Long known as an outdoor sportswear apparel company, Columbia began as a hat manufacturer in 1938. It wasn’t until 1960 that Columbia Hat Company became Columbia Sportswear. Then, back in 1993, Columbia begins producing outdoor footwear. Now in 2010, Columbia makes strides in the trail running category. This evidenced by the Trail Runner magazine’s designation of the Columbia Ravenous in men’s and women’s styles as an Editor’s Choice Best Debut award winner.
Salomon has three new trail running shoes for Spring 2010. Two shoes are updates, the XT Wings 2 and the XT Hawk 2, and the XA Pro 5 is a new introduction. Before we get into the specifics, let’s have a brief review of Salomon trail running footwear. Salomon designs trail running shoes to provide rugged trail performance over a vast variety of terrain. All Salomon shoes incorporate a Sensift upper design for a secure midfoot fit. This design keep your foot well grounded in the shoe and reduces slippage so that the foot and the shoe move as one entity. Another unilateral feature is the Quicklace sytem, which allows for easy-on, easy-off entry and egress of of the shoe. The Quicklace system is also easily stowed under a stretch mesh situated at the top of the tongue. This handy feature prevents the laces from getting caught on wayward branches or other trail debris. Each Salomon shoe uses a specific outsole and midosle combination to meet specific needs and well touch on these specifics as we discuss the new shoes below.
Award winning shoe gets a new midsole material.
When the XT Wings debuted in January 2008, Runner’s World designated the shoe as a Best Debut and for good reason. The XT Wings delivered a superb, snug fit for great control on the trail. Yet as good as this shoes was on the trail, it provided superb comfort for road running. The versatility of the XT Wings is no accident. From the outset, the XT Wings was designed to address the needs of runners who love the trails but live in environments where roads are unavoidable. Instead of having to drive to the trail, Salomon felt you should be able to run to the trail and keep going with just one shoe. Hence, the XT Wings was born.
Built on the concept of a human body analogy, the XT Wings consisted of skeleton, muscle and tendon components. The skeleton is Salomon’s Agile Chasis System (ACS). Structural integrity and stability are afforded by the ACS. Just as muscles contract to initiate or resist movement, the AC midsole flexes to absorb impact. To aid in energy return, the AC Tendon outsole elongates and snaps back to its original shape. The resulting combination of all three components is an enjoyable ride quality that is adaptive to varied terrain.
With the XT Wings 2, little has changed. The upper lines have not changed, so the XT Wings 2 provides the same great fit as its predecessor. A slight modification the to mud guard that reduced weight and increased flexibility without sacrificing protection is the only significant upper change. AC2 replaces the original AC midsole. AC2 provides greater resiliency relative to weight. Thus the XT Wings 2 weighs 0.3 ounces less than the original, but has greater cushioning durability. No changes were made to the outsole.
Trail running shoes are generally broken down into two primary areas of focus. The first are what can be referred to as true trail shoes, those model designed to work exclusively on soft surfaces. The second are cross-overs, basically road shoes that are given a more aggressive outsole and a brown upper treatment that results in a outdoorsy version of a popular road shoe.