Footwear Testing In Nor Cal with Mark Shelp

Boulder climbing

So far, I have a few specific observations. First, when I showed them to a buddy, right out of the box, his immediate reaction was, “How light!”. I agree, and it’s a fantastic start to getting the shoe. Light is right, light and durable is ideal. The first testing session was a moderate trail run on hilly terrain. While I had no problems with the cushioning on the heel strike, it felt a bit “thin” in the ball of foot/big toe area. I have marked it on the photo. Sharp rocks on the trail seemed a bit more noticeable than usual. On the river crossing, I dunked the shoe in water really quick before crossing. It seemed to shed water quickly, and keep my feet pretty dry. Of course, by the time I crossed the 2-foot deep stream, my feet were soaking wet. However, for the remainder of the run, I didn’t feel a significant loss of traction or footing.

On test two, I was side-hilling on extremely steep, unmaintained forest in Northern California. Traction here was adequate, although once I wished for a bit firmer “bite” from the bottom tread. Also, with the side-hilling, I was hoping for a bit more torsional rigidity around the toe box, which would allow for slighly more powerful edging on uneven terrain.

On the third specific test, I scrambled on 5th class granite to the base of the Nose on El Capitan. Interestingly, the afore-mentioned “thinness” under the ball of the foot was nice while climbing. It gave a good feel in that situation.

In daily wear in tear in hot, dry conditions, I was surprised to not have any issues with hot feet. I have had several pairs of the old Montrail, all-black, Gore-tex trail runners in the past, and used them in very simliar conditions. I definitely thought these Sabots breathed better than the Montrail GTXs.

All in all, my impression was they were wonderfully functional, and some of these minor drawbacks were compensated for by how light they felt on the feet, and their overall comfort. I would buy this shoe in a hearbeat. I am generally an 8.5, and the size 8 seemed pretty accurate. Finally, I LOVE they way they look.


Mark Shelp


July 19, 2010

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