After really loving the original GOrun, my expectations for the GOtrail were sky high. After many weeks and miles running in the GOtrail, I’m disappointed. I was expecting a ruggedized, trailized version of the original GOrun. But the GOtrail feels and runs very differently than the GOrun. The GOtrail lacks the magic runability of the original GOrun. The GOtrail does NOT stand out in a now crowded field of decent trail running shoes. It is adequate, but there are other trail shoes I like better. It has a much harsher harder ride than the original GOrun. This may be due to the use of a harder midsole material or the flatter sole profile than the GOrun. The GOtrail unfortunately lends itself to a more heel pounding foot slapping stride as compared to the “whole foot”, gentle rolling foot strike of the original GOrun.
I first started using the GOtrail this winter in the Texas Hill country near Bandera; then in the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson; then on the trails at the Grand Canyon; and most recently on the trails at the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana. So I have put the GOtrail to the test in a diverse smorgasbord of trail conditions. What I do like and did notice about the GOtrail is its comfortable fit and flexible sole.
The trails at the Texas Hill Country are a mix of dirt and limestone rocks surfaces and rolling terrain. Other than picking up rocks in the sole and getting caked with mud, the GOtrails worked OK in these conditions. The Santa Catalina’s are very steep trails with a mix of sand, gravel and strewn with large rocks and boulders. In some places the rocks are polished smooth from water and wear. Stepping on these smooth rocks with the GOtrail was risky. They GOtrails are downright slippery on hard smooth rock surfaces. The Grand Canyon trails (the hermit trail is my favorite) are quite similar with a mix of large rocks, dirt and sand. The steep up and down terrain in Arizona caused my foot to slide back inside the shoe on the ups and slide forward on the downs. This caused pressure on my Achilles on extended uphills and crunching of my toes on steep downhills.
Missing the Magic of the GOrun
The GOtrail is comfy and flexible but lacks the hump of the original GOrun. So it feels more like a standard running shoe. It feels better for walking than the GOrun, but it lacks the running magic.
The hump in the middle of the original GOrun may feel weird to some when standing or walking, but it encourages whole foot running and keeps the foot from sliding forward or backward in the shoe when going up or down hills. The GOtrail would benefit from the hump in the middle as it would help minimize the foot sliding and give it a gentler rolling feel on foot strike.
The GOtrail has a midsole height profile that is probably closer to that of the GOrun 2. Skechers took out most of the hump when designing the GOrun 2. Pete Larson the RunBlogger claims to have had a lot of input in the design of the GOrun2 and GOtrail. Making them feel better when standing or walking by removing the hump was one of the changes they made. Odd criteria, as making a shoe feel better when standing in them or when walking in them does not necessarily make them better for running.
I found the outsoles to be slippery on rock surfaces – where you need a bit of friction to grip. The GOtrails have no friction! The outsole feels dry and hard and slippery. They are the opposite of sticky rubber. Sticky rubber has been used on the outsoles of rock climbing shoes since the early 1980’s. Are there any valid reasons to use anything besides a sticky rubber outsole on a trail running shoe?
The deep lugged sole gives the GOtrail adequate grip on surfaces that are soft enough for the lugs to penetrate into – such as soft dirt and soft dry snow. Even though the GOtrail has an aggressive deep lugged sole, ironically they become slippery again in mud and wet snow. I think this is because the outsole tends to get packed with stuff filling in the gaps between the lugs.
The upper is very comfy and soft, but this leads to a sloppy feel - not a real secure fixture between foot and shoe sole. Lacking the hump in the middle gives the GOtrail a flat interior insole surface. This makes it easier for the foot to slide around within the GOtrail as compared to the original GOrun. The hump in the original GOrun kind of gives the foot something grip – analogous to a bird perching on a branch.
The GOtrail is a midweight shoe. My men’s size 10 weigh 8.8 oz (single shoe). This is lighter than more rugged trail shoes and heavier than more minimal trail shoes. The GOtrails tendency to collect rocks and mud in the outsole makes it gain significant weight under certain trail conditions.
Marginal Rock Protection
The GOtrail certainly has more protection than the GOrun for rocks, but when running fast on sharp limestone rocks you can still get bit by a sharp rock poking up into the shoe.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The GOtrail is suitable for mellow trails where traction on large smooth rock surfaces or crossing wet rocks at streams is not part of the equation. They do offer way more protection from rocks than the GOrun. They work good on gravel surfaces except for the fact that small rocks tend to get jammed and stuck into the spaces between the lugs. The GOtrail lacks the revolutionary magic hump of the original GOrun. It is a good but not great shoe for mellow trail running. It lacks the traction required for more technical and challenging conditions. It has a comfy fit and feel, but this forgiving fit gives it a sloppy fit on steep terrain. I can’t recommend the GOtrail for a rugged course like the Bridger Ridge Run.
What I would Change
- Use a different outsole material that is sticky and grippy on rocks.
- Decrease the height of the outsole lugs to prevent rocks and debris from getting stuck between the lugs.
- Use a softer more compressible midsole material to give it a more cushioned ride and eliminate the hard feeling.
- Give the upper more structure to hold the foot better and eliminate squashy-ness.
- Use a standard eyelet lacing system instead of the loops. Standard eyelets allow for more choices in lacing schemes for customizing fit and avoiding pressure points on the top of the foot.
- Beef up the rock plate for protection.
- Duplicate the sole stack height (thickness at toe, arch and heel) of the GOrun to bring some of the original GOrun magic to a trail shoe.