When I was researching footwear for hiking, I noticed that technical trail running shoes were de rigueur among hikers for their lighter weight, great traction and rugged durability. As a non-technical trail runner, that appealed to me, so I grabbed a pair of Merrell All Out Peak’s at a great price. Aside from the stiffer sole and beefed up toe (both important for surviving rocks and roots on the AT, as I quickly found out) they had the light weight and fit of my usual Asics non-technical trail runners.
Surprisingly, I never actually tried them for running until the other day, when a couple inches of snow covered the trail and fields on which I typically run. I opted to take them out for a quick five miler. Here’s what I found:
- Their weight and upper feel was comparable to my normal fare. Decent fit and feel. No hot spots, snug to the heel.
- The ride felt stiff to the soles of my feet at first. After a half mile or so, that feeling faded as my feet adjusted. I expected that, however; a first run in any new shoe always lends itself to an adjustment period.
- The traction wasn’t noticeably different except on snow covered grass. There, they outdid my Asics by a solid margin. Also noticed a slight difference on smooth snow packed/melted to the consistency of ice. That could be the Vibram outsole. Or it could be that I expected the Vibram outsole to perform better, so assumed that it did. Psychology.
- A noticeable difference on dry asphalt between these and my Asics. They slapped the pavement, and the firm ride and more limited toe-off was definitely more pronounced. But it should be. They’re TRAIL runners, after all. No points taken away. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to run any distance on asphalt in these shoes. A quarter mile told me all I needed to know.
Overall, I liked the feel of them. They were stable and delivered good traction, though a slightly stiffer ride. But I appreciated them enough to consider using technical trail runners in winter from now on…