Gear Review: Raidlight Dual Finger Running Shoe

The explosion in popularity of trail running in Australia has seen our borders flung open and a surge in overseas brands (such as Innov8, LaSportiva and Salomon for example) trying their hand in the Australian market.

These brands whilst initially unknown in Australia are well established and hugely popular overseas and have each gone on to now be commonplace in this great brown land. One of the new (but old) brands to enter our market is Raidlight, established in France in 1999 they are extremely popular in Europe for their high end, tailor engineered adventure products and regularly dominate the Marathon Des Sables with their tailored, specific equipment.

Raidlight makes a range of products including apparel, packs, accessories and shoes. The latest off the production line and under review today is the Raidlight Trail Dual Finger shoe.

The Dual Finger is inspired by Japanese traditional shoe design and has been made in partnership with Japanese brand LAFEET. The shoe and sports a number of interesting features including a split toe design, customisable cushioning system and free ‘re-soleing’ for the life of the shoe.

Vital Stats:

  • Weight: 270g (pair)
  • Drop: 3mm
  • Grip: 3mm multidirectional lugs.
  • Price: $169

 

DF2

The first thing that catches your eye when you open the box on the Dual Finger is the distinctive split toe. This design (true to Japanese footwear) divides the big toe from the rest of toes within the toe box to allow independent movement of the two. This design lends itself to greater proprioception during the landing and toe off phase of the running gait and as such tends to suit those runners who prefer greater movement and flexibility within the forefoot. The split is long enough to ensure movement but not so long as to touch or impede the webbing between the big and second toes. This approach is much similar to that used by minimalist shoe company Zem which produced a split toe slipper style shoe, however these were never greatly successful in the trail market due to their very minimal design and that’s where Raidlight have stepped in and picked up the slack.

The Dual Finger has a wide toe box with plenty of room and width throughout ensuring there is an extra bit of wiggle room for those who need it. In comparison, the dual finger makes the New Balance MT range of “wide” toe boxes seem narrow in comparison.

The midsole of the Dual Finger provides plenty of cushioning with a soft but responsive foam composite however Raidlight have gone one step further and added in a customisable cushioning system. Under the heel of the inner sole, within the foot bed, is a removable/replaceable pad that can be switched out to provide either a more cushioned or stiffer ride depending on the users preference or intent for the shoe ie racing or training. The foot bed of the shoe provides good flexibility under the forefoot but maintains some structure under the mid/rear foot again lending this shoe the capacity for long distance sessions for the average runner.

DF4

The grip of the Dual Finger sole is impressive for its design with deep moderately spaced rubber lugs close enough to provide even grip but spaced ideally to shed excess mud/dirt. The lugs on the front 2/3 of the shoe are rear facing propulsion lugs whilst those under the last 1/3 of the heel are forward facing for extra grip while descending.

The upper of the shoe is made from a tough looking mesh fabric and there is plenty of foam padding around the top of the foot, ankle and heel. This is evidence that Raidlight has opted for a more comfortable ride as opposed to weight saving stripped out shoe. The shoe also features a ridged heel cup and protective toe/forefoot covering of textile fabric.

The Dual Finger is an interesting shoe that has been designed to provide a unique freedom of movement under the forefoot whilst still retaining enough features and structure to make it appealing for long distances. It performed well on the hard pack and softer trails where it was tested and while durability hasn’t been established as of yet there is something to say about Raidight having the confidence to offer free ‘re-soleing’ for the life of the shoe.

It is no doubt that the shoe won’t be for everyone, but I feel it will work best for those seeking more forefoot movement and toe flexibility whilst avoiding true minimal shoes and retaining the ability to churn out mega miles. It should also be on the list for anyone seeking a wider toe box (and shoe in general) as it has the widest toe box of any shoe I have seen to date.

For more information check out Hardcore Brands, the Australian distributor – They also an Ultra168 Supporter Club Partner and U168Supporters get 30% off their gear, making these shoes a bargain at around$115.

Caine Warburton
Throughout my adult life running and adventure have been the catalyst for many life changing moments. I am a father, husband, runner and adventurer, each of these things are deeply intertwined. I seek to push my mental and physical limits in the search of adventure and hope to share, inspire and motivate others to do the same.

For me, Ultra marathons are an excuse to spend longer exploring the natural beauty of our world while challenging your mind and body to go places it has never been before.

Written by 

Throughout my adult life running and adventure have been the catalyst for many life changing moments. I am a father, husband, runner and adventurer, each of these things are deeply intertwined. I seek to push my mental and physical limits in the search of adventure and hope to share, inspire and motivate others to do the same. For me, Ultra marathons are an excuse to spend longer exploring the natural beauty of our world while challenging your mind and body to go places it has never been before.

One thought on “Gear Review: Raidlight Dual Finger Running Shoe

  1. I own a pair of Raidlight Dual Finger shoes and have put a few kms on them. I don’t mind experimenting with new ideas that seem logical, so I gave these a go. They were only $76. I reasoned that provided I could run in them, they’d have to represent incredibly good value. That turned out to be true. Dan’s review is spot on, except for the price, which is currently lower than he quoted, but I’ll add a few points and confirm a few others. First, if you don’t have 5-finger socks you need to get some, which adds to the cost – and they are never cheap. But I like to wear 5-finger socks in normal shoes anyway, so that was not a problem for me. Second, these are built to last – very high quality, and good foot protection without excessive weight. Third, to reiterate Dan’s observation, the toe box is super-wide. I have a very wide foot that limits the brands I can wear, so I like that feature. The split toe keeps your foot in place – no sideways slippage. Fourth, the split toe is less noticeable than wearing a pair of thongs or a pair of 5-finger shoes – most of the time it does not register – no blister or chafing there. However, the split can catch long grass, ferns etc. if there is such vegetation on the trail, or if you are off-trail in the bush – a minor or irrelevant problem for most people. Overall, these shoes run very comfortably on a wide range of surfaces and over long distances. Subjectively, I would say they are not as fast as a tightly fitting, very light shoe, but such shoes have their drawbacks.

    When you investigate these shoes you’ll likely come across the Raidlight Team R-Light 004 model. Impressed with the Dual Fingers, I also purchased a pair of them. Same brand, but comparing them with the Dual Fingers is like chalk and cheese. The Dual Fingers are the widest shoes I’ve ever tried, and the 004s are the narrowest, both by a good margin. I reluctantly had to return the 004s. I say reluctantly because, apart from the extreme narrowness of the toe box, the 004s are impressive in every other way. A pair of 004s two sizes up from normal size fitted my wife’s rather narrow foot and she loves them, but 004s don’t fit my daughter’s foot, even two sizes up from her normal size. Luan Cochrane from Hardcore Brands was understanding of all this, and was a pleasure to deal with.

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