In conversations with several friends and fellow runners over the past year, I’ve declared that my best hope for the whole barefoot running craze would be a paradigm shift away from the over-built, over-engineered, over-corrective mentality which has been conventional wisdom in the shoe industry over the past few decades.
We don’t all have to be minimalists – but if we can collectively diminish our mindset that shoes need to fix our feet rather than just let them work naturally, that would be an enormous improvement. That’s why I’m always excited to see companies embrace the “less is more” philosophy, especially when they specifically target trail runners.
It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that GoLite has moved into this category, unless of course you’re currently saying, “Wait – GoLite makes shoes?” The company hasn’t traditionally had a huge impact on the running shoe market, but they’ve always been famous for lightweight, minimalist outdoor gear and apparel – so it seems like a natural extension for them to overhaul their footwear lineup with the same premise in mind.
Two products in particular look very interesting, which I’ll have the opportunity to test later this summer and winter. I’ll keep the descriptions brief for now, and save the detailed analysis for full reviews later. The Amp Lite Trail Runner is intended as a long-distance trail runner. It uses something called BareTech technology, which is intended to complement your natural foot motion instead of trying to correct it.
I really appreciated that the GoLite rep intentionally pointed out to me that they are not true minimalist shoes, but they give the runner a neutral heel and allow the biomechanics of natural running. She said they’re ideally “designed for the barefoot runner who enjoys trail running.” And with that, I was hooked. The Amp Lite will be released this fall, and I’ll hopefully be testing them by the end of the summer.
But that’s really just the warmup for GoLite’s minimalist push, because next Spring, they’ll release this It’s called the Tara (as in Tarahumara, of course) Lite, which aims to take the best aspects of the classic huarache sandal and add some protection and traction while allowing the foot to function naturally. It reminds me a bit of Nike’s old-school Air Huarache, but about 10 times more advanced.
The Tara Lite is a “true trail race shoe for the elite outdoor athlete”. Despite that elite thing, they’re going to let me test a pair anyway sometime around the first of the year, in advance of the shoe’s release in Spring 2011.
GoLite is also applying their BareTech design to a whole line of running, hiking, trekking, and casual shoes for both men and women. If you want more information on these other styles, check out this great overview by Runblogger, and stay tuned here for reviews of the trail models as they become available.