I’m a bit of a gear-head, and I’m picky with my shoes, particularly trail shoes. For years, I’ve been wary of road-running companies making models particularly beefy and calling them trail-runners, or of hiking companies making light hikers with softer materials and calling them trail-runners. What I want is really a light-weight, minimal shoe with less padding than a road runner, plenty of ventilation on top (wet feet I can deal with), and with some kind of extra protection underfoot to stop rocks from bruising my tender soles.
In recent years, there’s been a bit of a trail-runner renaissance, with more lightweight running shoes out there with adequate protection. It was a pleasant surprise when I first picked up the North Face Single-Track Hayasa, to find that on inspection it seemed lighter than my other lightweight trail shoes, lighter than my light road trainers, and only slightly heavier than my road racing flats (some internet research bears this out; and yes, I have that many running shoes, and more). A low-to-the-ground profile rounds out what I was looking for in a shoe.
More pleasant was the surprise when I put the shoes on. No rubbing, no uncomfortable spots; a good fit conforming to my foot. Usually I go through a whole bunch of shoes, and then end up back where I started, to find this; it’s rare to get a shoe new to me that fits that nicely right away. The first half hour of running in them felt like there was a bit of stiffness in the sole, but that broke in very quickly and the shoes started to feel perfectly natural.
I’ve now put the Single-Track Hayasa through its paces with a few runs in varied conditions (mud, snow, rock) and can say I’m a happy man to put them on my feet. With their low-profile lugs, the shoe is ideally suited to drier dirt and rock, and a bit less to some of the sketchier wet mud and loose gravel I’ve been running on, but overall they’re a solid workhorse shoe.
What’s more – they look good, unlike a lot of shoes on the shelves these days!