Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Winter Warriors Part II: Vibram VFF Lontra's and YakTrax Run Review and Giveaway!



Well....  even though we've had some snow lately, its starting to feel a bit "Springy".... which made me realize I still had Part 2 of my Winter Warriors review to complete!  So, for those of you still battling winter running (or planning ahead for next winter!), this post is for you! And if you like what you see... stick around to the end of the review for you chance to win!

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-Lontra-Mens.htm

So.. check out the first VFF's designed for cold weather and snow running... the VFF Lontra!  When I first heard these were coming out, I could not wait to give them a try!  I do a lot of snow running here in Colorado, and these just looked like they had the potential to be really great. And I am so excited to be able to give away a pair to one lucky winner!

VFF Lontra, paired with Injinji 2.0 Trail socks
Before I get into specifics, the answer is YES.... these are a terrific snow running shoe!  I ran in a variety of snowy/icy conditions and at a variety of temperatures, and my toes/feet were happy.  What makes these perform so well is the multi-layer laminated upper, taped seams, neoprene ankle collar, and the micro-pile fleece liner.  Sounds luxurious right?  From a comfort perspective, these are one of the few VFF's I've tried that I don't mind wearing without socks.  But, it was cold enough that I did supplement most runs with the Injinji 2.0 Trail socks.


When looking at the sole, you'll notice that the pattern and composition is very similar to the Speed XC that I reviewed here.   However, after running in the Lontra's and comparing them side by side to the Speed XC's, the Lontra sole is a bit more flexible, and I noticed a little better ground feel in them.   According to Vibram, the outsole is 3.5mm with a 2.5mm midsole.  This is compared to the total stack height of 8mm on the Speed XC's which would explain the better flex and ground feel.

Love seeing the sunrise start to hit Pikes Peak..
 As I had mentioned, I ran in a variety of conditions in the Lontra's, and I have to say that these are now my snow running minimalist shoe of choice.  They are so comfortable and versatile that I have been wearing them as a casual shoe for snow as well.  The fit is great with the cross over strap and the neoprene collar.  I ran in some calf deep snow, and didn't get any snow down into the shoe, and no moisture entered either.  A true KSO construction!

Here are a few shots of where I've run in them :


Given a choice, why would I be anywhere else??


Top of the Incline


From a performance perspective, I really like the ground feel, even though this is a bit more of a shoe than most VFF's.  Traction was quite good, with the only difficulties being on compact ice, but for those conditions you need additional traction no matter what. Warmth was never an issue... it just means you won't be running in these in warmer weather!  But, as it gets warmer here, I'll be switching back to my other favorite VFF, the Spyridon for sure.


Speaking of traction, for the ice shown above, I paired the Lontra's with a pair of YakTrax Pro's, and they worked out quite well...  speaking of YakTrax, keep reading on for a review of the YakTrax Run below... AND then be sure you enter to win a pair of the VFF Lontra's for spring snow running, or maybe for next season if you are well into Spring :-)


My final product review for Winter Warriors is the YakTrax Run which just came out last Fall.  I normally run in the YakTrax Pro's which I really like... for me they have performed well in snow and on ice.  The Pro's have the standard cable/coil set up, as compared to the new Run's, which offer a hybrid of the coil/cable and 6 carbon steel spikes located on the forefoot. 



What I like about the Run's is the better fit over your shoe, and the ease of putting them on.  There is also some reflective features added and what appears to be a heavier duty rubber versus the Pro's.  The biggest difference of course is the incorporation of the carbide steel spikes for traction.


I have taken these out for a run in a variety of conditions, including a few times up the Incline and down Barr Trail as well.  When running on compacted snow or fresh snow, I am finding that I prefer the full coil/cable design of the Pro's, over the carbide spikes used on the Run's.  I just felt like I lost some stability on the forefoot.

Scary ice on Barr Trail
BUT... when you run into conditions such as above, you really want something that is going to grab and hold.  In these type of conditions, the YakTrax Run did provide a little better grip with the carbide spikes, versus the Pro's.  However, I felt like I needed a few more spikes to provide a bit more stability and control.  Part of that could be that it seemed that once the spikes grabbed, the rubber base shifted around a little bit.  Regardless, I don't think you would be bombing down this kind of stuff unless you have full on screw shoes (which is very difficult to do in minimalist shoes!). And in case you were wondering, no face-plants this go around... sorry to disappoint, but stay tuned as I am due to take a trail header soon :-)

So, the bottom line is, the YakTrax Run's have some great qualities, in particular for icy conditions.  Most of my running is done on compacted snow, new snow, and some icy patches like the above. From that point, I would prefer the YakTrax Pro's over the Run's.  What would be ideal (I hope YakTrax designers are reading!) would be to incorporate the new rubber strapping, performance strap, anatomical fit, and reflective materials into the coil/cable configuration of the Pro.  Maybe next season there will be a Pro 2?

One more Incline shot :-) 

Phew... thanks for hanging in there.  My Winter Warrior review series is complete.... so bring on the warm Spring weather!!!

NOW... if you would like a pair of the VFF Lontra's for your own winter battles, enter below via Rafflecopter.  Contest runs until 10PM MST, Monday April 8th, and is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.  Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Happy Trails!

Jeff
http://barefootinclined.com


26 comments:

Cecil Vermule said...

I'm in Omaha, NE and we are bouncing. The previous weekend we had a few inches of snow. This last weekend we hit upper 60's to 70. Woke up yesterday to ice all over everything with temps in the 20's. So, morning runners have different gear than afternoon/evening runners. It's a fun time of the year!

Dylan Graves said...

I could definitely use both of these items in Southeast Michigan. The VFF's seem like quite the winter shoe for both running or rugged winter hiking.

Todd Smith said...

Jeff, what temp ranges have you used these in? Curious how low you can go with them.

Anonymous said...

Kristin Troska: Deep Snow and Cold here in MN. Would love to try these on the snowy muddy trails!

RTygart said...

Believe it or not, it gets a little cold even here in SO Cal. in the winter. Love to try a pair.

Lillian said...

The Lontra would have been a great foot covering with all the snow in Massachusetts this winter! Thanks for the awesome reviews and giveaway!!

Matt Gawlowski said...

Those look great..I'd love to try some!

jedmon said...

Spring has sprung. It's 84 degrees here in central az. But it would be nice to grab a pair of these for when I head up to the high country...

ORRunner said...

I cant wait for winter to be over. It was 38 again to day with 20mph winds. I would really love some Lontras.

M Louise Cunningham said...

It is officially mud season in Maine. Yes, it IS a season here! Never to late for VFF's though!

Allison D. R. said...

I can't imagine WALKING on that icy Barr Trail, much less running up AND down it! You're a brave man!

Jeff Gallup said...

Thanks Alison... I just checked out your web link for the Fat to Finish line... what a great adventure! Did you all run Ragnar already? when is the movie due out?

Jeff Gallup said...

Todd... the lowest was around 15F... I found that my feet would start to get cold just standing around, but while moving (running/hiking), I had no issues.

Allison D. R. said...

We ran Florida Keys in January and yes, what an amazing adventure! The movie's being edited right now and we're (fingers crossed) aiming for public release next January!

FireRunner2379 said...

The snow has left but the cold temps are lingering around. It makes for great interval and tempo runs but I am ready for the 50s!

Joe Blount said...

No snow here on the Oregon coast, just strangely cold mornings! I could use those Lontras for the Zombie runforyourlife event in Seattle though!

Lynsey @MoscatoMom said...

Well I hate to even comment here and tell you we nearly hit 80* today. LOL But in all fairness, most of the year it is almost TOO hot to run here. Those shoes look amazing though.

Angela said...

It seems to finally be spring here as it is hovering in the 60's.

barefootmarathonmomma.com said...

We're still stuck in winter here in Winnipeg, wearing layers upon layers. I'm already in my Vibram Bikilas but not without my Injinji socks to keep my toes from falling off.

Zo said...

Oh, I would so love a pair of these! Winter and Vibrams - now made for each other. w00t!

Jonathan Lee said...

Man, here in Illinois it's barely turned around to spring! Around 50's here, but dropping down to 30's/40's next week!!

larry swartz said...

Just got warm enough to run in short sleeves and sandals. These would be great for NE Ohio

Jennie K said...

Spring has arrived here in West Texas, but I'd still love to win a pair of vibrams.

adam swanson said...

This is awesome! I would love to win :)

Colin Fahey said...

i know this is a horrifically late bump for the blog
but im curious to your sizing for the lontra's and socks combo as i am about to order a pair of lontra's.
currently i have vibram bilkas and i wear them everywhere without socks at size 41
now that im looking into the lontra's people say they run kinda tight due to all the layers
so im thinking a 43 and injinji wool sock should be right up my ally.
any advice?

Jeff Gallup said...

I think it would be a good idea to go up a size if you know you are going to be wearing Injinji's.. especially heavier ones for winter. I generally run with socks in my VFF's, so have always gone with a size that accommodates that. If you normally don't wear socks, then I think you are on the right track. You really don't want them too snug as that will make it difficult to stay warm without a little room for air to circulate etc..

Of course, the ideal situation would be to find a retailer where you can try them on, regardless of whether you purchase them there etc..

good luck!