Shoe Reviews

Following are select shoe reviews Dr. Friedman has written based on personal testing and in some cases previously published.


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La Sportiva Wildcat

La Sportiva Wildcat

(This review by Dr. Friedman appeared in Trail Walker, Summer 2014) This trail running shoe introduced a few years ago by a company best known for its rock climbing shoes is well constructed and designed for its jobs as a trail running shoe, geared for irregular often wet terrain. The shoes are not water proof, a feature I desire as it allows them to dry when they do get wet (which they will).  La Sportiva uses a proprietary sticky rubber compound on the sole to provide excellent traction via strategically placed low profile lugs. The upper material is a type of mesh and I have actually felt a breeze on my toes when running as air whooshes through. But the mesh overlays a thin non mesh liner so debris does not penetrate. Moreover the shoes sport a sort of scree guard which extends almost up to the top of the tongue of the shoe further helping to keep pebbles out. The midsole includes two layers of different types of EVA to provide support and cushioning yet the shoes overall are not too heavy. Each shoe weighs about 12-13 oz and has a 12 mm drop from heel to toe. I have run in these on uneven grass, packed dirt and rocky trail running both uphill and down in both dry and wet conditions and have found them comfortable and reliable.

Garmont Eclipse III

 The Garmont Eclipse III is a hybrid between a sturdy, durable hiking boot and a lighter-weight, less bulky trail shoe. I have been wearing and testing this shoe for one year, hiking in New Jersey, the Catskills and points in between, as well as wearing them as everyday shoes. The shoe has performed well and shows minimal wear, with only one stitch just beginning to fray. The shoe is low cut, like a sneaker or trail shoe but has a high quality Vibram sole and very substantial polyurethane mid-sole. This material is much more durable than what is used in many shoes ( a material referred to as EVA, ethyl vinyl acetate). The front of the shoe has a rugged rand, which I can attest, prevents  bumping toes into rocks and roots. The outer sole has performed well even ascending and descending smooth rocks and boulders. The upper portion is Nubuck leather and fabric. The shoe comes with or without a waterproof Gortex lining. I have been using the Gortex version, which has kept my feet dry when stepping into puddles and shallow brooks. The shoes lace well, due in part to the metal hooks at the top and the oval shape leaves plenty of room for the toes. The only downside is at more than 2 lbs. per pair, they are still heavier than some trail shoes, but, they are definitely lighter on your feet than many high-top traditional hiking and backpacking boots.

Danner Romeo Station Boot

These boots are very versatile footwear which can accomodate a variety of foot types and provide all-day comfort for standing and walking. The Station/Office boot is made by Danner, a highly respected bootmaker headquartered in Portland, OR. They are known for high manufacturing standards and re-craftable boots. So, once the sole wears down, which will probably take a long time, you can send them back to Danner to be refurbished. The boot is roomy especially in the toebox so it will accomodate people with hammertoes. The liner is removeable so the boot will easily accomodate either full length or three-quarter length orthotics or arch supports. The neck of the boot has two elastic panels which make getting the boot on and off quite easy, and that job is made even easier by two sturdy boot pull loops. Slipping these on is a quicker process than lacing up a pair of shoes. The midsole is made of polyurethane, a syntheitc material I favor over EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) because it is more durable. The construction is stitch-down meaning that the leather is actually stitched, not glued, to the soling platform. The boots are about 6 inches high and weigh about 45 ounces per pair. Overall I highly recommend these boots. They can be ordered directly from Danner. When you call you will notice that their customer service is also excellent.

FiveTen Guide Tennie

Reviewed September 2012 by Howard Friedman DPM and printed in TrailWalker, Fall issue, published by the NY/NJ Trail Conference.

A shoe designed for rock climbers—good for climbing, hiking miles over rocky trails, and providing excellent traction all while carrying heavy climbing gear–is well suited for day hiking and short backpacking trips. I have been wearing the leather Five Ten Guide Tennie, called an “approach” shoe, for 14 months (they are also available in canvas).  I wanted to try these shoes because their oval shape is roomy around the forefoot and toes; the laces extend almost the full length of the shoe, allowing for small adjustments; and they include a layer of ethylene vinyl acetate(EVA) cushioning that is neither too thick nor too thin and that is reinforced with a plastic arch support.

But two features were of particular interest to me.

First, I wanted to try Five Ten’s proprietary “sticky,” Stealth rubber compound, used for the shoes’ raised-dot sole pattern. Second, these shoes can be resoled. Resoling can delay the need to buy new shoes and help keep one’s hiking shoes out of the landfill. Usually, resoling is an option only for heavy and expensive boots or shoes.

My Guide Tennies have performed well on day hikes in northern New Jersey, Harriman State Park, Schunemunk mountain, and the Catskills. Their “sticky” rubber soles have provided me with solid traction when crossing wet, moss-covered rocks in swollen streams and hiking up and down rocky sections of trail. The cushioning is adequate when walking over rocks, and the flexible lightweight shoes (about 1.5 pounds for one pair, men’s size 10.5) allow me to feel the ground and react to the terrain. I replaced the sock liner with a Spenco Polysorb insole; there may not be room in the shoe for bulkier arch supports.

The outer leather upper, EVA cushioning, full rubber rand (rubber on the toe box and heel), and even the laces have held up well. After almost six months of heavy use that included hiking, daily wear, and running outdoors twice a week, a few of the raised dots under the outer heel area were worn down (although most of the sole was in good shape). I sent the shoes to a repair shop in Plattsburgh, NY, that specializes in resoling climbing shoes, and they resoled them with the identical Stealth dot sole. Eight months later the shoes and soles are still in good shape, but with some thinning of the dots in high-pressure areas.

Three cautions: While it provides excellent traction, Stealth rubber does seem to wear down more quickly than other rubber soles; the life of the shoes will depend on the resilience of the EVA mid-sole material; when wet, the soles leave a black dot pattern on floors. The spots clean up easily with a paper towel or sponge.


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