iRunFar Store Adds Trail Running Shoes

iRunFar storeSince the creation of the iRunFar Store,* I’ve sought to bring you the best trail running products from around the world. More specifically, I’ve aimed to use my exposure to a vast array of gear to find and select products that you’re not likely to find at your local specialty running retailer. (Please, go support your local running retail shop when you can. Otherwise, consider iRunFar your community – even if not-so-local – running shop.) I love Brooks Cascadias and New Balance MT110s, but you can find them nearly anywhere running shoes are stocked. The iRunFar Store is home to niche trail running products you’ll love… if you ever hear about them.

The iRunFar Store’s also unique in that its growth is completely organic. I started it with $1,000 worth of hats as well as custom shirts I only paid for after a customer ordered one. I’ve never taken out a loan or opened a line of credit at a bank. There are only two reasons the store has grown. First, because iRunFar’s readers have loved the products we’ve offered. Second, because the store’s success supports our greater aim: to provide the best trail running and ultrarunning news and resources on the internet.

The next step in the iRunFar Store’s evolution is the addition of trail running shoes. The initial additions are the Salomon Spikecross 3 CS, Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground, and the Montrail Bajada. The Spikecross is an excellent specialist for icy conditions while I’ve logged 70+ mile runs in both the S-Lab Soft Ground and Bajada.

Salomon Spikecross 3 CS

Salomon Spikecross 3 CSLast year, the Salomon Spikecross 3 CS ($160) was Runner’s World magainzes’s trail running shoe of the year. I wore it a great deal in the snow-fest that was Park City last January through April. Funny thing is, I wore it more on the roads (most trails were unrunnably buried) and loved them for eliminating worries of black ice at night. The Spikecross are Salomon’s popular and well-lugged Speedcross 3 with carbide spikes embedded in the outsole. In addition, the Spikecross features Salomon’s ClimaShield technology. Unlike other companies, Salomon applies waterproofing only to select areas of the upper so that a majority of moisture is kept out of the shoe while allowing better breathability through the areas of the upper where the membrane is not applied.

The winter’s been the opposite of last year’s here in the Wasatch. We’ve had scant snowfall, so I’m still out running the trails. Where the trail’s not bare, it’s icy as all get out. Yesterday, I went out for what turned out to be a hard 10 miles on twisty, turny trails-turned-ice chutes. I powered over them with confidence in the Spikecross .

As a bonus, the Spikecross’s Speedcross 3 platform feels much more stable than its predecessor, the Speedcross 2.

Order the Salomon Spikecross 3 CS

Note: The Spikecross runs a tad small and you’re more likely to wear these with thicker socks, so I’d recommend going a half size up.

Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground

I logged all of two runs and 10 miles in the Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground ($160) before donning them for the start of the 2011 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. As with 2010, heavy rains inundated the course and I wanted to be prepared for steep, muddy descents. I’d worn plenty of luggy trail shoes, but none with enough stability or support that I’d want to wear them for the majority of a 100 miler. Having enjoyed running in the S-Lab 3, I was excited when I saw the S-Lab Soft Ground. It was a real shoe with mud-eating lugs akin to those on Salomon’s Speedcross. At UTMB, I intended to wear the Soft Ground only as long as the rain and mud persisted, but when I descended dry trails into Courmayeur to meet my crew at mile 50, I knew I wouldn’t be changing shoes. The Soft Grounds were with me until I stopped one way or another. (Sadly, a fatigue-related DNF at mile 70, as it turns out.)

Overall, the S-Lab Soft Ground is a comfortable, well-protected, well-lugged shoe that’s great for ultra-distance running. The Soft Ground’s lugs do double duty:  providing excellent traction along with a few orders of magnitude more protection than the standard version of the S-Lab. Aside from UTMB, I’ve logged most of my Soft Ground miles this winter in Park City, Utah. Not only do the lugs and wide S-Lab platform perform well where the trails have become muddy, they kick butt on the packed snow trails I’ve enjoyed for the past two months. I’d highly recommend these for those looking to run winter trails that aren’t glazed over.

Order the Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground

Montrail Bajada

Montrail Bajada womens

The women's Montrail Bajada in poppy red and moray.

The Montrail Bajada ($110) was love at first sight. As a long-time Montrail wear tester, I first tested this shoe back in December 2010. It only took me a run or two before I texted Montrail President Topher Gaylord that he had the Cascadia killer on his hands. Six months later (after begging Montrail not to make me return the shoes), I wore the Bajada for the final 80 miles of the 2011 Western States 100. It was my go-to training and racing shoe last spring. I suspect I’ll be wearing it a great deal again once Park City’s trails dry out this spring.

Unlike the Spikecross and Soft Ground, the Bajada is a tremendous jack-of-all-trades. It’s got outstanding roll and weighs a svelte 10 ounces, while providing plenty of support as well as a 10mm heel-to-toe drop, both of which I love in an ultramarathon shoe. I’ve already gushed about this shoe in iRunFar’s full Montrail Bajada review.

Note: We’re getting the Bajada before the general release. Pre-order them now and we’ll send them out as soon as they arrive (within the next two weeks).

Wrap Up

That’s it for now. If you order any of these models, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. We’ll be adding two other sweet trail running shoes in the next two months, but more on those later.

* Okay, since I first added something other the iRunFar-branded hats and shirts to the iRunFar Store.

There are 35 comments

  1. Jeff Faulkner

    The only problem with buying shoes on the internet that we're not likely to find at our LRS is how will we know if the shoe fits right before we hit the "submit" button? I've bought many shoes online in the past but only after I've bought another pair at a brick and mortar store.

    A possible solution to this for chickens like me would be to relate these shoes to other more common shoes. Is that even possible?

    1. Bryon Powell

      Hi Jeff,
      Good point. For these shoes, I can wear them all in my standard size 9; however, I think I'd prefer to have the Spikecross a half size larger. The Spikecross runs a bit smaller and I'll always wear it with at least medium thickness socks. I have found that the Spikecross has stretched to be slightly more accommodating over time.

      -Bryon

  2. Racingtales - Alison

    Hey Bryon,

    I always enjoy your shoe reviews and am intrigued by the Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground…and wondering if it will work for my situation. I'm having trouble finding a good shoe for the Virginia mud, which is very sticky and heavy. In my Cascadias I slip and slide all over the place. But in a "luggier" shoe, like the Lafuma I just tested for Trail Runner magazine, the lugs pick up the mud until they're full, then the mud collects a layer of leaves until the shoes are twice as heavy as unmuddied and are pulling off my feet. Any suggestions for a shoe that will help me run through the mud without carrying it with me?! Thanks!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Alison,
      I've not had a chance to test the Soft Ground on eastern clay, but they've shed mud out here pretty well. The lugs are pretty well spaced and the forefoot flex should help with mud shedding.

      1. dogrunner

        hey Alison,

        Not to steal Bryon's thunder, but I found that the Inov8 Xtalon sheds sticky mud better than most shoes (the heavy clay gumbo mud that jams up most shoes) and I also have wide feet, but can fit an Xtalon by sizing up 1/2 size. The shoe has a soft enough upper to not squeeze toes too much.

        Wish they were wider, but this works ok for me.

        To Bryon – Are you going to get the upcoming Salomon Kilian shoe (forget what its called)?

  3. Chad G

    Byron,

    This is awesome! Congrats. Ive enjoyed purchasing from you.

    Finally there is a store with the best of the best for running trail.

  4. David

    Nice addition Bryon. I just retired a pair for S-lab Wings 3. Once Salomon lowers the heel drop on these (at least to 10mm) all be back.

      1. ScottD

        Is there a wide variety among the Solomon's? I'm switching off Inov-8's, and am hoping for a new line that has some minimal, some rugged, and some crossover. Where would you point me first, oh running shoe sage?

          1. ScottD

            I spend most of my somewhat-spoiled training time on soft redwood trails, so something light and nimble for distances of 8m-35m. Then a different pair for when the rain/mud comes – usually something a bit meatier.

            Can't wait!

            1. Bryon Powell

              Scott,
              For the time being, I'd recommend the Salomon S-Lab 4 for you. Great shoe for puffed out trails. The S-Lab Soft Ground is simply a more heavily lugged version of the S-Lab 4 that's great on mud. That'd be a good combination of shoes to have in one's quiver.

  5. Kix

    Congratulations on making the leap to shoes! Just purchased the Montrail Bajada – I have been waiting for them since I read your review. Glad to purchase through Irunfar. Love your reviews. It is sometimes hard to get good trail shoes where I am so I hope the shipping goes well and I look forward to more shopping at Irunfar!!!

    Happy Trails,

    Kix

  6. David

    Thanks Bryon. Runningwarehouse has them at 12mm. I always wondered exactly how the folks at RW measured heel drop. I'm thinking the correct way to truly measure heel drop is to cut away the upper – get a pair of calipers (skin fold calipers would be perfect) – and measure the heel and forefoot. Of course, this would require trashing a pair of shoes. But simply measuring the midsole/tread height externally with a ruler seems plagued with inaccuracies. For example, Hoka claims their offset is 4mm because of the way the heel rests deep within the shoe; however, you'd never measure 4mm offset by simply measuring externally at the heel and forefoot.

    Just thinking out loud.

  7. [email protected]

    Hi David,

    I can answer most of what you ask since I work at RW. I do not directly measure the shoes, but do have some insight into the process.

    We did have the S-lab Wing 3 measured at 12mm. Since those are sold out we have no way of going back and remeasuring to insure that was accurate. We do have the new S-lab Wing 4 measured at 9mm.

    In the past we were using a caliper and doing pretty much doing what you outlined above. We did not need to cut away the upper, but we do remove the insole (if it can be removed).

    Over time we found a degree of error due to the fact that a caliper (depending on pressure applied) could depress into the midsole/outsole or not be tight enough. A new measuring device was developed late last year and all existing models were remeasured. Each shoe is measured a few times (different shoes since there can be some variation amongst the same style and even the same size due to minor manufacturing differences).

    We never go by measurements published by the company (every style of shoe is measured) and have found several midsole heights to be a bit different than published.

    Hope this answers your "thinking out loud" question. Please let me know if you have other questions.

    Erik

    1. David

      Wow, thanks Erik. Just another example of why Runningwarehouse is so wonderful. I love the fact that you all independently weigh and measure each shoe you sell.

      Here's to hoping we'll see Hoka at RW in the near future!

      Best,

      1. [email protected]

        Thanks David. And we are currently evaluating Hoka and deciding if it is a brand we can add to our lineup. No firm time frame, but we are looking into it.

        Erik

  8. Nick

    Bryon,

    How do the S Lab Soft Ground…do on dry technical trails? I want them for winter running but would like to use them on other occasions…since I can't afford to have a $160 mud/snow shoe.

    Thanks

    1. Bryon Powell

      Nick,
      I've not used them much on technical trails, but I had no issue with them on limited running here on moderately rocky trails. What's your particular concern re the shoe on technical trails? Stability? Protection? Something else?

  9. Nick

    No concern really other then tread.,…just curious if they were mud/snow specific. I would like the aggressive tread for winter running but would also like them for running in the Wasatch all year….I am trying to decide between Soft Ground / regular S lab 4.

    Thanks again

    1. Bryon Powell

      Well, I'd say they're specifically designed for mud (and maybe snow), but I wore them quite comfortably for dry ground sections of UTMB last year and in some shorter dry runs around the Wasatch. While obviously being a bit heavier than the standard S-Lab 4 due to the aggressive lugs, I really enjoy these on other trails. The lugs do a good job of protecting your feet.

  10. Morgan Williams

    Bryon

    I just want to give a shout to the hard ground version too.

    Whilst I have yet to test these, I suspect the similarities with the S Lab 3 are great. I have 3 pairs of 3s (only made in a hard ground version I think) on the go right now.

    I ran CCC 2010 in Speedcross 2s and CCC 2011 in S Lab 3s. The Speedcross did carve my feet up pretty badly in 2010 in the foul conditions, and I'm used to UK conditions where we get plenty of H20. I put that down to a combination of tight/narrow fit, the sole biting back in the later hours and 20 hours of wet feet!

    The S Lab 3s coped really well with the bad weather that came in about 9.00 pm Friday in 2011 and lasted for the rest of the night. Grip-wise, I was in just as good shape on the alpine trails in the S Lab 3s as I had been in the way more aggressive Speedcross.

    And I've been using the S Lab 3s for all my running this winter and they have coped with everything I have chucked at them.

    And for ease of transition between sections of road, trail and fell, I've never known anything like them.

    1. David

      It doesn't have one. On the XT wings 3 (basically the same shoe with a slightly different upper), I found sharp rocks and stone bruising to be a bit much with these shoes. However, I'd bet the extra protecting via the deeper lugs helps offset the lack of a rockplate.

      I might be wrong on this but I think only the Crossmax series has a rockplate for the entire Salomon lineup.

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