Salewa Lite Train Shoe | Review
Salewa's light and flexible mountain running and training shoe is super comfortable, but minimalist underfoot protection means rocky terrain massages the soles of your feet...
Light, comfortable and super sensitive, Salewa's Lite Train gives you intimate contact with the trail, but with more cushioning than barefoot-style shoes. Good grip on firmer surfaces too. At just 540g per pair it also doubles nicely as a campsite or hut shoe without weighing you down.
There's no semblance of a plate under the fore-foot and instep, so you can feel every little stone or undulation - in rocky areas, it's like a gentle foot massage, but on longer runs, it can get tiring.
Outdoors Grabbit? - Mini Verdict
Lightweight construction with seamless uppers mean these give you a close, glove-like fit thats' super comfortable for general wear. The downside is that the minimalist, flexible sole doesn't give much protection against stone strikes, which can get tiring or even painful if you land instep first on something pointy.
To be fair, there's more heel cushion than you might expect and grip from the Michelin sole - yes, the tyre people - is good, but it's definitely a shoe for those who like their footwear minimalist.
Specification: £110 / 540g (pair size 43) minimalist trail and trail-running shoe / Michelin Lite Train outsole / 3F extended lacing system / heel and toe reinforcement / breathable mesh lining and upper.
Full review below.
Lite Train In Depth
Salewa says the Lite Train is for what it calls 'mountain training', but essentially it's a decently light, fairly minimalist, off-road running and lightweight hiking shoe which takes its name from a bespoke Michelin sole.
The French rubber experts have taken their tyre expertise and applied it to outdoor footwear with some interesting results. The tread pattern on the shoe, by the way, is based on a mountain bike tyre - fortunately we're not sad enough to know which one - and designed to give all-round grip.
You can see the little Bibendum (Michelin Man) symbol on the very tip of the sole where it kicks up in front of the lightweight toe bumper. Otherwise it's all very light a minimal with a seamless upper complete with protective overlays and enough cushioning under the heel to give a little comfort on harder surfaces.
Lite Train: Performance
At just 540g per pair, the Lite Train lives up to its name, but it's a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the shoes fit like a glove with the seamless upper and padded tongue wrapping gently round your foot. On top of that, the lack of underfoot stiffening giving intimate ground feel that makes it feel precise and nimble, a sort of Lionel Messi trail experience if you like.
On the other hand, the flexible, thinly cushioned sole unit and lack of a stiffened forefoot plate mean you feel every little rock underfoot. It's oddly invigorating at first, a bit like being tickled gently, but it gets tiring on longer outings and is downright painful if you accidentally jam your instep into a sharp rock while descending fast.
It's a shoe that asks, are you feeling lucky, punk? Or maybe how confident are you in your foot placements? If you are, the Michelin sole pays you back in spades with confident all-round grip on firm to medium surfaces in particular.
Hiking is less demanding of it, but we still found it a little tiring on longer outings particularly if you're carrying a loaded pack. Oddly, where it excelled, was as a lightweight evening shoe for camping and hut excursions when the comfort and flexibility give it an endearing slipper-like allure.
Light, grippy and precise with just enough heel cushioning, the Lite Train's, erm, achilles forefoot is the relative lack of underfoot protection against rockier terrain. That means it's something of an acquired taste, great if you like your shoes minimal and are neat and precise with your foot placements, less attractive if you make the occasional mistake or find yourself, say, barreling down over jagged Lakeland scree.
Finally, as a bonus, it makes a damn good, lightweight, evening shoe for strolling around the campsite or wondering over a few fields to the pub.