A new VJ Sport shoe is always exciting, this time, the XTRM2, which I guess is not really a new shoe but a re-working of a VJ classic. The XTRM has been a popular shoe in the trail, fell and mountain running world for a very long time, sitting in the middle ground of the aggressive iRock and the MAXx.
The key to any VJ shoe is the outsole and the incredible grip that this outsole provides. The XTRM had 4mm lugs, the same as the MAXx but not as long as the iRock and therefore it was the ideal shoe for say skyrunning.
However, two things were often heard when fellow runners discussed the XTRM:
- I just wish there was a little more cushioning.
- I wish they could be just a little wider.
Well, the XTRM2 addresses both these issues and brings a couple of newer developments.
You should never judge a shoe by how it looks, and yes, some of you may love the look of the new XTRM2, I do not! Red is always great and when combined with black, superb. Look at the VJ Sport iRock HERE – now that is a nice-looking shoe! But this XTRM2 looks like someone had a little too much alcohol and dope in Hawaii and then designed the shoe. It’s a ‘me’ thing. Sorry.
Gladly, I can get past the looks because I know that a VJ Sport shoe will do all that I want and do it well.
As mentioned, the XTRM2 is designed to fit between the iRock, which is a short distance and soft-ground shoe and the MAXx which is a longer distance trail/ mountain shoe. Of course, there is now the ULTRA too. That is for the long stuff.
Quite simply, if you loved the XTRM, the XTRM2 is going to make you smile. I had no issues with the original version, however, straight out of the box I welcomed the extra cushioning and the slightly rounder, more spacious toe box.
Drop is 4mm with 10mm cushioning at the front and 14mm at the rear. For perspective, the iRock has 8/14mm and the MAXx 12/18mm.
With a reshaped last, CMEVA cushioning and a rock plate, the XTRM2 is the perfect mountain/ skyrunning shoe.
Pulling the shoe on there is a notable difference with the tongue, it is fastened on both sides. One of the issues in the previous XTRM and MAXx for that matter, was the tongue would move when running – often moving to the left or the right. This has now been addressed and in all my test runs so far, the tongue has remained in place and secure.
Fitlock is a VJ Sport secret weapon and is one of the USP’s of the VJ brand. Once you have put your foot in the shoe, as you tighten the laces, the Fitlock grabs hold of the instep/ arch and holds it tight and secure – exactly what is required in mountainous and technical terrain when you need the shoe to be precise. With the more spacious XTRM2 toe box, this new Fitlock is even more welcome. I was initially worried if I would lose some of the precise feel at the front end, not so, the Fitlock compensates.
The lacing is classic with 6 eyelets and the addition of a 7th eyelet on both sides should you require to lock lace or similar. There is reinforcement here ensuring that the laces can be pulled tight without causing any issue to the upper.
The upper is Swiss Schoeller Keprotec® which is more durable than previous incarnations of the XTRM and it is also more pliable, allowing it to fit the foot better. Look at the old XTRM HERE – I reviewed this shoe back in 2018. Notably look how different the upper is… The original XTRM had many reinforced panels on the upper with a solid extension from the toe box and heel area. It’s a major change. I wondered, by contrast, if the new XTRM2 would feel less secure and sloppy – no. Foot hold has been excellent. The upper is excellent and repels moisture, water and mud.
The heel area is slightly padded but not excessively, importantly it holds the foot and there is no slipping when climbing.
Toe protection is adequate but could maybe be a little more? Certainly, in a skyrunning scenario when rocks, boulders and hard mixed terrain will be encountered.
The outsole is a notable difference, the previous XTRM had 4mm lugs, they have now been increased to 6mm and in doing so, they now match the iRock. This is a key and notable change. For me, I would now only need an XTRM2 and MAXx (which has 4mm lugs). I do appreciate though, that the narrower and more precision fit of the iRock would be preferable for some.
The outsole pattern is newly designed to optimize grip on all terrains and with the 6mm lugs, you now have an outsole that can handle softer ground. There is little to say about the grip of the outsole, VJ have the tagline ‘bestgripontheplanet’ and it is. No outsole from any other brand matches the grip, wet or dry, of a VJ outsole. However, be warned, that grip comes from a wonderful soft and grippy superior contact – it will not last and last and if you run too much road, that longevity will be reduced greatly. You cannot have amazing outsole grip and long life.
There is a torsional rigidity in the shoe that is very noticeable when running on uneven and rocky terrain. If you have the Fitlock laced up and tight, the XTRM2 gives superb precision.
Flex and life are superb, and the propulsive phase is superb. There is a real ping behind the metatarsals when pushing off.
Weight is incredible, VJ list 250g for a UK8. My UK10 is 289g.
I am always a UK9.5 in test shoes, however, I have noticed with extended use in VJ that I have often wished I had gone a half-size larger, so, with the XTRM2 and SPARK (review to follow) I decided to go to UK10. It was a good choice; I have found that extra space welcome. So, you may want to check this when purchasing.
Fitlock and a VJ outsole and you have a perfect shoe when precision and grip are required. The XTRM2 with a new upper, a new last, more cushioning and lugs increased to 6mm, and you now have the perfect trail/mountain and skyrunning shoe for short to middle distance. There are few shoes out there that can compete with VJ when this combination of elements is required. It is highly recommended.
Are there any negatives? I found prolonged running on hard surfaces (gravel road a good example) eventually tiring, but that is no real surprise. The outsole is soft and sticky and if you use on the wrong terrain, it will not last. I really dislike the look of the shoe, which is a petty thing to say, but the ‘look’ could put some people off before ever having the chance to run in the shoe and then find out how good it is. However, I may be alone in finding the look displeasing?
Ultimately, the XTRM2 is a superb shoe with incredible fit and grip.
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They’re hideous, but of course I’ll still buy them, and buy them, and buy them..…
😂 yep, they are sore on the eye which is such a shame.
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I’ts kind of a retro style looking shoe and I don’t think it is ugly. Still, that’s not important at all. I am more worried about the toe box. I used to have original Xtrm and I’ve honsetly never had a shoe with the same amount of control. But after 40k+ the toebox was just killing my pinky toes.
So when we say it is roomier and rounder in Xtrm 2 – how much roomier do we talk about? That’s what I would like to know
Thanks for the review, Ian. You’re always first out of the gate for VJ! I’ve been a fan of VJ shoes over the last few years but reading a review or two before buying is essential for me.
With the change of upper material in the XTRM2, I have a question about breathability. I have struggled with blisters in both the MAXx and the ULTRA (badly in the latter), but the original XTRM is my favorite VJ shoe by far. Mainly for the fit and the fact that it doesn’t hold water, at all, even when soaking wet and covered in mud. This has been invaluable in UK winter conditions. Whilst I would appreciate more durability in the upper, how does the Swiss Schoeller Keprotec® fair in terms of holding/expelling water?
I think they do retain water more… always a difficult one to get a balance on. Had similar with Scott RC
Oh, and I should say that I agree with you wholeheartedly about the new look. It’s ugly! The XTRM was an acquired taste that I came to love, but after the solid design work on other VJ shoes since, this one really disappoints. Looks may be bottom of the priority list, but they’re still a factor.
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Did you notice the directional fabric at the heel on the xtrm 2? It’s like a shark’s skin and is smooth in one direction but rougher in the other, holding your heel down. Amazing idea and great attention to detail.
Yep. Minimalist heel but great hold.
Just completed Tromsø Skyrace Hamperokken with the XTRM2. Been using mostly Altras the last few years so I was worried about the toe box but no such issues.
The XTRM2 performed AMAZING! What a shoe. Amazing grip, no blisters, no nothing. I could just focus on my running
There are no other shoes that grip like VJ. And the toe box on the XTRM2 is wider than previous.