Late winter is a wonderful time in the northern Midwest: temperatures rise, the roads clear, and the clouds give way to the sun… but not yet. March began with a 9 inch snowfall, on top of the foot or so of snow already on the ground. I decided that the additional snow warranted the (not so stylish) use of my REI Trail Running Gaiters. I have also been running in my New Balance MT100 trail running shoes for the last couple of weeks. I have been mixing them in with my Merrell Road Gloves, mostly while training for the GORUCK Challenge. I thought I’d write-up a little long-term review of the minimalist NB trail shoes and REI gaiters to follow-up on my review over three years ago.
The MT100 trail running shoes have proven themselves quite durable. With over three years of moderate trail use, they have worn incredibly well. That is one of the side benefits of trail running, shoes can last many years with little wear. This particular pair have been through a number of trail races and countless training days. Although, in the last year they have seen little use due to my preference for zero-drop shoes. After primarily running in Vibram FiveFingers and Merrell Road Gloves for the last two years, the minimal heel lift (around 4mm, I believe) is noticeable. But I have found a great use in them when running with my loaded ruck for the GORUCK Challenge. I don’t know if they will see much use after The Challenge, as I prefer the Road Gloves and FiveFingers. For those looking for a shoe to help them transition to minimalist running, this is still a great option.
I have become a huge fan of the REI Trail Running Gaiters. The softshell material has held up well to a few years of trail running and winter use. They are comfortable against the skin in the summer, and as pictured above, do a great job of keeping snow out of pants and shoes in the winter. And though the fresh snowfall made my run require a little more effort, my feet and ankles were comfortable.
And lastly I wanted to give a quick plug for my favorite winter running pants: Sporthill ATV II pants. I don’t believe they are made anymore, and seem to be hard to find, but the key to the greatness of these pants is the 3SP fabric used by Sporthill. Sporthill still offers a number of pants made with the fabric. The fabric is very soft and comfortable, dries very fast, is windproof to 35MPH, and highly breathable. I’ve worn them from rain in the low 30s to single digits (with a base layer under). I find them too warm for temps above 35F or so, but that’s not really what they’re meant for.