Friday afternoon that number increased to eight pairs of trail shoes as my much anticipated Avi-Stoltz finally arrived. Time to put the shoes to the test. So Saturday morning I decided I would scratch my scheduled ride and instead, take them out for a test run.
Once I opened the box a couple of things were plainly obvious, setting these shoes apart from any other trail shoes I have ever owned. First was the color. The bright orange and shiny blue accents are going to be visible for miles and will ensure that, at least my feet will be visible to even the blindest hunter in Notheast Gergia.
Second was the weight. At only 10 ounces they are almost as light as my racing flats. This is pleasant change from my other trail shoes as most of them are are heavy and have more of a hiking shoe feel to them rather than a running shoe. I also liked the fact that the heel bed although padded and protected, it isn't so high off of the ground that the shoe feels unstable.
Third was the extended heel tab in the back. At first I was worried that it would rub the back of my heel or achilles. This actually ended up being a bonus for a couple of reasons. First it helps when pulling the show over the the heel, secondly I was to find out later that it seemed to grip my heel and eliminate slippage that is common with all shoes when climbing steep ascents.
I did have some trouble initially getting the shoe to open up to get my foot inside. Once I got the laces loosened up and adjusted them to my feet the the fit was perfect! The quick release laces are a nice touch.
Another problem I have with trail shoes is the toe box area. They are usually too narrow for my small, but Barney Rubble shaped feet, which presents a major problem on steep descents as my toes tend to get wedged uncomfortably in the front of the shoe, or they are too wide which causes excess movemet inside the shoe. Avia has seemed to have worked this out perfectly (for my feet at least). They griped my entire foot comfortably and without any excess movement.
As far as performance is concerned the tread seemed to grip well in the hard frozen red Georgia clay. They were a little slippery over rocks however no more than any other running shoe. I accidently ended up in a creek in an unsucessful leap attempt. As I climbed out of the creek the shoe didn't seem to drain exceptionally fast, but it didn't seem to soak up excess water as many shoes do. A great bonus.
In my opinion, one sign of a great shoe is one that you forget you are wearing. This happened after about two miles as my thoughts went away from my feet and to my run. Gone was the usual arch pain, as well as the usual throbbing I get in my toes. All great signs.
All in all I think this is a great shoe. Its even light enough to use as a road shoe. I'm pretty sure that this will become my primary training shoe as most of my runs take place on hard pack fire roads and trails. I think the only improvement that can be made would be the addition of Yankz laces. Next month I'll be spending a week in Yosemite and weather permiting, I'll run the Half Dome Trail in my Avi-Stoltz!