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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > GoLite Sun Dragon Shoes > Owner Review by ahmet erten

GoLite Sun Dragon Shoes

Owner Review by Ahmet Erten
May 1st, 2009





: Ahmet Erten


: 28


: Male


: 5' 6" (1.65 meters)


: 140 lb (63 kilograms)

Email address

: aerten (at) ucsd (dot) edu

City, State, Country

: San Diego, California, United States


Backpacking Background: 


I have started showing the symptoms of backpacking about 6 months ago after taking the Sierra Club Wilderness Basics Class, mostly taking weekend trips to Anza Borrego Desert as well as some occasional longer trips to Yosemite.  I usually hike over big boulders as well as soft washes and mud hills of the desert with a typical 35 lb (16 kg) backpack accompanied with some day hiking at temperatures from high 90s F (32 C) during the day to low 40s F (4 C) at night. I plan on moving toward ultralight backpacking while keeping my current comfort level as much as possible.




: GoLite

Manufacturer's website



: Sun Dragon Trail Shoe


: Not available


: Men's 7/7.5 us (other sizes available m 7 - 13.5)

Weight listed

: 11.8 oz (335 g) -Size not specified

Weight measured

: 13.3 oz (377 g)


:  Blaze/Stone (other colors available denim/denim, stone/sun)


: Lifetime


"Our guarantee is simple: we want you to be happy with your GoLite product. We will replace any gear with a manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, free of charge. And if one of our products fails to satisfy you, return it to the store you bought it from or contact our Customer Service department to return it to us for repair, replacement, refund, or GoLite credit, at our discretion. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge to the user."


Figure 1 Picture of Sun Dragon Shoes from GoLite website


The GoLite Sun Dragon is described by the manufacturer as “Our lightest weight, breathable, fast trail shoe”.  The  body of the shoe is made from “lightweight  NEOform Seamless Upper” which is some sort of ultralight foam to form the exoskeleton of the shoe and is covered by “breathable Powervent Mesh” to facilitate evaporation through the mesh while providing enough protection.  The toe and heel areas are covered by “Debris Shield System” which is a “combination of rubber sidewalls and/or Polyurethane dots” to add extra protection.


The padded tongue is mesh-covered as well and is attached to the body of the shoe to help in keeping debris out of the shoe. 


The most interesting part of the shoe is its sole with symmetrical lugs that stick out about ¾ of an inch (2 cm).  The lugs are part of “Isomorphic Suspension System” which according to the manufacturer allows each lug to individually compress to compensate for uneven terrain. The outermost layer of the sole which comes in contact with the ground is “Gripstick Rubber” and the middle layer of the sole is some soft material.


The second noticeable feature of these shoes is its insoles with the “PreciseFit System”. The shoes only come in whole numbers and four pieces of insoles are included with the shoes to customize the fit within a half size range. The main insole has a hook-and-loop spot and a sleeve for the matching hook-and-loop spots and tab that goes into the sleeve on the included pieces. The main insole is labeled wide and one pair of the included pieces are labeled “M” for medium and the other pair is labeled “N” for narrow. A five step instruction on how to attach the PreciseFit System is printed on the box in which the four pieces come.



Figure 2 PreciseFit System with 2 extra insoles for each pair labeled M and N next to the box with 5 step instructions printed on



The Sun Dragon shoes were used on the following outings.


3 mile (4.8 km) day hike on Cowles Mountain. Elevation gain 933’ (284 m). Temperatures were from 60 to 80 F (15 to 27 C). Trail consisted of rock and sand.


12 mile (19.3 km) day hike in Anza Borrego/Dos Cabazes of San Diego Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Elevation gain 600’ (183 m). Temperatures were from 60 to 80 F (15 to 27 C) with light shower. Trail consisted of rock and sand.


3 mile (4.8 km) Backpacking to base camp and 9 mile (14.5 km) day hike on Mortero Canyon of San Diego Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Elevation gain 400’ (122 m). Temperatures were from 50 to 90 F (10 to 32 C). Trail consisted of rock and sand. Starting pack weight (with food and water) of 35 lb (16 kg).


6 mile (9.6 km) Backpacking to base camp and 11 mile (17.7 km) day hike on Coyote Mountains of San Diego Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Elevation gain 3700’ (1128 m). Temperatures were from 40 to 90 F (4 to 32 C).  Trail consisted of rock and sand. Starting pack weight (with food and water) of 35 lb (16 kg).




The first thing I did after I got my Sun Dragons was going for a day hike to break them in. The shoes were comfortable right out of the box and not much break-in was needed. However, when I walked on hard even surfaces such as pavements I could feel the lugs and didn’t feel as comfortable when running on soft or uneven terrain.


During my first hike on Cowles Mountain, I was amazed how well the shoes handled the uneven terrain. The trail claws really seemed to minimize the impact of the uneven surface and the light weight of the shoes felt great. I didn’t get any discomfort during this hike at all.


In my second hike, the shoes performed just as well and I didn’t have any complaints except at one point I almost fell when I was walking over some wet rocks. It seemed like the lugs and Gripstick Rubber didn’t have enough traction on wet surfaces.  Except for the slip on the wet rocks, I had a pleasant experience hiking in these shoes during this hike.


In my third and fourth hike I didn’t have any problems with the comfort of the shoes. My feet were pretty cool thanks to the mesh upper of the shoes. However, I ended up having some fine dust finding its way into the shoe through the mesh upper. During my fourth hike, I felt the loss of traction on the shoes due to the wearing out of Gripstick Rubber layer and that brings me to my biggest complain about Sun Dragon Shoes.


Just after hiking about 25 miles with these shoes, the level of wearing out of the Gripstick Rubber layer was unbelievable. In some parts the whole Gripstick Rubber layer was stripped off and in other parts it didn’t have any features left for improved traction. The second thing that became noticeable with my pair was the tears in the mesh upper at the front of the shoes. I looked up online to see if this was a common problem and came up with this explanation:


“We at GoLite Footwear are aware of the problems some are having with the durability of the textile in the uppers of our trail running shoes and now understand the cause. During the initial production, the process used to mold the uppers was not the process agreed to by our quality department. The final process has surpassed all tests for durability in athletic shoes. This final process utilizes a thin film of PU as a bonding agent between the EVA protective upper and the Powervent Mesh. This film is applied directly under the EVA portion of the upper and results in a very strong bond. However, the initial shoes were mistakenly produced using a process where the factory dipped the entire Powervent mesh piece in a different type of bonding agent. The end result of this process is that the mesh becomes brittle and breaks down more quickly as some have witnessed. Our quality department has run tests on subsequent production runs and is satisfied that the proper process is now being utilized.”


I am not sure if I had a pair from that faulty batch but the problem was there for me as well. Based on the GoLite warranty I have returned the product to the store I bought it from and asked for a refund as my size in the color I wanted wasn’t available. I got my refund without any problems within a few days of the receipt of the product by the store. From the GoLite warranty statement it seems like GoLite lets the authorized dealers handle the warranty claims first and therefore I cannot comment about GoLite's customer service.


Figure 3 Excessive wear of the outer sole; especially Gripstick Rubber



 Overall, I was amazed with how comfortable these shoes are on uneven surfaces. However, I cannot say the same thing about their durability. Just after 25 miles (40.2 km) the Gripstick Rubber layer wore out unlike any other pair of shoes I had before and lost traction significantly. The mesh also developed tears at the areas of my feet flexing. Another area of concern is the lack of traction on wet surfaces. Minimal ankle support due to the materials used in its construction and design might also be a deal breaker for people looking for more ankle support. If GoLite addresses the durability issues of these shoes while keeping the current weight and comfort level, this pair can become a must-have for my future backpacking trips. 


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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > GoLite Sun Dragon Shoes > Owner Review by ahmet erten

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