This time of year, I start dreaming about my Spring, Summer and Fall backcountry trips. Last year, in 2013, I was able to “get-out” and do few ultralight backpacking trips with my husband and 2 year old son. In April, we did a four day backpack in Death Valley; then in August, we spent three days hiking the Lost Coast Trail; October we spent a night at Royce Lakes, and ended the year with a few different backpacking trips in Southern Patagonia. These days, I only use trail running shoes when hiking, backpacking, or fastpacking, and prior to each trip, I always look at my selection of footwear to determine what shoe will work best. All the footwear we sell at Sage to Summit is designed primarily with running in mind, however, when I select the shoes to sell, I also make sure they are great for ultralight backpacking, fastpacking, and mountain running. Here’s a sampling of new shoes that are hitting the market in Spring 2014 that we are excited to sell at Sage to Summit.
ALTRA OLYMPUS: The Olympus will be similar to Hokas, with a huge stack height. I’m sure these shoes will fare well with Hoka lovers who are looking for a wider toe box or a zero drop. These cushioned shoes are great for long distance runs and hikes, but beware I’ve found the stack height interferes with any talus hopping or cross country travel. I’ll wear these shoes on runs up to Paiute Pass, but I’ll pass on wearing them with an overnight pack. That said, I have not actually worn the Altra Olympus, and I might love them so much, I’ll wear them for all my mountain outings.
Brooks Cascadia 9: I’ve had a love affair with the Cascadia since version one. The Cascadia is comfortable in all terrain; cross-country, rugged trails, dirt roads, and our concrete sales floor. The heel is lower than previous models, which seems to be the trend with trail runners, and a lower drop works well for fastpacking and hiking.
Hoka One One Rapa Nui 2:http://www.sagetosummit.com/footwear/mens-footwear/mens-trail-footwear/hoka-one-one-rapa-nui-2-trail-men.html A minimalist Hoka? This shoe is meant for faster runs. It will feel different than other Hoka models due to its injected molded midsole designed to spring back under your forefoot and increase acceleration. It still features a large stack height and you can barrel down trails without feeling rocks. The women's version is the Kailua Trail. This shoe will be really fun for fast paced trail runs in the Tungsten Hills.
Altra Superior 1.5: The Superior is the most flexible trail shoe I’ve worn for extended periods of time. Typically, my feet tire quickly without enough cushioning and support, however, when wearing the Superior, my feet felt fine. I haven’t worn these shoes while carrying any weight, so I can’t speak to how they feel backpacking, however, I did sell quite a few to Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. The updated version has a beefier upper so hopefully it will last longer than the original model. On a side note, I wear this shoe to crossfit all-the-time!
Merrell AllOut Fuse: Merrell is coming out with some great looking fastpacking/hiking/running shoes in their trail running collection. The AllOut Fuse shoe is light, weighing a mere 8 oz, has a durable upper with a toe cap that might be able to withstand Sierra granite. I think this shoe will be a strong contender for thru-hikers, ultralight backpackers, and of course, mountain runners.
The Northface Ultra Kilowatt: In recent years, The North Face hasn't created footwear that knocked my socks off, until I saw the the Kilowatt Trail. It is a Sierra run and bag a peak shoe. With it's sticky rubber and durable upper, I am hoping this is the shoe where athletes will feel comfortable running up a pass and then climbing and descending an easy peak, such as the Southeast Face of Mt. Emerson. We’ll see!
There you have it, the Sage to Summit spring ‘14 line up. All the cool techy features are great, but first and foremost, make sure the shoe fits your foot. The bells and whistles can’t jingle and shout if the shoe doesn't fit like a slipper. You want to feel like the shoe was designed personally for your feet when you put it on. When you find that shoe, check out our Eastern Sierra Runs page and tear those kicks up. I'd love to hear what shoes you plan to wear for 2014. Post an insightful comment and I'll send you a Sage to Summit Race Hat.
Here are some pix of our 2013 backpacking trips. My 2013 backing shoe was the New Balance 1210 - and Howie's pick was the Inov-8 Trailroc 255.
Comments will be approved before showing up.