I figured that it would be a little foolish to start reviewing another pair of shoes without addressing the last pair I picked up.
If you remember, I picked up the Spikecross during a particularly icy week in La Crosse. The conditions for a few days there were a perfect recipe for cracking the skull or tail-bone whether running on the trails or the road. They were also a perfect excuse to take a few days off…which is likely what I did.
The day the shoes showed up was also the day all of the ice melted, so it was a few days before the trails froze back up and I got to try them out.
I originally wanted to wait for a few runs to pass before writing about the shoes, but winter has been uncooperative at best.
So far I have had a couple runs on glare ice trails, a run during a snowstorm and a run on some really slushy trails. My overall impression is that these shoes, while specialized, have all of the makings of a great trail shoe, with only a couple shortcomings.
The shoes are comfortable, light and responsive; all of which will make or break a shoe for me. The quick lace system allows for a perfect fit all of the time…every time…with the added benefit of on the fly adjustments. My only reservation in suggesting this shoe would be if you figure you have even just wider than average feet; it’s a little snug in there. The snug fit, ample traction and light perceived weight of these shoes along with a pretty minimalist sole provide a very responsive feel underfoot. Even when trudging through several inch thick powder and equally deep slush I felt very little cushioning and was able to maintain a solid mid to forefoot strike.
The Climashield membrane definitely works, and while it cuts down on some breathability I feel that it’s a fair trade for mostly dry feet and a little bit of extra warmth. One of my frustrations with the shoes was that the ankle is not very high or very tight. If you are running in over ankle deep snow or any kind of slush gaiters are a must. Better yet, just wear them because they look pretty cool.
The carbide studs on the Spikecross feel as stable on glare ice as my Saucony Rides do on pavement. They left me feeling sure-footed even on the steepest climbs in Hixon and the most out of control descents. They felt fine running on some bare dirt and even striking the occasional rock. They did not, however, feel normal or even remotely comfortable or safe on pavement. It doesn’t seem like much, but the couple millimeters of rise they give, along with the minimal surface area of the point of impact left me feeling like I was on very tiny stilts. Running from the front door to the trail is just not an option with these kicks.
If you’re even a recreational trail runner throughout the winter these guys are a must. Not only will they improve the runs you already go on, they will give you the ability to run through the worst trail conditions of the season with grace and ease; unless you’re not graceful.
With any luck winter will be a little more, oh, wintery, next year. Until then these guys will be sitting in the closet collecting dust.