Traction Heroes

Turn Up the Juice

Aug 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Vasque Amp
The ultra-vivid Amp delivers power to the ground without a weight penalty
PLATE TECTONICS: The Amp proved impressively stable, allowing me to fearlessly sidestep rock outcrops on a mountainside sprint. Vasque's secret? A stiff plastic plate runs from the forefoot to the midsole—then flares up into "wings" near the heel. It kept my feet from shifting abruptly when the trail did. THE LAUNCHPAD: Vasque canted the Amp's forefoot upward like the tip of a ski. It's an old trick, but it works: The design created a fulcrum under the ball of my foot, propelling me forward into my stride. After an hour on the trail, I was happy to have the help. TREAD CRED: This flashy shoe wasted no time getting down to business. Its highly efficient fanglike tread—a multidirectional rubber lug—bit into the gravelly terrain of our high-desert testing grounds without any slippage. I lost neither seconds nor energy. NET EFFECT: To keep the Amp light but cushiony, Vasque deployed a half-dollar-size slice of dual-density ethyl-vinyl-acetate foam underfoot and hemmed it in with nylon mesh. The mesh uppers kept my feet relatively cool across five long, sweltering miles.

»1. Dunham Waffle Stomper Alcatraz
With foam mesh on the forefoot and heel, plus four nylon-mesh slits, the Waffle Stomper works as well in the creek as it does on the flats. And at only 11 ounces per shoe (men's size 7), this one really flies. $85;

»2. Teva X-1
Teva combined thin layers of tough monofilament mesh and ripstop nylon to make, at a hair over nine ounces apiece (size 7), the lightest kicks of the 39 shoes tested for this review—then enhanced them with track-shoe-style rubber cleats. $90;

»3. Pearl Izumi SynchroSeek
Better known for its cycling gear, Pearl proves with this light trail runner that it's not just about the bike. The company layers the 'Seek's sole with soft foam and flexy plastic, imparting a springy feel to each stride. $95;

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