Friday, August 30, 2019

Salomon X Alpine Pro Review

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Jeff:  The Salomon XA Elevate was my favorite shoe of 2017, as I find it to be ideal for the majority of my bread and butter runs, 1-2 hours, straight uphill, then straight back down, always technical, often loose and sometimes off trail, or even better, a day of rock hopping talus above treeline in Colorado.  I appreciated that the XA Elevate has an amazingly dialed, secure, yet comfortable fit, stable, protective, low center of gravity and amazing traction. I feel ultra confident when wearing them. When I first saw the XA Alpine Pro at Winter Outdoor Retailer, it was clear that it had much in common with the XA Elevate, but even more refined for rough mountain use.  The outsole is improved with a nice firm, sticky rubber section under the forefoot for edging on steep rock scrambles, a beefed up front toe bumper and protective overlays to guard from rubbing and abrasion, particularly around the medial instep.

Sam: I was with Jeff in having the XA Elevate as my favorite trail shoe of 2017 for its great combination of protection, support, traction, and surprising response on smooth, firmer flatter terrain.  When I first saw pictures and descriptions of the X Alpine I thought it might be closer to an approach shoe than a trail runner. I could see right away that the upper would likely be roomier and at the same time secure. Salomon shoes always has very secure uppers but often a snugger narrower toe box but here I could see a combination of very secure rear and mid foot and somewhat more rounded toe box with softer overlays behind the front toe bumper could make this a very comfortable shoe.
Jeff/Sam:  Protection, traction, fit, stability, predictability, foothold, low center of gravity, flexibility
An absolutely amazing upper which combines total security with comfort front to back. The medial mid foot panels are brilliant.
Finally a more flexible Salomon trail shoe.

Jeff:  Response, very firm ride at speed on hard surfaces
Sam: While I understand the purpose of the front climbing zone solid rubber, I felt it was somewhat in the way on smoother terrain, a bit front heavy. I also missed a touch of ProFeel film protection behind the totally protective climbing zone. 
Estimated Weight: 10.9 oz / 309 g (men's US 9)
Sample Weight: 10.6 oz /300 g (men's US 8.5), 11.4 oz/322 g (men’s US 10)
Stack Height: 24mm heel / 18 mm forefoot, 6 mm drop
$160. Available now.
Watch our Initial Video Review

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

2019 Road Running Trainer Comparison Guide-One Runner, 31 Shoe Flavors Tested!

Article by Jeff Beck

Over the last year of reviewing shoes for Road Trail Run, I have amassed a surprising (some might say alarming) number of shoes that fall into some sort of trainer.
In this article I compare 31 different models in three categories: Performance Trainers, Multi-Purpose Trainers, and Easy Comfort Trainers.

For each category I share my top three scoring shoes, biggest surprise, best upper, best ride, and most versatile. The shoe choices, scores, and bests are my personal perspective.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Title Nine Dream Skort 16” and Grace Short Sleeve Top Review

Article by Dominique Winebaum

In selecting the Dream Skort 16” and the Grace Short Sleeve Top - in solid colors - from Title Nine’s summer collection, I opted for an outfit I could wear from the tennis court to the grocery store and all day long in and out of the house.  
The skort and short sleeve top are extremely comfortable and versatile, but less so in hot and humid weather, due to the thickness of the fabric and the lack of integrated ventilation.   Wearing a skort, instead of shorts and bermudas, somewhat simplifies my existence as no ironing is involved and my Dream Skort still looks crisp at the end of the day.  
The Dream Skort is made of “Buttah TM” fabric (90% microfiber poly and 10% spandex) that is wrinkle-resistant and extremely soft.  Since it is a skort, it has built-in boy short and has a roomy leg pocket that can hold a phone or two tennis balls.
The skort comes in two lengths: 16” and 14” – I would opt for a shorter length for active sports, such as tennis, unless one prefers optimum coverage.  
In comparison to a tennis skirt, the Dream Skort’s leg pocket opens in the middle, which can be a bit tricky to retrieve tennis balls. (Photo credit: Margot Schmolka.) 

Available in solid colors (five) for the 16” and (two) for the 14” Dream Skort that are attractive and easy to match.  For a playful look, the Dream Skort - but only the 16” length - is offered in print with names like Aruba, Portofino, Flower Crush, and Banana Leaves.  
Title Nine Dream Skort 16" Portofino Fennel
Stripes are another option for both the 16” and the 14” Dream Skort with a choice of three different colors in the 16" and the blue below in the 14". 
Title Nine Dream Skort 14" Stripe Medieval Blue
In terms of sizing, the Dream Skort “fits true to size” however I noticed that the skort tends to distend a bit with wear at the end of the day.  I would need to compare both sizes – small and medium – to determine which fits better for me -- I am 5’ 5 ½” tall and weigh 136 lbs. A shorter length (14”) and in a size small, perhaps in a brighter color,  would be my choice for a second Dream Skort.  
Athletic technical wear can be pricey, yet given the multifunctionality of the Dream skort, it is reasonably priced at $59.00 for the solid and print and $65.00 for the stripes version. 

The Grace Short Sleeve Top is made of “Buttah LT tm” fabric, a blend of micro poly and spandex with wicking properties, and has antimicrobial agents – silver, copper and zinc – to prevent odor-causing bacteria.  
Available in four solid colors and in two print; clearly reviewers on the Title Nine site are begging for more color choices.  Well designed and functional, it features a side zippered pocket to store small items.  
Topstitched seams on the front sides and in the back add texture and definition to the top while creating a comfortable and “graceful” look.  
The back is particularly attractive with the “rash back detail”. This is a resilient short sleeve top that keeps its shape after wear and washing.  On that note, it also requires less washing as per Title Nine’s claim -- it does stay fresher longer and sometimes I forget how many times I have worn it before washing it!  

It is a super comfortable short-sleeve top with wicking properties and an attractive look which I find works best for moderate and light activities.  Priced at $54, this is a technical top that is worth the investment.  Always be careful to wash according to instructions.  
(Photo credit: Juliet Grant)   
The Dream Skort and Grace Short Sleeve make an outfit that works just as well on the court, at the beach or in the kitchen providing comfort, coverage, with a no-nonsense, no frills approach.
Shop for the Dream Skort at Title Nine here
Shop for the Grace Short Sleeve Top at Title Nine here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Trail Runner Initial Video Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

Inov-8 Terraultra G 260  ($150)
Update: Read our full multi tester review HERE

Weight: 9.17 oz /260 g
Stack Height: 17mm heel, 17 mm forefoot, 0 drop

The G260 is a zero drop, hard surfaces trail runner with a Graphene infused outsole and a TPU EVA midsole  (Update on midsole). It has a  Kevlar reinforced heel counter, a rugged upper with a roomy, high toe box featuring a stout ballistic nylon toe bumper. It is notably flexible for a trail shoe and has no rock plate . The video below outlines the features and has on the trail footage during my first test run on smoother single track trails in Park City,  Utah Round Valley.
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Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Salomon Supercross Initial Video Review, Details, and Comparison to Speedcross 4

Article by Sam Winebaum

Salomon Supercross ($110)
Update: Read our full written review here

Estimated Weight: 11.2 oz / 317 g men's US9
Sample Weight: 10.9 oz / 308 g men's US8.5
Full Stack Height: 29mm heel / 19 mm forefoot, 10 mm drop

The Supercross is a new addition to Salomon's Cross family of aggressively lugged trail shoes. It features a roomier more generous fit than most all Salomon I have run from its rip stop nylon upper with pliable overlays, from what I can sense a softer Energy Cell midsole which is also quite flexible, and a high durability Contragrip TD outsole with 5mm lugs.  

It is positioned by Salomon as being "made for running in all the wild places you like to go. Whether it's a daily lap around your urban park, an escape to the local trail, or something more rugged, this shoe will grip on all terrains while offering a generous cushioning..." One could consider it as the sloppier, mud and snow conditions door to trail sibling of the Sense Ride 2 (RTR Review) although on my first run it ran just fine on hard packed smoother single tracks. It is also available in a GTX version for $130.


Full review after more testing coming soon!
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

USA  Men's & Women's HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

Men's & Women's HERE

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE EVO Speedgoat Multi Tester Review: Light, Super Cushioned, Long Haul Comfort, Home Run Trail Race Machine

Article by Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, Jacob Brady, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka ONE ONE EVO Speedgoat ($160)
Jeff:  The Speedgoat 2 and 3, as well as the EVO Mafate 1 and 2 have been some of my favorite shoes and have consistently occupied a permanent spot on my top shelf of first pick shoes. I have used the Speedgoat 2 for racing mountain trail marathons and half marathons, but do admit that on longer distances, they can start to feel a bit snug as my feet swell, even on my somewhat slim foot.  The EVO Mafate and especially the revised EVO Mafate 2 have upped the game, with a very secure/durable, yet comfortable Matryx upper, with now a bit of give now due to the small stretch section just ahead of the lower lace eyelets (breathable vamp it is called).  
I have not raced in a bit, but if I were, the EVO Mafate 2 would be my pick over the aforementioned versions due to its much more responsive midsole.  The EVO Speedgoat retains the proven cushy midsole and outsole of the Speedgoat 2 and 3, yet completely re-tools the upper to the Matryx material in the EVO Mafate 2, a more pliable, thinner softer version of the fairly dense and scratchy Matryx material found in EVO Mafate 1 .  The kevlar fibers woven into Matryx upper makes them very light, breathable, non moisture absorbing and secure, without the need for postings and overlays. For some, depending on positioning, postings and overlays can cause discomfort, create a structural weakness, add weight and decrease flexibility with the Matryx upper is intended to remedy all of that.

Dom:  The elevator pitch for the EVO Speedgoat is this: the upper of the EVO Mafate 2 meets the sole of the Speedgoat 3.   If you’re familiar with both shoes that’s really all you need to know.  Otherwise, read on.
Dom:  The Speedgoat 2 was the shoe I chose to race at UTMB in both 2017 and 2018.  And I was fully expecting that the updated Speedgoat 3 would be my choice in 2019.  I have a complicated relationship with these shoes. For daily running, they are not to my liking: the sole stack is so thick and stiff that ground feel is all but non-existent; the upper feels like it clamps my foot to the sole.  However, for long races like UTMB, the fact that the Speedgoat is bulletproof, secure, and utterly dependable, all while clocking in at a competitive weight, trumps comfort and other considerations.

Dom:  Hoka’s original EVO Mafate had a similar stack height to the Speedgoat, but with a softer sole, having that signature Hoka ‘marshmallow’ cushion versus the firmer ride of the Speedgoat.  With the EVO Mafate 2, Hoka tweaked the upper, crucially adding a stretch panel across the forefoot that made the toebox more accommodating, and (for me) much more comfortable. I liked the EVO Mafate 2 enough to use it in the 5-day Dragon’s Back Race in the UK. I chose the EM2 because I thought the pillowy sole would be the most forgiving option available to run for ~9 hours/day.  I think this was largely true. But I also found that the traction from the partial-coverage outsole was disastrously unreliable. This, combined with instability from the tall, soft stack caused several hard falls, ripped hands, and broken poles. In retrospect, I have to conclude that the EM2 is a much better choice in gentler terrain. I had previously used this shoe to race at the Canyons 100k race in California, and experienced no problems at all.

Dom:  If you made it through the long-winded discussion above, you’ll understand why the prospect of a EVO Mafate 2 upper (comfortable, durable) connected to a Speedgoat 3 sole (grippy, stable, durable) is an enticing prospect, potentially leveraging the strengths of both shoes.  In my opinion, the EVO Speedgoat delivers on this promise. Not only does it find a happy synergy between the characters of its parents, but also it does so at a notably lighter weight than either: in my size (US M10), the Speedgoat 3 weighs 310 g per shoe; the EVO Mafate 3 is 305 g; the EVO Speedgoat is 285 g.

Jacob: The EVO Speedgoat is the next progression of the Speedgoat line, transforming a rough-terrain, descent-blasting, long-distance trucker—the Speedgoat 3—into a true race-class shoe. The EVO Speedgoat boasts a significant weight drop due to a very lightweight and breathable Matryx upper, alike to Hoka’s other max-cushion trail shoe, the EVO Mafate (1 and 2). The Speedgoat 3 (SG3) has been my primary trail shoe for the past few months and carried me through both my first ultra and mountain race. I choose the SG3 over the EVO Mafate as the foothold is top notch—unbeatable for the often unmaintained and very rooted trails of the northeast US. I love the SG3 though weight is its primary weakness, so the release of a significantly lighter version with the same out/midsole is exciting stuff! 
Sam: I was very intrigued to test the EVO Speedgoat. After much success by Hoka elites in the EVO Mafate in 2018, I was surprised to learn that Jim Walmsley set the Western States 100 record as well as 3d place at the very fast course Sierre Zinal 30K in this evolution of the Speedgoat.

I for sure couldn’t see that kind of speed attained in the regular Speedgoat. I never much cared for the Speedgoat 1 and 2, the two versions I have run. Stiff, squishy, quite snug especially upfront unless the terrain was super technical they felt more like hikers than trail runners. I really enjoyed the Torrent for some 25K trail races last year as it had just enough cushion and plenty of traction at a much lower weight. The EVO Mafate 1 was a rocket for me on smoother terrain and even some road but its upper was a bit scratchy and stiff up front. I also wished for more flexibility in both the Speedgoat and EVO Mafate. Along comes the approximately 1 ounce lighter EVO Speedgoat, pretty much matching the Torrent in weight. A more pliable comfortable upper than the others (I did not test EVO Mafate 2 with its similar Matryx material). Check! More flexibility. Check! Lots of softer cushion and a great stabilizing and grippy outsole. Check! Time to test.

Jeff/ Sam/Dom/Jacob:  
Light at 9.3 oz for all the cushion/protection, about an ounce lighter than Speedgoat 3 and EVO Mafate 2 with similar stack heights
Increased comfort and easier on the toes front fit compared to Speedgoat 3, 
Breathable, non moisture absorbing, rapid draining  
Responsive for a maximal soft cushioned shoe, 
Traction & Durability
Sam: a great blend of soft bouncy all day, any pace any terrain comfort, flexibility and decent response from the outsole.

JeffSome may find them to be a bit hard to handle in technical terrain
Sam: Toe box while incredibly comfortable lacks side of bumper overlays and the soft flexible midsole makes off angle front landings not as secure and stable for more technical terrain.
Jacob: Foothold on technical terrain is a step down from the Speedgoat 3

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Skechers Performance GOrun Max Road 4 Hyper Multi Tester Review

Article by Jeff Beck, Derek Li, Peter Stuart, Hope Wilkes, and Sam Winebaum

Skechers Performance GOrun Max Road 4 Hyper ($125)

Sam: The Max Road 4 Hyper is Skechers most cushioned Hyper Burst foam equipped shoe to date. With a midsole outsole stack height of 28mm heel, 22 mm forefoot, 37/31 including board and sockliner and a 6mm drop it is clearly a maximal shoe yet with a weight of 8.4 oz it is remarkably light.  
The process for creating Hyper Burst foam also found in the GOrun 7, Speed Elite, and likely soon other Skechers is described by them as follows:

"HYPER BURST™ is a new midsole foam technology that is completely different than any foam Skechers Performance™ has ever created.  A “super critical™” foam, the new and innovative mechanical foaming process creates thousands of spherically-shaped cells in a very tight format. This closed-cell structure creates a midsole material that is the lightest and most resilient that Skechers Performance™ has ever made.

Hyper Burst™ is created by saturating a solid piece of EVA with CO2 that has been heated and pressurized into a super critical fluid state. After saturation, the CO2 returns to its normal gas state, creating thousands of bubble-like cell structures trapped within the midsole, making it lighter and more resilient than EVA manufactured using conventional chemical blowing agents."

Looking closely at the Max Road 4 midsole one can actually see the cells which have the appearance of a much finer more consistent than usual white foam packing block you might see protecting electronics or other fragile items, whereas with a conventional EVA molded midsole one sees a denser material and no apparent cells. And as for the smile factor Hyper Burst offers a ride which is consistent in feel, springy, and stable.

Finished with a stretch knit upper the Max Road 4 differs from the currently available Razor 3 Hyper in having a podular mid foot to toe off outsole with extensive heel rubber instead of a flatter “patch” oriented outsole, more stack height, and a compression knit upper instead of a non stretch monofilament type upper. The podular outsole, Hyper Burst midsole, and knit upper are shared as general concepts with the recently released Run 7 but make no mistake about it the compression knit upper in the Max Road 4 is far more supportive than the Run 7 as it is knit in a 3D fashion for support.
I was fortunate enough to participate in wear testing the Max Road 4 Hyper over the last year or so, testing over a dozen different versions.  Other than the shoes and the opportunity to contribute to the development, I was in no other way compensated by Skechers. As with almost all, if not all Skechers Performance shoes I have wear tested, my first pair’s midsole and outsole geometry and basic upper design and materials did not change during the process. The changes were to how the shoe fits, the knit design (density, fit, volume) , the internal overlays and padding as well as the outsole firmness.  

Hope: Sam delivered the goods on the technical specs of the Max Road 4! It certainly has some of the ingredients for greatness. The question is, does it work? 

Derek/Sam/Hope/Jeff: springy lively ride, good rockered transition
Peter/Sam/Hope/Jeff: comes alive when you speed up. 
Peter/Hope/Jeff: FUN!, great at all paces, 
Jeff: Upper fits well, and stretches in the right places

Derek/Hope: upper does not breathe well for me
Peter/Hope: Upper issues, ankle irritation, some slipping
Sam: Actually not as much fun or easy (awkward mid foot transition to run slow as faster. Not a great recovery shoe despite stack.
Hope: Hate to say it, but these are visually not my cup of tea — there are far better looking running shoes out there, and better looking Skechers; outsole durability is poor; midsole pods bottom out.
Jeff: 200% failure rate (double blister on every single run) due to partial midsole collapse