Product Review: New Balance Summit Q.O.M.

Amelia is one of our RE ambassadors for 2018/19. She is very active in the community and is one of the makers of the maps we all know and love, Cairn Cartography! As a frequent runner of the trails, we asked Amelia to review the new Summit Q.O.M from New Balance. Her thoughts are below. You can also follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto, as well as on facebook.

Specs: 8mm drop, 28/20mm stack, 9.2 OZ, vibram mega-grip outsole

I received a pair of New Balance Summit QOM shoes to test. My favorite trail shoe of all time was probably the original New Balance Leadville, and I’ve run in several other New Balance shoes over the last few years so I was excited to try this new model. The Summit QOM replaced the 910 model and is designed to be an everyday do-it-all shoe for all types of runners.

I should start by saying that I’m super fussy about shoes. My feet are really wide, my arches are high, and I like the midfoot and heel of my running shoes to feel secure. I like a decent amount of cushioning but not too much, I want protection from rocks but I want to feel the trail underneath me, zero drop doesn’t work for me but I do like lower-drop shoes. I am always, always on the hunt for a shoe that fits my goldilocks standards. Shoes I’ve liked recently are the now-discontinued Pearl Izumi N2s, the original Brooks Calderas (but they fell apart too fast and this year’s version was too narrow), and the current Salomon Sense Ride, which I love, but I wish had a little more substance underfoot for long days.

So, with that qualifier (I’m picky!) here’s what I thought of the QOMs: Initially I wasn’t crazy about the understated grey color scheme but it’s grown on me, especially with the pop of yellow from the sole. The trail shoe market has gone a little crazy with super dark or really flashy designs lately, so these stand out for how understated they are.

How do they feel? These feel firm and burly! For the QOM New Balance took the same midsole as the 910, added a vibram mega-grip outsole and beefed up the toe bumper, and these babies feel ready for anything. I’ve worn them on a variety of  Missoula trails and they feel grippy and secure going up and down on the steeps, even with late summer loose gravelly trails. The underfoot protection is so good I find myself looking around at the view more instead of carefully watching my feet because they eat up sharp rocks underfoot. On flatter smoother trails that extra protection does feel a little bit overkill and these are not my first choice for road-to-trail or mellower runs, but they do turn over surprisingly well for how stiff they feel. A few weeks ago I took these on a trip to the Tetons and they were great for scrambling and boulder hopping in big alpine terrain.

Some fit specifics: Like a lot of New Balance shoes, the toe box in these feels roomy and I didn’t even have to order a wide width (but I appreciate that they come in wide, other shoe companies take note, feet come in different widths!). They did take a while to break in, but once they formed to my feet and the thick padding on the tongue and collar packed down a tiny bit they felt super comfortable and secure. They feel like a higher drop shoe, so I was surprised to see them listed as only 8mm, and the higher stack height combined with the firm sole made me feel a little further from the ground than I prefer, but some days that kind of protection is good.

These would be great shoes for races like the Rut or Bridger Ridge Run, or for training in the kind of rugged terrain featured in those races. I think they will also be great for shoulder season runs in mud and snow when a stiffer shoe and a burly sole can really save the day. I also really appreciate how durable these feel, I’m hard on shoes and it’s not unusual for me to wear holes in the upper in less than 200 miles. These seem built to last, about 100 miles in the uppers look great and the soles barely show any wear. I would recommend these as a daily trainer for people who like a firm, protective shoe, or for people looking for a good option for snowy/muddy/rocky trails.

Product Review: Comparing Superfeet Blue and Comfort Run Thin

Cory Soulliard is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. You can usually find him volunteering or running at almost all of our Runners Edge events! He recently just crushed the Blue Mountain 30k! We asked him to compare the old Superfeet to the new Run Comfort Superfeet, and his thoughts are below… You can follow his adventures with his pup on intagram @corysoulliard.

Right out of the box I would say the original version of the Superfeet Blue (top) has gone through some improvements that lead to the new RUN Comfort Thin (bottom). Although fashion might not translate to function, the RUN Comfort looks much better than the original Superfeet Blue. I did notice before trimming the insoles that the RUN version does have a little bit more space available in the toe area. If you happen to be at the top of the size range and enjoy shoes with a wide toe box that may be helpful. Both version needed to be trimmed to fit my shoes so it did not change the performance for me. The newer version does talk about carbon fiber which always means better (except for emissions) when dealing with performance. I would say the integration of the solid support in the heel and the foam padding does seem to be a little more refined in the RUN insole as well as the heel cup appears to be a little deeper when placed side-by-side.The updated insole also sports a H.I.T. gel insert at the point of heel impact to help with shock absorption.

A quick trace of my old insole with a pen and a little trim and I was ready to slide the insoles into my Waveriders. Both insoles were thin enough that I would not have to worry about sizing up my shoes to handle the extra volume. At first I tried them just walking around the neighborhood with the Blue in my left shoe and the RUN in my right shoe. I could tell that the RUN version had a more defined arch and overall shape to the footbed. At first that was less comfortable to me. After wearing them for acouple hours I didn’t even notice the difference because my feet had adjusted. Next step, running in them. Since both feet had adjusted to their respective insoles without problem I was ready to run. I would highly recommend taking time and easing into any major changes to your running especially when the feet are concerned. I went for a short run first and I could instantly feel a change in the drop of my shoes. Generally I can swap from high to low drop without issue but the waveriders are on the higher side and the insoles boosted that even more. It did not cause any problems but I was happy I did not just take them out for a 15 miler.

In an effort to give the most comprehensive Superfeet review possible I did a little research on
the product, their claims, and the company in general. The most compelling quote from their
website was in reference to how the insoles work: “The human foot is designed to adapt to
uneven, natural terrain. Our world has become hard and flat, thanks to man-made surfaces like
sidewalks, tile floors and paved roads. For your foot, it’s exhausting, and can be painful.” I
spend as much of my running time on trails as possible and the trails in the Bitterroots are rarely
described as flat but all of my working hours are spent on said flat surfaces. Unfortunately I also
learned that I did a terrible job testing the product to provide this review. According to the
website, Superfeet are designed to be used in “a wide variety of footwear, from high heels to
hockey skates, hiking boots to high-tops.” I failed to attempt running in any of the mentioned
footwear.

To sum up my experience I would say if you were a fan of the Superfeet Blue then I would
expect that you will enjoy the improvements that have been made with the Comfort RUN Thin.
The RUN version looks better and has updated the insole to better meet the needs of most
runners. I am currently experimenting with using the insoles in my work shoes but I do not feel
the need for them on my daily runs. If you have never used insoles before then you can expect
the insoles to easily fit and provide improved stability, a better platform for your foot, and a slight
increase in the drop of your shoe. Should you be experiencing any difficulties with your running
that may be shoe/foot related, stop in and see your friends at Runners Edge and discuss your
options with an expert. They might have an insole for you to try or they might suggest you stop
running in hockey skates!

Product Review: Oiselle O-Mazing Long Shorts

Lee Macholz is one of our 2018/2019 RErun ambassadors. She is a stud! After work and family time, she still manages to volunteer and/or run many events through Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula. She just crushed it at the Rut! We asked her to review the new Oiselle O-mazing shorts. Here are her thoughts below…

Fit: There are several things I love about these shorts, but number one is how they fit. Oiselle offers 7 sizes from 2 to 14, not just your standard S-M-L, so you can find the best fit. They are longer than most and I don’t know about you, but my 42-year-old momma-of-two body can’t comfortably wear booty shorts with 1- or 2-inch inseams. The O-Mazing shorts have a 9” inseam, which sounds long – but who cares when there is NO CHAFING! Did I mention no chafing? How about no riding? These shorts fit so well that they stay where they are supposed to without requiring you to pull them up or push them down mid-stride. They are tight without being compression and the fabric is stretchy and strong but not stiff. The waistband has a crazy-big pocket (which I’ll get to in a minute) but it doesn’t add bulk or weight around your middle. The waistband has enough structure to it that it sits just right with a mid-rise height. 2 thumbs up for neither hitting belly-button nor showing crack!

Function: Ok, back to the crazy-big pocket. The O-Mazing shorts essentially have a built-in carry-all belt. The pocket goes all the way around your waist and has several stitch points along the top to keep it closed and keep your stuff from falling out. On my first trial run I had 3 gels, my phone, and my headphones in the waist pocket (with plenty of room for more!). As I moved into the trees and it got cloudy, I took off my sunglasses and stashed them in the pocket too and they fit right in. The same for gloves on another run. I would have had to stop and work a bit to put either of these things into my zippered Nathan or Spi belt and the sunglasses would not have fit. As for carrying my phone, I was pleasantly surprised. My phone is large and the pocket is not secured closed anywhere except at the stitching points, so I didn’t trust that my phone would stay put. I tried running with my phone in the front and in the small of my back. I felt it was more secure in the back, directly under a stitch point, but it really did ride just fine in both positions. It never fell out or even shifted much during a hard and fast descent off of Pengelly Ridge. The only con here is that the pocket is not sweat-proof, which keeps the waistband breathable, but got my phone a bit sweaty.

Bottom Line: I admit, I always assumed that Oiselle was just for skinny-minnies, but no, they make
shorts for ALL of us! If you like longer shorts and pockets, try these out!!

Bonus: Ladies, these are also super awesome on the daily under a tunic-length dress!! (Pictured under a
Nuu Muu dress.)

Product Review: Brooks Cascadia 13

Jenna Lyons is an athlete that does it all. Runs, bikes, skis, you name it. She just graduated from law school and still finds time to represent Runner’s Edge as a 2017-2018 RErun Ambassador while she studies for the bar exams. She recently tested the Brooks Cascadia 13 and gave us her thoughts.

I was asked to review the Brooks Cascadia 13. After running in several iterations of the Cascadia, I was excited to step into them and see how they have changed. It was kind of like running into your best friend from kindergarten.

As always, I have curated a video for you to watch/listen to in a different window while you read this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZSiBj4vCiY. I like to think the company was named after Brooks and Dunn…

As usual, I reviewed the shoes for (1) Functionality and Performance; (2) Comfort and Fit; and (3) Looks.

1. Functionality & Performance
The Brooks Cascadia 13 has good tread, which grips well even on gravel. I ran on the new Barmeyer loop and up Mt. Jumbo several times in them, and they performed great and were responsive running downhill. It feels stable and handles mud well. The upper is flexible and the sole is supportive.

2. Comfort & Fit
The Brooks Cascadia 13 offers more cushion than previous generations of the Cascadia. Suffice it to say, running in the Cascadia 13 feels like cascading gently down a waterfall. The arches are supportive and comfortable. The shoe is definitely a neutral trail running shoe. The only
criticism I have as far as fit goes is that the heel doesn’t come up very high and doesn’t feel as stable as other shoes do, especially when hiking/running up steeps. Also, they run ½ size big. They are also more narrow than other shoes, and were too narrow for my feet.

3. Looks
The Cascadia 13 comes in darker colors with bright accents and laces. They look pretty cool. For running, they’re about as good as it gets as far as colors go. I wouldn’t wear them on a hot date, though.

Overall, the Cascadia 13 is like the old versions, but improved, streamlined in the upper, and with more bells and whistles. It works great on Missoula trails. The fit is great, but I’d recommend you head on down to Runner’s Edge and try them on before buying. They’re great shoes and if you liked the previous versions, you’re in for a new and refreshing treat!

Product Review: Saucony Xodus ISO 3

Lee Macholz is one of our 2018/2019 RErun ambassadors. She is a stud! After work and family time, she still manages to volunteer and/or run many events through Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula. We asked her to review the new Saucony Xodus to show how burly this shoe really is! Here are her thoughts below…

I had the opportunity to put the Saucony Xodus ISO 3 to the test last weekend as I ran 22 miles across the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Trail conditions varied from smooth well-worn single track to completely overgrown let’s-play-avoid-the-rocks-when-you-can’t-see-your-feet to jungle-gym-style blowdown to stream crossings and squishy squelchy mud. Let’s just say it was a true Montana wilderness experience! But the Xodus carried me through it all in comfort and definitely helped me trust my feet in some pretty tricky footing. Here’s a breakdown of the features of this workhorse of a trail shoe…

FIT: The Xodus touts Saucony’s ISOFIT, which I was a little skeptical of at first, but after my second run it won me over. There is not a traditional tongue, but rather more of a sock-like upper with flexible side pieces for the laces. I have a very high instep that often prevents me from even getting my foot into a boot or shoe (I can’t even get my foot halfway into a Keen sandal) and many shoes that are not adjustable over the instep will cause my feet to go numb. But the ISOFIT is soft and stretchy and flexible enough that it molds over my foot without cutting off circulation and then you can adjust the laces to keep the shoe tight in all the right places. I really think the ISOFIT will work for all kinds of feet. The other common issue is the size of the toe box. I like a wide toe box and the Xodus was perfect – no blisters, hot spots, or even tenderness on my toes at all (I did end up with a half-size larger than normal).
The back of the shoe and the front tab are both very tall. Neither are stiff so I didn’t have any rubbing or blisters, but I did feel like my tab-style socks were disappearing. My socks were not necessarily slipping under my foot, but I felt like I wanted to keep pulling them up. I think that I’ll wear a higher sock with these shoes next time I’m out for a big day.

Cushion: I’ve also been hesitant to move away from a trail shoe with a rock-plate because I got so used to the protection it offered in my beloved Pearls. I was very pleased with the performance of the extra cushion in the Xodus, it felt more like the level of cushion I like in a road shoe and with the strong sole I didn’t feel the sharpness of any rocks on the trail.

Sole: The rubber sole of the Xodus is really grippy. It was so noticeable that I think my husband started getting annoyed by my comments on how grippy my shoes were! I love to scramble on rocks and the Xodus feels like I can really trust my footing on DRY rocks and wood. I emphasize dry, because I was so confident in my feet that I didn’t pay enough attention when I hit a wet rock and suddenly my feet were sliding sideways out from under me. This is the only real con I have found with this shoe – the rubber is not so great on wet wood or rock. I think it will be ok on wet rock that has some relief to it because the tread is deep, but I slipped around a lot on smoother rocks and wood that were wet.

Overall Performance: Overall, the Xodus is a solid trail shoe. They stood up well to a variety of trail conditions. They were comfortable even after being thoroughly submerged in a creek crossing – they did feel like they held the water in a bit longer than other shoes, but not long enough to be uncomfortable or feel heavy. I really like the flexibility, feeling of the upper, and adjustability of the laces. I think they are definitely Rut-worthy!

Product Review: Kind Apparel Skirt

Amelia is one of our RE ambassadors for 2018/19. She is very active in the community and is one of the makers of the maps we all know and love, Cairn Cartography! As a frequent runner of the trails, we asked Amelia to review a skirt from a local company, Kind Apparel. You can follow her adventures on instagram @cairncarto as well as on facebook.

I have to admit when I first heard I was reviewing a running skirt for my first go around I was a little disappointed. I tried a few running skirts four or  five years ago when they were really popular and never really found one I liked. They always feel like too much fabric moves around while I’m running. However, as soon as I saw this skirt, that disappointment went away and I got excited. To start with, the fabric is amazing. It’s light and comfortable without ever getting staticy or clingy and the colors are so fun! Plus it’s made from recycled plastic bottles and made by a local Missoula company.

The skirt I received has built in liner shorts that are pink cheetah print which is a fun little secret. The shorts fit like spandex but they don’t ride up or squeeze and any annoying bulges basically disappear and I forget about them unless I’m getting off my bike in a public place and realize I don’t need to worry about showing too much skin. The skirt sits at my hips, right where I like my shorts to sit, and falls to mid-thigh. The skirt feels well made and like it is up for being well-loved for a long time.

If this skirt had a drawstring it would be almost perfect. Truthfully, I only ran in this skirt once and I spent the whole run pulling it up or hoping it wasn’t falling off. I don’t think a smaller size would help but a drawstring would fix everything. However I’ve found myself wearing this skirt for everything except running: hikes with my dog, floating, to the brewery to meet friends and everything in between, and it stays on comfortably for all those activities. It’s comfortable, flattering and easy to wear. My only other tiny suggestion would be to add a gusset in the shorts for a little more mobility but that’s a minor complaint. I love the phone-sized pocket on the shorts which easily fits my phone, key and a doggy bag, although the weight of a phone in there does exacerbate the skirt-falling-down problem.

With the addition of a drawstring I could see this skirt being a great option for runs when it’s a little chilly for shorts but not quite cold enough for tights. The double layer of fabric and longer-than-shorts coverage definitely feels like a little too much for this hot weather we have been having, but it would be nice for cooler days. I could also imagine wearing this skirt over tights on super cold days. In the meantime I will keep wearing it for all kinds of summer fun.