Sporting a hugely aggressive tread and an eye-catching waterproof upper, Golite Footwear's Comp trail running shoes are visual standouts, but their appeal is far from skin deep.
Most running shoes have an insole with a soft footbed and a firmer tread, but with Golite Footwear's Paw Pad technology, the Comp's sole sports a firmer footbed, while the outsole is softer, adjusting to uneven terrain. In theory, this results in a stable running surface, regardless of the terrain. It's not unlike a 4-wheel-drive vehicle-the body stays fairly upright, but the wheels individually adjust to rocks and ruts on the trail. Here's a video from Golite which describes how it works in a bit more detail.
In addition, the Comps feature a waterproof neoform upper, which makes these guys ideal for hitting sloppy trails and a supportive TPU plastic cage that wraps around the shoe's body and integrates with the laces to give runners plenty of support.
The innovation continues inside the shoes as well asGolite gives Comp wearers a custom fit with its adjustable insole-the antimicrobial (read: anti-stink) sole comes with inserts that allow it to accommadate narrow, medium, or wide feet.
I took my demo pair out for series of runs on some of my favorite trails, and they handled everything I threw at them and begged for more. The Paw Pad sole took some getting used to-it's noticeably firmer than my other trail runners, but after the first mile I didn't even notice it. Throughout the run, however, I did notice how well they handled the trail-I went through terrain ranging from gravel pits to mud slicks to root-infested hardpack without losing traction or rolling an ankle-the Comps were very effective in smoothing out the bumps.
On the downhill sections of my runs, the Comp's pronounced heel acted as a braking system which took pressure off of my quads on long descents, and I was in complete control running down gravel-covered switchbacks. The neoform uppers owned all of the puddles that I found, as well. I just about had to submerge my foot to get my socks wet.
My one concern is that they may be too warm for summer trail runs, especially in areas that see triple digits, but the neoform's breathability and the venting in the tongue and forefoot may just prove me wrong. I'll let you know this summer.
By the end of my first run, the Comps had me plowing through the trail with utter confidence, and subsequent runs only reinforced it-I was hitting puddles and charging through obstacles with reckless abandon. They're my new go-to shoe for off-road running and hiking; I've yet to find a trail that they can't handle, they're compeletly indifferent to weather, and they feel a lot lighter than a shoe with this many features should.