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advice on buying trail running shoes

Original Post
Danny · · brooklyn, ny · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 25

I trail run and go through a pair of shoes a year. realistically they're actually worn out after 9-10 months but i tend to eke them out beyond that. my trail running shoes always wear out in the same spot: the mesh over the toes, specifically on the outsides of the toe box where they crease when you step. I have gone through 3 pairs of Brooks Cascadia and 1 North Face Ultra Vertical with this same pattern. The fabric at the crease above my toe knuckles wears out until there are two holes in each shoe, almost always before the treads go. It's frustrating because the rest of the shoe holds up and still has life in it, but by the time winter comes around, i can see my socks peeking out through the holes. 

Does anyone have experience with this and has found a trail shoe that holds up in this specific spot? 

i love the breathability of the mesh uppers, but would experiment with a different shoe if i could get more life out of it. or maybe i just accept that i have to buy a $100+ pair of running shoes every year..... 

appreciate any insight you may have.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

hahahahaha you and your 1st world problems, I have heard good things from arc'teryx's laminate system.

curt86iroc · · Golden, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 63

it may be related to your running style.  I've run multiple pairs of cascadias over the years (generation 7, 9 and 11), multiple pairs of salomons and sauconys...and have never had this problem... Do you use your shoes for other activities aside from running (ex. approach shoes)?

Skibo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 5

Seam Grip is your friend--adds significantly to durability.

Danny · · brooklyn, ny · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 25
curt86iroc wrote:

it may be related to your running style.  I've run multiple pairs of cascadias over the years (generation 7, 9 and 11), multiple pairs of salomons and sauconys...and have never had this problem... Do you use your shoes for other activities aside from running (ex. approach shoes)?

yes, i also use them sometimes as my cragging shoe since the gunks has lots of rocky trails.

Kirsten KDog · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 80

I have this same problem and it gets super annoying when the tread is fine but you have holes on the sides of your shoes! Some brands last a bit longer than others but the fabric at the crease always seems to rip apart for me. I typically run in Hokas or Saucony's and it is a constant with those brands.  

I'm currently on a pair of Altra Lone Peak 3.5's which I am very happy with so far. These seem to be holding up better because there is a leather-y type fabric running on/near that crease that seems to be reinforcing it, along with some extra stitching in that area. I'd recommend them. 

Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

I would also add a second vote for the Altra brand of shoes, all of their shoes are amazing.  The lone peaks are considered the Cascidia killers in the ultra marathon world.

I used to run in the Brooks Cascadias (8, 9, 10, 11, 12).  In my Ultra Marathon days, I would typically burn through a pair ever 4-5 months.  I would wear out the heal cup and the toe box padding.  The mesh uppers of trail running shoes are not designed to take the beating (read that as side loads) that approach shoes are built with.  Also the sustained loads that cragging puts on the materials will make it wear down faster. Look at the construction of a trail runner vs a high quality approach shoe you will see the difference in materials.

Justin Meyer · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2012 · Points: 51

I had the same problem with a pair of New Balance 910 trail runners. A serious runner friend says that they weren't wide enough. I don't know if that is true, I went back to buying cheaper but more durable shoes where the material isn't so thin and haven't had a repeat of the problem.

pat a · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

I'm on my 4th pair of Altras.  The lone peak is an awesome trail runner and you should buy them, but wouldn't say they hold up particularly great.  I guess I get about a year out of them, though, which is sorta average.

And they're designed to fit kinda sloppy, which to me makes them feel a bit unsteady on really rocky ground.   

sean o · · Northern, NM · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 20
Danny wrote:

or maybe i just accept that i have to buy a $100+ pair of running shoes every year..... 

I haven't had that specific problem -- I usually go through the outsoles or the inner sides from scree/talus -- but I typically go through 6+ pairs of trail runners per year, so one pair per year seems reasonable.  But you certainly don't have to spend $100+.  If you keep an eye out for sales of last year's models, you can usually find something good in the $60-80 range (e.g. $80 for Salomon Speedcross 4s on Sierra Trading Post now), and it's not like shoe technology changes much from year to year.

EDIT: from online photos, those North Faces look pretty flimsy.

Ice4life · · US · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 330

I second it may be how you're running, or maybe sizing your shoes? Terrain and incline also effect the wear.

I've had good luck with salmon XA pro.

Like em so much I used them on the PCT in 2015. They last longer than cascadia for sure.

Ira O · · Hardwick, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 25

Another vote for Altas. I love them because I'm addicted to zero drop. I race in superiors but I wear lone peaks for running and hiking in everyday life. Then when they get worn out they become my work shoe. The tread wears out before the fabric. At least for the lone peaks. The superiors are pretty flimsy. 

J Squared · · santa barbara, CA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

do you know the lacing bible?

find the one that really fits your foot, and the shoe won't crease , will last longer

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 10

One pair of running shoes per year sounds pretty reasonable. I definitely recommend Altra as well, Superior and Lone Peak are the best shoes ever.

Danny · · brooklyn, ny · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 25

Does anyone have personal experience with the Vasque Constant Velocity?

SThal · · Logan, UT · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 140

They make rubber stuff for work boots and baseball cleats that you can paint on. Or seam grip or silicone caulk. Key is to apply while clean and new. 

DRusso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 380
Josh Kautz · · Hopkins, MN · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

I'm a bit late to the party, but figured I could chime in a little. I did some trail running this past summer while thru-hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail, and I have only great things to say about the shoes I used: Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe ( Yeah, it's a mouthful. I went through two pairs over the 1,205 miles... Kind of - I'm still using the second pair, but the first pair lasted about 900 miles before they were begging me to put them down! They're about $90 on Amazon, extremely light-weight, very tough, and dry quickly. The title is a bit misleading by calling them water shoes. I wouldn't classify them as water shoes, but rather very efficient quick-dry shoes.

David Kutassy · · Charlottesville, VA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

Running shoes are intended to last between 300-500 miles of running. Obviously you can squeeze out more but don't expect it with any running shoe. 

Generally the cushioning packs out rendering the shoe "worn out" long before the tread is gone and the uppers fall apart. Most people don't care about the cushioning. If you have planar fasciitis or run ultra marathons you need the cushion to avoid destroying your joints and soft tissue.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

I've had this same issue for years with various shoes, but the Newballance 410 has been the worse. It's so depressing to have a shoe wear out from the inside out by your toes rubbing the sides. And this was just from walking, too. The good news is, if you switch to white all leather Newballances, you get tougher sides and can join other Libertarians who lack any fashion sense on their runs. Seriously, that's what I wear now and they appear to be indestructible. And really ugly. 

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,088
Skibo wrote:

Seam Grip is your friend--adds significantly to durability.

seam grip, shoe goo, freesole, etc.  it's like frank's red hot - i put that shit on everything.  climbing shoes, approach shoes, haulbag wear points, the bottom of my packs, etc.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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