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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > GoLite Trail Fly > Owner Review by Ray Estrella
GoLite Trail Fly Shoes
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.
The Golite Trail Fly (hereafter called Trail Fly or the shoe) is a light weight "long distance rugged runner" according to the manufacturer. The body of the shoe consists of a "NEOform seamless upper". The upper is covered by reinforced mesh and is very breathable. A skeleton or framework of either very dense foam, or aerated plastic goes around the upper. It is squishy to the touch. It is not hard.
The mesh covered tongue is padded and attached to the body with side gussets to keep debris out of the shoe. The ankles are padded too. At the back of the heel is a pull loop that I can actually get my finger into.
The sole is very interesting. They call it an "asymmetrical vertical motion outsole" with "metamorphic suspension" that is supposed to "improve the body's stability above the ankle". The web site has a lot more information and claims but I will not go into it here. The sole has lugs, or "claws" that stick out ¾ of an inch (2 cm). They have a hard surface for durability but are a soft material inside. They flex quite easily. The heel is the same way. It has a split in it running at an angle. It allows the heel to flex laterally when I squeeze it from the sides. The red material seen in the picture of the sole is a very hard plastic-type material. The company says that this is opposite the standard sole construction of hard material on a soft mid sole. Looking at the trail-runners from another company that I am wearing as I write this they are correct. Here is a picture of the soles.
A removable insole is washable and, in another departure from what I am accustomed to, is "customizable". The insole has a spot of Velcro-type hook on the bottom at the toe. Four add-on front sections of insole (two for each foot) have the loop in the corresponding place and a tab that inserts into the main insole prior to pressing the hook and loop together. The main insole is marked with an icon for "wide" feet. One pair of the add-on pieces has am "M" for medium feet and the other thicker pair has an "N" for narrow. Here is a picture of them all.
The laces are made of Spectra-type cord. They run through nine nylon loops and two eyes at the top.
The Trail Fly shoes were used on the following extreme dayhikes, or fastpacks (a term coined by the founder of Golite for a hike that covers two or three times the distance of a traditional hike by lightening loads and keeping a steady pace).
After getting and using these shoes I was selected to be an official tester of the GoLite Sun Dragon Trail Runners, a sister shoe to the Trail Fly. I held off on posting this review until I tested the Sun Dragon. Some information in this review was added after I tested the Sun Dragons where it was applicable.
I received my Trail Flys in March of 2007. I was immediately impressed with how comfortable they were right out of the box. As I had a fastpack planned for two days later I wore them around town and the office for two days prior to the trip. During that time I did not experience any discomfort from the shoes.
The next trip I wore a liner sock with some very thin SmartWool quarter socks. I also put some moleskin on my heels where the blisters had been the first time. I had no problem with my right heel, but again I got a huge long horizontal blister on my left heel. Something is not right with the heel cup on the left shoe.
Again I was amazed at the stability of the Trail Fly. I was in some very rough areas, just like climbing a dry creek bed. I only had a couple instances of my ankle starting to turn while hitting bad spots, and I was able to recover in time to keep it from ending up as a sprain. The shock of the rocks were noticeably lessened by the soft lugs. Dave complained that this trip left his feet hurting more than any other, and wondered the next day how my feet felt. I told him that they were fine. It has him considering the GoLite shoes.
The third trip I used a slightly heavier wool sock with the liner. I also applied mole foam to the two problem spots on my heels. Again no blister on the right foot but another long one on the left heel right through the foam. I can never get the laces to feel as though they are holding my foot solidly. This trip saw a bad blister form on the ball of my left foot at the base of my big toe.
(Added after testing the Sun Dragon and getting another pair of Trail Flys.) Well now I am pretty sure that the blisters that I had been experiencing on my left foot was a problem with that shoe alone as I had absolutely no problems with the Sun Dragon which shares common construction and is the same size, or the new Trail Fly. I think that something was sewn or formed wrong in the heel cup of my Trail Fly shoes.
They were wearing out badly. The soles awere heavily worn, the claws were falling apart. Much of the nubs were worn smooth as the picture below shows. On both shoes the body tore away from the foam frame at the lowest shoe-lace loop as in the picture at right. This was all with less than 100 miles (161 km) of use.
On a positive note they were still very comfortable and stable. These shoes are great at climbing, the best I have ever worn. The claws really do work well going uphill. I wish all my boots climbed like these shoes.
I contacted Customer Service July 31, 2007 at 9:00 AM and talked to a rep. To make it easier to understand I emailed her a letter including links to both the Sun Dragon test and the Trail Fly review. By 2:00 PM they emailed me saying that they were sending a pre-paid shipping label to send the shoes back to them, and requesting my address to send replacements for both pairs. Very impressive in my opinion. The process bogged down a bit and I received the new shoes on September 20th. The color was different but the shoes seemed to be identical.
I took them to Hawaii were I wore them for three days of hiking. The mesh uppers were very nice to have in the humid climate there. I wore either Fox River Organic crew or SmartWool quarter socks with them. Even in the rain they were very comfortable.
The Trail Claws did not like the wet terrain there though. They slipped quite a lot on the trails both ascending and descending. It was worse going down though. I had some close calls.
I had no blisters with either type of socks. This told me that it was just a defect in the original left shoe, not a problem with the design. The new pair were just as comfortable out of the box as all the others had been. (See my GoLite Sun Dragon reports.)
And they are wearing just as fast. The nubs at the heel are already over half worn off and some of the claws are smooth, with just 20 miles (32 km) or so of hiking.
In conclusion I have to say that I really do like the Trail Fly. It has become my favorite of all the trail runners I have ever used. (Including GoLite's Sun Dragon that is number two right now.) The comfort is unbeatable in my opinion. I love the concept of the sole and claw construction. It truly works for me. But I can not afford to use them as much as I would like at the rate they wear out with my use and hiking style and terrain. They would run me well over a dollar (US) per mile (1.6 km), a bit steep for this hiker dude. Hopefully GoLite/Timberland will work on it in the future. I will welcome the results. This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > GoLite Trail Fly > Owner Review by Ray Estrella
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