Friday, August 20, 2021

Speedland SL:PDX Multi Tester Review: Ground Breaking, Highly Effective Innovation in Trail Running "Equipment"

Article by Sam Winebaum and Jeff Valliere

Speedland SL:PDX ($375)


Sam: Let’s get this out of the way. At $375 the SL:PDX is the most expensive performance running shoe either of us have ever seen or tested. Even the Nike Alphafly with its carbon plate, air unit, massive super light stack of similar PEBA foam, and whisper thin upper is “only” $275.  

Speedland asks us to consider their first shoe as a piece of “equipment” much as one might consider high end skis which for some are a season or two purchase at $700 and up, or bike technology. Of course that is somewhat hard to do as we all know most shoes are generally good for 300-500 miles while yet more expensive bike shoes with similar carbon soles and dual BOAmay last 5 to 10 years.   Yet here we have a highly resilient main PEBA midsole that by design is easily swappable for a new one. 

The upper has Dyneema® fiber that is “15x stronger than steel at the same weight, with a tensile strength up to 43 cN/dtex. 

As well as its extraordinary strength, Dyneema® excels in cut and abrasion resistance and has a high resistance to chemicals and UV.”  Dyneema floats.

The upper is secured by a dual BOA system and both cords and reels and quite easily replaceable. 

We have a removable Carbitex carbon fiber plate which is dynamically flexible (harder to flex on the way down then releasing energy with easier flex when unloaded) which is unlikely to ever lose its performance characteristics. 

Underfoot, and it  might be the weak link to “value” at the price, we have a Michelin outsole with 6mm lugs. As they wear, or if you choose you can cut them to 3mm the shoe may lose some grip and cushion but can serve for more mellow trails as they wear down. I am guessing with strike patterns and terrain being different that starting with the 6mm lugs one might see at least 500 miles plus out of the outsole but our long term testing will tell.  And we note the outsole is actually stitched to the upper with Dyneema thread. Might it too be replaceable? 

Speedland tells us they for sure have thought about replacement midsoles, potentially replacing the outsole given it is stitched and in the same vein easily removing the outsole making it easier to recycle after the shoes are done for good, a free service Speedland will be providing. This said at launch these plans beyond recycling are not firmed up.

Dave Dombrow also tells us that "10% of our profits will go back to our Athletes and they will decide which Trail related foundation or Outdoor cause they would like to support. In this way, they have the ability to support on a local/regional level and the contribution will directly come from them."

So yes it is the priciest shoe we have ever run. The founders Dave Dombrow and Kevin Fallon told us they made no compromises for cost reasons  in design, materials,  construction or shoe versatility to bring their vision to the trails. And this is the result. So let’s see how they perform. The reader will have to judge if they make sense for their needs and are worthy of their investment.

There are so many unique features and adaptable elements (upper, BOA, removable midsole and plate, dynamic flex of the plate and outsole that we filmed a video demonstration (8:13) which is below and the best way to experience all the features in action.


The first trail and really any run shoe with highly functional, customizable ride, fit and outsole- Sam/Jeff

Superb upper fit , adaptability to different foot shapes and swelling  and ease of adjustment on the go from the BOA Sam/Jeff

PEBA main midsole with 4mm of firm EVA below (without plate) delivers an energetic, softer,  agile well protected ride Sam/Jeff

Adding the carbon plate delivers a propulsive firmer race feel for smooth and fast terrain  - Sam/Jeff

Michelin outsole with big 6mm lugs is surprisingly smooth on firm surfaces, provides cushion and grips well in soft dirt, off trail and loose terrain - SamJeff

Easy to disassemble and will be recycled by Speedland - Sam/Jeff


Price - Sam/Jeff

Carbon plate while highly effective on smooth fast terrain adds to cost and firms up ride. Is it needed? Might plastic do? - Sam/Jeff

6mm lugs (vs 3mm) and carbon plate add  0.86 oz / 24g  to weight.  Sam/Jeff

Wet traction on rock/slab is only moderate. - Jeff

The positioning of the Boa dials makes them susceptible to hits when running in rocky terrain such as rock gardens, boulderfields and especially when scrambling. - Jeff


Estimated Weight: men's 10.76 / 305g US9  (subtract 0.4 oz or 11g by cutting lugs to 3.5mm).

Speedland tells us final production pairs will be in the 10.5 oz range at US9

  Samples: men’s  US8.5: 10.51 oz / 298 g US8.5, approx , US10: 11.25 oz/320 g

Weight of Carbitex carbon plate: 13g / 0.46 oz (17g in size 10)

Approx. weight US9 with lugs shaved to 3mm without plate: 9.9 oz  / 281g

Stack Height: 28/23, 5mm drop

6mm lugs, cuttable to 3mm

$375. Available now from Speedand here 

First Impressions, Fit, and Upper

Sam: Tricked out, tech laden, and resembling a high end cycling shoe, the SL:PDX looks like no other trail or road run shoe. Not sure I like the pale green colors that much but often brands launch innovative new shoes with striking colors. They do look great on green forest floors though!

The fit is true to size for me and I expect it will fit a very very broad array of foot shapes due to the combination of the BOA System dual dials and the three strap wrap and the almost Altra or Topo broad toe box. To pull off the combination of any foot fit and security, Speedland wraps the outsole up the sides and stitches it to the upper with the Dyneema super durable thread. 

So while the toe box looks low the front of the foot actually sits lower within the wrap up outsole which also provides the toe protection. I would not call the toe box height very high at the very front of the shoe but it is more than adequate and the front hold is totally secure and very comfortable, and of course highly adjustable via the BOA dials. The rock bump protection from the wrap up outsole surrounding your toes is total and outstanding.

The external straps and BOA laces over the top of the stretch knit tongue are thin and pliable and clearly help with front lockdown in the broad toe box but are not overdone and overly rigid thus helping make the lowish height work without issue. I am not sure adding an aftermarket insole would work well upfront as your foot actually sits on the PEBA midsole. 

There is no sockliner here just a small overlay of fabric towards the front. The disk at the heel is the glued in green foam post below to which the flexible carbon plate is attached.

I have not run them in wet conditions as of yet to see if there is slippage but for sure the PEBA you ride on directly will not absorb moisture as sockliners do and the direct foot to midsole contact (with and without plate) really shines in agility and well protected trail feel.

The straps wrap the foot securely and with no pressure from either straps or laces unless tightened way way down at which point the straps will lead to some pressure over the lace up area in particular.  

The BOA Li 2 dials allow you to micro adjust in both directions (loosen and tighten) without as usual having to pop the dial out and start over. 

I found this micro adjustment incredibly useful and very fast on the go. Loosen on uphills a touch for more flex, tighten for downhills in seconds.  The BOA dials are exposed to bumps on rocks and such but are replaceable as are the very thin soft laces.

The dual BOA dials controls 3 straps. 

The rear strap is controlled by the rear dial. Call this one the lace up strap

Sitting below the top strap is the black strap which along with the front green strap secures the mid foot and forefoot together.  As the two dials function independently it is easy to customize your fit and of course easy to adjust it. 

The heel counter is rigid at the bottom and extends quite forward with more give higher up. 

This is not the usual sloppy knit collar as it is robustly padded inside around the ankle and achilles for a very solid and comfortable hold.

The main upper with its Dyneema fibers is thin, dense and with minimal stretch. Given the characteristics of Dyneema which is “15x stronger than steel at the same weight, with a tensile strength up to 43 cN/dtex. As well as its extraordinary strength, Dyneema® excels in cut and abrasion resistance and has a high resistance to chemicals and UV.” the upper should prove very durable. Breathability has proven excellent as well.

The integral tongue is a stretch knit and is thick enough to prevent any strap bite with the laces, when tightened, lying over the main dense upper and inside a rubbery underlay panel that also protects the foot from the dials which are completely flush. I have never noticed the laces or for that matter straps unless I really really cranked down on the dials. 

I did notice that if pushed hard that there is some mid foot give but never too far to be of concern. 

This is one of the very finest uppers if not the best I have ever experienced be it for road or trail as it is comfortable, secure, and so easily adjustable to foot shape and trail conditions. A thing of beauty and function, color of the upper maybe aside. 

Jeff:  Coming from a cycling background, I reflexively viewed the Speedland as a mountain bike shoe and half expected to see SPD cleat mounts on the bottom.  The seafoam/moss green is not my favorite color, but I have to say it reminds me of the Pacific Northwest forests and Oregon coast, so it grew on me quickly.  I got a good bit of trail dust and dirt ground into them over the first weeks, running 90 plus miles in Boulder, Colorado and the Northern coast of California, exploring redwood forests and seaside trails which helped to give them even more color and character..  

The trademark color, combined with the very unique, hand made, one of a kind design with dual BOA dials elicits comments from trail runners in the know “hey, are those the new Speedland shoes?” or from the average person “what kind of fancy shoes are those?”.  As a shoe geek, I really enjoy talking about them as I would any shoe, but especially so, describing the modular design with removable midsole, carbon plate, hand stitching, Dyneema upper and dual BOA.  

As Sam has already described the shoe in wonderful detail above, I’ll do my best to compliment.  I find fit to be true to size, with a roomy width toe box, though with a notably low ceiling.  The heel counter is secure, stable and comfortable.  The dual BOA system is the best I have used and does a great job providing a secure and comfortable lock down with the triple straps that are so thin, compliant and pliable.  

I appreciate that the BOA system is so easy to use and unlike any BOA lacing I have used in the past, can be dialed in both directions dialed to relieve pressure or add more in micro increments. It is really convenient being able to back off a little pressure depending on terrain and conditions without having to completely loosen and start over with tensioning.

The upper, while having a closed enough mesh does a great job keeping out dirt and sand and is simultaneously breathable.  The toe bumper is just a very thin overlay, but after many miles of rocky terrain, loose scree and talus, I have not yet had a bump, bang or stub of any consequence.


Sam: The midsole is actually in three parts: a removable PEBAX main midsole, a removable and dynamically flexing Carbitex carbon plate, and directly above the Michelin outsole a 4-5mm very firm layer of EVA for rock protection and stability. The green sidewalls you see above are actually the stitched on (with super strong and abrasion resistant Dyneema thread) wrap up outsole. The main midsole slips in and out very easily but remains locked in place once inside. 

Below the removable insole is a 5mm layer of very firm EVA which can be seen as the white layer below with the hole being where the main midsole’s glued in green post gently but securely locks top layer to chassis as well as holds plate in place. The plate has never shifted or felt like it was moving in the shoe.

There was never any sense on the run that the midsole is anything but conventionally glued except with plate out at the heel where there is not quite the side to side support of plate in.

The “midsole” is incredibly easy to adapt as the carbon plate can be removed or added to both shoes in less than a minute, so even on the run. Gently turn in appropriate direction and pull off keeping plate flat.  To return, slide in and you will feel a soft snap in. See our video from above also here for plate removal and replacement demo.

So essentially one can tune the ride for terrain, pace and distance even during a run. And in our testing with and without plates deliver quite distinctly different rides. 

What does being able to insert or remove the carbon plate offer?

With the plate in there is a clearly felt propulsive firm toe off as one sees in carbon plated road shoes but as the plate is flexible the shoe remains stable on up to moderately technical terrain with its best use for me rolling smoother terrain. I also found that while hiking on steep off camber boulders in New Hampshire the torsional rigidity of the front made them not as stable as I would like while power hiking uphill on rocky but on "smoother" uphill terrain as below they were incredibly fast.  

Downhills with plate in were plenty stable and went better than uphills. More forces down allowing the plate to bend more?

With the plate out the shoe becomes more flexible, softer, and more agile. I found that on smoother Utah single track the plate out configuration climbed steeps slightly better. While hiking on very technical New Hampshire trails again I found the plate out climbed better but the heel became less stable. Removing the plate also lightens the shoe by 13g / 0.46 oz in a US9.

Rock protection is provided by a combination of the plate (if in), a firm 4mm layer of EVA between the outsole and main midsole (and plate if in) and the 6mm lugs of what is a softer Michelin outsole. Without the plate you have plenty of rock protection but not quite the bullet proof firm layer of protection with plate in.

The plate itself is from Carbitex and unlike road super shoes it is flexible. Very unusually the DFX plate is also dynamic in its flex. It is stiffer when weighted and more flexible when forces are released. This I think allows it “store” forces on the way down and then release them.  I demonstrate the plate in the video linked in the article.

The plated run ride is firmer and somewhat harsher than the unplated ride and does have a clear propulsive effect that is more noticed than in other plated trail shoes such as the The Northface Flight Vectiv and Craft CTM Carbon Ultra. Clearly more snap but...given that directly below the plate we have 4mm of very firm EVA much of the soft energetic rebound of the PEBA main midsole is masked by that interface with a feel similar to a “bottom loaded” plate close to the ground with either outsole or as here firm EVA below so the somewhat harsh feel of carbon road shoes such as the ASICS Metaracer and adidas adizero Pro. This is not to say that the ride is overly harsh and not cushioned.

Without the plate, the PEBA foam midsole becomes the star with lots of noticed energy return and a smoother cushion feel as well as more overall flexibility and stability but not the energetic snap of the plate option. I will be removing the plate for winter snow and mud running to increase flexibility. 

In terms of PEBA foam feel, I find them  very similar to Saucony PWRRUN PB foam also a PEBA but with plate out option while the Endorphin Speed and Pro have it built in softer and more cushioned in feel.

The Carbitex plate must be an important element of cost here. I wonder what a nylon or PEBAX plastic plate removable as now option might provide  as say the Skechers Speed TRL or the North Face Infinite and Enduris Vectiv have.  Maybe softer in feel and yet more flexible bridging closer to the plateless ride while still allowing on the go adaptability. I will say I prefer the more aggressive and propulsive carbon plate here to the Flight Vectiv’s.

Jeff V:  Sam’s description here is unparalleled and I agree on all points.  I lean toward more technical terrain than Sam and have found performance to be very good on all levels of terrain, with and without the carbon plate.  

While the shoe feels lighter, more agile and offers better proprioception without the plate, it is still remarkably well protected under foot, easily comfortable and adept in rocky terrain without having to carefully pick a line or dance through the rock gardens.  

With the plate in, underfoot protection is further improved, protecting very well from sharp rocks and roots.  I personally find the carbon plate flexible enough to be stable in technical terrain and not have that tippy feeling that I found in the Flight Vectiv or even other overly stiffened shoes with a rock plate.  

On a recent run in the SL:PDX down a technical route of talus, steep dirt and boulders, a 1,700 foot/~15 minute plunge from a 13,000 foot summit , I was very impressed at how well protected, cushioned, precise, agile, nimble and stable the SL:PDX felt.  Not once did I feel any instability from the plate, as the articulated design allows for just the right amount of flex where needed.  The shoe is also low enough feeling and flexible, which combined with the protection of the plate, makes for an impressively high performing, protective combination.

I did notice that the PEBA midsole foam does compact a bit over time, which was only evident when I was able to compare side by side with a new pair out of the box.  This compaction was not significant and I only noticed it because I had the rare opportunity to do a side by side comparison, though I have not noticed this on the trail and if anything, I like the feel of the more broken in shoe than I do the new one, as the worn one feels almost custom molded to my foot.  

With the plate, as Sam says, the SL:PDX provides a very nice energy return, in my opinion, not a very distinctive pop, but a smoother, more subtle level of propulsion.  

Without the plate, the PEBA midsole foam on its own, still provides very good energy return, just without that slightly more noticeable propulsion of the plate.  Additionally, that feeling without the plate of less weight and better ground feel in its own right, gives the shoe a different enough feel, that it could be argued that without plate might be a better option and negate the benefits of the plate, depending on the type of terrain under foot, gradient, the runner’s gait, footstrike, weight, preferences or speed.  

The beauty of the SL:PDX is that you can make that decision on your own and even do it easily mid run, taking about a minute to remove or reinstall the plates at a quick, but not too rushed pace.


Jeff V:  The Michelin rubber outsole with its 6mm lugs, is sticky and provides fantastic grip on nearly all surfaces and terrain.  I have found this outsole to excel on terrain ranging from rocky, technical trails, talus hopping, scree, loose dirt, scruffy off trail, smooth singletrack, rocky slab, roots, sand, etc….  Being that it is mid summer, my snow running was minimal, however what little snow I could find at 14,000 feet, grip there seemed to be very good.  My only concern about traction was in the wet, as I was able to test on a truly rain soaked day here in Colorado (very rare) and would say that wet traction is only moderate, where I found myself taking a few unexpected slips on wet rock where a few of my best rated wet traction shoes most likely would have held.

Outsole durability I would also rate as average, as with about 90 miles on them (with only about ⅓ being my normal rocky trails/off trail running in Colorado and the remainder on less aggressive and smoother trails in California), I am seeing more wear than I would have expected but recall we have a big 6mm of lug height to wear through here.

Because of this, I would strongly urge anyone who buys this shoe, to not cut the lugs down which is an option here.  Instead, let them wear over time, as even at the full 6mm out of the box, I never found them to be bothersome or overly noticeable, running smoothly even on roads, rock and hard packed surfaces.

Sam: I agree with Jeff on the outsole. The 6mm lugs, unusually for such high lugs, never grabbed small obstacles and ran smoothly on firm terrain. Grip has been outstanding everywhere although I have not been on much wet rock as of yet.

The outsole here is a clear component of the cushion and trail feel of the SL:PDX as the rubber is relatively soft. There is a sensation of the outsole molding to the terrain, especially with the plate out.  I join Jeff in recommending leaving the 6mm lugs as is. 

While cutting to 3mm is easy (Speedland demonstrated this to us) and will reduce weight about 0.4 oz,  I would let them wear down to that level to increase your mileage and value out of the shoe. As far as ride, the 6mm lugs are as I said above were never in the way on any surface including firm terrain.

I heartily recommend that Speedland, in addition to planning for recycling by making the outsole stitched on and thus easily disassembled for recycling try to find a way to offer a replacement outsole option as I am quite sure even after 100’s of miles the upper will be in fine shape, well protected by the outsole’s wrap up walls. 


Sam: The Speedland runs far lighter than its weight. I think this is due to the relatively low stack, the energy “return” of the PEBA midsole and the carbon plate. You never feel bogged down here. 

With the plate in there is a clear propulsive impulse that is less about a rocker or final roll to toe off and more about a flexible spring off the forefoot as you load the plate and then it releases. The lowish stack, plate and shoe’s relative flexibility  which is yet more flexible with plate out but not overly so as the firm 4mm EVA below the main midsole stabilizes and protects while the outsole cushions delivers a dynamic fast and stable ride. 

There is a sensation of being quite close to the ground, in touch with terrain and Speedland's motto is "Run with the Land", yet very well protected.  This sensation of terrain contact and agility increases yet more when you remove the plate as does the softness of ride and rebound.

With the plate in there is more firmness and protection felt at the ground and less ground feel but still plenty . I say at the ground as above via the main midsole there is plenty of forgiving cushion here. Stability at the front seems to increase as pace increases and more down forces are applied.

While all terrain can be handled here, I think the ride for me best suits more moderate terrain on firm surfaces taken at faster paces with plate in and fast steeper uphill running and on soft terrain (snow and mud)  with plate out due to the increased flexibility plate out They have also proven a superb all terrain fast hiker.

My testing including rooty rocky but low vertical forest paths, smooth Utah single track, and a highly technical hike on New Hampshire’s typically super rocky White Mountains trails.

I also lent them to a friend in Boulder who regularly hikes the Flatirons while I was visiting. He is planning to buy a pair and was particularly taken by their grip on sand over rock. He preferred plate in, especially for the downhills. 

Jeff V:  Again, Sam sums up the ride well, where the ride of the SL:PDX varies, depending on whether or not you leave the plate in or remove it.

With the plate:  I find the ride to be very responsive, smooth and compliant, with that noticeable energy return that makes the shoe run much lighter than its weight.  As Sam says, there is more firmness with the plate and of course more protection.  I think the quality of the ride with the plate could be considered better depending on the terrain underfoot and runner preference.  I found the plate to be an advantage in just about every situation, providing added energy return when running fast on less technical terrain, as well as offering more protection on technical terrain without anything more than a slight weight penalty.

Without the plate:  The SL:PDX is not quite as responsive as with, but still responsive, quick feeling and provides a wonderfully smooth ride with improved proprioception.  I think going with or without the plate will be a personal decision depending and I appreciate the option to choose. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam:  It is not easy when a collection of multiple innovative technologies  (Dyneema fiber upper and stitching, dual BOA closure, removable PEBA midsole,  removable flexible carbon plate, and Michelin outsole) perform so magnificently and in concert, first try. And here they do with a sensational combination of performance and adaptability. This is an advanced “concept car” that actually works with very few if any wrinkles. Not at all easy for a tiny startup to pull off but Dave and Kevin, long time, highly skilled sports shoe industry veterans have done so. 

The well protected ground feel and carbon propulsion is quite different from any previous trail runner yet at the same time it is not so unusual or radical in feel that it requires big adjustment.  Not only a great trail runner but they have proven a wonderful hiker (and travel) shoe as well. 

This said, the combined sensation of at the ground firmness from the combination of carbon plate and firm EVA bottom layer might somehow be softened a bit with more torsional flexibility up front (plate in),  there being plenty of snappy springy longitudinal flexibility from the plate. Mind you there is plenty, plenty of soft high rebound cushion above but a non carbon plastic plate option (even aftermarket or as an option at purchase) could reduce costs while softening and making the ride yet more ground conforming and “pleasing”.

The overall geometry is excellent in its flow but I do think the heel area under foot feels a bit too “round” at slower paces. Not unstable in any way but a bit over rigid while just ahead of it the outsole goes to less than full coverage and the geometry is narrower creating a bit of disconnect.

The upper is spectacular in its comfort, hold and adaptability to foot shapes (including wider feet for sure) and for its on the go adjustment needs given the easy and oh so quick to adjust dual BOA, soft straps, and breathable Dyneema fiber upper. The SL:PDX has one of the most sophisticated and finest uppers on any run shoe I have ever experienced.

The outsole with its 6 mm lugs handles all terrain very well, should see good durability but remains the weak point in terms of durability and value given the rest of the materials and pricing here. 

Value is clearly a consideration here given the $375 price point. For the runner who seeks the ultimate in adaptable ride with state of the art tech it can be a good value. My sense is the outsole will be the first element to wear out and long before the rest of the shoe. I think a slightly firmer more abrasion resistant rubber might be considered as long as it did not remove from the cushion the outsole provides, maybe in conjunction with a slightly softer EVA layer above?  

Given the outsole is stitched to the upper it would seem a replacement outsole option, if technically and logistically feasible,  would be a home run for Speedland, in addition to of course the recycling benefits. 

Of course the midsole is replaceable and an option for replacement or even different feel midsoles should also be considered by Speedland. My Value score reflects the current status of the model and if longer term testing, and the evolution of Speedland, shows my score needs to change, one way or the other, I will update.

Ground breaking in its application of multiple technologies and a new approach to shoe design, Speedland delivers in the SL:PDX an innovative new option for trail runners. The founders asked us to consider it as “equipment” rather than just a shoe given its adaptability and state of the art materials and construction and I would agree it is serious gear!   I only wish, and expect as the brand evolves, and that even with all its attributes, it becomes more accessible and becomes a more obvious value, potentially with a plastic plate option. I would also also really like to see a road version.

Sam’s Score: 9.29/10

Ride: 9.3(30%) Fit: 9.9 (30%) Value: 8(10%) Style:8.5(5%) Traction:9(15%) Rock Protect: 9.5(10%)

Jeff V:  I really appreciate what Kevin and Dave are doing here, the re-envisioning of the trail shoe from the ground up with no limits or constraints.  The SL:PDX is a one of a kind shoe that was built to show what can be done without budgetary constraints and they did a fantastic job bringing together their knowledge, experience and skills to produce an extremely competent and customizable shoe for just about any terrain, distance, pace, conditions or foot shape.  

The upper is so soft, flexible, comfortable, secure, breathable, durable, while the dual BOA dials are a joy to use.  The upper feels amazing out of the box and only gets better with time.

The modular design is a great idea and well executed, but I agree with Sam, that it will be much better if interchangeable/replacement parts are offered, but for now, being able to remove the carbon plate depending on preference and aid to be able to take the shoe apart for end of life recycling is a nice start.

The elephant in the room is of course the price.  $375 is a lot of money to spend on a pair of running shoes, even if you look at it as you would a piece of “equipment” vs. just another pair of shoes.  Are they worth $375?  I’ll let you be the judge, but I can say that if you do pull the trigger, you will not be at all disappointed and I can almost guarantee, delighted.

Jeff’s Score: 9.1/10

Ride: 9.5(30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 6(10%) Style:8 (5%) Traction:9(15%) Rock Protect: 10(10%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

North Face Vectiv Flight (RTR Review) and Enduris (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedland exceeds the performance of the Flight and Enduris shoes, with much better fit, versatility, response, flexibility, stability, security and traction.

Sam: I agree. The carbon plate in the Flight does not provide nearly the propulsive feel of the Speedland’s, the upper is disjointed in fit if adequate, and the ride has less trail feel and energy if being a bit more deeply cushioned. 

Craft CTM Carbon Ultra (RTR Review)

Sam: The CTM Carbon Ultra leans more heavily towards dirt roads and non technical trails. For racing and training on that kind of terrain and especially for longer distances it is a more appropriate choice while firmer in ride and less responsive overall.  It certainly is less appropriate, agile and dynamic than the Speedland on everything else. It’s upper is adequate  but can’t compare to the comfort and adjustability of the Speedland SL:PDX’s.

The Speedland ride actually reminds more of the plateless CTM Ultra (RTR Review) which uses a PEBA (same class of material as SL:PDX central insert but its minimal upper and higher stack make it mostly a road shoe.

Hoka Speedgoat (RTR Review) and EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)

The Speedgoats have better cushioning and a longer lasting proven outsole, while the Speedland has a more accommodating fit, are more flexible with much better trail feel and more agility.

Inov-8 Terraultra G270  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedland is far superior to the TUG270  in my opinion, at least for my running style and preferences.  The Speedland has much better fit for me, is more secure, is more responsive, has better protection and is much more enjoyable to run in.  The TUG270 with Graphene grip outsole has the edge in the traction department, both wet and dry.

Sam: Disagree a bit with Jeff here. The G270 is a superior shorter distance fast pace, any terrain shoe for me. It is considerably lighter, more agile and almost as well cushioned. It doesn’t have the carbon and PEBA spring of the SL:PDX but gets close enough with plenty of response. It has superior grip and I believe will have better long term outsole durability. It is zero drop which limits its run range for me but it is a non “low” zero drop. While hiking in the White Mountains I found it more stable and almost as leg friendly as the Speeland if with somewhat less rock protection. It’s upper is more than adequate but of course doesn’t have the comfort and BOA adjustability of the Speedland. Add some drop and a touch more cushion to the Terraultra and it would be no contest and at $160 you could get 2 plus pairs to one Speedland. 

Adidas Terrex X King  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  An early pioneer of the modular design, the X King utilized a removable midsole, very similar in concept to the Speedland, though without the plate.  While I liked the X King at the time of my review, I never felt inclined to run in it beyond and in hindsight, has a pretty harsh and non lively ride, especially when compared to the Speedland.  The only advantage of the X King was the Conti deep lugged outsole, which I think had a bit more sticky rubber and better in the wet.

VJ Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The VJ Ultra is lighter, more responsive, has superior traction, an even more secure and protective upper and is overall a more nimble shoe.  The Speedland though, with the carbon plate, could potentially be considered a serious rival, or perhaps preferred for more extended outings especially on sharp rocky terrain.

La Sportiva Cyklon (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  I think for pure, above treeline, rugged, all mountain rocky terrain, I lean toward the Cyclon, with superior grip, upper protection, stability a less exposed Boa dial.  Everywhere outside of mountain rock and boulder hopping however, the Speedland out performs, with a much more lively ride, better response and a quicker feel.

The Speedland SL:PDX is available from Speedland now HERE

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA.

Jeff Valliere  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Curt said...

Excellent review.

I think my main concern here would be the "button" that the carbon plate clicks on to? The placement of this is almost precisely at the plantar fascia insertion, and I wonder if this creates some undo pressure at this point. Skora's old models (RIP) had a similar quirk with a hard rubber "button" on the outsole rubber at this point, and it could be extremely irritating on long runs.

Also would love to see a slightly lower drop and cheaper option here without a plate or BOA lacing.

Sam Winebaum said...

The button is a soft foam about the same softness as the main midsole itself. Goes completely un noticed. No hard plastics etc..
Sam, Editor

Sam Winebaum said...

Would like to see a lower cost plate option but plate (with or without) is key to the ride and adaptability. The BOA and upper overall is truly fantastic and well worth it although for sure a lace up version would reduce costs but I am not sure the overall fit (wide toe box and rear hold) and comfort would remain as solid.
Sam, Editor

Curt said...

Thanks Sam! Always love hearing your thoughts.

Jeff Valliere said...

Yeah, 2nd what Sam said, can't feel the "button" under the heel at all in my 90 miles of hard use.

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