Summit County Gear Guide: Feet first up the mountain
November 14, 2013
Don't worry, runners; we haven't forgotten about you. This week, we're focusing on feet, and a little bit of style, for when you head out to hit the trail this summer. Thanks to the folks at Salomon, we've got a rugged trail shoe suited for high-mountain terrain and more of an all-purpose shoe for the door-to-trail runner. We've also got some stylish Maui Jims that'll stay on your face and keep you looking good out there.
SpeedCross 3 by Salomon
These puppies are for the serious trail runner looking to cover some elevation on rugged Rocky Mountain terrain. They'd also be a solid option for a hiker looking to tackle a 14er in sneakers. The Salomon SpeedCross 3 trail shoes have some serious tread. You're not going to want to run with these on concrete. The shoes' roughly quarter-inch, V-shaped tread pattern practically lifts you off the ground and would likely be susceptible to faster tread wear on a hard surface.
That said, these shoes shine on a trail. The tread pattern has a near cleat-like function. They'll keep you on the trail and cushion your foot from whatever irregularities you might encounter. The soles are flexible but still maintain the ridged support and cushion you want in a trail shoe. Salomon's Ortholite soles also help to provide extra comfort by absorbing the rough stuff the trail throws at you.
We learned the hard way that we were testing a "water resistant" pair without Salomon's Gortex-like Climashield membrane. But standing in a stream, the rubber outer layer in the front and along the bottom of the shoe still managed to keep water out. Even the mesh portion of the shoe kept water out initially, so they'll definitely hold up to a quick splash. For $20 more, the SpeedCross 3s come with Salomon's Climashield breathable, waterproof membrane. That extra layer might take away slightly from the breathability you want in a summer trail shoe but will give you that added protection for all seasons. Both models are light, weighing less than 9 ounces.
Retail: $125, $145 with Climashield
XR Crossmax 2 W by Salomon
After a decade-long hiatus from serious running, I recently picked it up again, and these shoes were my inspiration. Part of Salomon's door-to-trail series, the Crossmax can handle concrete with the same ease as a slippery, root-infested mountain trail. I have a flat, narrow foot and my feet tend to pronate, or roll in over my inside ankle. It's hard to find running shoes that fit correctly, with the support in the right place under my ankle but without high arches that make my feet ache.
After running a few miles in the Crossmax, I was sold. The shoe is lightweight but supportive, and it doesn't rub on my heel or anklebones. The Quicklace system has friction-free eyelets, so you can give your laces a single tug, tighten them and be on your way. I've had problems with similar lacing systems working their way loose after a few miles on the trail, but these laces stayed tight on my foot for the duration. The tongue of the shoe also has a little pocket to tuck the end of the laces away, which is great for someone like me with a narrow foot that otherwise would end up with a lot of extra lace flopping around.
Most of the time when shopping for gear, I try to find stuff that's women-specific for a better fit and function. The Crossmax provides all of that but still maintains a burly sole, stub-proof toe guard and durable construction.
Olowalu by Maui Jim
It took me a while to figure out exactly what to do with these Maui Jim Olowalu sunglasses. Because of their hingeless, contoured arms, I thought they would be great for rafting, as the design hugs your head and stays put on your face. The first hang-up was that my Croakies kept falling off of them because the arms of the sunglasses are so thin. At a retail price of $319, you don't want to risk losing these things in the water, so I improvised with a piece of string. As is custom, I fell out of the boat the first time out with these sunglasses on, smashing face first into the water. The good news is that the sunglasses stayed on my face; the bad news is that one of the thin titanium arms bent.
I bent the arm back to its original position, which a Maui Jim rep told me was perfectly OK since titanium can be bent back and forth quite a few times before breaking, but by the end of the day on the water, I noticed another frustration. The Olowalus don't have frames, which makes them very fashionable looking and lightweight but also means that the lenses themselves are snug up to your face. Living 9,000 feet closer to the sun than those surfers in Maui, I wear a lot of sunscreen, and it kept gumming up the edges of the lenses. Trying to rub it off with the included cloth case just smeared the greasy stuff all across my line of vision. It was easily remedied with some Dawn dish soap, but if you're not in the habit of carrying soap wherever you go, that doesn't help a whole lot.
I finally gave up on these sunglasses for watersports and donned them for a trail run. This is what the Olowalu was made for. They are light enough that you don't even notice them on your face, and the contoured arms hold them in place so they don't jostle around with each step. For the price, I'd prefer something a little more versatile, but if you just want a good pair of running or biking sunglasses, these would work.
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