While hanging out with fellow Beasts OCR dude Drew Hooper, we were tooling about Grays Harbor Horns and Hooks Sportsmen Show this weekend to scope the goods. I was in desperate need of real OCR style shoes as my current shoes were some old, cheap, running shoes that were quickly approaching those terrible bathroom sandals with multiple “breathing” holes. Behold, Sportsman’s Warehouse was selling many outdoors products, one of which was Salomon’s FELLRAISER. As I got this on a fire sale for about $40 dollars, this was like stealing but the cashier didn’t seem to mind. Looks and initial Impressions: 9/10
Traction lugs were huge at about 3/8ths inch deep (made my running shoes look like drag slicks), the color was Alien blood bright neon green which was way cool since it matches BeastsOCR green, and an absolute killer sale price. My precious……
Now to the dirty stuff. I got my prize home and slowly undressed the pair from the box and took in the otherworldly shiny of these shoes. They are almost pretty. In a mean and aggressive way like the Alien Queen with a tiara. The traction lugs are a chevron style with the front half chevron pointing forward and reversed for the heel. The sides have a modified chevron for digging in. The side chevrons are hard on side impacts towards the center but soft pushing away from the foot. Launching off hard tack should benefit from this digging in material. Heel is pretty stiff but the ball is quite flexible and thin so be careful on landings. Looking these over I noticed the laces are very thin (more like cord) and a human could never tie them without being called Stumpy afterwards. I worry about longevity of these laces through the eyelets but that will bear out in time. Salomon uses these laces in many other shoes. The laces have a clever clasp that you can surprisingly really tighten hard and loosen easily with the press of the button. Actually faster and tighter than Velcro style laces. My five year old would be proud if he cared. The insert is removable to ease and speed drying out which is nice and says it is anti-microbial. Where these shoes are going, it will be covered in mushrooms in a month or two but we will see. The material is no surprise with all plastic with bottom half of shoe and the entire heel in a waterproof material. The top of the toe and front half upper is about half of a tight flexible mesh to keep the mud out but let water in. Bet that shoe holds a lot of water……Nothing like running in buckets.
I generally have a wider foot and these shoes seem very narrow from the looks. I wore them for a couple hours that night and found they stretched out nicely in little time and were snug but not uncomfortable. I was actually surprised how quickly they formed to my foot rather than forcing my foot to fit the shoe compared to dozens of bad fits in the past. Maybe my feet are deforming with age but likely not. No tight spots no loose spots. Hmmm. These are really much more comfortable than I expected walking around the house. The midsole appears very narrow so landing upon that part will generate a lot of force upon that part of your foot I bet. I did walk about and found there is a sharp roll point as the sole is hard and once you put pressure on the side, I expect you could turn an ankle easily if not careful but only trail running will tell.
Trail run real world test: 9/10
The next morning Drew and I tackled a local favorite of ours at Lake Sylvia WA state park. We were sporting GHUnders shirt, sleeves, and tights as well but that is a review for later. This park is situated around some steep and deep old growth forest which can get really snotty making for some gnarly trail running and climbing. It was raining hard so we expected to get messy and the park did not disappoint. The first half mile of the run was a slight downhill of hard packed gravel and dirt. Great traction and running felt like a normal running shoe. Then the trail becomes manic with a lot of up and downs of 40-100 foot elevation changes with on twisty mud, needles, trail creeks, rock, and the occasional man-made trail steps. Never slipped once but on the deep mud. Awesome traction on everything and still good stability in the deep mud with the shoe mushing into the mud with confidence on the push off. The best part was side running the ditches and not sliding at all into the middle. That is pure traction. The fit was still very good with the laces still holding tight without being too tight in the beginning with no loosening throughout. The shoe feels light and never allowed any junk into the shoe proper. For fun on a downhill, I jumped into some bit of muck to see braking and almost fell over from the lack of sliding. Didn’t expect that. I was so used to sliding on power and braking that this shoe really changed the landscape. This shoe was a great find but there are some downsides as I alluded to earlier. I went through most of the run without ever getting my feet wet. Good foot speed in the deeper puddles kept the water out but once water got in, it never gets out without intervention. It throws off mud like a monster truck in full spin but not water. If you go deep, you get wet and stay wet. On long OCR events this might not be good. Or a quick pull off and shake will fit the bill. The laces will be very handy for that on speed. Just for giggles, the base weight while dry is 11.5 ounces each but when filled with water with no more draining, 29.5 ounces. One shoe holds over a pound water because of the waterproofing up the sides. But you may not get that wet to worry about it. Some of the high end shoes have great drainage but sacrifice getting grit between your toesies. Life is a compromise.
Overall, for short and technical mud runs where traction in a concern, this is the right tire for your rig. If have a long run in the very wet, make sure you drain your buckets or your toes will be raisin Cain. See what I did there.
See you on the back side.