I have been a loyal user of Salomon Trail Shoes since I started training and joining in trail running events whether they are local or international ones. After I have used a lot of pairs of their S-LAB Sense Trail Shoes, I bought my first pair of Speedcross 4 in one of the local distributors in the Philippines. ROX Philippines at BGC was my first choice of store if I am looking for reliable trail shoes. This is also where I bought all my Salomon S-LAB Sense Trail Shoes. I was lucky when the store have a 9 1/2 size of the Speedcross 4 as most of their stock for sale don’t have half-sizes. I immediately bought the said shoes and brought them to my Playground for a good run. That was almost 3 years ago.
As compared to the S-LAB Sense models, I found the Speedcross 4 to be more padded on the uppers and tongue which gave more comfort to my feet when running. I am also appreciative that the shoe drop or the difference between the stack height of the forefoot area and the heel portion is 10 mm which gave much comfort to my aching Achilles tendon on my right heel. I could run forever in these shoes without any pain on my Achilles tendon on the uphill and downhill runs. The shoe weights a little heavy with 310 grams on each shoe but the weight is given more to give comfort to my feet. The best feature of these shoes is the aggressive grip of the lugs on its sole. The sole lugs are best fitted to our local trail condition where most of the grounds are soft and muddy. They are also stable when running on rocks and roots that I did not have any experience of sliding from them. The quicklace system of the shoes is also very efficient and fast when wearing or removing them during races and training. Once you tighten the shoes with the quicklace system, you can roll the end of the lace and have it tucked inside the pocket at the end of the shoe tongue. The shoe looks slick without the ends of the shoelace dangling outside the shoes. The uppers are also quick to dry whenever they become wet with my sweat or during small stream or river crossing. The only weakness of this particular Salomon Model is the narrow forefoot. It is ok with my feet because they are narrow, too but in longer ultra trail races in the mountains, there is the tendency for my feet to expand that I need to loosen its “quicklace”. I have solved this problem by buying one size bigger and my shoe size now for this particular model is now Size 10.
In all my races here and abroad in 2018 and 2019, I have been using the Salomon Speedcross 4 and I am happy with its performance. I am still using them in my training runs but I have observed that the outer sole with the shoe lugs are getting torn apart from the shoes. I guess, the glue that binds the outer sole and the rest of the shoe is already brittle and dry. I could still have some glue in them but I have already bought two pairs of the Salomon Speedcross 5 as its replacement in Sizes 10. Actually, I have used the Speedcross 5 in size 10, in my two latest races: TNF Hongkong 50K last December 2019 and Borneo Ultra Trail Marathon last March this year. I will have a separate Shoe Review on this particular model and will have to compare them with the older Speedcross 4.
I have seen lately on the ads in the Social Media that the Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes are still available On Sale in the local market. Since they are now cheaper, if you haven’t tried them, I suggest you get one pair for your training and for your future trail running events. I guarantee that the price is worth its efficiency and durability. Overall, the Salomon Speedcross 4 is far, the most durable trail shoes in my trail running arsenal and I highly recommended them to beginners, average , and competitive trail runners.
I think I will be using my two pairs of Salomon Speedcross 5 for the next 3-4 years!
Speedgoat is the monicker of Karl Meltzer in the Ultra Running Community. He is an elite mountain trail ultrarunner and has the distinction of winning the most number of 100-Mile Ultra Running Events, a record of 36 Championship Awards and had been awarded the Ultrarunner of the Year. He is the Race Organizer and Director of the famous Speedgoat 50K Ultra Trail Run and other Vertical Trail Races in Snowbird, Utah. He also one of the most sought after Ultra Running Coaches. He is the first elite ultra runner in the USA who used and introduced the shoe brand HOKA ONE ONE and the rest is history. It is fitting that the shoe company honors him with a specific trail shoe model that speaks about the man. Thus, HOKA One One users around the world are excited to have a hand on the said shoes.
Attempts To Get The Shoes
As a one of his clients to his Coaching Services and having met him personally in last year’s edition of the Speedgoat 50K Trail Run (which I didn’t finish due to strict cut-off time at Mile 20), I sent him a request if I could buy directly to the shoe company of the earlier production of the shoes on the later part of May this year as I could see and read shoe reviews on the Internet about the shoes. I think my request was relayed by him to the company but I did not hear any response from them. So, I waited for the announced release to the distributors and sports stores on the first week of July but only to get the news that the release date will be sometime in August.
On the last week of July, I monitored almost everyday the availability of the shoes by visiting the Website of the HOKA ONE ONE (HOO). The availability of the shoes at Running Warehouse for my particular shoe size was scheduled on the 3rd week of August and then to September and lately to October this year. My patience bear fruit on the last few days of July when I got a “green light” with the advise that my shoe size and model is “On Stock” on the On Line Sales of Hoka One One. I immediately ordered one pair and the shoes was delivered after two days. I paid $140 + $12 (Sales Tax), with a total amount of $152.00 with Free Shipping Fee.
Finally, I was able to realize what I posted in our Facebook’s HOO Philippine Club Group Page three months ago, “I will be the first one to have this kind of shoes in this Club”.
Actual Review & Observations
Color Combination——The first thing that will attract ones attention is the combination of colors of the shoes. Yes, they are the colors of Red Bull (silver, red, and blue), one of the Sponsors of Karl’s Runs and Races and the usual colors of the Shoe Brand HOKA ONE ONE—-blue & yellow. The other Speedgoat model has the colors, red, black and blue! If you are not attracted with the name of the shoe model, then for sure, you will be attracted with the striking color-combination of the shoes. Most of the runners that I know have the impulse to buy any kind of running shoes due to the striking color combination.
Shoe Laces Holes——Obviously, these are the holes where one has to insert the shoe laces. As compared to the other HOO Shoes, this is the only model that has 5 holes, all the rest have 6 holes in one shoe. If you are not using the last uppermost hole of the Speedgoat (where it is used to lock the shoes with the foot), the shoes has only 4 holes! It means that it is easier and faster to tighten and tie the shoes and also to untie and remove the shoes from the foot. If you have the habit of changing your wet socks with dry ones in the Aid Stations in an ultra running event, the time on untying and tying your shoes would mean a lot if you are trying to catch up with those tight intermediate cut-off times in the different Checkpoints along the race route. Since I am always on the back of the pack in every race, this is a big advantage and useful for me!
From Flat to Round & Light Shoe Laces——Earlier model of this shoes have those flat shoe laces, the same shoe laces on my HOO Challenger ATR and I was surprised to see that my shoes have those rounded shoe laces which are smaller/thinner in size as compared to those rounded shoe laces of my old HOO Stinson EVO. I have observed that the rounded shoe laces have an average length as compared to the longer flat shoe laces of the Challenger ATR. Those flat shoe laces have the tendency to get longer and longer as the shoe is being used for more mileages. It appears that Speedgoat’s shoe laces will remain with their present length and size.
Observation about 1/2 size Bigger——In almost all those blogs and reviews that I’ve read from their sponsored elite athletes, they stated that the shoes is 1/2 size bigger. However, when I used them with my slightly thicker Drymax Trail Socks, I am surprised that they fit exactly with my feet with a little allowance (1/2 inch) from the tip of my big toes. This is exactly the same fit that I’ve experienced with my HOO Stinson Evo which I consider as my best road racing and training shoes so far. With the use of the regular Drymax socks, I have observed that there is more room for my forefoot and toes to splay on the toe box area of the shoes. It felt like I was using my Altra shoes! If it is too roomy for my feet if I use the ultra thin & light Drymax socks, I might try to use the additional insole of my HOO Challenger ATR (The Challenger ATR has two inserts/insole in each shoe). With my experience in using the HOO, I simply tighten the shoe laces more to prevent my feet and toes to be moving unnecessarily while I am running or hiking. After running with them for almost 100 kilometers (62 miles), I could feel that the shoes had stretched a little for more space for my toes and forefoot.
Thickness of Sole——All the shoe models of HOO have thick soles that is why they are fondly called as maximalist running shoes. However, this model is an exact copy of their Rapa-Nui 2 model which is also designed as a trail shoes. The Rapa-Nui has a stack height of 33 mm on the Heel portion and 28 mm on the Forefoot section. The 5mm difference, popularly known as “heel-to-toe drop”, gives a feeling of “rockered forefoot” which according to the HOO designers and engineers provide a more efficient gait, better running form and faster “heel-to-toe” transition of the foot during running. Whatever that statement means, I assume that it will make a runner faster by some milliseconds! The Speedgoat’s sole thickness has a stacked height of 34 mm on the heel and 29 mm, maintaining a difference of 5 mm, that looks to be deceivingly thicker than the Rapa-Nui 2 model. The bottom-line is that this shoe, just like the other HOO models, the thick soles will give you the best comfort to your feet on your runs on the road, as well as, along the trails whether they are technical or not. And to be more specific, I find more efficiency in running with all the HOO models when I land my foot deliberately with the heel first and letting it roll towards the forefoot. With the Speedgoat, I feel more cushion and comfort most specially in the downhill running as the “rocker” effect in ones gait is more pronounced and experienced. In ultra running distances, such comfort will give an edge to the runner for more sustained strength on the legs during the day and night running. And did I tell you that you have faster recovery after an ultra race if you used a Hoka One One Shoes? Well, it’s true!
Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole——From the HOO Bondi B, Bondi Speed, Stinson EVO, Huaka, and Challenger ATR (the shoe models that I’ve used for the past 5 years of running), the common denominator as a weakness of these models is the durability of their outsoles. After running for the first 100 kilometers of each of these models, you can already see a significant “wear and tear” on their outsoles which I never experienced from the other trail shoes in my arsenal. But the Speedgoat is some sort of a Redemption Shoe for all HOO “addicts” and loyal customers as they are fitted with the Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole. After running on single track trails, rocky trails, and fire roads for almost 100 kilometers, I could not see any signs of “wear and tear” from the Vibram outsole which is a big improvement from my old and ‘soon-to-be” retired other HOO models in my arsenal. This is the MOST significant feature and advantage of this model from the other trail shoes of HOO——the durability of the outsoles of the shoes!
Cushioned Tongue——Not only for being cushioned but they are also a little longer but does not affect ones efficiency in running and would not cause any abrasion on the front part of the ankle. One would notice that there are TWO slots on the tongue where the shoe laces coming from holes #2 and #3 would pass. I have observed that these slots would maintain the position of the tongue while on the run giving more comfort on the top part of the foot. Most of my trail shoes have only one slot on their tongues and after every run, I would observe that the tongue have the tendency to slide towards the outer side of the foot/shoes and this movement allows the tendency for the debris from the trail to get inside the shoes. I was even more surprised when I did not experience any small particles from the trail getting inside these shoes. I guess, it is time for me not to use gaiters for this shoes!
Cushioned Upper Part of Heel Counter——This is the yellow-colored portion at the heel counter of the shoes. I’ve noticed a big difference of this part of the shoes when compared to my HOO Challenger ATR as the Speedgoat has a more pronounced cushion that would be flashed closer and tight to the Achilles tendon and both sides of the ankles. I’ve observed that my Achilles tendon sits comfortably on the shoes even if I have the shoe laces tighten to the max.
Light and Porous Material On Its Uppers——Have I told you that this is one of the lightest shoes of HOO? Actually, it is the third lightest HOO model in my arsenal being the Challenger as the lightest and the Huaka as the 2nd lightest. The shoes has a weight of 9.7 ounces despite the fact that it has a Vibram outsole and more cushioned tongue. The light and porous material on its Uppers contributed to the lighter weight of the shoes. It also gives more breathability to the feet where air would enter in these porous holes during the run most especially in hot and humid conditions. However, in water/stream crossings, water would easily get inside making the the socks and lining of the shoes wet and damp but with the continuous pounding of the feet, these water would easily exit through these porous holes! Through my past experiences in running in the lahar areas and rivers in the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Run and Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile and Marathon Trail Races, these shoes would not prevent those abrasive lahar from entering the shoes. Did I say dust entering the shoes? Yes, the dust would enter through these porous holes and it is advisable not to use white socks in them. Surprisingly, there is also a Drymax “Speedgoat” Trail Socks available in the market that would match the goods looks and functional capability of the shoes and they come in black/gray color!
Thickness of the Lugs and Lug Pattern——Yes, the lugs on the outsole are thicker than any of the HOO trail shoes that I have and they are 5 mm thick! This is almost the same thickness of the outsole lugs of my Salomon Sense 3 (Soft Ground) and Inov-8 Roclites (but, they are NOT Vibram outsoles!). However, most significant improvement and advantage of the HOO Speedgoat from these other shoes is the pattern on how they are positioned on the outsole. The pattern of lugs on the sole would show a figure of number 8, as seen from the top view. The figure 8 is the space in-between the array of lugs and it looks like a loop course where the heel portion has a cave or depression on it. According to the designers and engineers at HOO, such pattern would result to a feeling of running with a “fully independent suspension system” (like a 4 X 4 truck) on the different parts of the outsole when running in a technical terrain or trail. It means that if you stepped on a root or rock, the specific part of outsole that contacts with the object will be the only one that compresses while the rest of the outsole remains without any deformation. I suspect that the “cave” or significant depression on the heel would allow better ride and cushioned feeling for those “supinator and pronator” runners.
Having been a HOO user for the past five years, I would say that this particular model will be my racing and training shoes for my ultra trail running events in the future. Everything is almost perfect with regards to its Comfort, Speed, Security of Fit, Durability, Agility and Responsiveness and Protection to the Feet. I could not see any major flaw or anything to be corrected or improved on the shoes without compromising its light weight and perfect fit on my feet.
After mentioning those significant changes and improvements on the shoes plus the fact that I have logged almost 100 kilometers (62 miles) with these shoes (to include 10+ miles on the paved road), the question is, “Will I highly recommend these shoes to everybody for them to buy as their trail running shoes?” Yes, of course! I am now in the process of ordering my 2nd pair of the Speedgoat (Red & Black Model) through the Running Warehouse website! So far, this is the best HOO trail shoes model in the market right now.
As Karl Meltzer would say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far”, and I would add to say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far With The Speedgoat Shoes On Your Feet!”
Since the time I started running and buying running shoes, I always think and have the impression that “cheap shoes are low in quality and it is a waste of money spending on them”. This is the reason why I concentrated on using ASICS Shoes (Made In Japan, then) and New Balance (Made In USA, then, too!) during my early days as a road runner/marathon runner. Obviously, these brands then were the most expensive ones.
Since I started blogging, I’ve used different brands of running shoes and it was Joe Matias of “A Runners Circle” (ARC) Specialty Running Store in Los Angeles, California that gave me the ONLY Complimentary Shoes in my entire running career when the HOKA ONE ONE was initially introduced in the market. I am proud to say that I was the FIRST Local Runner in the Philippines to have used the said shoes 4-5 years ago. I was able to try their first models of their Bondi B and Stinson EVO. I never had a chance to review these shoes as I found them to be perfect shoes in my LSD on the paved roads due to its maximal cushioning. Up to this time, I always use these shoes in my training on paved roads.
Out of curiosity, I started to browse on the website of Merrell Shoes and I found their models very interesting and was able to read feedbacks/reviews of each model from its users which is a mixture of pros and cons on the on its fit, comfort, and durability. My interest in this brand of shoes led me to visit their distribution stores in Metro Manila. I am surprised that their stores have stocks on those shoes and models that I’ve seen in their website. In short, I bought my first Merrell Shoes which is the “All Out Rush”.
The All Out Rush (AOR) is categorized as a Cushioned Trail Shoes and I got the red one. I am not particularly interested with its specifications and material components because I just wanted an alternate training shoes for my trail running workouts.
I immediately used it in my trail running workouts. For the past one month & half and for almost 100 miles of trails in my “playground”, I am satisfied with it. The fit was perfect whether I use a thin or thick running socks or whether I tie the shoe laces tightly or loosely. But I prefer them (shoe laces) to be tied tightly so that the shoes is tightly snugged on my feet.
I have observed that these shoes don’t have any insole but I still find them to be comfortable. At first, I could feel the lugs of the sole of the shoes on my feet during my downhill running but as I used them, my feet became accustomed to the feeling as if there is a “massaging” feeling on my sole. But when I use a thicker pair of trail running socks, the feeling is completely gone. Actually, I have the same experience on the first few miles while using my Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 (SG) Shoes with its more aggressive studs on its sole.
I’ve been using it in my daily trail runs and have it sun-dried every time I removed them from my feet after my runs. I have never washed them and I am excited to wear them with the dirt and dust on their uppers every time I go for my trail running workout. I don’t smell any “nasty” odor from the shoes due to its “Breathable mesh lining treated with M-Select™ FRESH odor control”, whatever that description means but it is really true!
I find the shoes weight lighter than my Hoka One One Shoes which is 9.3 ounces per shoe, a standard weight for a cushioned trail shoes. I find the weight of a trail shoe and its cushioning as the two most important factors to consider in selecting a trail shoes for ultras and shorter distances.
I wonder what material the outsole is made of but it is not Vibram. I find it surprising that I don’t see any “wear & tear” signs on them after using them for almost 100 miles in the mountains over hardened trails, rocks, sandy lahar-like soil, and paved roads. The sole studs don’t have any signs of being deformed or shaved-off from its original appearance. As compared with my other trail shoes, like Hoka One One, Salomon, New Balance, ASICS, Adidas, and Altra, with almost 100 miles of usage, I could already see some signs of shaving-off of their outer soles (usually on the outer side portions) due to “wear and tear”. The outsole studs are not pointed or look aggressive as they are in circular forms but I find them very effective in my downhill running over loose soil and steep hardened trails.
You can buy two pairs of these shoes for the price of a “high-end” trail shoes being used by European elite mountain trail runners. But surprisingly, if you buy the shoes in the local market or in local Merrell Stores, they are much cheaper than what is posted as their price in their website.
Bottomline? Will I highly recommend these pair of trail shoes for you? Of course! You will get your money’s worth with this pair of shoes. If you are a compulsive runner-shopper, there is no need for you to order On Line/through Internet and wait for the delivery of your order. You simply go to the Malls and most likely, all the Sports Stores have Merrell Shoes in them. However, if you want more choices on their different models, the best way is to visit one of the Merrell Stores which are located in all the big malls in Metro Manila. (Note: The Staff/Sales Personnel in these stores are NOT trail runners or mountaineers, so be patient to just hear their usual “sales talk” while you are trying to walk or fit with the shoes!)
On my part, in a span of six weeks, I’ve already bought three (3) pairs of MERRELL Shoes to include the “All Out Rush”. Simply said, this is to inform my readers that I am NOT an Ambassador or Sponsored Runner/Blogger of this Shoe Company.
More “User’s Report” on other Merrell Shoes to follow.