I received these shoes just in time for the perfect adventure: Visiting my “biological trail sister” in Colorado! While in their pristine condition, I wore them in the airport, then took them out for runs on the trails, and on a long, rolling dirt road. I unexpectedly got to try them in the snow, too! On my return, I took them for a spin on the Mountains to Sea Trail in North Carolina.
The Dark Purple/Blue Curacao/Acid Lime color is great! I like the dark/bright combo, and the vibrant colors. When I first slipped the shoes on, I noticed was a little bump in each shoe right under my arches on the medial side, which made me nervous. But that feeling quickly disappeared. Size-wise, I typically waffle between a size 7.5 and an 8 in running shoes, and in these, the 8 felt perfect. I also prefer a larger toe box. When I run over ten miles or so, I tend to get black toenails, and a roomy fit helps me with this. The toe box on the XA Elevate doesn’t look particularly wide, but I didn’t have any trouble at all with my toes feeling squished. They feel nice and light for a trail shoe, and are a happy medium between soft and firm. They weigh 9 oz, and the heel to toe drop is 8 mm. I like that they are nice and grippy, but without enormous lugs. They were super comfy to walk around in.
The tie-free lace system makes it easy to slip them on and off quickly (in the security line, for instance!). That said, the string is LONG, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I pulled it tight, looping under at the forefoot, then tucked the toggle into the small pocket at the top. Once the toggle was tucked, it stayed put.
On my first day in CO, I ran about 6.5 miles on a mixture of terrain that was easily runnable, and some that was more rugged, all with plenty of climbing. The shoes gripped rock and dirt without any slippage. They offered solid protection from rocks underfoot, without feeling overly stiff, and the tightly woven mesh upper kept debris out of my shoes. The shoes felt secure—no issues with rubbing, or things moving around. So far, so good!
On day two, we did a 14 miler on the dirt road. They were comfy there, too, and I had no blisters or toenail issues from the longer effort.
On day three, everything was covered in snow! I should have worn some thicker, taller socks (or gaiters, had I known what the weather would do). A little bit of snow snuck in around my ankles while taking photos, but nothing got through the upper. We jumped around puddles and through slush, and the dark color hid the mud nicely.
These did quite well out on the trails, and were the perfect foot protection for exploring new territory and frolicking in the woods. They take on rugged terrain without feeling heavy or clunky, and offer solid protection from the elements. I will be reaching for these for my future trail runs, and races, too!
Stack Height: 25mm/17mm (8mm drop), Weight: 255g (US 7W), MSRP: $130
Available: Early REI release Dec. 1, all retail channels March 1