Gear Reviews

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Altra Superior 1.5

Old news: I love Altra shoes, but I couldn't run in the original Superiors. New news: I still love Altra and the Superior 1.5s fit better!

I may have mentioned this before, but I find it funny how Altra is numbering their updates. Since they have only changed the upper they didn't upgrade to a full “2nd version” title. They will only use that title when they change the entire shoe, including the midsole and outsole.

The North Face Ultra Guide

Let’s start with the good stuff…I think this is the best trail running shoe The North Face has made to date. That being said, they still haven’t caught up to their competitors yet. Though I suspect that it will only be a matter of time until The North Face is a major player in the trail running universe.

YakTrax XTR (Kahtoola Microspikes)

Truth be told, I haven’t run in the Kahtoola Microspikes. But my experimentation with the YakTrax XTR, and previous reviews I've read about both, leave me feeling confident that I can comment on both.

I have already hit the snowy trails in the YakTrax Pro, HobNails, Ice Spikes, and sheet metal hexnuts, so this should finish my comprehensive coverage of your winter traction options. Let’s make this short and sweet…

Hex nuts vs Hobnails

Today was the day. Christmas Eve morning, a loop around Pickerel Lake with 16 of my WMTR family, and plenty of fresh midwestern powder on top of even more midwestern ice. I loaded up my left Patagonia Forerunner with LaSportiva AT/Hob Nails, and I loaded up my right one with #6, 3/8 in. steel hex nuts from Modern Hardware. The question is, which option performed better?

Knuckle Lights

When it comes to winter running in Michigan, we have a lot of things to consider. What are we going to wear to stay comfortable? How are we going to improve our traction? Can the other runners, cyclists, and most importantly drivers, see me? As a trail runner this last question is the most important: how am I going to see where I’m going?

Altra Superior

If you read my review of the Altra Lone Peak 1.5s, you know that I love them. I am a huge fan of everything Altra. I even ran in, and now chill out in, an original pair of black Instincts. So when I picked up my first pair of Superiors, I was super excited. They were going to be everything I was looking for. Touted as being lighter than the Lone Peaks, closer to the ground than the Lone Peaks, and with a removable stoneguard, they were going to be the Altras I was going to use for my trail races. That is until they didn’t fit.

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

When my first pair of Lone Peaks arrived, I took them out for one test run and immediately put them aside. They were too wide and too heavy. I was running a lot in my original Minimus Trail 10s (with some long runs in my Peregrine 2s), and the Lone Peaks just couldn’t compare. I wanted “minimal”, and I didn’t want to go back to a bulkier shoe. I had put in the time, developed the foot strength, worked on my form, and loved the lower drop, closer to the ground feel of minimal trail running shoes. And then I got hurt. And Terence made me put away my Minimus.

Salomon Speedcross

I'm still using the Speedcross 2 that I won at the Dirty Herd Fall Classic two years ago. I break these shoes out in the winter because of their aggressive grip, which I really like in the snow and slush and mud. The tread on these seems a bit heavy duty to me for normal dry conditions, but when it gets cold, my Asics Fuji Racers are just too light weight and cold for the weather. These Speedcross are not water proof, but they do have a tight weave across the top of the foot and keep my feet dray and reasonably warm throughout my runs.