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Review: AktivX Lace Locks

From: Justin McGovern

Review: Tied laces? Or Locking Laces? I’ve heard the back and forth and have encountered my fair share of pros and cons to both systems on various shoes. I think Salomon has the best “out-of-the-box” locking laces and Reebok’s were the worst. Depending on the amount of water and mud on a course seemed to factor in how often I’d have to adjust the locking laces. I wore Salomon Speedcross 3s for the NJ Beast and only had to tighten them once or twice. I wore Reebok All Terrain Super ORs for the Killington Beast and it felt like I was CONSTANTLY tightening the lace locks. They stretched and I had them so tight they were killing the top of my feet. I bought the ActivX laces to replace the ones on the Reeboks and their first test was the NJ Super. I never had to adjust them once. They held tight but flexed enough to be comfortable. The locking mechanism also worked like a charm to get off when caked with mud. I find the Salomon’s lock gets gunked up and a bit tough to loosen when there’s mud in it. I’ve just bought my 3rd pair of ActivX laces to replace the regular tie laces on my Inov-8 Terraclaws. Plus for the price (about $8) they’re totally worth a try!! MAKE SURE YOU DONT CUT THEM UNTIL YOU KNOW HOW LONG THEY NEED TO BE TO GET THE SHOE OFF!!

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Review: Icebug Aurora BUGrip

From: Amber Galindo

Review: I got these shoes in preparation for Blizzard Blast and WinterDash with the expectation of running in the snow. Unfortunately, we had quite the mild winter and Blizzard Blast was well over 50 degrees and no snow for WinterDash. I only got to run in the snow with them one time and the traction was phenomenal, but it was one time.

With that said, I have also used these at FIT Challenge and other trail races or events with lots of wooden obstacles and climbing and the spikes provide extra help getting over obstacles.

They are very light and low profile and kept my feet super warm when it was cold outside.

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Review: Merrell All Out Charge

From: Amy LaPanne

Review: Based on how much I liked my Merrell All Out Rush shoes for hiking, I decided to try out the All Out Charge for OCR. They were super comfy right out of the box. There’s enough padding at the back of the heel but it never rubbed. I wore them hiking a few times to break them in before wearing them all day (literally, all day) at the Killington Beast. The only modification I made was that I added the Sof Sole Athlete insole for some extra padding. My best battle buddy wore her Charges with the Merrell provided insole and had problems with it slipping down under her toes. She eventually took her insoles out and put them in her pack. My Sof Soles never moved and provided just enough extra padding so that my feet didn’t hurt as much as expected by the end. But…back to the shoe.

I went a half size up, knowing that we’d be going down hill a lot and that my Rush shoes were a little short, and that was a good move for me. Even with the Sof Soles inside, I had enough room without being squished or my feet sliding around (I have an average width foot).Unlike the Solomon’s, these have regular tie laces which stayed tied the whole time for me.

I remarked during the trip several times that my feet were dry all day. Drainage was excellent. Also, thanks to the tongue of the shoe being attached on the outer side, I had very little debris in my shoe. Grip was very good, too. There are lots of nubs on the bottom that got the work done both up hill and down.

Found mine using shoekicker – but noticed Nordstrom’s Rack has them on sale right now, as well as 6pm.com

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Review: Innov-8 X-Talon 212

From: Chris Bordenca
Product: Innov-8 X-Talon 212

Review: This is my first pair of Innov-8’s following 3 pairs of Gen 1 Reebok trail shoes (1 pair Sprint, 2 pair Super).

The Innov-8 X-Talon 212 is very comfortable, but a little tight in the toe box going down hill even with the standard fit. There is a precision fit available that is even narrower. As soon as you set eyes on them you can tell they are a high quality, durable shoe with a lot of grip. The lugs are 8mm and seeing them instilled a lot of confidence about going down steep, wet hills.

That confidence was well placed. I’ve logged 21 very technical, wet, steep miles over the course of 2 races in last few weeks. I felt in total control running down some steeper declines that were either wet or just narrow and curvy or both. The 7 Sisters Trail Race and Bone Frog New England both posed formidable challenges and the shoes have come out looking almost new after a hose down.

They are very light, except after full submersion. Without drain holes, water is trapped in the shoes and does not “squish” out while running after. Instead it feels like lugging small wet towels around your feet for a longer amount of time than is comfortable. The benefit of no drainage is that they don’t stuck in lots of small pebbles during submersion like the Reebok’s tend to do. With both brand of shoe you feel uncomfortable either from water or from pebbles in the shoes and only the pebbles in the Reebok’s compelled me to stop and shake out the shoes.

Overall, I highly recommend the Innov-8 X-Talon 212. They are tough, mostly comfortable, and built for speed on the trail. If the drainage issue could be solved they’d be a perfect shoe. If possible try a pair on before buying to see if they are tight around the forefoot.

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Inov-8 X-Talon 200

From: Ben Spellman
Product: Inov-8 X-Talon 200

Review: Last year Inov-8 unleashed it’s first shoe truly built from the ground up to tackle everything OCR’s throw at them. The X-Talon 200’s are the 200g/7oz cousin to the X-Talon 212. They come with a roomy toe box for your toes to spread out a bit, the ability to drain just a few steps after leaving whatever water hazard you just happened into and lugs to keep to connected to the ground no matter how loose and messy it gets. The 200 has a 3mm drop which I find very comfy, not too much and not too little, it seems Inov-8’s goal was to make sure Goldilocks chose these shoes over all else. At 6’1″ and 250lbs comfort and support are a huge deal for me and these shoes deliver.

So those are all great stats and numbers but how do they survive on the course? Well last year I took them for a spin. I was just coming out of Reebok Spartan Super’s and I was a bit worried. Those shoes were way too narrow and offered no support to me so my fear was rolling my ankles several times while having my toes smooshed together over again. What I got was a shoe that locked my heel in place while allowing my toes to move to such a degree no amount of mud has been able to rip them off, just the right amount of cushion even over jagged rocks, and drainage that made it so it didn’t feel as though I was wearing cinder blocks after the first bit of water ( I’m looking at you older pair of trail runner Adidas!)

Now here’s the bad, the shoes got me though about 5 races of varying degree (Spartan Sprint, Super, Beast, Battlefrog, Zombie Charge) then when I went for back to back Spartan Super’s in Barre they decided to start ripping where the toe cap met the fabric of the toe box. I emailed Inov-8 whom responded with wonderful customer service. They asked for a picture then promptly replaced my X-Talon’s. I finished out my season with my new shoes which included a trip to Killington and a few other races then packed my shoes away for the season. Fast forward to this year I ran both Spartan Beasts in NJ. Day 1: my shoes began to rip in the exact same spot. Day 2: I could clearly see my toes because the rips were so big. I noticed at this point I was not the only one with X-talon 200’s that had this issue, many on the mountain had the same shoes with the same rips.

I emailed Inov-8 once more and pointed out what I believed to be a design flaw, I did not ask for replacements but I did want to point out the issue. Once more Inov-8 was very prompt and friendly with responding. Even though I admitted to having the shoes for over a year and my current ones were what was called a,’One time courtesy replacement’, they again apologized and sent me a new pair.

It turns out Inov-8 did acknowledge this as a design flaw and corrected it by swapping the fabric on the toe box with ballistic nylon, a difference you can definitely see and feel.

My new shoes have only started their journey and durability tests but I’m confident I will see much better results here. I ranked these high mainly because they truly are the most comfortable pair of OCR shoes I have ever strapped on and even though I have destroyed two pairs I have only paid for one and thanks to the great customer service at Inov-8 I have never missed a race due to my shoes failing. Now if only they could work on a color pallet that doesn’t look like McDonalds threw up on a shoe.

Sidenote: If you are sporting some of those ripped X-Talon 200’s, email their customer support, be polite and explain the damage. You will get a new pair of the new version.

Rating: 4 star (good)

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Review: Reebok All Terrain Super OR

From: Stanley J Mscisz
Product: Reebok All Terrain Super OR

Review: My review of the Reebok All Terrain Super OR shoes:
They have excellent flexibility
They need no break in time
They have excellent tread for the trails
I have not tested yet for water drainage but, just by looking
at them they appear to be made well for drainage.

Rating: 5 star (amazing)

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Review: Icebug Zeal OLX – long term wear

We posted our first look at the Icebug Zeal OLX on April 10th, 2015 – since then they’ve been on many courses, many laps, many miles – and I wanted to do a recap discussing their long term wear. With the 2016 season coming, the chances are high we’ll see shoes from last season on sale and getting moved by retailers for cheaper – so, how did these guys hold up?

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Reebok All Terrain Thrill – first look

All Terrain ThrillI wasn’t expecting to be putting two shoe posts up in two days – but here we go. Reebok VERY kindly shipped me the *other* 2016 All Terrain series shoe to look at and write up my first thoughts – and today we got a couple of pairs of the All Terrain Thrill – a new, wider, more plush trail shoe for their very popular All Terrain series.

If you haven’t – go take a read of the All Terrain Super OR first look I put up yesterday. I’ll get into a more direct comparison of the various shoes in due course, but it’s worth knowing what your options are if you’re looking at new shoes for the 2016 OCR season.

The Thrill is a very different shoe to the Super OR. From the bottom up – the tread isn’t as aggressive, the mid-sole is thicker, they use real laces, and a slightly padded tongue – the toe box is wider too. It’s much more shoe.

Weight: 11.5oz for mens, 9.3oz for women’s
Drop: 10mm (10mm at the front, 20mm at the rear)

All Terrain Thrill

The market for this shoe is for people who need more support – not everyone in OCR is elite. Not everyone needs minimal and fast in their shoe. Some of us need some comfort. Maybe you run longer distance events, and need more support? Maybe you’re simply looking for more protection from the rocks.

The Thrill does retain Reeboks signature H2O drain, which is easily my favorite feature of the All Terrain – at the cost of possibly letting stuff *into* the shoe, they also let stuff get out quickly too.

In fact, if you compare it to the early 2015 All Terrain Thunder 2.0 shoe – it’s more comparable. It’s comfortable, but now has the signature All Terrain tread.

So – which Reebok is best for you?

If you’re looking for a comfortable ride – plush midsole and wide toebox, with great grip and drainage – the All Terrain Thrill is for you.

If you’re looking for a light weight, tight fitting race shoe – with grip, drainage and the most durable upper yet, you want the All Terrain Super OR.

 

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Reebok All Terrain Super OR – first look

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

This morning, the mailman dropped off a couple of boxes, direct from Canton, MA – headquarters of Reebok HQ – and in those boxes were some new shoes to check out – the Reebok All Terrain Super OR.

This is, effectively, the third generation of All Terrain Super – and just like they do with their other shoe lines, Reebok has gradually and incrementally improved the shoe with each revision.

Check my comparison of the first generation here, and the Thunder 2.0, a more casual/training version of the All Terrain that was released in the second generation.

So – what do we have here.

Weight: 7.8oz for mens, 6.4oz for women’s
Drop: 5mm (7mm at the front, 12mm at the rear)

This is a racing shoe. Unlike the Thunder 2.0, this is not a training / casual shoe. There will be a Thrive model coming soon for that. This is for hitting the courses, completing obstacles, and getting you through quickly – not for long miles on mountains.

According to Reebok, the shoe weighs 8oz – and if you’ve worn either previous model, it’s about the same weight. It has an 8mm drop, but frankly, with the minimal mid sole, it feels much lower. The shoe is definitely a light weight, minimal feel shoe.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015They’ve kept the things that worked – this is key, because in many area’s, the shoe DID work well. The tread pattern and depth don’t appear to have changed. The lugs are aggressive and if anything like previous generations, they work well. The H2O draining is effective and easily the most unique, most appreciated feature of the shoe.

They’ve changed things that didn’t work – the material of the upper – at least in the first generation – failed all the time. I wore mine out quickly, with my wide toe box. The second generation was more resilient, but in my Thunder 2.0’s, it did feel plasticy at times. Having said that, I wear my Thunder 2.0’s all the damn time – just not for racing. The new CorDura material they use here is considerably improved over last year.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

I have no idea why they included speed lacing. In OCR, thats a recipe for getting gummed up and difficult to use.

The fit – this is polarizing. This is a race day shoe, so the fit is designed to be snug. I get that. However, I have a fairly wide toe box, and these feel tight to me. This is what ripped the sides out of my old All Terrain Super’s. However, the material feels much sturdier, and the actual FEEL is comfortable. I could wear these all day, and doubt I’d blister – but if you’re looking for a wide, roomy and more comfortable fit, these won’t be the shoes for you. I’ll have to wear these for a while to see if they’re the shoes for me.

Watch my video review, below – lots more detail in there. Also┬áscores are being given BEFORE a test wear – and I’ll update once I’ve got miles behind me – I feel I can make educated scoring now, due to the similarity with previous generation shoes.

Also check out our first look at the more plush Reebok All Terrain Thrill’s for 2016!

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Review: Brooks PureGrit

ed. note: Thank you to Kristin Parker for submitting this!

brooks1I am a huge fan of Brooks Running. Having flat feet with a tendency to pronate, a lot of shoes are tough on my ankles. Brooks are always comfortable right out of the box, and they are somewhat environmentally-friendly containing materials that break down easily.

I had a pair of Cascadias back in 2011 for trail running, and I loved them to death. I destroyed them with years of overuse and finally, they shrank from too many washings after my first Tough Mudder in August of 2013. I was worried about having another pair that would shrink since I was planning on upping my OCR game, so I tried a pair of PureGrits from their Pure line. They are more minimalist than the chunky Cascadias, but still have more support than most minimalist shoes.

Pros: Lightweight, actually great for swimming in, drain well, comfortable, even the sand drains out, they wash easily, great tread and little slippage on the trail or on obstacles, they stay on in thick mud, you can road run in them and they aren’t awkward

Cons: The lack of reinforcement on the outside of the shoe near the pinky toe leads to wear and tear. I have had two pairs and they have both gotten gaping holes here that I have sewn shut. The top of the heals wear after a few uses. The lace loops are flimsy and if you remove your laces each time you wash your shoes, they will wear until they break. The rear most lace hole near the top of the shoe snapped open when I was tying it before a race. If they other one went, I’m not sure my foot would have stayed in the shoe.

brookscollage

I complained about the lace loop breaking on my last pair. Brooks sent me a brand new pair, but warned me that these shoes are not great for lateral movement. That seems odd to me since they are trail running shoes, and your feet have to be fairly agile on uneven ground. At any rate, I am glad they replaced them, and I only paid $60 for my second pair (last year’s color) and got 9 big OCRs out of them (about 75 miles) this year and some minimal training time. They will now be my sand hill running shoes that I don’t care about.

I changed to IceBugs, and I hope they’ll last a bit longer.

Rating: 3 star (average)