Lightweight-ish Medium Stack do it all Shoe

#1
Hey everyone,

I'm looking for a durable and reasonably light weight medium-stack shoe that works well for every day runs, long runs, and ultras on a variety of surfaces from smooth single track to extended sharp rocky stuff like in the Sierras. For shoe stats, I'd like weight to be within 9.3 ounces for a mens 8. I typically run 40-70 miles per week, split between road and trail, and my pre-pandemic "main" races were 100 mile trail ultramarathons. I ran my previous ultras in Altra Lone Peaks and Hoka Speedgoats so I'm all over the place in some ways.

I've been running in the Salomon Sense Ride 2 for months and have approximately 175 miles on the Salomon Sense 4 Pro. I like the fit and ride of the Sense Ride 2, but want more upper security for running downhill to lock my feet in and more underfoot protection for 20+ mile long runs over extended sections of rocks and such. Additionally, the Sense Ride 2 is increasingly hard to find as it's discontinued, but I do have 3 new pairs to play with in the meantime. The Sense 4 Pro is a delight to run in, and I used it for a 40+ mile run over some extended rocky sections above tree line some months ago. However I wanted a little more cushion than what the Sense 4 Pro has right now. I don't think I could do a 100 miler in the Sense Ride 2, and I think the Sense 4 Pro could work, but they (and my feet) would be pushed pretty hard.

I've looked at the Arc'Teryx Norvan LD2 and Merrell Long Sky, however there aren't many long term reviews out there. The reviews I've read for it are usually within 50-60 miles of use and experiences of underfoot protection and cushioning seem to vary. For example, some reviews have described the Long Sky's cushioning as soft, others describe it as firm. The LD2 is frequently described as responsive and fast, but also for all-day stuff, which I think is sometimes conflicting.

I understand that high stack shoes like the Speedgoat, Slab Ultra series, etc are made with 100 milers in mind, but I prefer medium-ish shoes that are a little lighter to help with turnover later in the race.

If you've run in these shoes, or other shoes in the same "medium stack generalist" category, I'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences. Thanks.
 

RW Admin

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Hey everyone,

I'm looking for a durable and reasonably light weight medium-stack shoe that works well for every day runs, long runs, and ultras on a variety of surfaces from smooth single track to extended sharp rocky stuff like in the Sierras. For shoe stats, I'd like weight to be within 9.3 ounces for a mens 8. I typically run 40-70 miles per week, split between road and trail, and my pre-pandemic "main" races were 100 mile trail ultramarathons. I ran my previous ultras in Altra Lone Peaks and Hoka Speedgoats so I'm all over the place in some ways.

I've been running in the Salomon Sense Ride 2 for months and have approximately 175 miles on the Salomon Sense 4 Pro. I like the fit and ride of the Sense Ride 2, but want more upper security for running downhill to lock my feet in and more underfoot protection for 20+ mile long runs over extended sections of rocks and such. Additionally, the Sense Ride 2 is increasingly hard to find as it's discontinued, but I do have 3 new pairs to play with in the meantime. The Sense 4 Pro is a delight to run in, and I used it for a 40+ mile run over some extended rocky sections above tree line some months ago. However I wanted a little more cushion than what the Sense 4 Pro has right now. I don't think I could do a 100 miler in the Sense Ride 2, and I think the Sense 4 Pro could work, but they (and my feet) would be pushed pretty hard.

I've looked at the Arc'Teryx Norvan LD2 and Merrell Long Sky, however there aren't many long term reviews out there. The reviews I've read for it are usually within 50-60 miles of use and experiences of underfoot protection and cushioning seem to vary. For example, some reviews have described the Long Sky's cushioning as soft, others describe it as firm. The LD2 is frequently described as responsive and fast, but also for all-day stuff, which I think is sometimes conflicting.

I understand that high stack shoes like the Speedgoat, Slab Ultra series, etc are made with 100 milers in mind, but I prefer medium-ish shoes that are a little lighter to help with turnover later in the race.

If you've run in these shoes, or other shoes in the same "medium stack generalist" category, I'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences. Thanks.
Hi @tempeh_tantrum,

Thank you for all the detail above. That is very helpful in putting together some options for you. Below is a rundown of options I believe could work well based on the info:

  • Hoka Torrent
    • I'd agree with @Gkprevite. The Torrent is a solid shoe based on everything listed above. It is my go-to Trail shoe. The cushion-to-weight ratio is great, and it has enough versatility that you can use it on roads too. My only concern would be the upper (based on what you said about the Ride). However, I'm still in the Torrent 1s and heard the upper on the 2 is a little better.
  • Brooks Catamount
    • I'd say this shoe leans more towards a "racing" or "fast" day. However, there are several people I've chatted with that like it for some longer days. It was designed to be the Western States 100 racing shoe for Brooks athletes.
  • Nike Terra Kiger
    • The Kiger is one of my all-time favorite trail shoes. The most recent updates put it a little bit more towards a racer/speed shoe (similar to the Catamount). However, it should have more than enough protection and comfort to go the distance.
  • Topo MT Racer
    • This is a solid Trail runner from Topo. It would fit closer to your Lone peaks. The concerns you have around the upper (from the Ride's) should not be an issue with the overlays on this shot. The primary drawback here is that it is a little heavier than you are looking for.
  • La Sportiva Lycan
    • This shoe flies under the radar for a lot of people, but I know a few Ultra runners that really enjoy it. It is a bit heavier than your parameters, but it could be a solid shoe for your needs.
Regarding the Norvan LD2, it is probably more like your Salomon shoes. I found it to be pretty comfortable overall, but it definitely has a low stack height. So, if you are already feeling a little beat up in your Salomon, I would go for something with more underfoot protection.

Regarding the Merrell Long Sky, I haven't run in it. So, I cannot say anything definitive. I will note (regarding reviews) that people often have different perceptions on what is "soft" vs "firm".


Justin
RW Staff
 
#4
I went from the lone peak 4.0 to the Altra Timp and haven’t been disappointed. It’s basically a lone peak with a little more cushioning, very similar to what the earlier versions of the lone peak were like.
 
#5
Which Speedgoat have you been using? I have the Evo and I enjoy it so much. I think it’s within your weight range in your size. As more of a road person, I am used to lighter weight shoes which makes most trail shoes feel really heavy. The Evo Speedgoat feels even lighter underfoot than you’d expect. If you’ve only tried the regular Speedgoat, I’d highly recommend trying out the Evo. It feels fast, has great protection, and is really comfortable.
 
#6
Which Speedgoat have you been using? I have the Evo and I enjoy it so much. I think it’s within your weight range in your size. As more of a road person, I am used to lighter weight shoes which makes most trail shoes feel really heavy. The Evo Speedgoat feels even lighter underfoot than you’d expect. If you’ve only tried the regular Speedgoat, I’d highly recommend trying out the Evo. It feels fast, has great protection, and is really comfortable.
How is the toe box on the EVO? I was a big Hoka fan before I switched to Altra for my wide feet, but my longer trail runs have left me wanting a slight offset.
 
#9
I love the Torrent 2 compared to the Speedgoat, the only advantage the Speedgoat has to me vs the Torrent is cushioning and durability on very technical trails but the Torrent 2 checks the box for what you seem to be looking for. It's a 26mm stack height compared to the 32 of the Speedgoat. it's a fully 1.7 oz lighter which is significant. It gives you good ground feel which I like, and not speaking on durability but at a grip perspective I Think it's just as solid as the Speedgoat. I also think the Torrent is a good transition shoe if you have to run some trail to pavement. It doesn't have the "Hoka" feel that you see in the Speedgoat or Challenger. I think it has a very comfortable and winder toe box as well.
 

RW Admin

Administrator
Staff member
#10
I love the Torrent 2 compared to the Speedgoat, the only advantage the Speedgoat has to me vs the Torrent is cushioning and durability on very technical trails but the Torrent 2 checks the box for what you seem to be looking for. It's a 26mm stack height compared to the 32 of the Speedgoat. it's a fully 1.7 oz lighter which is significant. It gives you good ground feel which I like, and not speaking on durability but at a grip perspective I Think it's just as solid as the Speedgoat. I also think the Torrent is a good transition shoe if you have to run some trail to pavement. It doesn't have the "Hoka" feel that you see in the Speedgoat or Challenger. I think it has a very comfortable and winder toe box as well.
I definitely agree about the Torrent as a transition shoe. I actually used it for a longer leg on a road ragnar (8.5 miles, if I recall correctly). It performed really well.


Justin
RW Staff
 
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