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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > GoLite Sun Dragon Shoes > Test Report by Leesa Joiner
GoLite Sun Dragon Shoes
May 25, 2007
Initial Report: May 25, 2007
Field Report: August 7, 2007
Long Term Report: October 4, 2007
My outdoor experiences include trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips. Most involve my three children. While my style isn't as 'high adventure' as some, I do enjoy the time we spend outdoors.
My load used to be HEAVY - think pack mule. Now that the kids carry their own gear, plus the two oldest help carry the food, etc, my load is lighter. I go for durability over weight when selecting gear.
While outdoors, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping. I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.
The Sun Dragons arrived in perfect condition and included two sets of insoles. These insoles come in size medium and narrow to allow for a more precise fit. Also included are simple, five-step directions with pictures for attaching the insoles.
The shoe itself appears well constructed, of many different parts and materials. The website advertises the shoe as being a high-altitude racer, with isomorphic suspension and a symmetrical Trail Speed Outsole.
The uppers are of seamless construction, featuring nylon mesh for breathability and EVA welded to mesh for increased durability. Lightweight nylon instep straps are placed between the EVA and mesh for increased strength and support for the instep area. The toe area is very 'boxy' to allow for more toe room and movement. Other areas of the shoe are padded to increase comfort, and provide support and cushioning to the foot. The heel of the shoe is designed to lock the back of the foot to minimize slippage and friction. The shoe is also advertised as washable and having antimicrobial topsheets to keep odors at bay.
Most impressive looking are the 'claws' on the bottom of the shoe. The Trail Claws are placed in a symmetrical lug pattern. These claws are designed to independently grip the ground as one moves along the trail. They are also, according to the company, there to provide stability on rugged terrain. The outsoles feature Gripstick™ high-grip compound rubber for extra traction on slick surfaces.
While the shoes appear as I expected from the website information, I was surprised at how light they feel. I am hoping that translates to less leg fatigue. The uppers also feel more 'pliable' than I was expecting.
I plan on using the shoes while hiking and climbing. Most of my hiking is done on both improved trails and over some rough terrain that can involve climbing over large and small rocks, crossing small streams and crossing areas without any trails. Many times, the rocky areas are slippery, making it hard to keep from slipping and sliding. Because I do most of my hiking in the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine, I do a lot of up and down hill hiking, which can be hard on the legs and feet. I find that my shins sometimes ache after a lot of hiking. I am curious to see if the Sun Dragons alleviate some of these issues. I plan on trying them with and without the medium insoles, so see if they help to stabilize my foot while I am walking downhill, which seems to cause the most discomfort.
These shoes have many features that I am unfamiliar with, as far as previous experience goes. I am looking forward to hiking in them and learning more about them - and hopefully experiencing an improved hiking experience. I will be looking at comfort and durability while testing these shoes. As our weather warms, breathability will be a big issue also.
Living in Northern New England, I have the good fortune of being able to experience at least 4 seasons (sometimes within days of each other!) and some of the best outdoor areas around. During the next four months our temperature range will run from the current of 65 degrees F (18 C) up to about 80 degrees F (27 C). We are in the middle of our rainy season which lasts until mid-June usually.
My hiking areas range from improved trails to rough and rocky terrain, with some modest elevation gain. On day hikes, I tend to average 5 - 15 miles (8 - 24 km) per day. On multi-day trips, depending on who I am with and what our goals are, I may do up to 20 miles (32 km) in a day.
I appreciate the opportunity to test the Sun Dragons, and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts after using them. The above photo is from the GoLite website: http://www.golite.com
This concludes my initial report, please check back in July to read my field report.
I have had many opportunities to wear the Sun Dragons over the last two months. I wore them for short walks and around town to break them in and to make sure there wouldn't be any spots that rubbed my feet wrong. On my first overnight trip, I wore them while we hiked about 10 miles. They were comfortable for the most part, but I did find one spot on the back of my ankle that was rubbed raw and tender when we stopped. I solved that problem by putting a piece of duct tape on the inside and outside of my sock, in the spot where my shoe rubbed. That helped the problem so that I could continue hiking. The next day, I did the same thing and found the hike back out to be very comfortable.
The next weekend I wore them again while doing a four mile (6 km) day hike. This time, I placed the duct tape on the back of my ankle and I had no pain or rubbing, but the duct tape had a blister. This 'trick' was shared by my son who does quite a bit of long-distance hikes. By placing the duct tape on my foot, the duct tape actually develops a blister, instead of my skin. The silver side of the tape bubbles up, protecting my foot. On another trip, we set up camp and hiked out for the day. We hiked about 3 hours, not sure how far we actually went, since we stopped and played in the river, looked at the scenery and generally goofed around most of the time. I did not use any tape and had no problems with my feet. I think the shoes were finally broken in.
On subsequent hikes totaling about 25 miles (40 km) I wore the shoes and had no problems with discomfort due to rubbing. They fit very well, the heel cradle is very comfortable and helps stabilize my foot. I did manage to soak the shoes by accidentally sliding off a rock and into the river. The shoes were soaked, and made walking a rather 'squishy' experience. The water drained out fine, but the fabric didn't dry until the next day. I walked back to where we were camping and took them off. They stayed next to the fire all night and were dry in the morning. They were much cleaner looking then too!
The shoes show normal signs of use - dirt and scuff marks. There are no signs of wear related to construction though. The mesh fabric on the upper section is still in good shape and the sections of the shoe are still attached to each other without flaw. The Trail Claws provide great traction on the trail - I have climbed over wet rocks, up muddy hills and down again without a problem. The slip off the rock and into the river was not the fault of the shoe - it was my inability to judge distance. The Debris Shield System (front toe box) is very good. I injured my right big toe a while ago and it is still healing. I am very cautious of bumping it and find the Debris Shield really protects the toe area from rocks, roots and other trail debris that gets in the way.
I have had no problem with my shins hurting after hiking, even with lots of climbing up and down. I am using the medium inserts and feel that they help hold my foot in place better.
Another nice feature is the Powervent Mesh - it really helps keep my feet cool while hiking in hot weather. Nothing worse than hot, sweaty feet while hiking - especially after hiking while sitting around camp. Taking off my shoes could scare off my hiking buddies! When I removed the Sun Dragons, my feet felt warm, but not hot and sweaty. My socks were damp, but not soaked, which is a change. (too much information?)
During this phase of testing, our temperatures climbed into the mid-90s F (30 C), which is HOT for this area of Maine. We also had night time lows of 40 F (4 C). We had rain for almost 3 weeks straight, which left many trails muddy and slippery. It also made for swollen rivers and lakes.
I've found the shoes to be comfortable while hiking and will continue to hike in them during the next few months. I am curious to see how they hold up as my hiking picks up as our weather cools.
Long Term Report
October 4, 2007
After wearing the Sun Dragons for about four months, I have come to appreciate the comfort they provide. I can hike for miles without sore spots, or overly tired feet. On one occasion, I hiked 10 miles (16 km) with only a short break for a snack. After hiking up and over large rocks, tripping on more than a few exposed tree roots and having to climb up dirt ledges, I found my feet felt okay, as did my legs. I was tired overall, but did not experience much leg discomfort. I sometimes have problems with my left knee and find it becomes sore more quickly than the right. These shoes provide enough support that I avoid having a problem with my knee.
I have worn the Sun Dragons on more than six day hikes over the last two months. The trips covered between 3 (5 km) and 10 miles (16 km) per day. I also took them on 3 overnight trips. On these trips, the backpacking portion was between 6 (10 km) and 14 miles (22 km) per day. I found that my feet were tired, but not sore at the end of each day.
The Sun Dragons provide good traction when climbing over rocks, etc. Since we haven't had much rain in the last two months, I can't comment on how well they perform on wet rocks, etc. They do provide a secure feeling when I am climbing though.
On a more negative note - the Sun Dragons seem to be showing a lot of wear and tear. Although I have worn them quite a bit, I am definitely not being overly rough on them. There are tears in the fabric, along with spots where the different layers are separating, particularly along the front, top of the toe area on both shoes. Although this hasn't affected how they perform, I have noticed that the spots where there is some separation are spreading. So, not only are more spots appearing, each spot is getting larger.
This pictures shows wear along the top left side This picture shows the separation along the top,
and bottom right in this picture. and bottom right.
The bottom tread has held up well, and doesn't show much sign of wear. The rest of the shoe is also holding up well. I am disappointed about the problems the Sun Dragons are having. Most of my hiking shoes last a few years before starting to wear out.
I do appreciate the opportunity to test these shoes, and want to thank both GoLite and backpackgeartest.org.
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