Tag Archives: Shoes

Salomon XR Mission Trail Shoe Review

Are you looking for a new trail shoe?  I just got a pair of Salomon’s XR Mission shoe, and they’re pretty dope.

Your next pair of trail shoes?
Your next pair of trail shoes?

During the holidays, my dad and I were at a military BX and he spontaneously offered to buy me a pair of shoes as a present. The selection wasn’t the greatest, and I normally research things I’d like to purchase. I don’t buy things on a whim.  but a new pair of shoes is a new pair of shoes!

I’ve had good luck with New Balance and there were a pair of New Balance that had lugs that looked like they would provide wicked crazy traction. But when I tried them on, they cinched up weird, so that was a no-go. Kind of a bummer, but it wasn’t meant to be.

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I picked up the XR Mission shoe. I’d never read any reviews about them and I’d certainly never owned a pair of Salomon’s before. They looked stylish, but more importantly, sturdy and solid. The laces were weird – I’d never seen this “system” before. The price wasn’t outrageous. Hesitantly, I tried them on…. They fit like Cinderella’s trail shoe. I’ll take ’em!

(This is the second time I’ve had the Cinderella experience. The first time was with a pair of Brooks. Unfortunately, it was not a happy ending. I ended up carving off parts of the sole.)

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Initial impressions

First and foremost, the fit is perfect. The toe box feels spacious. I can wiggle my big toe easily. The collar feels pleasantly snug. When I cinch the speed laces, the shoe feels secure. The shoe feels balanced.

Initially, I wasn’t sure about how I felt about the laces. It seemed like a good idea, but what you were supposed to do with the dangling pull? I ended up loosely tucking it under the other laces; that seemed like a terrible solution. I thought this was a serious design blunder.

However, I just now found out through the magic of Youtube that there’s a pocket in the tongue to store the pull! Somehow, I missed that.

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Can you spot where the pocket where the fastener is?

The pocket makes a world of difference. With the loose end  tucked away, there is nothing that can get snagged and trip you up. Everything is one smooth unit.

Weight-wise, they feel similar to my Cascadias. However, if I wiggle my feet wearing the Cascadias, the weight feels concentrated in the sole like a big lump. It doesn’t move well. When I wiggle my feet wearing the XR’s, the weight feels evenly distributed, the shoe actually feels balanced and lighter as a result.

The sole under the forefoot and the heel of the shoe flares outward toward the ground. I believe this is part of what gives the shoe such great stability.

The soles flair outward and provide greater surface area to steady your landing.
The soles flair outward and provide greater surface area to steady your landing.

Performance on the trails

Socks can make a big difference on how your shoes perform. Blisters can be a nightmare. Sockwise, I run with a pair of thin weight Injinji’s under a heavier Drymax trail crew sock.

I broke in the XR’s  with with back to back 20 milers training for the Bandera 100K. Not a smart way to break in a completely unknown shoe, but sometimes often I do dumb stuff. (I was excited to test them out.) After the first run, I had a huge blister in the same spot on both of my big toes, obviously due to the shoes. The second run wasn’t as bad.

I had a few other runs after that, but the next big run was the Bandera 100K. I wore them the entire race. They were totally comfortable and more than capable on the course.

There were no problems where I’d blistered previously. But during the race, I thought my baby toe toenail was falling off. Only after the race did I fully remove both socks. The toenail was actually fine. The irritation I had been feeling was a huge blister on the inside of the toe! I attributed that to an Injinji sock malfunction.

The XR’s don’t have a rockplate, but I plowed through plenty of rocks without any problems. They provided plenty of protection underfoot from the 8 billion rocks on the Bandera trail. It makes for a much better run when you have confidence in your shoes.

The XR’s aren’t as nimble as my New Balance Minimus, but they are  more agile than my Cascadia’s. On the uphills, they have really good traction. I felt like I was  wearing a pair of comfortable 4×4’s. I haven’t  seen how they perform in mud, but I have high expectations.

I came across a website called ZOZI.com selling two discontinued  colors (in all sizes) for $55, which is quite a deal. Otherwise, they  typically retail around $65 – $75.

Overall, I’ve been quite pleased with these shoes. So if you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes, or have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, or you’re a shoe slut, or whatever, check ’em out.

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Full disclosure: Salomon is not a sponsor, nor did they provide free shoes for this review. But boy would I ever love to have them as a sponsor and/or receive free shoes to review.  YOU HEAR THAT, SALOMON?

Brooks PureConnect Shoe Report

A bunch of the Rockhopper group met in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, a neighborhood still waiting to be built. The area had some great steep hills and plenty of scenic views from the tops of the hills. We ran hill repeats, uphill for a half mile, downhill for half a mile. Totaled about five miles. As this was all on pavement, I got to break-in my new shoes.

And I really like ’em.

They feel super light, weighing  7.2 ounces. Now I’m not a big enough shoe nerd to know about stats like shoe weights (I looked that up on the Brooks site), but I’d bet 7.2 is toward the low end.

The fit is absolutely fantastic. I’ve never had a shoe fit that well. As an added bonus, the sock liner(!) offers a surprising amount of arch support. My flat feet really enjoyed the lift. I don’t know if the arch support is intentional or not, but I hope the shoe maintains the same level of support through the miles.

The lacing system is very unusual. Normally, the tongue sits under both sides of the shoe, and the laces pull the sides closer together. Here, the tongue is eliminated. The outside of the shoe is pulled into the inner side of the shoe. This should theoretically eliminate any chance of the tongue slipping down.

The shoelaces have a nice little feature. Rather than just a flat ribbon, the shoelaces are wavy, fat, thin, fat, thin. This, I believe, is supposed to help the laces stay tied. It also provides more tactile feedback when you are tying your shoes.

The soles feel way more cushiony than my Free’s, which are starting to feel flat and lifeless to me. Though I do have a concern about the “nobules” on the sole. I could feel them as I ran. It’s a new / unusual sensation that may go away with time, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

I have been trying to practice landing on the forefoot when I’m running, but it takes effort and I have to consciously think about what I’m doing. These shoes seem to encourage that running style, they almost have a rocking sort of motion. But I still have to work at it.

While it wasn’t hot on the run, I did feel that they provided good ventilation. I was wearing thin socks, and could feel the wind through the shoes. That will be good for really hot days.

If I had to find something wrong with the shoe, I would be hard pressed. Perhaps the color scheme of the blue and green are not so hot? (That was my initial reaction, but the look is growing on me.) Yeah, I’d really have to stretch to find something I’m not happy with about these shoes. Let’s hope I feel that way 300 miles from now!

My First Pair of Nike Free’s

My First Pair of Nike Free's

These are my very first pair, about 4 or 5 years ago when I was living in Portland. The first time I wore them was on a run home from work. It was one of the most magical runs I’ve ever had. I felt really… free. (Sorry) I’ve since become accustomed to the sensation of minimalist shoes, but that first run, wow! I wore them at work in the paint department, which is why they are covered in specks of magenta. The laces don’t stay tied worth a damn, even with double knotting, they smell funky, which is weird because my feet don’t usually stink, and they probably have at least a million miles on them, but I can’t bring myself to throw them out. I even did a painting of them. I’ve since bought 3 other pairs, though one pair got thrown out of a train window in Viet Nam because I’d gone swimming in them and they never got to dry out because I wrapped them up in a plastic bag along with my running shorts, and they began to smell unbearable….

But these ones, they’re still here with me. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.
Yeah, I think I’ll keep ’em.