This story originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of our print edition.
A radically curved midsole sets these shoes apart from every other shoe in the test—and every other shoe on the market. Two proprietary technologies create an upturned shape: Take-Off construction places the toe higher than the rest of the foot, and Vibram’s RGS (Rollingait System) creates a semi-rigid, bowed-up profile through the midsole. “The aggressive rocker propels you through your stride from heel strike to toe-off—unlike any shoe I’ve ever worn,” one tester said after climbing in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah with the Speed Ascents. “You feel faster, and your legs and feet get way less tired on trail, meaning you can go longer and be fresher when it’s time to climb.” Plus, the natural forward roll of the shoe reduces impact on knees, ankles, and feet on the descent. For anything on the beaten path (trail, road, etc.), testers found these kicks were top-notch. However, what makes these shoes ideal for speedy hiking is exactly what makes them less than ideal for technical terrain. “The upturned toe and curved sole prevent any type of precise placement while boulder-hopping or moving up entrance slabs.” With a second daisy chain lacing system placed lower on the foot, testers had two options to get a snug and secure fit.
Excellent for running, peakbagging, and any type of trail travel, these have a one-of-a-kind rocker design that helps you get there faster with less fatigue, but they’re not meant for steep or technical terrain.
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