Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shoe & Sock Review

Shoe & Sock Review: f-lite 305 PK GTX & Debrisoc 40

A good chunk of my training occurs on roads and in the parks of Allentown, PA. For the last four years, I’ve used Inov-8 shoes for training and racing on trails and road shoes (mostly Mizuno) for training on roads. I thought that Inov-8 could also provide me with a training solution for roads. So, in the beginning of the year I got a pair of f-lite 305’s (US size 13, I wear a 12.5 in most other running shoes). I have now put over 400 road/park miles on these shoes and I have found them to be snug, durable, and warm.

Right out of the box I found them to be very comfortable. The shoe hugs my foot nicely with standard lacing and my foot does not creep forward into the toe box on descents. The upper is a little stiff and took some getting used to. But, it ends up being a net gain for me because the shoe has an added layer of support due to the Gortex liner. A more supportive shoe is something that has proven to be necessary for me when running roads.

I was under the impression that cold and wet feet were just part of the deal when running in the winter. Until I met the 305’s, which do an awesome job at keeping my feet toasty and dry. We started getting hammered with lots of snow in the beginning of February. So, my running routes ran the gammit of wet pavement, slush, ice, and deep snow. I have worn the Merino wool Debrisoc 40 (size Large) along with the 305’s on several runs. This soc/gaiter combo works very efficiently at keeping all of the snow from getting in through the top of the shoe. And overall my feet have stayed warm and dry. And, once the debrisoc is on and I am running, it feels like a regular sock – nothing uncomfortable or awkward about it.

The f-lite 305 and the debrisoc 40 are durable. 400 plus miles later shoe looks just like I took it out of the box. The feel is basically the same except for the slight “break-in” of the upper which gives it a bit more of a flexible feel than when it was new. The Merino wool on the debrisoc is holding up well and amazingly the rubber fastening loops that wrap below the sole of the shoe to keep the gaiter down have not shredded.

In summary, if you are looking to try a shoe that is great for winter road running, I would recommend the f-lite 305’s. The 305’s have proven themselves to me for runs consisting of terrain covering concrete/blacktop to crushed gravel/dirt paths ranging in distances from 5 miles up to 20+ mile runs. I found the 305 and debrisoc combination to be a perfect solution for winter training on roads.