Berghaus has just launched its new spring 2013 Vapour Collection of mostly trail-running and fast-movers' kit and it includes the new Vapour Light Claw shoe, a proper off-road, trail-running shoe that at first glance promises to be an interesting mix of cushioning and support with authentic underfoot grip.
All About Balance?
We've found a lot of so-called 'trail running' shoes from the US and continental Europe tend to have sole units which work best on dry hardpack and rocky alpine trails combined with a reasonable amount of cushioning, fine when it's dry, but not so clever when things get properly British wet and sloppy.
At the other end of the continuum, are fell-type shoes which have masses of underfoot grip thanks to spiky, deep-lugged outsoles, but tend towards minimal cushioning and support - great on softer ground and for experienced mountain whippets, but not so clever for heavier runners on harder surfaces or for door to trail use.
Grippy And Cushioned?
What's interesting about the new Berghaus Vapour Claw is that it seems to have a rare mix of seriously toothy Opti.Stud sole unit with a decent amount of mid-sole cushioning and support. In other words it looks like it should be able to handle softer, sloppier terrain, but still cope with hard surfaces - and sections of road - without kicking you senseless.
The shoe itself is a creditably light beastie - 316g per shoe in a size 9 - with properly vented mesh uppers, you can see through them, and the Berghaus Limpet lacing system featuring a stetch area where your foot flexes which is tensioned by the lacing.
Fit is generous - you can snug things down with the lacing to give a close, trail-friendly feel, though even then they don't feel cramped around the toes or forefoot and theres also plenty of space in the heel. Good for comfort, but try before buying if you prefer a really snug shoe for off-road running.
Underfoot the Vapour Light Claw feels pretty cushy compared to the more minimalist trail shoes emerging at the moment. There's a hefty EVA mid-sole with plenty of cushioning under the heel where there also seems to be dual-density cushioning to enhance stability.
Down below is the latest incarnation of Berghaus's impressively grippy Opti.Stud sole unit made from a Tenacious Grip rubber compound. We've been impressed with Opti.Stud since we first encountered it on the original Pro Rush Mid shoe and the deep, multi-directional lugs have a reassuringly aggressive look to them.
Ideal All-rounders Maybe...
We're thinking all-round trail-running shoe with enough room for day-long comfort, enough grip for sloppy, slippy UK terrain and enough cushioning that they'll cope equally well with harder conditions plus a super-vented mesh upper that should work well if we have anything resembling a summer, but also drain and dry fast if we don't.
Potential downsides are that it looks to sit slightly higher than some trail-runners, which could make them less secure on uneven terrain and that the generous fit in both forefoot and heel may not suit runners who either prefer a snug fit off road or, as with any shoe, simply don't fit the Berghaus last.
The Berghaus Vapour Light Claw retails for £85 in both men's and women's versions plus for an additional £15 you can buy the Men's Vapour Claw Gore-Tex with waterproof, breathable liner and lace cover panel.
More information at www.berghaus.com.