Monday, June 2, 2014

Salomon XT Hornet / Fellraiser - Product Review

So. I've been told several times that Salomon shoes are rather narrow & surprise surprise.. I was very happy to learn that the XT Hornet (& most likely XT Wings 3) are actually kinda wide..

With online shopping (that many Aussies do) we're victims of many trials & errors - I'm hoping with this entry I can help some of you who may be thinking of getting these Salomon shoes but are unsure about fitting etc.

My feet are kinda wide, & I need bit more cushioning in the Achilles heel area. But how wide?

Here's how my feet measures up:

Widest at 11cm & kinda fat throughout, Length is 25.3cm.. 
The XT Hornet at UK 9.5 fits very nicely for my 11cm wide/ 25.3 long feet.. my feet do not feel squeezed at the sides & I have sufficient toe box area. The XT Hornet offers more cushioning at the Achilles heel compared to the Fellraiser so I definitely feel I have found the right Salomon shoe & size. Having said that during my initial run the sole felt quite stiff & I'll probably be putting another layer of sole just for added cushioning - however this could improve as I slowly break into the shoe - we shall see. All in all pretty damn chuffed about them so far.. they are sturdy for the mountain trails but not as elaborate as the XA Pro Ultra 3D & my favourite feature being the wide heel outsole which is awesome for stability..

UPDATE 16Feb2015 - Read more here on the stiff sole & my 2 ankle sprains!

The S-LAB Fellraiser at UK 9.0 (& my previous Salomon shoes ie. XA Pro Ultra 3D) definitely feels a bit tight width-wise compared to the XT Hornet. If you have narrower feet than my 11cm you may find them a good fit. Having said that the Fellraiser has its place - light, grippy, low-profile, fast - I use it for short mucky flat-ish fast trails, not too technical... protection against jagged rocks is minimal (you will feel them sharp rocks, no rock plate), if your Achilles heel needs more cushioning like mine during steep climbs these won't quite cut it.. coz cushioning material is kept to a minimal & if your heel digs into the back of the shoe like mine does, you're not gonna like the friction. Keeping to shorter trails my feet don't swell as much & wearing them with thin socks - they do alright.

Here are some further comparison:

Fellraiser - narrow, fast & streamlined / Hornet - wide, sturdy & stable 
Lugs - Fellraiser's lugs are almost twice the thickness!
In the mucky trails they did cake up pretty quickly.. but I'm not complaining
Archilles heel cushioning - Hornet offers more & Fellraiser minimal
Outsole - widest is my Karrimor Excel - the Hornet is next & Fellraiser narrow

Well - nothing much to compare from the top - just a nice color contrast!

Quite frankly I'm just glad I found a Salomon shoe that I can actually wear for my big runs! Once again I think the XT Hornet is very similar for the XT Wings 3 - their profiles looks almost identical & hopefully many of the info for Hornet can apply to the Wings as well...

Well hope my short & sweet product review info has helped folks.. Happy Salomon shopping & trail running!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Karrimor Excel - Product Review

I wasn't expecting much when I purchased the Karrimor Excel from a Sportsdirect store out of desperation. I had no suitable shoes leading up to Buffalo Stampede and was pleasantly surprised by the fit & cushioning of the Karrimor Excel when I tried them on. I'm still putting this entry up because after some minor tweaks to the shoes I did feel confident they would bring me through Buffalo & Macedon - both pretty gruelling trail events.. and they did. 

First Impressions - when I still in the store, studying the material used I wasn't expecting these shoes to last very long - the laces were of poor quality & were too elastic to be effective. however it had a wide heel base which I liked & once again, it just felt very cushiony & comfy (more than the Salomons & Hokas). The fit was good for my wide feet as well so I couldn't ask for more given they were also retailed at less than MYR200 (~ AUD70). I knew I had to modify the laces & it could potentially work OK.

Here's a quick breakdown of the good & bad:

Here's the before-after the lace modification.. as expected the shoe performed much better with normal laces
The wide heel base.. great for downhill stability

The sole design & material is grippy in muddy conditions & cushiony - but is quick to wear & tear - see following pics.

Cushioning was pretty normal to start with, training in them it wasn't long before I had to add extra soles to provide the cushioning I wanted.. 

All in all - I would recommend these shoes if you're after a low-budget trail shoe & especially if you're a wide-feet like me. These shoes while not perfect are pretty comfortable. I think its inevitable the laces need replacement. The sole design works well in muddy wet conditions - they don't retain mud cakes too easily either. They would last a bit longer too if you're not doing technical trails all the time but don't expect them to last quite as long as the bigger brands eg. Salomon & Hokas.

Here are some links for more info: