~Stephanie -March 2 2010
Having gone lighter weight on most of my hiking and backpacking gear, I’ve also done the same for my footwear. These days you can usually find me on trail in either trail runners or sandals. I’m excited to give the Columbia Ravenous a try.
The Columbia Ravenous are available for both men and women – each in three colorways (mine are as pictured, in Fireweed and Grey), and retail at an MSRP of US$90.
Columbia designed the shoe with aggressive trail runners in mind, and the shoe features their new Techlite heel system with softer material located directly beneath the heel while moving stabilizing elements to the outside. The shoe also features a removable footbed that has been treated to resist odors, a non-marking dual-rubber sole with trail-specific tread design and a gusseted tongue to help keep trail debris down.
This shoe is definitely light, the upper looks like it’s well-ventilated and the sole is definitely softer feeling than other trail runners I’ve worn. I plan to wear these both on and off trail, and will hopefully get a chance to get them out on varied terrain so I can let you know how they fare.
April 16, 2010
Well, it’s been just over a month, and I’ve managed to get a number of miles in on these shoes. While I haven’t managed to get these out for off-trail use, I have logged a number of miles hiking on dirt, sand and rocky trail in addition to urban use around town. I haven’t done any in/out of water hiking, so I can’t say how well they do in those situations, but I can say that the mesh uppers seem to do well enough with hiking in temperatures ranging from the mid 70’s to high 80’s F.
I’ve found these shoes to be light, airy and full of bounce. Perhaps a bit too much bounce in some cases – I’m not sure if it’s the sole or the design of the heel strike region or a combination of the two, but I seem to sometimes have some stability issues with these shoes while on trail*. When I look at the heel on my other trail runners, they are generally much wider at the bottom, and the heel strike zone is not cut in/underneath quite as much as it is on these shoes. That combined with the cushy sole seems to allow for a bit more instability as my foot comes down for a landing. Other than that, the shoes are very comfortable to wear – I haven’t noticed my feet feeling fatigued, nor does it feel like I feel the trail through the bottom of the shoe. Even while hiking on challenging rocky terrain, I didn’t have any trouble with foot soreness while wearing these shoes.
In addition to the comfortable ride, these shoes breathe well during use, and they have good traction. I never felt as if I would loose my footing due to grip problems – even on downhill sections of the trail that were partially covered in loose matter.
As for wear and tear, the shoes are holding up well. I still have plenty of tread, the shoes aren’t picking up and holding any noticeable odor, and other than being a bit dusty, they look almost new. I also haven’t had any problems with sand entrapment or rocks getting into the shoe. So far, I’m pretty happy with these trail runners – I just have to sometimes watch my foot placement when I think the terrain may make me more prone to rolling my foot outwards during heel strike.
May 18th, 2010
One more month has passed and we’re at the end of the testing cycle. I continued to wear the Ravenous on hikes of varying lengths and elevations – in all cases, the weather was sunny and clear and the trail terrain was typically packed dirt, rocks or a jumbly mix of both.
I’m happy to report that whatever it was that was causing the foot-strike portion of my gait to be thrown off seems to have resolved since my last report – I don’t know if I simply got accustomed to these shoes or if I somehow broke them in to where there was no longer an issue, but as the test period wore on I had fewer and fewer stability problems. I haven’t noticed any change to the comfort level of these shoes – even after longer hikes on very rocky terrain, I didn’t have any problems with foot fatigue or soreness. The shoes grip the varied terrain nicely, and allowed me to have confidence in my foot placement. In addition, the shoes don’t allow my feet to slide forward much inside, even on steep downhills – so my toes were never crammed or smooshed forward in the toe-box (a great thing, especially when frequently hiking steep terrain).
All of my other findings during the initial month of testing have continued to be the same – the shoes breathe very well, even with daytime temps getting quite warm here in the desert (thankfully no 100 degree Fahrenheit days yet!), I didn’t notice my feet overheating or becoming prone to heat spots. During the course of hiking, I didn’t notice any accumulation of trail debris through the mesh upper (other than the rather common dirt accumulation that seems to happen on dry dusty trails).
The Columbia Ravenous continue to look nice, with only a few scratches and dings and a fine coating of trail dirt. The tread still has plenty of mileage to go and I’ll look forward to their continued use even after this testing period.
If you’re looking for a light weight shoe for the trails, you may want to consider the Columbia Ravenous – I’ve enjoyed the time with mine, and look forward to wearing them out on the trails!
Thanks to Columbia Sportswear for the opportunity to evaluate these trail runners!
*for those that are curious, I do wear custom 3/4 length orthotics (and they fit nicely in these shoes) – without the orthotics, I am a severe over-pronater – with the orthotics, I typically wear a neutral running shoe.