Friday, January 24, 2014

Footwear shootout - Salamon S-Lab Sense Ultra vs. Saucony Peregrine 3

I spend a fair amount of my preparation time testing, trying and reviewing every bit of kit for the hike.  I won't have many redundancies in my gear for weight reasons, so what I bring better works.  For many items, I have a couple of similar ones at home.  As a rule of thumb, I take the one that weighs less, all else equal...

For footwear, I'll bring a pair of light trail running shoes. I don't expect to have a seriously heavy pack (by mountaineering standards) and have never felt much need for beefy ankle support.  Besides, trail running shoes have the major advantage of drying fast once they are wet, and wet they will be.  Membrane-lined shoes like Gore-Tex dry very poorly once water is in there. Also, leather dries much slower than synthetics.  For snow or really prolonged rain, I will bring a pair of waterproof SealSkinz socks. Maybe the subject of another post.

I bought the Saucony Peregrine 3 for hiking last year (yellow one in the pic).  It's very comfy, and has a 4 mm toe-to-heel drop only. I've used it in all kinds of conditions and it has been absolutely brilliant.  Enter the Salomon: It is very light, has a slightly less aggressive sole, and the Salomon-typical lacing system.  Also a very comfortable shoe.  I bought this one when in Zermatt when a change of program required me to change my Glacier mountaineering boots for a lightweight hiking shoe.  This one was fairly expensive, but so incredibly light that I just couldn't resist.  I first wore it on a hike to the Hörnlihütte in summer.  A couple of weeks later, I happened to be back in Zermatt and found myself again ascending to the Hörnlihütte in nearly identical conditions - but with the Saucony.  Well, to cut a long story short, the Saucony is better.  While the Salomon is an even more outrageously bright color, the lugs are not as aggressive and grippy.  THE real flaw of the Salomon, however, is that they are EXTREMELY slippery on wet stone and concrete.  No comparison there with the Saucony.  They are so slippery, that any rock in rain is totally off limits.  Some weeks later, I wore the Salomon in Barcelona in what must have been rainiest weekend in the city's history (...).  I was hardly able to walk around in the Salomon, it was so slippery, I had to walk like on egg shells and several times almost fell.  That's when I decided that it was certainly not the right shoe for hiking in Scotland ... I mean, there's a chance it might rain at some point in Scotland ;-)

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