Monday, June 07, 2021

Quick Stride #4: Craft Hypervent, Rabbit, VJ Ultra, Mizuno, Saucony

Article by Renne Krusemark, Shannon Payne, Bryan Lim and Sam Winebaum

Quick Strides is a weekly article here at RTR.  The format and content will be as our contributors wish. 

The RTR team all over the world is continuously testing and using dozens of run products for road and trail. Some are provided by brands, some are personal purchases, some are for upcoming reviews, others are not, and finally some are long time favorites and go to’s. 

Renee (Nebraska)

Summer is not officially here yet, but the 90℉ temps, high humidity, and ticks say otherwise. I’ll adjust eventually. In the meantime, I miss trudging through the snow wearing farm overalls in the negative temperatures. 

The good news is the hot weather gave me a chance to test the Craft Pro Hypervent Cropped Top and Split Shorts along with the Osmo Preload Hydration mix. The Craft gear is very light weight and appreciated while running in the heat. I’ll have my thoughts compiled on those products for RTR soon. 

Our multi tester review of the Brooks Revel 5 is posted and worth reading if you like cost-effective light trainers. I have enough miles in the Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 and Triumph 19 to start writing my thoughts. Check back at  RTR in the upcoming week. 

A few more days running with the Craft CTM Carbon (RTR Review)  and Endorphin Trail  (RTR Review) and I’ll be able to add my thoughts to the RTR team’s already published reviews of those shoes.

Craft Women’s Hypervent apparel including the Cropped Top is available from our partners Running Warehouse HERE

Sam:  (New Hampshire but now in Park City for June)

I have been testing the VJ Ultra with now running on New Hampshire and Park City, UT more “mellow” trails. 

I say mellow as both Jeff Valliere and Jacob Brady have taken this super gripping well cushioned and flexible shoe on highly technical terrain at very fast paces: route overall record  for Jeff in Boulder above town  and 8th place overall for Jacob at the gnarly MT Chocorua, New Hampshire 14 mile trail race with almost 5K feet of climbing and lots or nasty slippery rocks. 

I have “cruised” them on more mellow trails: somewhat rooty and rocky NH trails and today in Park City on smoother single track.  

The dirt grip (and of course rock grip) and climbing ability is amazing  and there is plenty of friendly just right cushion and protection without losing agility or flex.  Its simple but Kevlar reinforced mesh upper has superb never think about it support and security and is quite breathable as well.  At just 9.5 oz /269 in a US9 it is one versatile performer. I am expecting it will may  be in the running for trail shoe of the year for several of us. Review soon. 

Bryan Lim (Melbourne, Australia)

The Mizuno Wave Rider has been available in Australia for a few weeks where I am with the US to come soon.

Now Mizuno has blown me away with the Wave Rider 25. As with many peers locally, Mizuno is seen as a brand that sticks to the same formula for its shoes year after year. Lo and behold, Mizuno has awoken and this is well translated through the Wave Rider 25. With super shoes stealing the limelight, this boring everyday running shoe is everything but. It looks absolutely phenomenal, especially as it steers away from Melbourne’s obsession with the “triple black” colourway although of course, you can get them in that colourway! It runs like a dream; propulsive and yet forgiving. For those who are looking for a versatile mileage shoe, this is definitely one to consider. You’ll just have to read my review coming soon to find out more! 

Shannon (Northern California) 

I was hanging out this evening experiencing what could be described as a mild case of the Sunday Scaries when I heard a “thump” on my doorstep. I open the door and lo and behold what do I find outside but the new Saucony Endorphin Trail! Shoe nerd alert!

I unboxed it literally five minutes ago and my initial thought is...this is one beefy trail shoe. I’m walking around the room in them as I type this, and it feels sort of reminiscent of the Salomon Sense Pro Max, with a distinctive forefoot rocker and a lot of shoe underfoot. 

If I’m remembering correctly, I thought that shoe was absolutely atrocious and an abomination to all things Salomon...until I ran it. I must’ve put 900 miles on those by the end, it was that good. Anyway, I’ve heard only good things from my fellow shoe nerds regarding this new addition to the Saucony trail lineup, and I’ll be looking forward to giving it a whirl this week.

Another thing I took note of as I did laundry this weekend was my ever-increasing adoration for Rabbit apparel, made evident by the fact that Rabbit now comprises roughly 90% of the running apparel that I own. 

Yes, I’ve got myself a Rabbit habit, and I have yet to own a single piece of Rabbit clothing that has been anything but amazing. Made here in California, the fit, feel, and fabric are perfect for whatever your run has in store, and if you haven’t given it a go yet, it’s well worth your dime. Plus, I’m a sucker for brands that truly support the sport. 

Rabbit women’s run apparel is available from our partner Fleet Feet HERE

Some products were provided at no charge for review purposes. Others were personal purchases. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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rms said...

VJ Ultra issues: 1) Felt wobbly to me on very rocky sections: some combination of stack height and heel geometry is not sitting well with me. Compared to the Evo Speedgoat, they have identical weights, yet the Evo is dramatically more stable. I'm thinking the bucketseat construction of the Evo that has your heel embedded in the midsole rather than sitting on top (as in the VJU), as well as the wider heel outsole base is a big factor. I'm a pronounced heelstriker on descents.

2) A lot of sliding forward on steep descents, so I feel the midfoot hold isn't that great. In addition the tongue is so short that lace bite from attempting heel lock lacing is a big issue.

In short, VJ Ultra has plenty of cushion, protection, grip. Stability and midfoot hold is where it lacks, so better used for fireroads and the like: No rockgardens, no offtrail scrambling with this shoe IMHO. Evo Speedgoat is the clear choice between the two for me in most situations.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hey rms,
Thanks for feedback. Might agree with heel stability “at the limits” the Hoka bucket seat there but find midfoot hold outstanding as well as front at my more pedestrian paces. The medial strap is key. Clearly more mid to front support than EVO Speedgoat for me. Do you have a narrow low volume foot?

rms said...

I don't believe so, but do tend to be sensitive to midfoot & heel stability; e.g., I find the Wildhorse6 wildly unstable in the heel, while it doesn't seem to bother many. As for the VJU, I laud its strengths at that weight point, but it's not quite the ultimate mountain running beast I was hoping for (If LaSportiva updated the Bushido2 by dropping an ounce & deconstructing the midfoot cage a bit that could be a dream shoe for me). Perhaps your reviewers could comment on why only the VJU medial side gets a heavy midfoot overlay, with nothing on the lateral side, would be some good info -- it doesn't make much sense to me just looking at it :) looking forward to the final review as always!

Bobcat said...

Interested if the Endorphin Trail weights are accurate.
295g for size 8.5 is OK, but in your review it seems it's a lot heavier

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bobcat,
Actual weight of my US8.5 Endo Trail US M8.5 is 308g/10.8 oz

Skidad said...

Really looking forward to the VJ Ultra review. It’s been on my radar as next possible shoe for the technical terrain of the Whites. rms brings up some possible points of concern but the short tongue with lace lock is disappointing. The Maxx also is very short and I always use the lace lock technique. You have to be quite careful tying them. Also wish there was a bit of padding. Tried the EVO Speedgoat in technical terrain and that was a no go. Regular Speedgoat yes (which also has to short a tongue and no padding). It’ll be and expensive gamble but that VJ grip thing is addictive.

Mike said...

1st run in the VJ Ultras today, some thoughts-

I've been having some trouble finding a suitable long/technical ultra shoe for a long time. My default right now is the Speedgoat 4 - it has enough protection for my feet, but I feel like it really beats up my legs due to the lack of flexibility and muted ground feel. I've tried EVO Speedgoats as well but they are definitely not made for technical terrain. They were able to save weight with the upper design, but it is not structured and you have to rely on cinching the laces to get a secure fit, which is not ideal. If you happen to have a foot shape that fills out the upper material perfectly, they may possibly work for you in technical terrain. I love the Terraultra G 270s but for me they don't have enough protection for longer ultras (talking 8+ hours). They are dynamite though for up to the 3-4 hour range. I was excited about the Trailfly's, and I do like them a lot, but they are just too heavy. They are bombproof on technical/off trail terrain, and I have not problems with ankle rolls - that flex groove really seems to work. But again, the weight is just too much for racing. I am reserving them for super long mountain runs in training.

On to the VJ Ultras- to me they seem to slot in perfectly between the Terraultras and the Trailflys. If you like the Terraultras, but wish they had a bit of a drop, and also a bit more protection - the VJ Ultra is it. Few observations - the grip is really awesome they just grab the trail and you don't even have to think about it. I ran dry single track in Terra Kiger 7's and then the VJ Ultras - it was night and day. Where I felt like I always had a bit of slip with the TK7's, it was non-existent with the VJ's. Full confidence. The protection feels great, while also maintaining flex and also lateral flexibility. I think this gives it a really good trail feel with such a somewhat high stack. The tongue does seem a bit short, but I find that I don't use the runner's loop when heel hold is good. With the VJ's combination of midfoot hold, heel hold, and flexibility, there's no need to use the runners loop. Also- the loops on the tongue do lock it down so it doesn't shift at all. It is also padded so no lace bite at all (G270s could use this). I am very excited to take these out for longer runs and I'm pretty much set on these for an upcoming 100K.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Mike! I concur with your analysis. I would say that TrailFly is closer to hiker or long long multi day run shoe for technical terrain than trail runner due to weight

Anonymous said...

Rabbit is definitely not made in California.

rms said...

VJ Ultra update: Today I tried them without the insole, and liked them quite a bit more; the wobbly feeling disappeared, and I was cornering and handling rocks with confidence. Did experience front-of-toes irritation farther on, whether from hitting the strobel stitching or what I'm not sure. Perhaps using a thinner firmer insole would do the trick?