Whether you are a runner, ultrarunner, adventure racer, thru-hiker, casual walker, or something in-between, you are probably always on the lookout for the right shoe. Maybe one of the magazines you subscribe to has a shoe issue, or occasional shoe reviews. Or maybe you scour the Internet reading reviews or pay close attention to what is written in email forums to which you subscribe. It’s the elusive search for the perfect shoe.
Can there be more than one shoe that is right for your feet? Are there perfect shoes? Christopher Willett went through four pairs of shoes on his 2003 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike (2600+ miles) and bought them as he went. Wearing size 15 running shoes, he didn’t really have the option of buying from an outfitter along the trail. He would call or use the Internet from various towns along the way and have new shoes and socks sent up trail. He started in Brooks Adrenaline GTS and liked them in the hot 563-mile Southern California section. He wished the next shoe, the Asics Eagle Trail, had a more protective sole but liked the tread. While the New Balance 806s were structurally good, he felt they had a poor tread design and they are the only shoe that he would not wear again. He finished the last 670 miles in the Asics Gel Trabuco V and liked their durability and tread. Would one of the shoes have worked for his whole thru-hike? If they had been the NB 806s, the answer would be no. Probably any of the other three would have worked the whole way, but Chris might have had problems sticking with one shoe given the varying weather and terrain of the trail. Even the most perfect shoe can have small issues: breathability, tread design, cushioning, sole protection, and so on. Each of these issues can make them perfect for one set of conditions and wrong for another.
In reality, there is more than one shoe that is right for your feet. What’s important, regardless of which shoe you choose, is that the shoe fits.
Note: The photo shows part of the display of shoes at Zombierunner, Palo Alto. They have a great store.
I started running in the early 80′s and bought my first pair of shoes from New Balance. They were a great company that made great running shoes. They still are a great company. The shoes worked and I bought more from them in the following years.
Back then the running footwear scene was dominated by the stalwarts: New Balance, Nike, Adidas, to name a few. The shoes were good, solidly made, and offered in a few different styles. They worked.
Now, we can choose from a bunch of footwear companies that a few years ago were non-existant. It has been interesting watching the new newcomers. My guess is that they saw the trends into running and other outdoor sports and decided to get on the bandwagon.
If you read the shoe evaluations in the popular running and outdoor magazines, these new shoes are quite good. Maybe not all of them, but a many get good write-ups. Runners must be buying some of them, because the companies are still around.
Some of these companies were already making backpacking boots and the expansion into running shoes was a natural move. Others made clothes and the entry into footwear was a bit of
But now we have shoes from Under Armour, a company that makes high end underwear. Here’s an image from their website. I’ll let you be the judge.