New Footwear for 2010, Part 2: Trail and Multi-Sport Shoes, Miscellaneous Footwear

1:00 a.m. on January 11, 2010 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "New Footwear for 2010, Part 2: Trail and Multi-Sport Shoes, Miscellaneous Footwear"

Part 2 of our series on 2010 footwear looks at trail shoes (essentially below-the-heel hiking boots); multi-sport shoes, which combine features of multiple sports categories; and miscellaneous outdoor footwear like the Vibram FiveFingers line that didn't fit in other categories.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2010/01/11/new-trail-shoes-multi-sport-miscellaneous.html

1:26 p.m. on January 12, 2010 (EST)
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To merely list a bunch of hiking shoes and alternative type shoes in my opinion misses the point and value in presenting them. We need to know how they perform in relative comfort, motion efficiency and durability. Relative in the sense that one reviewer will subjectively judge it differently then another. We should hope to see some judgment coincidence.

Here unfortunately we have a list presented without judgment by jury of hikers skilled and experienced in the subject. Runners World and Trailrunner magazines do just that. That's what we need at Trailspace, analysis of products to effectively guide the multitude in making wise purchase decisions/experiments. I'm also disappointed in the weights of the submitted list. As many of us know, each pound of shoe weight worn is equivalent to roughly 6.4 lbs. carried on your back. Shoe construction/weight is related to pack weight in that the load should not be uncomfortable per on-your- feet time. You can carry roughly a 20 lb. fully loaded pack with an 11 to 12 ounce shoe in relative comfort. I would have hoped to see a list more in line with lower weights as most hiking is weekend applicable and therefore more in keeping with the majority need for a hiking shoe and curiosity as to what's new.

3:09 p.m. on January 12, 2010 (EST)
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Performance, yes, this is a preview of new footwear (much of which is not out yet, or is only just about to be released), not a review or judgment of each shoe's performance. I hope that is evident to readers from the article's presentation.

Readers often want to know what is new in a certain gear area. So, we occasionally highlight new offerings, like this. It would be impossible for any publication to adequately review every single new gear offering.

That said, I completely agree that gear reviews are essential information, and we'd prefer to publish more useful information versus less. On top of publishing thousands of individual user reviews of outdoor gear, including footwear, Trailspace publishes many of its own gear reviews and is working hard to expand its gear reviews and content. When Trailspace chooses to review a particular piece of gear and then publish that information, we expect the information to meet a high standard to do it justice.

I'll note that each of these shoes has its own dedicated page in the Gear Guide, where users can find them and add reviews over time, which I hope they will do.

Thanks for your comments.

12:15 a.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Alicia, Why not determine what the community thinks about their trail shoes, our most important hiking tool? Let's say that about five to ten trail shoes turn out to be the most popular and preferred amongst the myriad of shoes out there via response to a survey. This is what's missing in every publication. No one knows what shoe to buy. Marketing hype, salespersons lies. Trust the community that buys and in fact ends up with a yea or nay. This goes way beyond the few trail testers approach used by the magazines. The results would be posted and the community will then know which shoes are favored and are presumably better. What about it? Spreadsheet the results. Let the community respond to criteria such as: Manufacturer, model, comfort, performance and durability. The rating system could be a simple one to 5. However, you decide on the criteria and rating system. Although each of us have different arch types, pronation, supination, adduction and abduction issues, a simple survey will clarify which trail shoes rise to the top.

5:58 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Alicia, Why not determine what the community thinks about their trail shoes, our most important hiking tool?

Hi, Performance. Thanks for the comments. I'd say that what you're asking for is exactly the point of the Gear Guide and all of the user reviews there.

For example, if you go to a specific product category (like trail shoes) you'll get a list of all the available trail shoes sorted by review (with ones no longer available sorted farther down the list). The better the user review ratings, and the more ratings there are, the higher the product gets rated/sorted on the list.

However, as you point out, there is a great deal more info that can be relevant and useful, and we currently are working on greatly expanding the scope of that information in the Gear Guide, as well as how users will be able to access, sort, and compare that info. We're also expanding how we get gear into the hands of the right testers, to share their experiences. So, if you stay tuned with Trailspace, you'll see some major changes down the road.

You raise some interesting points to consider though, as we revamp things, and it's always interesting to hear from members and readers about how they use gear info or how they'd like to access that info.

In the meantime, if someone has an opinion on a trail shoe or any other gear, they should go ahead and write a review for the benefit of all Trailspace readers and members.

Thanks!

7:07 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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If I may....

I think one of the positive aspects of individual gear reviews vs. compiled data is that you can get a good idea of the validity of the rating given by the reviewer based on the comments they make.

Example:

John - "I bought these shoes today and I must say they are the greatest pair of trail shoes I have ever had, great fit, nice lacing system, excellent soles (they are Vibram!) great ventilation, and waterproof thanks to the Gore-tex liners." "I give these boots 5 stars!"

Mary - "I bought these trail runners two years ago and have been pleased with them. After adding custom footbeds I got a good fit but they are a bit narrow. I had blisters on one occasion but contribute that to them being new, no problems since. The soles have worn a bit quicker than I had hoped but traction is good. These shoes have kept my feet dry for the most part, but lately have started to get a little damp with the occasional stream crossing. The toe rand on the left shoe came loose, but that was due to abuse and some shoe goo fixed it right away. Overall a good shoe for the money, but I'm disappointed in the life of the sole." "I give these shoes 3 1/2 stars"

I think this is a fair example of the types of review one reads, while John is well meaning and excited about his purchase, I would question the rating he gives because he has not used the product and his opinion seems to be based on initial quality only.

Mary has used the shoes for two years and gives a more balanced assessment of the performance a buyer may expect from this product. In fact I would say that I would be more inclined to buy the shoe after reading Mary's review than John's. After two years of use Mary only seems to be disappointed in the life of the sole. From my own experience I don't think two years is bad for a soft soled trail runner.

Just my thoughts...

7:29 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Those are great points to raise, trouthunter. The reliability and experience of different users/reviewers is something we're giving great consideration.

7:58 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Alicia, I think these variables are a given, regardless of listing individual reviews or just giving compiled data such as spreadsheets.

I guess there are ways to sort the reviews used to compile data, but I like to read the individual reviews myself, I think Trailspace is on the right track.

Reading individual reviews also gives insight to the thought process of people who may be new to backpacking, and I think this could be useful when trying to give advise about technique or other aspects of hiking & backpacking.

11:18 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Alicia and trouthunter, One first needs the generality before the details.

When I read Trailrunner or Runner's World magazines, I see a limited list of shoes reviewed by a few testers - a simple run of shoes with details. I'm frustrated to realize that the list doesn't include shoes that I know have been tested and proven worthy. I'm seeing a list of "What's new on the block." Big deal! I also know that only a hand-full of testers have reviewed them and that in most instances it's one set of shoes per tester. What have I learned? Very little. Polling the Trailspace community provides a plethora of response capability based on a myriad of user experiences. Spread-sheeting based on a simple set of criteria using the data sort and filter functions would show the quantity of users that had bought the same shoe and liked it. Assuming that five to ten shoes show-up on top, we have our simple list of shoes, the generality. Why they've arrived at that conclusion can be a running list of details per respondent with a limitation on quantity of respondents listed and the amount and type of info requested.

Why first the generality and then the details? Because I first need to know which berries are edible and preferred. Then I'll want to know about their nutritional value, taste, habitat, relative sweetness, etc.

6:12 a.m. on January 18, 2010 (EST)
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That Trailspace community poll already exists: it's writing a gear review.

The Trailspace Gear Guide has ALL shoes (and other gear) listed, not just brand new ones. When you go to a gear category you get a list of gear sorted by Trailspace user ratings (general info) and can then read the individual reviews (for specifics). You can even see ratings for discontinued models. It's all in there. We don't weight products simply for being brand new, but based on the ratings of users. We don't remove product info once a piece of gear is discontinued. You can even keep rating old gear forever.

Yes, we can add and will add more info, details, and features, which (as I said before) we are working on, but the shoes are already listed in the Gear Guide and ready to be reviewed. Individuals in the Trailspace community simply need to go and write a review to add their info and opinion about a shoe (or other gear) to the general and specific ratings. And if we miss a shoe, then users can simply add their own review and we'll put it on the site.

We're already polling the Trailspace community every day. Anyone who wants to voice an opinion on a piece of outdoor gear for the benefit of others should write a review.

Hope that helps.

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