while the 235
 version has a zero differential (0 mm) .

Weight
Trailroc 235: 235g (size 8 UK)
Trailroc 245: 245g (size 8 UK)

Our Test

We tested the Trailroc 235 and 245 for 6 months (between spring, summer, and autumn) mainly for trail running, but we also try them on the road, for training, and for hiking. We tried them both in wet and dry conditions, in a very wide range of temperatures (10-30°C), and on different terrains (rock, grass, gravel, sand, mud, and asphalt). We ran mostly on intermediate distances (about 5-10km), but we also tried them for a few longer runs (10-20 km).

First Impressions
At first, we inspected them carefully and... mmm... such a minimalistic, thin sole with such an aggressive notching... very weird! The upper is essential. It looks like all the "old" cushioning systems and support systems of traditional shoes have never been invented. These shoes are extremely soft. They flex like a thin rubber sheet and they are impressively light! It's almost ridiculous! But we do not resist and we put them on... we tie the laces and... PUFF!... we enter into a new dimension!
They are really little more than a sock with a sole! Wearing them for 
the first time gives you a strange feeling. For those who had that experience, the feeling is reminiscent of that of wearing a track and field spike-shoe. The first thing you notice is a distinct change in the balance and propulsion compared to that you are used to with the traditional running shoes. The freedom of movement of the ankle is exceptional: no constricting parts, no hassle, these shoes are basically like gloves for your feet! They wrap around your feet perfectly and they are fused to a sole designed to perfection. If you flex your toes, the shoe flexes along with them! Amazing!

Adapting to a new way of running
Running with a shoe as the Trailroc requires a relatively long period of adaptation during which one has to develop a specific running technique. At Go Out Project we also wanted to experiment this process, therefore we have moved from a ultralight running shoe, to the Trialroc 245, and finally to the Trailroc 235... and we must say this process hasn't been totally pain-free!

On the trails
The extreme sensitivity, that makes you feel everything under the sole, is fantastic, perhaps also because is more natural! Any roughness of the ground, even the smallest one, is perceivable through the thin sole. This gives a more direct contact with the ground and stimulates a greater attention on where you step. One has to restart learning how to run, becoming step by step, more and more precise. The propusion also changes. It becomes more direct, swift, and very effective.

Lightness
Probably the laces of a traditional running shoe are heavier than a pair of Trailroc! With a weight of less than 250 g, each comment is superfluous!

Grip
What kind of means would you use to tackle rough, uneven terrains? Probably a dirt bike! That's it, the soles of the Trailroc are designed exactly like the tread of the tires of a dirt bike. The sharp and well spaced cleats seize on any surface, including loose ground, mud, 
and sand, both uphill and downhill. The special TRI-C compound, consisting of three different types of rubber, sticks everywhere. On dry terrains the grip is exceptional and you can put the pedal to the metal, but when it's wet, you better slow down!

Comfort
The fit and comfort are really excellent! The laces can be tighten very well and uniformly. The upper is soft, well wrapping, and it has no seams or other constricting parts that may cause chafing. The sole perfectly copies the shape of the foot, giving a feeling of extreme ease and freedom during the action. The lack of cushioning, however, makes the impact with the ground a bit more traumatic than that of well cushioned shoes and this should not be underestimated, especially when running on longer distances. Obviously, a thicker sock can be very helpful!

Breathability
The mesh on the upper is very breathable. Even at temperatures above 30°C, we never noticed excessive moisture accumulation...
which also means no stink! In the hottest days it is, however, advisable to wear quickly-drying, thin technical socks, which also have the advantage of preserving the high sensitivity of the shoes.

Cushioning
Cushioning on natural running shoes is usually very low or close to zero. Therefore, all the judgements must be renormalized when compared to other kind of shoes. The 245 version protects a bit more the heels from the impacts, while the 235 is less protective, but on both versions the soft cleats of the sole guarantee a minimal cushioning, that is something you'll appreciate. If you need some extra cushioning, however, a thicker pair of socks can be helpful, this is particularly true in the initial stages of the process of adaptation to the natural running.

Stability
The soles of the Trailroc have rounded edges and the shells that contain the heels are quite soft. This makes these shoes less stable than the "traditional" running shoes. But the whole concept of stability 
on the Trailroc is new and different. Soon you realize that
 you start developing greater sensitivity and stability through the adaptation of the feet themselves to the ground, actively working with joints and muscles of feet, ankles, and knees.

Versatility
If used for hiking or walking, the Trailroc are great and with them you can safely travel the world. You will love them for their lightness and agility and you'll never be tired of them. For running, as already mentioned, they require a good introductory training period. Off road they are fantastic! On paved roads, they are admittedly tiring, even after months of preparation. They are only suitable to dry conditions. Unfortunately, they don't like water!

Durability
Shoes that are reduced to the bone: ultra-light materials and nothing superfluous. Even the classic rubber toe protection, here becomes a thin, almost non-existent layer. Therefore, you cannot expect them to last forever. The upper may suffer cuts and abrasions (although after the 6 months of our tests we didn't notice any sign of damage). 
The sole, on the other hand, has very thick cleats and a compound that do not tend to wear out easily.

Our Verdict

The Trailroc are pure performance, fast, minimalistic trail running shoes! Excellent on many different terrains and conditions (or at least the dry ones!), they are the perfect choice when high performances and full contact with the trail are sought. We really liked them! Perhaps also because Go Out Project is always looking for innovative ideas. After a good long preparatory transition period, we started to appreciate them and to really enjoy them and today we don't want to go back to "traditional shoes" anymore! If you deeply understand the concepts that are behind the Trailroc and you approach them correctly, they are awesome shoes you are never gonna get tired of!

PROS
+ Extremely light
+ Super sensitive
+ Comfortable
+ Good grip

CONS
- Only usable in dry conditions

 Lightness  10/10
 Grip 8.5/10
 Comfort 8.5/10
 Breathability    9/10
 Cushioning 6.5/10
 Stability    7/10
 Versatility    8/10
 Durability 7.5/10
 Total Score 8.1/10


Mammut - MTR 201 Dyneema

posted Oct 10, 2013, 12:52 PM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 23, 2014, 4:18 AM ]




Mammut broke into trail running in the most innovative way. The MTR 201 Dyneema, Mammut's flagship trail running shoe, has been created for those runners who want protection, support and traction on the most impervious terrains. We decided to test the real capability of these shoes on the trails.

Technical Description

The upper, built in a “Single Shell”, seamless construction to reduce potential weak points, is made of Dyneema®, one of the strongest and lightest synthetic fibers on the market: super light and about 60% stronger than carbon fiber and 15 times more robust than steel! The Dyneema is also very resistant to fiber breakdown caused by extended exposure to UV rays.  
Mammut's patented Base Fit® technology uses free-sliding webbing to transfer the force from the lacing area directly to the sole, at the
same time adapting optimally to the shape of the foot.
A rubber cap protects the toes from impact with rocks, roots and debris.
The Mammut MTR 201 Dyneema feature:
  • Fast lacing system with stow pocket for the laces
  • 360 Heel Support: a 360-degree support around the heel area
  • Rolling Concept® technology: curved ribbing integrated into the wedge to help secure the foot‘s natural rolling motion and ergonomic support/damping
  • Sonar Technology design of the sole: concentric rows of cleats designed for maximum transmission of braking and thrusting forces
Weight: 597 g per pair (size 8.5 UK)

Our Test

We tested the Dyneema for 4 months for hiking and trail running.
We tested them on different terrains (rock, sand, grass, gravel), but exclusively in dry weather conditions.

First Impressions
From the very first time you wear these shoes your thought is: “Wow, they are incredibly comfortable!”. And the first impression has always been supported during all the activities we did with them. The sensation you have is that of a shoe that is perfectly adapting to the shape of the foot. You also immediately notice the great damping capabilities and a kind of bulky sole that is thicker and wider than that of the typical running shoes.

Lightness
Weighting around 600 g per pair, they are definitely not the lightest trail running shoes available on the market, but they can be considered very light hiking shoes. The sole is quite bulky, with a thick and wide profile.

Comfort 
Overall very comfortable, especially thanks to the quite thick, very soft, and very flexible sole, which perfectly absorbs every impact on every surface. Also the fast lacing system provides tailored and comfortable support to the foot and locks it securely in place.

Grip 
They have good grip on almost every surface, partly thanks to the fact that the very soft rubber of the sole is free to flex and wrap around bumpy surfaces, always copying the shape of the ground. However, the pronounced cleats, which are also very soft, may tend sometimes to compromise a bit the grip and sensitivity on firmer grounds or slabs of rock.
The sole has a thick and wide profile with a very "aggressive" design featuring concentric rows of cleats (dubbed Sonar Technology design). The pronounced edges of the sole enhance lateral stability during steep traverses and the shape of the cleats ensures a secure grip on different surfaces both up and downhill. 

Stability
To absorb lateral rolling tendencies (pronation and supination), the shoes provide the foot with a 360-degree support around the heel area ("360 Heel Support") together with sole cushioning, with a special rubber mix, designed to accommodate running movements ("Rolling Concept®"). The Rolling Concept technology forms the midsole and heel into a shape that promotes smooth heel-to-toe transition and reduces foot and ankle fatigue. This gives the sole medium torsional strength, intended to influence the foot's natural rolling behavior as little as possible while, at the same time, providing optimal support. 

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The whole structure of the shoe is extremely flexible, thanks to the soft rubber mix of the sole and the light and flexible upper. The sole is also highly damping in the impact phase and sufficiently responsive in the thrust phase.

Durability 
The upper is flexible and made to last: the Dyneema is difficult to be
damaged. The rubber used for the sole and the cleats is very soft and slowly tends to wear out and become less responsive with the use. Fortunately this tendency is not very rapid.

Versatility
Great for long or fast trail running and hiking on dry terrains (not rain). They can also be used on paved roads or for training although the quite bulky sole and the soft cleats reduce a bit sensitivity and precision.

Breathability
The upper, made of Dyneema, forms a mesh that is quite breathable letting the feet dry easily. We tested the shoes in high temperature conditions and we clearly appreciated how the upper always allowed heat and excess moisture to move away from the feet. Here, obviously also wearing the "right socks" makes a big difference.

Our Verdict

Pretty kick-ass shoes overall, the Mammut MTR 201 Dyneema are comfortable and highly damping trail running shoes, that work really well both for very long hikes, when greater comfort is required, and for fast running on the trails, when performances and durability are more important.

 Lightness   8/10
 Comfort  10/10 
 Grip   8/10 
 Stability   8/10
 Responsiveness   7/10 
 Durability   7/10 
 Versatility   7/10
 Breathability   9/10 
 Total Score  8.0/10


PROS 

+ Very comfortable
+ Great cushioning
+ Very good fit

CONS
-  Low sensitivity & precision

Testers:
Riccardo S (180 cm, 72 kg)
Italo B (180 cm, 73 kg)














La Sportiva - Xplorer

posted Oct 3, 2013, 8:56 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 23, 2014, 4:14 AM ]




The Xplorer represent a nice effort by La Sportiva in trying to reach the best compromise between durability and lightweight in hiking/approach shoes: the Xplorer are lighter than most hiking shoes and tougher than most approach shoes. Of course Go Out Project couldn't miss the chance to test the true performances of the Xplorer on the trails. A Gore-tex version also exists: the Hyper Gore-tex.

Technical Description

The Xplorer combine a comfortable, light, and flexible mesh, which covers most of the upper, with a solid Vibram sole and a toe protection which extends also around the sides of the shoe. 
The shoes feature:
  • Toe box Overwrap™ technology rand construction
  • Dual density EVA midsole
  • Vibram® X-Traction® outsole with Idro-Grip compound
  • Highly compressed EVA RockGuard in the forefoot
Weight: 375 g per shoe (750 g per pair)

Our Test

We tested the Xplorer for 4 months mostly for hiking. We tested them on many different terrains: rock, sand, grass, mud, snow, etc. In most cases we used them in dry weather conditions, although we had the chance to try them also during rain and on snow.

First Impressions
From the first instant you put the Xplorer on your feet, the feeling you have is that of great comfort, very good lateral stability, and a really impressive grip on every surface. While walking the feeling is pretty much that of a traditional hiking boot, with a stiff sole, a high heel, and elevated protection, but with the advantage of having a 
more flexible and lighter upper. The first impression is that of good 
precision and stability on every terrain.

Lightness
Definitely not the lightest shoes on earth, but certainly among the lightest hiking shoes, with 750 g per pair.  

Comfort 
Overall very comfortable, thanks to the quite flexible upper. However, during longer or very fast hikes the more rigid parts around the protection which wraps around the upper, may start to bother you or even cause blisters (a typical problem of classical, stiff hiking boots).

Grip 
The grip is amazing! Both uphill and downhill you'll be sticking on almost any kind of terrain perfectly. The design of the sole is very clever: the area under the tip of the toes has a slick “climbing zone” rubber, which helps in getting up on very steep rocky terrains and even climbing on small edges, while the heels have a kind of
hooky/spiky design that grip and hang really well in steep descents on all kinds of terrains.

Stability
The lacing system is very good. The two raws of eyelets are well spaced and this helps quite a lot in finding the optimal tightening and positioning of the foot in the shoe, which in turns helps the stability.
The heel is a bit too high and this causes easier twisting of the ankle, also because of the low profile of the shoes.

Flexibility & Responsiveness
The flex of the sole is certainly not that of a running shoe. It is quite rigid and reminiscent of that of a traditional hiking boot. The upper is quite flexible, but the stiffness of the sole allows only a limited flexibility around the joints of the toes. Sensitivity and responsiveness are very low.

Durability 
There is no doubt that the Xplorer will last for a long, long time. The
sole is very tough and it doesn't wear out very quickly. The upper is well protected in all the most critical parts. The only sings of use that we noticed after months of testing have been some wrinkles on the rubber protection on the sides around the joints of the toes, where the shoe flexes more.

Versatility
Thanks to the good balance between warmth and ventilation they can be considered almost 4-season shoes. Their limit, in the non-waterproof version, is that they can only be used in dry conditions. Light rain is not a problem, but you don't wanna use these shoes under heavy showers, on mud, or snow! If you are looking for a more versatile shoe, the Gore-tex version (called Hyper Gore-tex) might be a better option, although this is less breathable and warmer.

Breathability
The mesh composing the upper helps a lot in keep the feet ventilated, especially in warmer summer days. However, if you choose the Gore-tex version (the Hyper), keep in mind that, inevitably, 
breathability will be reduced.

Our Verdict

The Xplorer are comfortable and relatively light hiking shoes that have really impressed us for their extraordinary grip on every surface. They are well suited for hikes on dry terrains of any kind, but offering the best performances on rock. For more frequent use on wet terrains we definitely suggest the Hyper Gore-tex (a Gore-tex, warmer version of the Xplorer).

 Lightness  7/10
 Comfort  8/10 
 Grip 10/10 
 Stability  8/10
 Responsiveness  5/10 
 Durability  9/10 
 Versatility  7/10
 Breathability  9/10 
 Total Score 7.8/10


PROS 
+ Impressive grip both uphill and downhill
+ Clever design of the sole ("climbing zone" + "hooking heel")
+ Solid, light, comfortable, and breathable upper
+ Good lacing system

CONS
- They don't like water!
- Heel loops are too small



Salomon - XR Crossmax 2

posted Sep 19, 2013, 5:07 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Sep 19, 2013, 5:08 AM ]




Together with the classical trail running shoes in Salomon's catalog a new category of footwear appeared, which is dubbed “Door to Trail”. The name itself already anticipates something about this new concept of running shoes and our testers at Go Out Project were very intrigued. So we decided to give them a pair of XR Crossmax 2 to play with and tell us how they perform.

Construction

The design is very close to that of a “classical running/training shoe”. The upper is made of a mesh with rubbery reinforcement strips on the sides and around the laces. The sole is thick: 19 mm on the rear and 10 mm on the front.

The XR Crossmax 2 feature:
  • protective synthetic material on the tip 
  • rigid supportive structure on the heel 
  • OS Tendon: A polyurethane elastic band running lengthwise across the sole. The band connects the heel to the forefoot and, once flexed, it returns a vigorous elastic impulse that favors the thrust. 
  • Quicklace®: a minimalistic, single-string, one-pull-tightening lace system. 
  • Contragrip®: a combination of various types of rubber molded and cleverly placed to optimize traction on different terrains. 
Our Test


We tested the XR Crossmax 2 thoroughly for several months mostly for running, both on and off road, on both short 8-10 km and long 20-30 km distances. We also tried them on short hikes.

Activities tested: running, training, hiking

First Impressions

Thanks to the specifically designed notches in the flex zone of the sole and to an inset in a neoprene-like material on the upper, the shoes flex very well around the joints of the toes, giving an immediate natural feeling when running. Once the sole is flexed, the OS Tendon returns a noticeable impulse, like a spring, favouring the propulsion. The result is easy flexion and explosive response. Very nice!

Weighting 320g (640g per pair) they are not exactly a featherweight and you'll notice it during fast training!

On road


The XR Crossmax 2 are well suited for long runs. The feeling is very close to that of a traditional running shoe: good cushioning, well marked arch, limited sensitivity on the ground, comfortable ... sort of like the typical '90s running shoe that you would expect to have on your feet when running on paved roads.

The small and soft cleats on the sole tend to flex quite a lot, both in the boosting phase and when changing direction, conveying a "gummy-like" feeling that makes you lose something in terms of responsiveness.

Off road

The soft and flexible cleats, so disinclined to the hard surfaces, sink instead wonderfully into the soft or loose ground, literally biting the dirt! Downhill, even on the mud, the XR Crossmax 2 never fail, always remaining “glued” to the ground. The abundant cushioning, on the one hand reduces sensitivity on the ground, but on the other hand enhances protection so much that you'll start stepping on to anything ... even the sharpest things!

The set of materials that makes up the upper offers a good compromise between breathability and protection from dust and debris. The toe protection helps extending the life of the shoe and at the same time saves your toes from accidental wacks on rocks, roots, branches or whatever else might be on the trail.

Conclusions

The XR Crossmax 2 are excellent training shoes, very soft and flexible, and close to the “classical” concept of running/training shoes. They are quite versatile, behaving always good both on the road and on the trail. They are a very good choice if you are looking for an allround running shoe for training.

 Lightness  4/10
 Comfort  7/10
 Grip  7/10
 Stability  8/10
 Flexibility & Responsiveness  7/10
 Versatility  7/10
 Durability  6/10
 Total Score  6.6/10

PROS
+ Elevated cushioning
+ Excellent comfort
+ Excellent fit

CONS
- The sole wears out rapidly
- Limited sensitivity on the ground
- Noticeable weight
Tester: Marco M. (172cm - 62kg - size 42 EUR)

The North Face - Havoc

posted Jun 26, 2013, 4:42 PM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jun 28, 2013, 12:27 PM ]




The Havoc are light and flexible shoes representing a sort of fusion between a trail running shoe and a trekking shoe. The North Face has had the Havoc in its catalogs for a few seasons now. They are produced in various versions: high-, medium-, low-cut, with and without Gore-Tex. We decided to test the low-cut model cause we thought this could be more versatile and could have better performances in "light & fast" uses.


Construction

Full-grain leather toe and mudguard
Welded-synthetic, breathable midfoot
Protective rubber toe cap
Vibram® rubber sole of exclusive design
Combination compression-molded EVA and injected PU midsole
TPU and EVA CRADLE™ heel cushioning and stability technology
TPU Snake Plate™ forefoot protection

Low-cut, very flexible, wide.
Weight (size 9 US): 425g, pair 850g




  
Our Tests

Outdoor Activities tested: hiking, trail running, mountain biking

During six months of testing, we used the Havoc for hiking and running on trails, rock, mud, and snow, often carrying a heavy backpack, but also without it. We also used them for some mountain biking and we often used them as a comfortable "after sport" footwear.

Results

The Havoc are relatively light, very flexible, and damn comfortable!

The first feeling you have is that of great comfort. You immediately have the feeling of wearing your beloved everyday shoes and it becomes hard to wear others. The feeling on the ground is great. You always have full perception of the ground and at the same time you are well protected from impacts on blunt rocks or other objects. This is possible thanks the patented "Snake Plate", a sort of plastic plate present in the midsole that lets your foot flex naturally and protects it from sharp rocks on the trail. Overall, the setting of the low-cut Havoc is closer to that of a trail running shoe than to that of a classical trekking shoe.

The sole is wide and, therefore, the upper doesn't wrap tightly around "thinner feet", especially in the forefoot area. This causes some lack of precision, especially in lateral movements. The lacing is fast and the holes are well spaced along the entire length of the shoe. The laces have minimal friction, allowing proper tightening which helps reducing the backlash due to the wide sole.

Breathability is decent, despite the presence of the GORE-TEX® membrane. Of course, the model without a waterproof membrane is definitely much more breathable.

The sole has a good grip on most of the terrains. Only on wet or loose terrains we found a significant loss of traction, probably due to the not so pronounced tread of the sole.

The arch is very pronounced and it does not flatten even after heavy use. The rigid shell that supports the heel combined with the well-shaped innersole, contribute to the overall comfort and at the same time provides excellent support of the foot in every stance, but in particular for pronators. Although not designed for trail running, we tested the Havoc on some brief (10km) trails and we were not disappointed.

At first glance, when we picked up these shoes, we had the impression that they wouldn't be very long-lasting. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised by how, after months of heavy usage, the signs of wear were extremely limited and how the gluing withstood any abuse.

One thing we really appreciated is the mix of full-grain leather on the toe and synthetic web on the rest of the shoe. This combination always offers excellent protection from water, dust, and debris while allowing great flexibility and saving grams where not needed.

For extra protection you can choose the mid-cut version. For a few additional grams you'll have a higher barrier which prevents stones, leaves, elves, and all the debris of the forest from getting into your shoes!

Conclusions

The Havoc are the perfect shoes for those who want to travel light and fast in the Outdoor and those who've had enough of the ancient leather hiking boots! Both the high-cut and the low-cut models are excellent for walking, hiking, cycling or ... even as comfortable "after-training" shoes.

PROS
  • Great Comfort
  • Light & Robust

CONS
  • Grip can be improved
Tester: Marco M. (172cm - 62kg - size 42 EUR)

 Versatility  8/10
 Lightness   8/10
 Comfort  9/10 
 Grip  6/10 
 Stability  7/10 
 Flexibility & Responsiveness  7/10 
 Breathability  7/10 
 Durability  8/10
 Total Score  7.5/10 


The North Face - Havoc


The North Face - Havoc

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