In a bit of a departure from our normal way of reviewing items, I thought that with this shoe I’d do a review that stretches out over time. The reason for this is that I think new shoes are like cheese in that the better ones mature as the days go by, whereas the cheap and nasty ones tend to go off very quickly.
When trying out a new pair of shoes, it takes time to get to know them and understand if they’re going to be any good or not. So for this reason, I thought it best to catalogue my thoughts on the shoes as each test, or run progresses. In the past, I’ve been too hasty to dismiss certain shoes (The Inov8 Talon 190s is a good example), and they’ve actually turned out to be pretty darn good. It’s in our human nature to make certain judgements and decisions on things almost instantly – I guess that’s why we call it our gut feel. That’s no bad thing, but over time our gut feeling moves aside for logic in the head.
I’ve resisted taking these shoes out for a run thus far because in all honesty, I don’t know of a huge amount of trails where my parents live, and these shoes need trails. There’s a lot of public footpaths, but I haven’t a clue where most of them end up and my first few runs back home have required some purpose. However, after a 14 course meal at the infamous Fat Duck this afternoon, I thought it a rather apt time to don the Peregrines as I wasn’t too bothered about time or indeed where I happened to end up.
My initial impression as I took them out of the box was good. The fit felt right, however these shoes are a pretty big departure for me from the flimsy Nike Free’s or Talon 190s I’ve been wearing. In my head, they’re pretty clunky, even though they weigh next to nothing, however it’s not so much about the weight as the amount of cushioning and padding that these shoes have compared to the aforementioned. Bryon Powell’s irunfar.com described these shoes as a good crossover for those people seeking to move to more of a barefoot shoe, but for me, I feel like I’m taking a step backwards by putting a pair of these on.
Compared to the Frees or the Talon 190s, there’s very little flexibility in the sole, something that I really crave for in a shoe. I like the feeling that this gives i.e. the notion that the shoe conforms to your foot rather than your foot having to conform to the shoe. Rigid soles make me shudder, and indeed as the run progressed, this was more and more evident.
The initial first kilometre of my run was along bitumen, and indeed that ‘clunkyness’ was very apparent, however as soon as I got onto the dirt tracks and trails, the shoe felt entirely different. This is probably a good thing given that it’s designed to be a trail shoe, and I did feel more at ease with the shoe in its natural habitat.
As for sizing, I bought my actual size, which is US11.5, but it did feel to me like my heel was slipping a little as my stride left the ground and I kicked onto the next. It’s not massive issue and might be more in my head, but I certainly don’t think you need to drop down half a size. For me, I just did the laces up to the highest hole as I normally take them down one as I don’t like the laces to go too high across my ankle. This made the shoe feel much more secure afterwards.
As this is a much more rugged shoe than I’m used to, this means much more support around the heel too, which is something I’m not overly keen on. I must admit that into my 8th kilometre, I did begin to get a little acheyness in my left achilles. Lord knows why this happens with me. In shoes with zero heel support I get no achilles issues whatsoever. Whack in some support and the achilles starts to ache. Again, this was nothing serious, but I do wonder what they will be like 30kms into a run – only a 30km+ run will tell.
Moving back to the ruggedness, the upper is very well constructed with a closed mesh synthetic along with synthetic leather webbing, which will certainly help to protect the foot, and dare I say it, hold up those leeches along the GNW perhaps a few seconds more. There’s also a good amount of room in the toe box too, allowing the toes to splay around nicely.
Overall, there’s a 4mm drop from heel to toe, which sits in the same camp almost as the Talon 190s, but with considerably more cushioning on the sole of the shoe than the Talon. The sole of the shoe features some pretty heavy-duty lugs and grooves which I can see will come in very handy for those wetter and tougher trails where grip is needed. To be honest, the trails I ran on today were tame in comparison to some of the stuff in Australia, so a more thorough test will need to be done to evaluate just how good (or bad!) these are, but reports I’ve read so far indicate that they do well over rocks and technical trails.
Overall, I’m still quite undecided about the shoe and whether it will be a permanent fixture in the Dan B shoe box. Today’s run wasn’t a great test, which is why I’ll still withhold judgement until a proper trail run can be completed with these as there was just too much road on this short 15kms run to do the shoes any justice.
For me, it does feel like I’m going backward slightly in minimal shoe adventure because I’m so used to running in Frees on any kind of surface. I like complete flexibility in my shoe and the ability to be able to mould it any which way I like. The Peregrine is what I’d call a ‘proper’ shoe in that regard in that I can’t do much with it in terms of moulding. However it’s very early days and I need to give these a much thorough going over. I can see that for anyone looking to make the move over towards a more minimalist shoe, this could be a very good choice as a crossover. If you’re someone that’s been wearing Nike Frees for years, then like me you’ll find this rather clunky. BUT… There is more to come. I’ll use these more regularly over the coming weeks and fill you in on part two soon.
Words by Dan Bleakman