So the 3 pairs in the photo below are in order from left to right, Salomon Sense Mantra (US 10.5), Montrail Fairhaven (US 9.5) and Brooks Ghost 5 (US 10.5). Praise the Lord the Brooks are already sold and I will not go back to trying out a Brooks shoe ever again!
So this post is really nothing but some whining and lamenting over the sadness of parting with these shoes with the exception of the Brooks.
To start off with the Salomon Sense Mantra's, now for those of your who don't know, Salomon has a phenomenal line up of trail and mountain running shoes and a phenomenal trail and ultra running team and they can be referred to the as the Formula One of trail running. They usually steal the show at most races they are in and are always constantly testing and refining their gear and then after the custom outfits for their athletes, making some of those available to the general public for purchase.
Back to the Sense Mantras, they are based off a custom shoe for trail running champion Killian Jornet, who wanted a lightweight, all purpose shoe that he could win Western States 100 in after coming in 3rd in 2010. Salomon went back to the drawing board, developed a super lightweight, durable shoe with a low heel toe drop and released the S-lab Sense back in 2011 I believe. Then in 2012, they upped the heel toe drop a little to 6mm, gave the lugs a little more depth and used some more durable Contagrip outsole rubber and released the Sense Mantra, a durable, daily lightweight trainer that could take you from door to trail, a very real scenario here around Houston Texas where some of the most aggressive trails you will find are either dirt, packed dirt or gravel unless you drive way out west to Big Bend National Park. So after finding these cheap off eBay, I was delighted to take them for a spin only to discover that they simply were too narrow for my wide, flatfooted Hobbit feet. So alas after a few runs in them I must part with them because they don't suit my feet, although of all the shoes, I am saddest to part with them because I can say that they perform quite superbly on most surfaces I've tested them on, dirt, gravel, pavement, although not as great on pavement as some other shoes. For most normal feet, or narrow feet I highly recommend these!
Secondly, the Montrail Fairhaven's are also a hybrid trail shoe with less aggressive tread for pavement use. They actually work quite well, except the upper is super thick and cushy and keep my feet way too hot for Texas weather! And they turned out to be too small, so am parting with them because they give me blisters on my little toes because the US 9.5 in these shoes keeps the toe box too close to my toes. However they are a highly recommended shoe, very comfortable, perform well on pavement to easy trails and feature Montrail's Fluidpost stability system as a medial post for pronation control. I highly recommend these as an all purpose day to day trainer!
As for the Brooks, the very first pair of real running shoes I ever owned were some Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s which are a classic stability shoe. They turned out sour over time though because they simply didn't fit my wide, flat feet and then caused a lot of pain on the outside and inside edges of my feet because the shoes were trying to force my feet into their mold and my feet weren't buying it. So I ditched those and then tried to make a come back to Brooks because they are a high quality, very durable, sturdy shoe manufacturer with the Ghost 5. These were a little better for longer but after a while, same thing, except since this is a neutral shoe, was a little less painful until over time the caterpillar pad turn in in the midfoot just caused too much pain and I sold those on eBay (Praise the Lord!). Brooks work wonderfully for most people, just not for me. On the plus side they had a generally good fit, usually too narrow for my feet although the manufacture some of their models in different widths and are generally very durable, good smooth heel toe turnover and look nice too.
Now my last sad shoe story was very recent, this week in fact, I had purchased a pair of North Face Double Track Guide shoes from Gearcoop.com (which is a great discount outdoors gear store by the way and I highly recommend it) since they had it for half price. I had read a lot of reviews about the old Double Tracks and was looking for a shoe with a lot of cushioning for upcoming 50k in December and 50 mile in Feb 2014. Plus there were a lot of great reviews about their Cradle Guide System that helps with impact control in whatever phase or however you strike whether it's heel, midfoot or forefoot. In my initial runs I had experienced pain as I've now learnt and convinced myself of that stability shoes are not my thing. These were like the Brooks on steroids in terms of stability, it was like trying to force my feet into a steel mold they simply wouldn't sit and as a result on my 19 mile long run, I was hobbling along at a 16 min/mile pace for the latter half of it. It was quite embarrassing as here were older people out on their leisurely strolls passing me as I hobbled along all geared up in my hydration pack with dual sports bottles, running sunglasses and cap, serious amateur trail runner that I am. So I am now returning these for a refund. On the plus side though, if stability shoes are your thing, these I actually highly recommend because I can see that the Cradle Guide system works wonderfully in controlling the impact in each stride and they are surprisingly nimble and responsive for how burly they look. Also the Tenacious Grip outsole transitioned the most smoothly out of any hybrid shoe I've tried on from pavement to trail and gripped dirt, mud and gravel and pavement all superbly without any fear of slipping.
So there you have it, there's my lament on the shoes that got away... maybe next time I'll post one of the shoes that have made the cut :)