GOLITE Amp Lite Trail Running Shoes

By Dave Wilkes

[Shoes provided by manufacturer for review]

Shoe in both colors available Description (from manufacturers web site)

Amp Lite with our Crossover outsole is a versatile trail runner. The Crossover is equally effective on hard pack or varied terrain.

• Ultra-light dual density EVA midsole

• TPE Cage

• Lightweight, performance mesh upper

• 2mm posting medial to lateral

Sizes 7-12 (including half sizes) ,13 , 14

Colors Black/Silver, Windchime/Navy

Crossover

The super lightweight Crossover sole is made with two densities of EVA and can transition from the road to a single track trail with ease. The outsole has low profile lugs made from our exclusive GripStick rubber for traction and durability, and the wedge shape assist in shock absorption and stability on hard pack terrain.

Built on our BareTech platform, the neutral heel and thin flexible sole allow your foot to move naturally over uneven terrain. And with around 20mm between your heel and the trail, you will feel close to the ground while protecting your feet from the elements.

If you’re running or walking on a mix of road and trail, the Crossover outsole will deliver superior comfort and performance.

Internal Lace System

Our Internal Lace System adjusts across the arch, securing your foot and heel in place. It is designed to prevent your foot from sliding forward on descents and eliminate heel lift and “toe bang”. Having a secure fit means never having to worry about bruised toes or blisters on your heels.

Insoles

Click to see larger image

Precise Fit

No two feet are alike not even your own. That’s why our exclusive Precise Fit system is designed to make GoLite Footwear instantly customizable to accommodate a narrow, medium or wide foot. By simply removing or adding a pad to the insole, you can modify the forefoot volume in the shoe to get a better, more comfortable fit.

Grip StickTM Rubber

GripstickTM Rubber is our exclusive high-grip compound that provides superior traction on slick surfaces such as wet rocks, snow and ice. Its lightweight durability ensures that GoLite shoes will hold up better and longer than any other outdoor performance shoe without adding extra weight. We use GripstickTM Rubber on all GoLite Footwear outsoles, so you can feel confident in any conditions.

Debris Shield

Running or hiking on rough terrain can take its toll on your shoes, especially the toes and heels which take the brunt of the abuse. That’s why we added abrasion resistant toe and heel materials to most of our fast packing, multi sport and travel styles. By adding lightweight protection in these critical areas, your shoes will take you wherever you need to go, last longer and keep on looking great.

SAT G Technology

Our Soft Against the Ground technology is the foundation of the GoLite Footwear brand. That’s why we put it into every shoe we make.

We’ve effectively taken traditional footwear construction and turned it upside down. We do this by putting the soft part of the shoe close to the ground and a firm platform close to the foot. Using this approach, the outsole of your shoes absorbs the shock of the trail instead of your body. And by removing the softer materials from the insole, your foot will be more stable, cutting rear foot movement by 33% and minimizing ankle injury. The result is a smooth, stable, comfortable ride in all GoLite shoes.

Measured weight: 11.65oz/330g (per shoe)

After a 4 day trip, spent tromping through rugged washed out trails, mud, and one stream crossing (wading actually) trashed my favorite (ok, only) pair of trail runners, I was in the market for a new pair. For me this is a dilemma. I have a hard time finding shoes that fit well; I have very wide feet with narrow heels. Depending on the brand I can wear anything from a 9 4E to a 10 (so mail order shoes is not something I have been willing to try since it will most likely involve returning them a few times to get the right size). Second, when I do find a pair that I like, I tend to wear them all the time and as a result wear them out quickly. I have avoided reviewing shoes and boots unless I can find them locally and try them on to be sure I can get a good fit…in other words I have not reviewed shoes or boots. However since I was in the market for trail runners, I read up on the GOLITE shoes and was intrigued by the claim that they can be custom fit to narrow, average, and wide feet. I figured if they made the claim, here is an opportunity to see if they can back it up. I went to a local shoe retailer and used their Brannock Device to measure my feet and according to it my shoe size is a 9E, so I requested a size 9 and kept my fingers crossed.

GOLITE Amp LITE on display My first impression of the shoes when they arrived…well let’s say I was expecting something a bit more exciting. At first glance they look like any ordinary pair of running shoes. However upon closer inspection that quickly changed. First thing I noticed was an instruction card inserted in one shoe. It explained how to customize the fit of the shoes (Narrow, Medium, or Wide) by adding or removing the inserts. The shoes come with one set of inserts (for narrow feet) in a small bag and a second (for medium feet) already attached to the underside of the insoles that are in the shoes. The pads attach to the underside of the toe part of the insoles with a small piece of hook-n-loop fastener. For wide feet the instructions say to not use any pads, so I removed the ones that were already attached to the insoles.

In the process of removing and replacing the insoles I noticed another feature of these shoes; the” Internal Lace System”. From the outside the lacing of the shoes looks normal but from the inside the internal lace system is visible. Four of the lace loops, instead of going through holes in the outer part of the shoe, actually go through two loops on either side. These loops are attached to the sole of the shoe via a wide strap. When first putting the shoes on, they felt like they would be too tight, but as it turns out it was just this internal lacing system and once the wide part of my foot got past this they felt to be the right size.

In inspecting the shoes I could find no indications of flaws or defects. In fact, the construction seems to be of very high quality! The toe and heal sections have additional material called the “Debris Shield” to help protect the shoe from normal trail hazards such as rocks. The materials the shoes are constructed from seem to be of high quality and one remarkable item is the material that starts around the laces and extends in strips (the ‘white’ stripes leading from the laces down to the soles) to the soles. This is a rubber-like material that appears to be molded to the shoe. Assuming this does not separate from the shoe or split, this is kind of cool.

The soles with their “soft against the ground” construction has me intrigued. At first it seems backward…most shoes cushion the foot with the soft part of the sole and allow the ground to come into contact with the hard part. However in thinking about I can see how this backward approach could make sense. By having the soft part of the sole on the ground it should be able to wrap around small obstacles, maintaining more surface contact with the ground and therefore better grip.

After putting them on and standing up, I immediately noticed the “neutral heel”. I have become accustom to when wearing shoes my heels will be at least slightly higher than the rest of my foot. This is not the case with these shoes, and it is quite noticeable. When standing with my feet side by side it feels like I am leaning back slightly (almost like my heels are lower than the rest of my foot. The sensation is slight, and I am quite sure I will have no trouble getting used to it.

Two views

I have begun a “couch to 5K” training program and look forward to using these shoes for the training as well as for the 5k I run each spring. I also have been using running shoes in place of boots when hiking/backpacking when I can. Since I don’t have ankle problems, this allows me to greatly reduce the weight on my feet and as a result the energy I use while hiking. So far this has been very effective and assuming the weather cooperates (these shoes are not waterproof) will be using these shoes for hiking and backpacking in addition to running.

Dec 32 2010

Hiking in the snow During this phase of the review I have used the shoes to run on my treadmill (until I broke it) and on 5k training runs (using the 5k101.com Couch to 5k Pod casts), on my new elliptical (replaced my broken treadmill), a few trail runs, one 5k fun run, and one hike.

How do I describe the fit of these shoes? That will be difficult, but I will do my best. As described above these shoes use a unique lacing system. Over the top of the foot the laces are looped through loops that attach to the foot bed of the shoes inside the shoes, forming a kind of reverse sling to hold the foot to the foot bed. This creates three distinct sections of the lacing. There is the section over the forefoot, the section over the mid foot, and the top section. I found I was able to create a customized fit by adjusting these differently. Since I have wide feet I prefer to have the laces over my forefoot and toes loose while the laces at the top of the shoe tight to keep my heel from moving. With these shoes I found it was easy to keep the laces loose at the bottom, giving me plenty of room for my wide forefoot, however I also found the heel cup to be loose. At first this loose heal caused me some concern but I found the middle section of laces do an excellent job holding my foot in place, similar to what you would find with a sandal, so it is not necessary to have the upper laces tight. This took some getting used to and once I had some difficulty with loosing circulation in the toes of my left foot, which I assume was due to having the laces too tight in the middle section. What I have found is that these shoes have a different feel from any other shoe I have ever worn with the toes and heel loose, more like wearing a sandal. I found while this is quite effective and even comfortable for working out, it is not well suited for all-day wear. When I wore the shoes all day, I found the tight fit around the middle of my foot to be a bit excessive and became uncomfortable if I was off my feet for extended times (e.g. driving).

Sadly the weather has ranged from cool to quite cold here so I have not been able to really test how well these work at moisture control, I also have not been able to use them for backpacking due to the early snowfall. [Typical, last year when testing snowshoes we had some of the worst snow I have seen in years, this year snow came early. I just can’t win]. On one of my days off the sun was out and we just had some rain that melted most of the snow so I took the opportunity for a quick hike in a nearby canyon. But when I got there I found the trail still covered with crusted snow and ice. The trail was difficult to hike and I slipped a few times, but I did manage to get in a few miles.

Running in these is different from other shoes I have worn. The design of the shoes makes it easier to run with a fore or center foot strike (that is where instead of landing on my heel and then progressing up my foot to the toes, I land on the balls of my foot or entire foot simultaneously) more like when running barefoot. I have been researching the barefoot running movement and find much of it interesting. Some of the concepts about gaining better overall strength and conditioning by utilizing all of the muscles in the foot to help reduce injuries is intriguing. Being a backpacker, strong feet and ankles is a good thing, so I have been trying to work my way towards a barefoot, or at least minimalist, style. But this is not without its drawbacks. I am finding (as others have before me) that after years of wearing shoes, it takes time and care in order to get my feet to catch up with my legs. From my first runs I could feel how the muscles in my feet and ankles were getting quite a workout and that if I was not carefully I could easily become injured. And this is exactly what happened, just not in the way I expected. I took a few days off from running as I could feel my feet needed a break but instead of resting I went snowshoeing. I don’t know if it was the snowshoeing or maybe the muscles were already weakened, but I developed a burning pain in the inside of my right ankle that took more than a week to heal. This was also between when my treadmill broke and before the elliptical was delivered so I ended up not working out for about 2 weeks prior to the 1st annual “Leftover Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run/Walk”.

The 5k was held the Saturday after thanksgiving. We had just had a few inches of snow and it was still snowing the morning of the run. They tried plowing the route (paved greenway along the Yakima river) but all they managed to do was push away the snow exposing the ice below it. I recently purchased some cheep traction devices for my shoes, but they did not work very well and fell off within the first kilometer of the run. However the sun did come out and managed to melt most of the ice off the trail about half way through the run so most of the return trip was on wet pavement. I was disappointed with my time. I was shooting for 36min and ended up about 2 min over that. But after the run I overheard someone mention that he had worn his GPS during the run and that the route was actually 5.1k (I mapped the route out when I got home and confirmed that). So between the ice and the extra distance I felt a bit better about my time.

So far I am happy with these shoes. They seem to be holding up well, and as I mentioned, they are comfortable. As far as I can tell these are living up to the manufacturers claims.

Feb 10 2011

Climbing up the ridge at White Bluffs During the final weeks of my review I have not gotten out much. Rain, snow, and ice have made running outdoors unattractive if not dangerous, so much of my use has been on my elliptical (yea, seems a shame to use such a nice pair of trail runners indoors). But then the fates finally smiled upon me and I had a wonderfully opportunity to use these shoes on a hike with a local outdoors group I belong to, The Cascadians.  We got a break in the weather and I got a break from working long days and even longer nights, and it just so happened that I had a free Saturday and the Cascadians were going on a “winter walk”, so I joined them.

We hiked an area called the White Bluffs, on the North side of the Columbia River, across from the Hanford Nuclear reservation, a hike I have never been on before. The hike follows the old highway (now closed to vehicular traffic) down from the bluff  and along the river for about 2 miles, where we left the highway and traversed cross country up a few hundred feet to the top of the a ridge. This portion of the trip involved picking a route through thigh to knee high dry grass and sage in loose sandy soil, through a barbed wire fence, then up a steep incline of loose sandy soil and rock. I was the only one of the group not wearing boots and was glad for it. It was a pleasure climb up the steep terrain with so little weight on my feet yet still having good traction. In addition these shoes gave me a good feel for the surface making it easy to obtain secure footing in the loose sandy soil. I felt like a mountain goat climbing up the hill. I could take any line I wanted to without worrying about finding good footing, and arrived at the top a little winded but glad I was not wearing heavy boots. Once on the top we followed the ridge back towards where we started. There was a nice trail along the ridge that undulated up and down for about 1.5 miles. I ran a few of the downhill sections, some of it off the trail to get by other hikers, and it was a joy! The shoes gave me great traction as well as a good feel for the terrain. We lunched at the highest point along the ridge. After lunch we continued along the ridge connecting back to the old highway and then took a side route down to a location referred to as the panicles. This is narrow eroded ridge of the sandstone/clay soil. Upon arriving, me and a few others hiked up to the pinnacles and I found a trail that wound in and around the higher peaks, sometimes on very narrow crumbling ledges. It was clear that others had climbed all the way to the farthest and highest of the pinnacles, but the footing and hand-holds were just too dangerous so we only went about halfway. Again having light shoes with good feel for the terrain and good grip was very nice!

Hiker,-Whtie-Bluffs---South

The flat before the climb up the ridge

In summary, I am very pleased with these shoes. While they are built as trail running shoes, I found they perform equally as well as a lightweight alternative to hiking boots. Being that they are not insulated or waterproof, they are better suited for warm weather and as such I am really looking forward to getting more use out of these this summer where I expect to use these as my primary footwear for hiking and backpacking.

I would like to thank 4AllOutdoors.org and the fine folks at GOLITE for the opportunity to review this fine footwear.

Dave (the turtle) Wilkes

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