Trail running shoes put to the test
Mixing up surfaces is a good way to keep a running regime fresh. So in a bid to maintain interest through the dreary winter months, I headed off-road to try out Kiprun’s trail running shoes.
Pounding pavements can get a touch monotonous. One benefit to hitting the trail is that you have to adjust your usual split times (slower). Another is the improved leg strength and robustness gained from working with uneven surfaces.
I primarily run on hard road surfaces but lately the impact has been getting to my joints. Some training advocates suggest trails boost all-round fitness and when I’ve dabbled previously I’ve noticed a real difference.
Kiprun’s trail running shoes are part of the affordable sports footwear range from Kalenji, a trusted brand I’ve used and reviewed before.
These shoes come in at a respectable £39.99 – it’s functional fitness at a fair price. If, like me, you only occasionally go trail running, they are a good option. They can provide a stability for short distances in particular. Snazzy and lightweight for a trail shoe, my size 11’s (EU46) feel comfy and look sporty.
You can’t afford to get ‘prissy’ with trail running shoes. Once fresh out the box and on, there’s gonna be mud, especially in a UK winter, battered by a mini ‘Beast from the East‘. The nicest they’ll ever look (and smell) is when you first pick them up. Face it – aesthetically, it’s downhill all the way from there.
The state and camber of some of the UK’s pavements leaves much to be desired. But more so on trail runs, the main challenge is combating the uneven nature of a course. So you need a strong, supportive shoe. One you can be comfortable and confident is not going to give you problems.
For fans of a run-commute, the Kiprun TR’s come into their own. They’re light enough to both jog in, and quickly pack away after reaching your destination. They’re great for this kind of simple daily routine. With the advent of spring and dryer conditions, they should be a joy to pace home through the park after a busy day stuck at the office desk.
One particularly neat feature to note on these trail running shoes is a tongue pocket. No, it’s not a place to put your keys, but rather to store your laces. Tip: it will also fit a few (wrapped and secured) jelly babies in there for an energy kick!
Also, the tongue is very soft and doesn’t dig in, which is a big bonus for when your feet really start to warm up.
Ultra-runners and serious regular trail competitors may prefer something even sturdier at upwards of double the price of the Kiprun.
It should be said that while these are a great pair, a word of caution. The tops are not waterproof, which to many trail runners is a problem.
They are mesh-lined to make feet cooler when running. This is perfect during the dry months hurtling over the dust and dirt of a trail. But for big puddles – read wet toes.
But while puddles are problematic, the shoes do actually deal respectably on wet mud. Plus, they are responsive and sure-footed when passing over loose dirt.
As the retail price dictates, the Kiprun’s would likely be twice the price if they had the full waterproof foot element. And they’d probably be sacrificing their lightweight nature for higher practicality.
So ideally these can be used as a second pair, a handy go-to fitness option for an everyday routine.