Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Altra Running Golden Spike Review

I am an AltraRunning Athlete and receive my shoes at no cost. However, the reviews here are not required by the company and are my own opinions.

While I am not a x-country runner, I was intrigued by the Golden Spike X-Country shoe by Altra. Designed to be used on x-country courses it's a minimal shoe weighing only a smidge over 5 oz with spikes for added traction. Despite it's sock like fit, the Golden Spike delivers everything you've come to expect from Altra with a FootShape™ Toe Box and  fully cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform.

Mine arrived in the mail the day before I was headed out for a long solo peakbagging push deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The roundtrip would require about 38 miles of maintained trail/bootpath/easy cross country travel and 12 miles of boot only terrain (crampon only snowfields, scree, talus, etc). It seemed like a no brainer to wear this minimal shoe on the easier terrain so that when I swapped to boots I wouldn't be carrying a heavy pair of trail runners on my back.

It proved to be an excellent choice. The Golden Spike performed well on dirt trail, as well as the bootpath, heather slopes, and even some mellow snow patches. Traction was excellent in mud, dirt, and snow, and I couldn't hardly feel that I was wearing shoes.

Break time with my favorite WA mountain

On the way out from my hike I encountered a wildfire that had flared up and was burning across the trail. I weighed my options and decided that the safest thing to do was to bushwhack downstream in a creek to get around it. I didn't stop to think that the shoes I had on might not be suitable (I was more concerned with getting the hell out of there). I plunged into the water and thrashed downstream through berry bushes, sticks, debris, and general PNW vegetation before regaining the trail below the fire. I was happy to have a running shoe on at that point, because I definitely ran!

Surprisingly, when I got back to my car I saw that aside from being muddy the uppers were intact with no major damage. Much more durable than they seemed on first inspection.

I may have found my new favorite approach shoe for long peakbagging trips. Given how rounded the spikes were afterward though, I may remove them for trips where I don't anticipate needing them to cross vegetated slopes, mud and/or snow.

Pros:
Excellent traction
Minimal weight
Comfortable for long distances
Durable upper (so far)

Cons:
Upper bleeds when wet (turned my feet pink)
Need to size down for proper fit
Descending for a long time rubbed a sore on my big toe joint (probably because I didn't size down when ordering)
Spikes were quite rounded after 38 miles of wear on a variety of terrain

After 38 miles and a bushwhack wildfire dodge

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