Getting ready for a big hike is half the work of finishing it. That’s the philosophy behind Salewa’s new Lite Train and Ultra Train shoes, the first entries into the brand’s new mountain training line. Designed to help weekend warriors get the most out of their workout sessions, the Lite Train and Ultra Train are a collaboration between Salewa and Michelin, tread patterns from whose mountain bike tires adorn the shoes’ soles. To find out how they stood up to hard use, we took them for a spin on Boulder’s Chautauqua Trail, a favorite haunt for local athletes, dog-walkers and Colorado University students alike.
Weighing in at just 8.6 oz, the Lite Train fits and feels like a stripped-down trail runner. It acted like one, too, proving nimble—and not weighing our feet down—when we kicked up the pace. The Lite Train sports a unique tread, borrowed from Michelin’s Wild Grip’R mountain bike and Starcross HP4 motorcross tires; the empty lugs on the edge of the sole burrowed into soft patches on the trail, while aggressive tread on the forefoot bit like a rattler on hardpack.
For all that agility, the Lite Train is surprisingly resilient on rough terrain, shrugging off rocks and roots that would bruise through a normal trail runner. Credit the shoe’s anti-torsion and arch-support shank, which provides much-needed coverage for soft, fleshy areas that would otherwise be exposed. (Caveat: With just 6 millimeters of drop, heel-strikers need not apply.)
If the Lite Train draws inspiration from cross-country bike tires, then its big brother, the Ultra Train, is a full-on, all-mountain rig. With 8 millimeters of drop and a heavier-duty sole, the Ultra Train has more light hiker than trail runner in its DNA. The uber-stable Ultra ate up sharp rocks and mud pits alike on the steep hike up, while the long, longitudinal flex groove helped keep it responsive enough to navigate rougher sections of trail. The Michelin Outdoor Compound soles stuck nicely on an impromptu scramble up the low-angle rock of the Second Flatiron. The Ultra Train and Light Train aren’t quiver-killers, though. You’ll still want dedicated trail runners for fast days, approach shoes for climbing-heavy trips, and more supportive kicks for hiking with a heavy load. Salewa’s speed-lacing system let us dial in fit, and stowed neatly in a pouch on the tongue when not in use.