Patagonia EVERlong Review

We’re seeing a move towards moderation in running-shoe designs for 2014, and with the release of the Patagonia EVERlong ($110), Patagonia creates a shoe with minimalist features that is meant to withstand 100 miles. Under the creative guidance of Jeff Browning, the EVERlong gives a nod to road-racing flats with softer midsole cushioning than typically seen on trail shoes as well as the lack of a heel counter and rock plate.

Through some research, I found Browning and Patagonia designers worked on four prototype models for the EVERlong starting in June of 2012. Browning states on his blog that he is on his 13th pair and he has been wearing them exclusively for almost a year now. It always piques my interest when the best runners in the sport have a great deal of input into a trail shoe, and the results usually speak for themselves. Running in the EVERlong, one can tell that this shoe was refined to give Browning all that he needed for 100-mile races and absolutely nothing more.

Patagonia EVERlong

The Patagonia EVERlong

Upper

If I had to pick my definitive favorite part of this shoe, it would be the upper. Soft and flexible, with great midfoot lock, the upper is nothing more than dual-density air mesh and welded-on overlays in all of the right places. While the air mesh is breathable it is also fairly tough, and I was surprised at just how little dust and dirt got in. Minimal but effective padding is provided around the very flexible heel collar, and I was surprised by the lack of a traditional heel cup or plastic reinforcement that is commonly seen on trail shoes. This seems to allow the EVERlong to really form around the heel and I never felt unsupported by the flexible upper, mainly because of a very effective midfoot wrap that kept my feet on the platform no matter how technical the trails became.

The EVERlong runs true to size and the upper is complimented by simple flat laces, and a wide and flat tongue which stays in place through hours of running. A natural last provides a deliciously wide forefoot that never feels sloppy on downhills due to the effective midsole wrap.

Patagonia EVERlong - lateral upper

The EVERlong’s lateral upper.

Midsole

Inspired by a road-shoe feel, the EVERlong’s midsole is composed of fairly soft EVA which gives it a very lightweight and flexible feel. A 20% recycled EVA footbed sits directly below the upper and is designed to mold to the contours of the foot, which it did. A moderate stack height (24mm/20mm) and 4mm drop provide a very agile feel for the EVERlong and, at 8.4 ounces, it is a great shoe for racing and faster-paced training.

As a neutral shoe, there are no heel-counter or pronation-control features, but the wide platform and low stack height provide a very low-to-the-ground and stable feel on technical terrain. I enjoyed that while there was not a noticeable arch, the EVERlong really hugged my foot and gave me a lot of confidence, especially on fast downhill sections.

Something noticeably missing from the midsole is a rock plate. The softer durometer EVA foam did cause some discomfort when stepping on sharp rocks, and you can definitely feel the ground when running in the EVERlong. But, out of about 120 miles in the shoe, I maybe had one  or two moments where I shrieked in pain due to hitting a rock, and at those times I really wished for a rock plate. However, as someone who likes softer EVA foam, I appreciated how smooth the EVERlong felt on smooth trails as well as the occasional road.

Patagonia EVERlong - medial upper

The EVERlong’s medial upper.

Outsole

The question is always lugs versus surface area, and I’ve found that different trail runners prefer varying degrees of outsole lugging. The EVERlong saves a great deal of weight by placing sticky outsole pods directly over the soft EVA on the bottom of the shoe. The risk with this is taking a sharp rock in the EVA rather than on the harder outsole portion. The benefit is that the outsole pods to provide great grip on harder trails and rock and the mostly flat outsole has a great deal of surface area to work with.

While I typically don’t get to run in the mud often, I did test the EVERlong during the flooding we’ve experienced recently in the Colorado Front Range. I’m not sure that any all around trail shoes, besides those designed for fell running, do very well in mud and the EVERlong was certainly no exception. However, it drained well after going through puddles and creeks and the excellent fit and lock down at least kept the shoe from feeling sloppy.

Patagonia EVERlong - outsole

The EVERlong’s outsole.

Overall Impressions

To put it frankly, the EVERlong is one of the best-fitting trail shoes I’ve ever worn. I last experienced this type of form fit with the Salomon Sense Ultra, but the EVERlong has an overall softer feel that seems to hug the foot without restricting it in any way. I took this shoe out of the box for a two-hour run and had zero issues with the fit or performance.

Make no mistake, the EVERlong is a minimalist shoe, and I think that Browning and Patagonia nailed it in terms of providing just enough cushioning for 100 miles. The EVERlong has more cushioning, and softer cushioning, than a shoe like the New Balance MT110, but runners may not find it as protective due to the lack of a rock plate. Some runners may not have a problem with this, and looking at Browning’s tough race schedule over the last year, he certainly put the EVERlong through the paces in different conditions including Bandera 100k, Ice Age 50, San Diego 100, and Run Rabbit Run 100. I imagine that he encountered any and all conditions during this schedule. The softer EVA provides an incredible ride, especially for runners going door-to-trail, but the absence of even a minimal rock plate was noticeable and questionable at times.

The EVERlong is the most exciting shoe ever released by Patagonia, and I’m excited to see what additional tweaks will be made in the coming incarnations. The fit alone is worth a try, and if you’re someone who likes a softer feel, then definitely check these out. I would recommend the EVERlong for runners who run primarily on hard-pack trails that are not often bogged down with mud, as well as those looking for a door-to-trail option.

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 41 comments

    1. NC_Jeffro

      I really like the way you compared the EVERLong to other similar shoes. Makes it easier to relate to your evaluation with that kind of perspective. Good review thanks!

  1. savenkhkids

    it sounds similar to my beloved LASPORTIVA's ULtra Raptor 35 miles straight out of the box (seriously) no blisters no other issues

    1. andymeisler

      Though the Ultra Raptors are 12 oz. and have an 8 mm drop. Actually. the Everlong sounds more like the LS Helios — light, sorta minimalist but with plenty of cushion, and great traction. Have loved these shoes and may give the Everlong a try for comparison.

  2. TonyMollica

    Thanks for the review Tom! Does the shoe come in wide sizes? Many of us cannot run in shoes that do not come in wide sizes.

  3. E_C_C

    Tom,
    Thanks for the insights you share here. After reading one of your write-ups, I'm always left wondering what is your definition of 'minimalist.' Today, you follow up a nice discussion of a shoe with a sizeable, cusioned midsole and 4mm of ramp with the statement "Make no mistake, the EVERlong is a minimalist shoe…"

    I'm really not picking a fight here. (no, REALLY :) I just honestly can't see that the word 'minimalist' has any distinct definition here. I perused all your old columns and didn't see one that attempted to define terms, so I though I'd ask. To me, you're the gear editor, not the 'minimalist gear editor.' I don't mind at all if you want to use the term, but I wish I knew what you mean when you say it.

    Thanks much,
    EC

    1. TomCaughlan

      ECC,
      That is a great question, and I should clarify. I don't think the shoe industry has any sort of standard, so I have formed my own over the years. My basic definition of minimalism is putting as little material between the runner and their environment as possible. There are obvious things I reference in minimalism such as a 0-4mm drop, a lower overall platform, a neutral shoe, and a more natural last allowing toe splay.
      I look at different parts of the shoe, such as the upper and how they impact the natural foot movement of the foot. For instance, the upper on the EVERlong is very flexible without any hard edges or molded plastic. My foot being able to feel the trail and feeling low to the ground and agile is also something I regard as minimalist. Basically, if my foot functions in the shoe like how it would if I were barefoot than I consider it minimalist.
      I think that Patagonia would describe the EVERlong as having minimalist features, and I would agree with that as well. I'm not a purist, and I barely ever do any barefoot running (2-3 times monthly). I typically race/ train in lighter weight trail shoes with minimalist features and I would consider the EVERlong in that category.
      Also, I will say that I don't review shoes that are categorized as minimalist when I don't think they could hack it on the trail. Some of the offerings during the minimalist heyday simply made my feet hurt, and I don't see any runners wearing them in ultra races. So, I've skewed my considerations of minimalism towards what is functional versus barefoot shoes.
      To give some examples of what I would consider minimalist trail shoes would be the NB MT110, La Sportiva Vertical K, Patagonia Forerunner, the original Brooks Pure Grit, Pearl Izumi Trail N1, Kinvara trail, Inov-8 245, Montrail Rogue Fly, etc…
      If you are a purist and think I am absolutely wrong, please understand I don't mean to offend. Reviews are always subjective and I think that I'm very much the median when it comes to shoe preferences. Debate is the best part of iRF!

      1. E_C_C

        This may be hard to believe, but I didn't ask the question with an agenda or a drum to beat. I wanted to know what you mean when you say "minimalist" and you've done a fine job of answering that question!

        Agreed that the industry doesn't have (and will probably never have) a common definition — I'm really asking *because* there isn't a standard definition.

        I don't think the community requires a clean, tightly bounded definition for these terms (even though it would make the geek in me happy). I get where you're coming from, and I appreciate it.

        Carry on!
        EC

        1. Nick Jenkins

          I think that these days we need two categories – a "Minimal" shoe means anything up to 6 mm drop, varying amounts of mid sole cushion (but still a lot less than traditional shoes) A "Barefoot shoe" however needs to have little or no mid sole, a wide toe box, no arch structure and of course a zero drop.

          1. E_C_C

            The definition of "barefoot" that you're putting forward definitely makes sense, though I would have said "no" versus "little or no" regarding the midsole.

            For the definition of "minimal" the vagueness remains. You say up to 6mm drop, Tom says 4mm — and the real crux is everybody is still using the term "less" or "lower." Less or lower than what? If all we're saying is "Thing1 is somewhere to the left of Thing2 on the continuum" then we haven't really said anything. My tele boots are "more minimalist" (that syntax cracks me up!) than my alpine boots.

            Ah, relativity!! :)

  4. trailmom

    Thanks for the in-depth review. It's very timely as I was fortunate enough to win a pair of my choice of Patagonia shoes at last weekend's Mountain Masochist 50-Miler. I like road and trail shoes with a "minimalist" fit, but with cushion, so I think the EverLong will work well. I'm disappointed that it doesn't have a rock plate, but I can definitely use it for less-rocky training runs and races. (On anything rocky, I'm going with Hoka's – my foot with the neuroma will thank me.)

    1. Ultrail

      No reason to forego this shoe simply because it doesn't have a rock plate. I happen to run regularly in a shoe that doesn't come with a rock plate, so I decided that I needed to find a way to make them work for rocky trails and gravel roads (which I've found can almost be worse than many rocky trails). I've been making my own for a long time, and after lots of trial and error, I think (?) I've perfected the process.

      Sorry for the multiple posts, but for some reason Intense Debate won't allow long posts. Bryon, what's the word limit?

      1. Ultrail

        Finally, follow the directions for applying the adhesive. This 3M adhesive is essentially a contact cement, so what you have to do is spray a generous amount on your insole, spray a generous amount on its cutting board counterpart, and wait for them to become tacky — about 60-90 seconds. (There are videos available online to help.) Then, all you have to do is press the two sides together, and voila! You have an instant rock plate.

        It should be said that I have put hundreds of miles on these rock plates, and I haven't experienced a single delamination. This adhesive is strong stuff. Keep it away from the kids and your glue-sniffing friends. These plates are also feather light and I have never experienced any kind of rock pain since I've been using them. After you wear them awhile, you might notice some minor cracking in a few places on the outside of the plate where your forefoot flexes, but even where these "hinges" develop, you won't get any delamination.

      2. Ultrail

        First, buy some flexible cutting boards, such as these: http://www.amazon.com/MIU-Flexible-Cutting-Board-… I don't think it matters what kind you get. Just make sure it's thin and flexible.Then, lay the insoles for your shoes on top of the cutting board, trace it, and cut it out. You don't want any extra cutting board sticking out past the edge of the insole, otherwise it won't fit quite as well when you put it back in the shoe. Be sure to cut out enough around the arch.

        After you've done that, go to Home Depot and buy some of this 3M Hi-Strength 90 spray adhesive: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Adhes… Don't buy the 77 or 80 because they are too weak — get the 90.

      3. Bryon of iRunFar

        No sure on the word limit, but I'll look into it. Your comment may have been caught up by the multiple links. I'll take a look. The initial implementation of the comment system is definitely a work in progress. I appreciate the feedback. :-)

    2. @gobroncobilly

      We didn't put a rock plate in it to keep it light and flexible. As soon as you add a rock plate, it changes the responsiveness of the midsole and turns off ground feel. This shoe has a healthy midsole stack height and that thicker midsole EVA acts as pseudo-protection. I've been racing in road shoes for years and preferred that feel to the stiff properties a rock plate adds to a trail shoe typically. I just wanted a better upper/midfoot wrap and traction for trails. I raced a lot of technical ultras this year (Bandera 100K, Gorge Waterfall 50K, San Diego 100, and Run Rabbit Run 100). All technical, some muddy. I'm on my 14th pair currently and have run 1000s of miles since fall of '12. I've found it to run REALLY well in a variety of trail conditions and runs like a true running shoe, with a very good upper fit. Giddyup.

      -Jeff

    1. NC_Jeffro

      Interesting comment, the GS came to my mind as I read this as well. Sounds like a similar feel with a more trail oriented outsole. Still in search of that Cascadia 2 "magic out of the box". Now to find a pair of M14 for under $100…

    1. @gobroncobilly

      I would comment that this review appears to be conducted by a runner that likes stiff midsoles and doesn't go too long very often. This shoe was designed to be a cushioned, light trail shoe for a variety of conditions. It runs really well at a trail half marathon, as well as a mountain 100. I've run ALL types of races in this shoe. From a road 5K to two technical mounatin 100s and it's been a solid shoe. It's super cushy out of the box and the midsole will packdown after break-in at around 70-80 miles. I feel like personally after that they hit their sweet spot and the midsole firms up a touch. I've taken 2 pairs over 400 miles, one of those is almost at 500 miles and they've held up beautifully. Giddyup.

      -Jeff

      1. TomCaughlan

        Jeff,
        I was thinking about contacting you for this review, glad you're giving some design feedback. I think that we probably like very similar shoes actually, as I'm also a fan of wearing softer midsoles on the trail. But, unlike you, I do struggle with taking less protective shoes over 50 miles. I think its nothing more than wimpy feet.
        I hope this review comes off as glowingly positive rather than critical, as this is one of the best trail shoes I've ever ran in. In fact, since writing this review I've had nothing else on my feet and I'm well into that sweet spot you're talking about.
        One of the things I've noticed about traction on loose downhill is that if I keep focused with my weight forward this shoe really grips. Looking forward to racing in these dogs soon. Great shoe!

        1. @gobroncobilly

          Thanks Tom. Great review. I'm glad you like it. This shoe definitely will make you pick a good line in really technical terrain, but that's what gives it such a good feel everywhere else. It's a trade off when you try to keep a shoe light and responsive vs. protective and stiff. Cheers.

          -Jeff

  5. James_Varner

    I'm wondering if anyone from a part of the world where it rains often has tried these shoes yet? i love everything i hear about them except the lack of traction on wet/muddy trails might be a deal breaker for western washington where it's wet most of the year. my pearl izumi N1s(and soon to get N2s) have been great so i might just stick with them…

    1. @koreykonga

      James, I would be curious about the traction as well. Not too muddy here in S. Oregon, but it gets dicey sometimes. That would be the only thing holding me back from giving them a try.

    2. @gobroncobilly

      James,

      I've run 3 muddy races in the EVERlong this season: Bandera 100K, Run Rabbit Run 100 (rained off and on), and Silver Falls Trail Marathon last weekend near Salem, OR after a night of constant rain and it rained 60% of the time durning the race including a mid-thigh creek crossing. They performed great. Now, they obviously won't hold the kind of traction a fell-stye deep lugged shoe will in mud, like an Inov8, but will feel WAY better in all other conditions. I did find I need to concentrate on being on my midfoot on really slippery switchbacks and not getting lazy and back on my heels. We did keep the back 1/3 of the shoe minimal in it's outsole coverage to shed weight and keep the heel feeling really light. I've run 1000s of miles in this shoe since fall of '12 and has been 95% of the time shoe in training and I've raced everything in 2013 in it (100k, 50k, 50 miler, two 100 milers and a trail marathon. Hope that helps. Giddyup.

      -Jeff

    1. @gobroncobilly

      I'm on my 14th pair since fall '12. I've taken two pairs over 400 miles…one is nearly 500 miles and they've held up beautifully (I'm still throwing a run here and their on these two as an experiment. Over the past 14 years of 70+ ultras, I've found most trail shoes wear out in the upper before the midsole when you're training on trails most of the time. The EVERlong midsole will pack out a small bit after 70-80 miles and I feel like that slight firming up of the midsole is when they hit their true sweet spot and will feel pretty consistent to that for the remainder of the shoe. Hope that helps. Giddyup.

      -Jeff

  6. AtomLawrence

    It seems there are a few shoes now that basically start from the standpoint of designing a road shoe that would be ideal for trail use, if one didn't want the weight, stiffness, and, too often, limited cushioning that comes with most trail shoes. I would put the FluidFlex, Helios, and Nike's new trail shoes in this genre, and the Everlong seems to fit that bill as well. I think this is a great idea, as it recognizes that ultimately, running is running, even if some shoes are better for some surfaces. Also, I've come to believe that for anything other than track running, cushioning is our best friend if we want to run lots of miles with quick recovery and minimal injury risk. Everything else (drop, grippy outsole, rock plate) is variable depending on the distance and terrain you'll be running, and just how your legs feel on any given day. I run both road and trail, and I wear both "road" and "trail" shoes, but ultimately, if a shoe isn't cushioned enough for long road miles, I don't think it's cushioned enough period. I'm also a bit puzzled by the idea that soft shoes are difficult to run fast in…Hokas are too much for me, but I know that I'm a lot faster on downhills, pavement or trail, when my aerobic fitness alone, rather than my fitness X my ability to tolerate pounding, limits my speed. These look like good shoes, and I look forward to trying them out when I can find a discounted pair!

  7. Hans_D

    Thanks for the great review.

    How do these compare to the Montrail Fluidflex?
    I like the Fluidflex but would like something that secures my foot a bit better and with a bit more space in the forefoot.

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