END Stumptown 12 oz. Review
July 13, 2008 by Bryon Powell · 6 Comments
iRunFar 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.
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.
Here are some examples of material reductions in the Stumptown:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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! ;-)
Avid Trail Runners and Shoe Junkies:
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