Finding the Right Trail Shoe

Finding the right shoe could take an eternity for some.  I easily fall into that group.  Many people that I know are able to stay with one brand or one model.  I guess if the shoe fits, just wear it.

I was at task to find a new pair of trail shoes for the fall season.  Now this is not an easy task in the small Springfield, IL market.  Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support the small local shops, running or cycling and encourage you to do the same.  But there are times when you cannot get something at your local shop.

You might ask your self, why do I need a pair of trail shoes?  Won’t my road running shoes work just fine on the trails?  In my opinion, they may do the job, but you will pay for it later.  A trail shoe can provide more stability, better traction, forefoot protection, and keep your feet dry.  Trail shoes can be fitted to the most rugged terrain, and even help out in the winter month.

The Springfield landscape is not growing any new hills or clearing any new trails.  The community is still struggling with sharing the road.  So finding a pair of trail running shoes in this flat town would be a challenge.   I am a big fan of REI.  Going into one of these stores, I feel like a kid on Christmas.  But they are nowhere to be found in central Illinois.  So my only choice was to turn to the Internet.

One of the biggest problems with buying shoes on the Internet is you don’t get to try them on.  You have no clue as to how they will fit or feel.  REI has a great selection of outdoorsy shoes but Zappos.com has an even better selection of shoes.  Even those hard to find brands like North Face, Salomon, Pearl Izumi, they have them all.

So what make Zappos so great?  First, they are online.  You can shop 24/7.  So shopping never gets in the way of training!  Two, they have free shipping both ways.  Yes, I said both ways.

So here is how it worked for me.  I found several pairs of shoes that I wanted to try.

I didn’t know exactly what size I would wear in some of these brands so I ordered a variety.  All in all I had a total of 7 pairs of shoes.  Now it may sound kind of crazy and expensive to order 7 pairs of shoes, but this is how the game is played.

Zappos Trail Shoes

A few days later my shoes arrived.  I sat down and tried on every pair, immediately cancelling out some of them out.  I really liked both the Salomons XT’s and the XA’s. The have a kevlar lacing system, that is is quick and easy to adjust.  Thinking of those muddy or snowy runs, dry feet also sounded good and the XA’s Gortex would provide that.  The Pearl Izumi WRX was also water proof, and offered a seamless upper.  Matter a fact all PI shoes do.  They provided some great stability and a forefoot protection plate for those rocky trails.

For the next few days I wore my favorites around the house.  The Salomons all seemed to rub my foot.  They have too many seams on the outside of the shoe.  The 10.5 Pearl Izumi – syncroSeek III WRX fit like a glove.  It was my glass slipper.  I guess this is why it was voted Outsides Gear of the Year (they don’t have the 2009 gear on their website yet).

I packed all the others back in the box.  Printed out my return slip and prepaid UPS label from Zappos and taped up the box.  I brought the box to work (we have daily UPS pickup) and off it went.

A few days later, my account was credited for the 6 pairs of shoes I returned.  This was a real easy experience.  It was just like bringing REI to my living room.

I may have found my one true love. Pearl Izumi is doing something right!