END Stumptown 12 oz. Review

END Stumptown 12 oziRunFar is excited to bring you a sneak peak of END Footwear’s forthcoming Stumptown 12 oz. Overall, it is a good looking, light-weight, multi-purpose trail shoe that performed well in our tests. The Stumptown 12 oz and the rest of END’s inaugural shoe lineup (including two other trail shoes) will hit the US and Canadian markets on August 1.

Read on for iRunFar’s take on the Stumptown 12 oz.’s overall design, aesthetics, and performance, as well as a summary of the review and some questions about sustainable running shoes. (From here on “Stumptown” or “ST” refers to the Stumptown 12 oz unless otherwise noted.)

In addition, as discussed during the Earth Week series, iRunFar is excited about the promise END Footwear (previously END Outdoor) holds as a company. Also check out iRunFar’s profile of END Footwear based on Trail Goat’s interview of Ben Finklea, one of END’s two co-founders.

Design
At first glance the Stumptown 12 oz looks like a conventional multi-purpose trail shoe. Its magic lies in the brilliant design work of END co-founder, Andrew Estey, formerly of Nike. As a company founded on sustainability principles END certainly considers the nature of the materials it uses in its shoes, but at this point the company is making larger strides in reducing the amount of material used in manufacturing each pair of shoes. You will notice these reductions as soon as you slip on and lace up the Stumptown – these puppies are wicked light. The Stumptown’s weight… or the lack thereof is their defining performance characteristic.

END Stumptown 12 ozMen’s Stumptown 12 oz in Olive Gray/Orange Peel

Here are some examples of material reductions in the Stumptown:

  • Miminalistic heel counter
    • When you slip on the Stumptown you’ll almost immediately notice that it doesn’t have the massive heel counter found in almost all running shoes these days. This means that the heel of the ST is much more flexible. However, Estey has kept the ST comfortably stable by slightly raising the midsole to create a small lip that cradle your heel.

  • Lack of extra stuff on upper
    • END’s website states that they “question the usefulness of every seam, every stitch and every inch of material” Believe it! The upper is a very thin, lightweight fabric (not a mesh) with four bands on each side binding the laces to the sole, a small amount of additional supportive overlay, and a protective toecap.

  • No foam between outer and liner
    • In examining “every inch of material,” Estey axed the traditional foam between the out and the liner after finding it unnecessary. (Anyone care to weigh on the necessity of the foam?) Ben Finklea suggests that recent advances in socks (see iRunFar post on socks) make this foam layer unnecessary. The reduced upper and lack of foam give this shoe a huge benefit beyond reduced weight: there’s precious little in the shoe to absorb water meaning it stays light when wet… more on this below in the performance section. Less foam and less collected water/sweat will also likely result in a faster drying shoe, which means reduced foot maceration while running and less stink afterward!

  • Less glue
    • One of END’s first goals is to reduce the amount of glue and adhesives used in manufacturing performance shoes. Less glue = less weight… even if it’s just a few grams per shoe.

    Aesthetics
    iRunFar first saw the Stumptown in the below photograph. Both the toecap and the midsole appeared overly simplistic. In fact, before seeing the shoes in person, yours truly wrote “it is unclear whether the toecap’s blandness has its basis in sustainability or in oversight.”

    END Stumptown 12 ozMen’s Stumptown 12 oz in Olive Gray/Orange Peel

    Don’t let this picture fool you (if it does), these shoes are sweet looking. Of the dozen or so trail shoes currently at iRunFar headquarters, the Stumptown 12 oz are far and away the best looking. END aims to keep things simple and with the Stumptown 12 oz they’ve shown they know how to pull it off!

    Performance

    The Stumptown 12 oz is a solid, lightweight trail shoe. The shoe is actually significantly lighter than advertised. 12 ounces, my eye! Fresh out of the box, iRunFar’s pair weighed 572 grams, or just the slightest bit over 10 ounces (10.09 oz.). In abstract, that might not sound very light, but it’s a full 20% lighter than the 12.5 oz. La Sportiva Raceblade that iRunFar has previously raved about. The Stumptown has some serious potential as a wet weather shoe according to iRunFar’s somewhat less than scientific test. In the test, a tester put on the ST 12 oz and a pair of Drymax Hot Weather socks and soaked his feet under a garden hose for a good two minutes immediately before a run. In well under 30 seconds there was no squishiness and the shoes were light enough for the tester to set a personal best on the 4 2/3 miles rolling paved test course. After the run (a hard run on a hot and humid Mid Atlantic summer evening – blech!), the shoes weighed in at 652 g. That’s less than 3 ounces (2.8 oz.) of extra weight per pair and still less than a pair of dry Raceblades. If the Stumptown 8.5 oz has similar properties and a slightly nubbier sole, it could be force to be reckoned with during wet trail races.
    END Stumptown 8.5
ozMen’s Stumptown 8.5 oz in Olive/Swan

    The ultralight weight mesh between the tongue and rest of the upper should do a good job of keeping debris from entering the front of the shoe in both wet and dry weather. The sole is moderately lugged, providing a good compromise in off-road traction and on-road smoothness. While no one at iRunFar has had the opportunity to test the Stumptown 12 oz. in either mud or snow, it does not appear to be specifically designed for those conditions. The only negatives we found are that the midsole is just a tad cushier than we prefer and the height of the toe box may be just a hair or two on the low side. In general, the Stumptown felt best at faster speeds, which may be due in part to less heel striking reducing the perception of softness when the pace was hot. The toe box height “problem” should be taken with a grain of salt as the tester beat up his toes while wearing a different company’s shoe the weekend prior to noticing this supposed issue… which had not been noted in previous test runs.

    END Stumptown 12 ozWomen’s Stumptown 12 oz in Clay/Lt Orchard

    Packaging
    Going forward iRunFar intends to include details regarding packaging in all of our shoe reviews. END is doing all it can to reduce its packaging and to make the packaging it uses more sustainable given the constraints of the existing distribution and retailing systems. That means END still uses a box, cardboard shoe inserts, and a single sheet of paper separating the shoes. However, all of these materials are made from unbleached 100% post-consumer waste paper, the box is printed with soy-based ink, and the shoes do not and will not have any lace tags! END has shipped its wear tester shoes in recycled plastic bags. Here’s hoping that retailers will quickly implement systems that permit the adoption of non-box packaging. Total packaging weight including the above noted recycled bag and a silica gel packet that may no longer be included: 324 grams.

    Conclusion
    END Footwear’s Stumptown 12 oz is impressive for a company’s debut shoe line up. First off, the ST 12 oz. is a great looking shoe that the iRunFar staff can imagine seeing on the streets of DC (or Portland) or at music festivals in the mountains as often as on the trail. The shoe is noticeably lighter than the vast majority of general-purpose trail shoes, is suitable for road and trail, and fits like a slipper. The Stumptown 12oz should dry remarkably well, is surprisingly stable, and offers great toe protection. iRunFar would not recommend the ST 12oz for extremely rocky or muddy trails.

    The Stumptown 12 oz. as well as the rest of the END Footwear lineup go on sale in the US and Canada on August 1. They should be immediately available at a variety of stores as well as online at places like Backcountry.com (Men’sor Women’s) and REI.com. The Stumptown 12 oz. retails for $80.

    For more info, check out Bruce Grant‘s informative review of the Stumptown 12 oz., as well as the Stumptown 10 oz. Bruce ran all of the Hardrock 100 in the Stumptown 10 oz! That’s a great testament to their durability…. now I want to see a picture of those bad boys! ;-)

    END Stumptown 10 ozWomen’s Stumptown 10 oz. in Olive Gray/Lt Steel/Black

    Questions

  • Do you consider the environmental impact/sustainability of running shoes before you buy them?
  • If so, what sustainability factors are most important to you?
  • Anyone else worn a Stumptown model?
  • Avid Trail Runners and Shoe Junkies:
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    There are 6 comments

    1. Meredith

      Never even heard of those, but they look interesting and hot pink is the way to go :) I buy what works best for my feet, and hope that the company employs green acts in their business. Luckily, i wear Brooks and they do, with more strides in the right direction around every turn. However, i am not against trying new shoes.

    2. lonerunman

      Hi Bryon – excellent review of the shoes, it sounds like you have pretty much the same conclusions I did regarding the END's: green, light, comfortable, but perhaps a bit soft in the midsole for some. Thanks for the shout, I should be posting a Hardrock follow-up on the ST 10's pretty soon (with pics :-) But briefly, they wore really well, were still lightweight even though wet for 34.5 hours (!) and most importantly, were comfortable and supportive through the entire run, with only two tiny blisters.I'll be doing a 6-day stage run in Ontario starting this Sunday, so we'll see how the ST10's fare there as well!cheers,Bruce

    3. Trail Goat

      Bruce,First off, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Second, I hope our paths cross again… you aren't running Leadville again this year, are you? I'll be up there pacing on Saturday.As for the END Stumptown 12 oz, we are on the same page. I hope to try the lighter version of the trail shoes sometime soon. However, these days I do most of my running on roads, so it's fortunate that I've got preliminary version of the END YMMV… I ran the Trail Runner Magazine Uphill Challenge in them on Saturday and also had a good run in them yesterday. Looking forward to many more.Finally, congrats on the awesome run at Hardrock!

    4. lonerunman

      Thanks for the congrats on Hardrock :-) And I'd love to get my hands on the ST 8.5's too – they look pretty sweet. I'm defintely sold on the light-weight shoe idea now!I just got back from the MOOSE (Marathon of Ontario Summer Edition), a 6-day / 300km stage run. It went along the northern end of the Bruce Trail in Ontario, from Tobermory to Blue Mtn. I was carrying a 15lb pack food and gear, and wore a pair of fresh Stumptown 10's for the duration. The trail was extremely rocky in places (much like Massanutten), with crappy footing and running on the tops of rocks for much of it. There were also overgrown farm fields, gravel and paved roads, and even sweet pine-needle laden single-track (!). Anyways, the shoes were overall great once again. The uppers broke in instantly because the fabric is so flexible and there are no extraneous doo-dads on teh outside, and showed little wear from the 44 hours of pounding. The outsole did get some heel wear, but overall the shoes held up extremely well given the tough terrain. Fit? Quite good. I found that the lack of rigidity in the sole was great for riding the rocks, and curving my foot around them for better traction and launch. A stiffer footplate would probably have slid a lot more. I did get one fit-related blister on my pinky toe, though I had the shoes tied pretty tight to avoid any sliding around on the undulating trail surface.Cushioning proved to be fine, and definitely helped on the hard rocks and road surfaces. Midsoles survived the route just fine, with no noticeable compression. But let me stress the light weight – carrying 9.5 oz on each foot over 300km was a blessing compared to something in the 13-15oz range!

    5. Yooperrunner

      Hello,Just a quick note about the magic 12 oz shoes that were really 10 oz. The actual weight of the shoe depends on the shoe size as well. Thus the 10 oz shoes were likely a smaller sized shoe than the "standard" shoe size that is referecned when they advertise as 12 oz.Great review. Want a pair!

    6. Bryon Powell

      Yooper,The "magic" shoes were a standard men's size 9. END has privately (and publicly, for all I know) acknowledged that the Stumptown 12 oz actually weighs less than 11 oz in the reference size. I think they kept the 12 oz name to differentiate the model from the Stumptown 10 oz.

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