Monday, April 27, 2015

Shoe Review: Salming Trail T1


I've been ramping up my training recently, trying to get ready to throw down with the big boys at the Cayuga Trails 50 in four weeks.  I had a bit of a struggle recovering from Mount Mitchell, and didn't bounce back quite as quickly as I'd hoped.  The mileage came back pretty quickly--it usually does--but it took a few weeks before I started really feeling my oats again.  We took a nice trip to Puerto Rico at the end of March, jumping straight from 30 degrees in NY to 85 degrees, and man did I feel sluggish!  But since returning I've been on a bit of an upswing.  The past three weeks have totaled 317 miles, with a couple of unspectacular but solid track workouts and some decent longer quality runs (what I like to call "Lydiard" runs, which are more or less marathon-pace efforts or a bit slower).  Last week I ran my usual 10-mile Lydiard course (which in reality is probably about 9.6 miles) in just under 63 minutes and felt pretty relaxed most of the way, so that's a good sign.
It's HOT in Puerto Rico.

Anyway, nobody likes to hear about other people's workouts.  It's boring.  So, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the newest offering from Salming, the Trail T1.  I've been putting in about 65% of my miles since Mitchell in the T1s, so I've probably run at least 300 miles in them so far, and to this point they have not disappointed.  Of course, I'm running for Salming this year, so I tend to think their stuff is pretty great.  But you should too!  Here's why.

First off, they're damn good-looking.  I know nobody buys shoes for that reason (actually, as a former shop owner, I know nobody ADMITS they buy shoes for that reason), but let's be realistic--it doesn't hurt.  The men's T1s are a snazzy electric blue with a red outsole, which is a great pairing.  The women's model, with a deep purple upper and a yellow midsole, is even better.

Women's T1: also hot.
OK, ok, what do they feel like?  The upper is nice and breathable, but not too loose that you're sliding around.  The platform is fairly basic, true to Salming's natural running ideals.  No medial post, no transition zone, no outer lugs--just a single density midsole with a 5 mm drop, perfect for mid-foot striking.  I found the toe box to be surprisingly roomy.  They're not extra-wide, and not wide enough for my funky foot to actually accommodate its real-life length, but they do not pinch at all, and the upper is snug enough without being cramped to hug the foot pretty well.

I felt like the midsole was a bit stiff at first, but after the first two weeks the shoe loosened up quite nicely on impact.  The transition through foot strike from rear- or mid-foot to toe off is very smooth and natural.  The outsole is not especially aggressive but is grippy enough in light mud and on mildly technical trails.  It's a versatile enough shoe that it's comfortable for moderate stretches on the road, which is great for me on days where I'm running on pavement for the ten minutes from my door to the nearest trailhead.

There's not a lot of downside to the T1.  They are on the heavier end of the Salming spectrum.  At about 10 ounces, they're still pretty light but the heaviest shoe Salming offers, which is a bit of a turn-off for racing purposes. At that weight, I'd prefer a bit more of a cushioned ride, but that's just nitpicking, really.  It's been a little while since I ran in something I could compare the T1s to; in recent years I've been wearing a lot of inov-8s, which are not a great comp, and have been dabbling a bit too much in "minimalist" shoes, which also aren't in the same category.  I would say they feel a bit like the Brooks Cascadia--lower stack height, less controlled, a bit lighter, but a similar ground feel and versatility.  Maybe a lighter, less clunky version of the Salomon XR Mission.  Probably what the XR Mission wishes it felt like.

The other shoe I've been enjoying quite a bit is the Salming Race, but I'm saving a review for a couple of weeks from now, after I've had a chance to actually, you know, race in them.