A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a rep of Patagonia if I would post a review of Patagonia’s trail running shoe, the Release. Of course I would, was my reply. I’m not one to experiment too broadly with running shoes, since I’m usually disappointed when I do, and I always seem to come back to my Asics 2130 Trails. But the worst that could happen, I figured, is the shoes could suck and simply end up in my shoe junk heap.
When the shoes arrived I immediately put them on my shoe scale. No, they don’t make shoe scales. But they do make food scales that are easily convertible to shoe scales. Regardless, these shoes are a little heavy! Weighing in at just over 14 ounces, they are on the heavy side of shoes I like to run in. But they are not far off from my 2130 Trails (13 oz), Asics Gel Cumulus (12 oz), and are the same weight as my La Sportiva Fireblades. Trial shoes are usually a little heavier than their road brethren because they usually have, among other things, thicker outsoles and midsoles to protect the feet from the elements on trial.
When I laced these up I was pleasantly surprised at how the shoe hugged my feet. The Release looks a little stiff and rigid, but when I put it on it stretched nicely to tie into a perfect fit. Patagonia calls this Dynamic Fit Lacing System and it seems to work well for my foot. I often run a few miles on streets to get to trail and I dread shoes that are too hard, but also those that are too soft. I have now done several runs from 5 to 10 miles in the shoe in varied terrain. My overall impression of the Patagonia Release is quite good. Their traction is excellent, cushioning is just right and stability seems quite good.
Another thing I liked about the shoe is the arch, and where it bends when you push the toe and heel together. One thing I’ve learned as a runner is shoes that bend right in the middle of the arch when you push the toe and heel together really play havoc on the middle section of my plantar fasciitis. Shoes that bend in front of the arch, like these, seem to protect this area for me. I can buy a pair of shoes and if it’s the wrong shoe feel a sharp pain right in the middle of my arch. Shoes with higher arches also help control this.
So, do I recommend the Patagonia Release? For those of you who are looking for a solid, comfortable trail shoe that don’t mind a little heavier shoe for training, this shoe is a good choice. Also, if you are the green sort concerned about the environment, the Release uses recycled material for the midsole. I wouldn’t recommend the shoe for those of you looking for a fast trainer or racing shoe, unless you are doing a technical course and need a little more girth around the toes. In sum, I like the Patagonia Release and I expect to continue using it for my longer training runs.