Sunday, March 31, 2019

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Solas Review: Super Light Fresh Foam Fun!

Article by Hope Wilkes

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Solas ($100)
Someone at New Balance is listening, or I dreamed the Zante Solas into life. Despite being a long-time fan of the Zante line, I wasn’t sold on the Pursuit. Specifically, I commented in my review that I’d like to see NB produce the model with a Fresh Foam Ground Contact outsole. Enter the Zante Solas, which has the precise outsole I wished for. Thank you, New Balance! This model shares the heritage of the Zante, but takes the line in an even more stripped-down direction than the Pursuit. I won’t say minimalist because that means a certain thing in the running world, but in a design sense, the shoe is very simple. There’s a sock-like upper atop a Fresh Foam midsole and a Fresh Foam Ground Contact outsole.

Pros: weight, looks, snappy yet forgiving ride
Cons: the upper could be somewhat more secure

Friday, March 29, 2019

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 Review: A Subtle yet Significant Update

Article by Sally Reiley, Hope Wilkes, and Sam Winebaum

NIke Epic React Flyknit 2 ($150)
Sally: The Epic React was perhaps my favorite new shoe of 2018: light, cushy, responsive, quick, good looking, comfortable, and basically fun to run in. I was looking forward to the update, but fearing that Nike might mess with success. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here, and we Epic React lovers will be happy that Nike did not effectively change anything at all!
Hope: I was a big fan of the OG Epic React so I shared Sally’s nervousness that big changes in the ER2 would mess with the original’s success. There are some differences between the models, but they’re mostly subtle. I had to run with the OG ER on one foot and the ER2 on the other to really distinguish them. I expected my outing in the mismatched pair to feel weird, but the shoes are so similar that I really had to pay attention to spot the changes made in the update.
Sam: The Epic React 1 was one of the most disappointing shoes of 2018 for me. While very light, well cushioned for its weight, sleek, and elegantly simple in design it had one of the very few uppers in recent memory which literally got in the way of transitions, pressing hard over the top and side of my midfoot with the heel counter rough and a bit sharp on the achilles. The ride itself was quite dull, labored and lifeless for me. So while on the surface the Epic React 2 looked very similar, boy was I surprised when I ran them. Comparing one on each foot,upper tuning eliminated the top of foot pressure, the toe box is ever so slightly roomier and the ride noticeably smoother and easier to transition and even I think a touch softer, less dense, and bouncier.

Sam, Sally, Hope:
Very light for the amount of cushion
Firm, but soft without being mushy
Beautiful aesthetics, classic and simple
Sally and Hope:
Bouncy, silent, FUN
Feels great at all paces but loves fast
Transitions smoothly from heel to toe
Sam: Upper now fits well at my true to size without midfoot constriction as v1 had
Sally: Runs snug so not the shoe for a high volume foot
Hope: Roomier fit than OG ER in the midfoot makes for a less precise fit
Sam: While much improved in run ability due to the upper and slight midsole changes still somewhat muted dull transition and overall run feel for me lacking in decisiveness and snap.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum

Nike Air Zoom Kiger 5 ($130)

Nike as of now has exactly two trail shoes in their line up: the Wildhorse 5 a 10.2 oz heavier duty, stiffer long distance trainer (RTR Review) and the Kiger, a more agile, lighter (9.5 oz) all arounder. The Kiger 5 sees a significant overhaul with a new React midsole foam midsole with a single Zoom Air unit in the hee, and substituting for the front Zoom Air of the Kiger 4, a new segmented rock plate, along with a more aggressive multi terrain outsole and changes to the shoe’s upper. We set out to test the new Kiger on varied terrain in Colorado, California, and Utah.

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 61 with a recent 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR.   These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range on trails and roads in NH and Utah. He is 5'10" and weighs about 165 lbs.
Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Pros and Cons
Dom, Jeff, Sam]: Roomy but low front snug toe box
Dom, Jeff, Sam: Plenty of underfoot protection while retaining good trail feel and forefoot stability
Jeff,Sam: Responsive, agile and fast
Jeff, Sam: Secure fit
Jeff: Excellent traction

Dom, Sam:  Ghastly 80’s fluo colorway, Stark black and white colorway with giant Swoosh
Dom:  Heel is unstable on technical/off-camber terrain
Dom, Jeff:  Shallow toe box may irritate toenails
Dom, Jeff, Sam: Outsole lacking lugs underneath mid foot

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 Video Review with Comparisons to Epic React 1

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 ($150)
Weight: 6.9 oz  / 196 g (size US W8), 7.9 oz /224 g (size US M9)
Stack Height: 28 mm (Heel), 18 mm (Forefoot). 10mm drop

Update: Read our full multi-tester review here

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments and Questions  
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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Salomon District Vision Chadwick Racer Review: Performance on the Trails, Statement on the Street.

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum
Salomon District Vision Chadwick Mountain Racer  ($230)
Weight US men’s size 9: 10 oz / 283 g
Sample US men’s size 10: 10.6 oz / 303g
Offset: 8mm
Available from District Vision here
Sam: District Vision of NYC designs and sells a wide range of high performance, retro modern  stylish running focused sunglasses, and apparel including their new Air__Wear run tops. All of their products have proven outstanding in their functionality, comfort and beautiful modern retro styling in our testing.  District Vision's motto is "Tools for Mindful Runners".

I previously tested and reviewed District Vision sunglasses here
Designed in NYC and crafted in Japan of top notch materials, their easy on the eyes run focused optics and functionality is outstanding. They remain one of my key go to shades for road and trail running as well every day wear and driving.
Now in collaboration with Salomon, they introduce the Chadwick Mountain Racer. Chadwick can be called a highly ruggedized firmer narrower on the ground platform variant of Salomon’s iconic Speedcross. District adds some design characteristics and features reminding of an approach shoe in the multiple lace holes towards the toe (no Salomon QuickLace Kevlar cords here)  nd rugged Kevlar fabric toe bumper.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Salming Greyhound Review: More Sled Dog Steady than Greyhound Fast

Article by Hope Wilkes and Sam Winebaum
Salming Greyhound ($155)

The Salming Greyhound is the Swedish brand’s first true softer cushioned daily trainer playing in the same class as the Brooks Ghost, Pegasus Turbo, New Balance 1080v9. It features the brand’s updated Recoil PLUS EVA blend midsole, a Vibram Trek XS road outsole, and a spacious no overlays upper. Salming previous shoes have tended to be on the firmer, snug side and the Greyhound represents a clear move in feel and stats towards more and softer cushion with a 28mm heel / 22 forefoot stack compared to their previous more cushioned models such as Mile, Miles Lite, and En Route which all had 3-4mm less midsole stack.

-smooth ride, durable and grippy outsole
-soft bouncier ride which at the same time responds well due to the Vibram outsole coverage
-durable copious coverage Vibram road outsole, should be a many miles shoe
-upper is too stiff, weight
-a spacious, non elastic, no overlays upper whose fit will challenge lower volume feet
-somewhat ponderous broad and loose feeling front of the shoe and toe off

Monday, March 18, 2019

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 Initial Video Review

Video by Sam Winebaum

Watch our initial review of the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5. It releases April 1st, 2019.
Update: Read our full written multi-tester review here

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments and Questions  
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Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 5 Review - Finally a new Wildhorse, but mostly the same Wildhorse

Article by Jeff Beck
Jeff: After several years of re-releasing the Nike Zoom Air Wildhorse 4 in new colorways, Nike has finally given it an update and is releasing the Wildhorse 5 on April 1. While Nike opted to completely change every aspect of its more popular and sleeker sibling Terra Kiger, the Wildhorse 5 update is largely an upper overhaul. The Wildhorse continues to be a force on the trail, combining Phylon EVA foam, an Air Zoom unit in the heel,and  a rockplate in the forefoot with a rubber outsole, and the result is a very smooth running trail shoe that keep the foot well protected over a number of very rocky miles. The all new upper helps shave noticeable weight off of the shoe, and makes a great running trail cruiser even better.

  • More traditional/symmetrical upper should appease more feet than the 4
  • Good foot protection from rock plate and EVA foam
  • Same great ride as Wildhorse 4, but more than an ounce lighter on the scale
  • Actually has a toe bumper this time around
  • Phenomenal value at $110
  • Traction still suspect in damp, muddy, or wet conditions
  • Pink/purple/baby blue/yellow/green/white color way may have a limited audience (namely my five-year-old daughter), and gets very dirty quickly.
  • Toe bumper does limit toe space

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Balance 890v7 Review: Looks Great. Best Run Fast!

Article by Derek Li, Dave Ames, and Sam Winebaum

New Balance 890v7 ($120)
Sam: The New Balance 890v7 is called out by New Balance as having a "sleek and lightweight design which makes it the perfect daily trainer and dedicated workout shoe".  The 890v7 is priced at $120 and will be available early April 2019.

The big news here is that my size US 8.5 sample weighs 6.6 oz /187 grams for a massive 2.3 oz. drop / 65 g compared to my 890v6 sample (RTR review) at the same size.

With a catalog spec of 7.1 oz men's and women's at 5.5 oz /158 g it should come in a touch under 7 oz. / 198 g in a size 9 (New Balance I believe using size 9.5 for catalog weights). That is light!
Where do the weight savings come? Looked at side by side the stack appears the same at an estimated 27mm heel /21 mm forefoot but we see a lighter engineered knit upper, a new Ground Contact RevLite foam, and especially far less outsole rubber than its predecessor.

The result is a shoe which should come in lighter than any other racer trainers from New Balance including the 1400, stability oriented 1500, softer Beacon, and Zante Pursuit.
  • dropped 2.3 oz /65 g from v6
  • good vibration dampening
  • very comfortable sleek upper which worked well in wet conditions.
  • stable but without an overly flat feeling at mid foot as v6 had
  • platform leads to more pronounced toe offs at speed 
  • Derek: outsole durability poor, upper fit is on the relaxed side
  • Sam: stiff forefoot and firm, making it speed and workouts focused
  • Dave:  Poor lacing scheme for a narrow ankle runner.  Last eyelet digs into my fibula. Not the strongest fan of wrap around heel counter combined with where the last eyelet is placed.

Inov-8 Roclite 335 Review: Warm Welcome to Fast Winter Running and Hiking

Article by Sam Winebaum

Inov-8 Roclite 335 ($150)
The Roclite 335 is a light (approx. 11.8 oz /335 g) "boot" designed for running and fast hiking in cold conditions. It is in the line based on requests from customers in Canada and Scandinavia for a winter running option for cold conditions. dIt features a thin layer of Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco insulation beneath a tight weave water resistant soft shell type upper. Underfoot it shares the agile and flexible midsole platform of Inov-8 warmer conditions Roclite trail runners, so this is no lumbering near hiking shoe. It's rubber outsole has the brand's new graphene infused G-Grip compound for outstanding durability in a sticky type rubber outsole.
I put them to the test running on a variety of snow covered surfaces from looser packed powder to very hard packed snow.

  • very light weight for a boot,
  • roomy and broad for winter weight socks,
  • warm but not overly so, focused on cold snow conditions.
  • agile and flexible, a real trail runner, 
  • outstanding "tacky" grip on very hard packed snow.
  • upper is not waterproof /breathable, less utility for shoulder season conditions,
  • broad and extensive lug surface coverage was not as grippy in softer powder as soft ground shoes are.
  • tongue could be a bit denser in padding to better bridge side wings given thin cord laces.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 Review - Monster on the dirt, liability in the mud

Article by Jeff Beck

Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 ($110)

The heavy duty brother in Nike's trail lineup, the Wildhorse 4 is a trail beast. Frequently overlooked for its lighter/faster sibling Terra Kiger (RTR Review), the Wildhorse has a breathable upper that holds the foot well, while still providing lots of room up front. Not a maximum cushioned shoe, it still sports quite a bit of foot protection with a combination of Phylon cushioning with a Zoom Air unit in the heel and a rock plate in the forefoot, the Wildhorse 4 is an all-day cruiser. The outsole lugs are not very deep, but they provide ample traction without compromising ride quality.
The Wildhorse will be updated in April (RTR Preview) and is now test at RoadTrailRun along with the Air Zoom Kiger 5.

Tester Profile
Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less.  Jeff runs 30 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in North Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39 both he is working to demolish with help from his coach and fellow RTR tester Dave Ames.

- Upper is roomy in forefoot but holds midfoot and heel well
- Great traction on dry and rocky terrain
- Uses rock plate and ample cushioning for good underfoot protection
- Solid ride on the road too
- Outstanding value for $110

- Asymmetrical lacing doesn't work for all foot types
- Wet and muddy traction leaves something to be desired

Friday, March 08, 2019

Saucony Swtichback ISO Review: Innovative, BOA Enabled, Agile, More Minimal Trail Runner

Article by Canice Harte, Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum
Editor's Note: We welcome Canice Harte in his first review. Canice is a long time running and outdoor industry executive based in Park City, UT. He is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100 and Western States 100 as well as many other Ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles. Beyond ultras and adventure races, Canice has competed in traditional road races and triathlons.

Saucony Switchback ISO ($140)
Sam: The Switchback ISO represents a totally modernized take on the minimal trail shoes of old. It features a relatively low 21mm forefoot / 17 mm heel stack so a 4mm drop, plenty of flexibility, a barely there upper with no heel counter, and has minimal rock protection- all hallmarks of an earlier era when many danced on rocks near barefoot. The modernized part comes from:
  • a TPU based Everun midsole, a resilient, fairly firm foam with a slight bounce,
  • a low profile dual density outsole with  a dense coverage of many different lug sizes and many gripping angles,
  • a sleek engineered mesh ISOFit upper with subtle yet effective overlays,
  • and of course inclusion of a BOA lace free, spin the dial closure system.

We set out to discover the best uses of this intriguing new entry, its strengths and weakness on the trails and some roads of Southern California, Colorado, Utah, and New Hampshire. Our team ran on snow covered trails and roads, dry pavement, dirt, mud, and steep technical trails,

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy Initial Review: Light, Lively, and Well Priced Super Foam

Article by Mac Jeffries 

Update: Read our full multi tester review of the Forever Floatride Energy HERE

Editor's Note: 
Mac is a new RoadTrailRun reviewer with an interesting background. He is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 to a steady 205l lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F. Welcome to the RTR team Mac!
Reebok Forever Floatride Energy ($100)

Mac: The battle of midsoles continues, as does the resurrection of Reebok as a serious contestant in the running market. After the Floatride’s debut with a fantastic Pebax midsole but iffy upper, Reebok hit back to back home runs with their Floatride Fast and Floatride Fast Pro models. The Forever Energy uses a NEW midsole technology - that they simply call Forever Energy - that is a new TPU/TPE (think “Boost” or “Everrun”) based midsole that manages to be much lighter than the norm. What they ended up with is a fantastic shoe for Easy to Tempo efforts for only $100. Shoe Market: take notice.

Mac:  The midsole is cush with great energy return, the upper is simple (in a good way), weight is among the best on the market for a TPE midsole, and did I mention it is only $100?

Mac:  shoe laces are too short, sizing is big (definitely order a half size smaller), and insole is non-removable (you can still remove it quite easily), and collar may come up a bit too high for some.  

Forever Floatride Energy ($100)
Men's: 8.7 oz / 253 g  Women's 7 oz /202 g
Available February 2019