So I've been asked to test a shoe -- finally, after 252 posts, someone throws me a bone!
I'm somewhat of a simpleton when it comes to reviews. I mean, "feels great!" means a lot to me -- but doesn't mean jack to other folks. I'll do my best to be instructive.
The shoe is the Patagonia Release ($110), with outsoles by Vibram -- the maker of high-performance rubber soles that successfully hunted me down to do this review, despite me being part of the federal Witness Protection Program. Guys, good luck with Vinnie the Shark. Now, he's your problem.
Anyway, I've worn just about every kind of shoe imaginable in my 10 years as a runner (the last three as a trailrunner) and I've only run across a couple of clunkers (that shall remain nameless -- I've been on a good karma kick lately). If I had to guess, I've mostly run in Salomons. I like them, although the laces can get annoying.
Really, at heart, I'm a brand slut -- moving from shoe to shoe depending on the price. But it's OK, I use protection -- as in plastic, as in credit card.
So, what about these shoes?
Well, honestly, until now, I had never paid much attention to the technical aspects of shoes: how they are crafted and shaped, what materials go into them, etc. Thanks to Vibram, I am turning into a shoe geek.
Why? These puppies are that good.
I laced them up and took them on a steep and rocky uphill: the Silverado Trail, which rises 2,100 feet in 3.1 miles. The grip was fabulous, even on the loose rocks.
Vibram outsoles boast great traction -- unlike the rear wheel of this motorcycle racer.
The shoes were cushy but did not feel heavy. They fit snugly but did not strangle off my circulation.
Running down the winding switchbacks, I felt pretty confident as there was no slippage. Also, my feet did not slide around inside the shoe -- a problem I have had with other brands.
I thought: What the heck is going on here?
A key, I'm convinced, is Vibram's expertly crafted outsole. The "lugs" are beveled differently on the front and back of the shoe, giving you good traction while climbing and solid grip on downhills. The outsole are super thin, too -- which probably explains why the shoes don't feel like hiking boots, although technically they are a multisport shoe and not exclusively for trailrunning.
Grip, baby, grip! Patagonia Release trail-running shoes has it.
I have put about 120 miles on my Patagonia Releases and they still feel great. I am sold. What's more, the shoes are vegan friendly because of the all-synthetic construction (he wrote, while chomping on a corned-beef sandwich).
Hmm...maybe I'll turn monogamous and stop being a brand slut -- but boy, was that fun while it lasted! * sigh *
(For you technical geeks, click on the photo below to enlarge it. Have fun. Don't forget to take off your propeller hat before going into public).