Hoka One One Torrent 2 Cotopaxi Review

It has been a long time since I slipped on a Hoka One One shoe, 2012 to be exact. Almost 10-years ago and while I could write my reasons why, it’s best to read an article I wrote called ‘Minimal, Maximal or the curious question of Drop.’

So, I have avoided Hoka One One and maximal cushioned shoes ever since.

However, when you test as many shoes as I do, I didn’t feel it correct to neglect Hoka, however, I also felt that no matter how impartial I try to be in reviews, I probably would still hark back to the pre 2012 days.

Recently though, I have been testing and loving trail shoes that somehow sit in the middle, not minimal cushioned or maximal, a nice middle ground. Currently, my shoe of the year is the adidas Speed Ultra and if I need more grip and an aggressive outsole, the VJ Sport Ultra has been great.

With this in mind, many who read my reviews suggested that I try the Torrent 2 by Hoka One One. One thing was universal in all the comments, ‘It is the least Hoka like shoe that they do.’ Ultimately, it is the least cushioned and bouncy shoe currently in the Hoka range… This may change with the new ‘Zinal!’

So, Hoka One One in Norway kindly sent me a Torrent 2 Cotopaxi to test. Cotopaxi is ‘an innovative outdoor product and experience that funds sustainable poverty relief, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.’

Cotopaxi joins brands, such as Hoka One One to ultimately ‘do good’ and they bring some unique colours and designs. The Torrent 2 celebrates the kaleidoscopic wonders of this great planet in what I think is a stunning colour way, but I fully appreciate that this may well be too much for some. I love the uniqueness, the colours, and the fact that the left shoe is different to the right.

THE SHOE

Love the colour way, it’s a winner for me.

The Torrent 2 is light, 278g from an UE44/ UK9.5.

The tongue is well padded and comfortable, the lacing excellent and additional eyelets exist should you need to lock lace or similar.

The upper is extremely durable and yet breathable using a mesh upper that utilises recycled post-consumer plastic waste to make a Unifi REPREVE yarn. Reinforcing exists to help protect the foot but there is little to no toe protection.

Heel box is padded and holds the foot well with no slippage when climbing.

The outsole is a nice middle ground trail grip that is extremely comfortable on dry trails and road but yes has enough grip when the trails become sloppy. The lugs are multi-directional which work exceptionally well and even on wet rock, the grip has been reassuringly good.

Toe box is on the wider side and allows good toe splay and comfort over longer distances. On a 1-5 scale, 1 being narrow, the Torrent 2 is a 4 for me.

Cushioning is somewhat a revelation, and, in all honesty, I expected to not like the feel or the ride. I was completely wrong. The Torrent 2 feels nothing like the Hoka’s I used pre 2012 and I understand why many say, ‘It is the least Hoka like shoe.’ The cushioning was firmer, had less roll and quite simply provides wonderful comfort over any distance. Cushioning is PROFLY.

The footprint of the shoe is wider, and this helps compensate for additional stack height reducing any inward or outward roll, and thus provides more precision and stability when the trails become more technical. The reason I defected from Hoka was I got way too much roll from the super soft cushioning and maximal nature of the shoes – note here.

IN USE

Well, I never thought I would be writing this, but, the Torrent 2 has become a real favourite shoe and has been in a regular rotation with my adidas Speed Ultra, which I love! The Hoka and adidas are in many ways similar but at the same time, very different. The adidas without doubt better on more technical terrain and excellent if not superb on the road.

The Torrent 2 is just a great everyday shoe that works on most terrain and provides comfort over short or long distance. The landing and cushioning from PROFLY is excellent and the propulsive phase are not lacking. There is a firmer feel to the Torrent 2 and I can anticipate that Hoka One One fans (who like the maximal bounce) will find this shoe maybe not to their liking. For me, it’s perfect!

A neutral shoe it allows my foot to respond to the terrain in a natural way and the shoe has great response, the 5mm drop adds to that ‘at one with the ground’ feel despite this being a more cushioned shoe with 18mm at the front and 23mm at the rear. The female version has less cushioning, 16/21 and I applaud Hoka for understanding that women need their own specific shoes, not smaller versions of the men’s shoe. Roll is present, especially when on rocky terrain, tree routes and so on, however, it’s completely manageable and within parameters I would want and expect from a shoe with more cushioning. The wider footprint goes a long way in providing more comfort and less roll. There is no rock plate in the shoe and in all honesty, I found no issues or problems. My regular trails are littered with rocks, tree roots and demanding sections. Nothing came through to impact on my foot.

On a scale of 0-100% for rigidity, I would say the Torrent comes in around the 50% mark offering reassured comfort that sits in a perfect middle ground. By contrast, the adidas Speed Ultra is considerably more flexible sitting around 75/80%.

The outsole I am assuming is ‘in-house’ but does have some resemblance to Vibram. Apparently, the outsole has been re-worked from the original Torrent and while not mega aggressive, it performs exceptionally well on most terrain but excels on dry trail. The grip works well in soft ground but if heading into muddy terrain, you will no doubt need a more aggressive outsole. Some compromise comes on wet rock.

Fit for me was excellent providing plenty of toe room and the lacing held my foot well. They are true to size.

The upper is a little hot, especially on hot days and in the wet, I found that the shoe drained well but the upper did retain some water.

CONCLUSION

Everything is personal and I love the Torrent 2, I will be clear, I didn’t expect to! I like them ultimately because they are not what I expected, and I am used to from a Hoka One One shoe. They are firmer, lower to the ground, provide adequate cushioning and allow great comfort over any distance and pretty much any terrain. They are a great everyday shoe.

If I wanted to race or move faster, I wouldn’t choose the Torrent 2. It’s a comfort shoe that allows me to relax and run over longer distances on easier run days or say when running a multi-day or fastpacking.

Hoka One One fans will like the Torrent 2 less I would imagine, I can hear the comments now, ‘They are too firm for me!’ And that is fine! What I like is that Hoka as a brand are looking beyond what made them famous (max cushioning) and understanding that many people (like me) would like what Hoka offer in a more ‘conventional’ shoe, the Torrent 2 does just that! The new Zinal looks to take that to a new level and I am keen to try them.

The collaboration with Cotopaxi is excellent providing a great colour way and some extremely positive ‘eco’ stats. Cotopaxi ties its earnings to impact by allocating 1% of annual revenues to the Cotopaxi Foundation. The foundation awards grants to outstanding nonprofit partners who are carefully selected for their track records at improving the human condition and alleviating poverty. This year alone, the foundation has awarded 34 individual grants, directly assisted 750,000 people, and donated over $400,000.

Ultimately, a great all-rounder over any distance and any terrain. It’s not a perfect shoe but there is little to complain about. It has low weight, comfort, toe splay and cushioning. Compare this to the latest Trailfly from inov-8 and we are talking chalk and cheese, I still struggle to understand how inov-8 could make such an awful shoe… But then again, some love it. Ultimately though, is the Torrent 2 as good as the adidas Speed Ultra? It’s a tough call, but the Speed Ultra would be shoe of choice. Trust me though, I have been rotating between the two and I am happy in both. The adidas gets the nod as it has more response, feels nimble, lighter and makes me want to run faster. If I compared the shoes as though cars, the Speed Ultra is nimbler and faster, say a Porsche, whereas the Torrent 2 is more a family saloon designed for comfort over the long haul, say a Toyota Rav4.

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SCOTT Supertrac RC First Impressions

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Who doesn’t love a ‘sexy’ run shoe? I suppose it does pose the question, ‘Can a run shoe be sexy?’ For me, the answer is yes! Just as it was when I used to ride racing bikes – my bikes were always sexy, it was compulsory!

So, the new incarnation from SCOTT hit all the boxes, rung all the bells and well and truly gave my eyes a woo hoo when I first clapped eyes on them in May 2016.

I have to be clear here, I was involved and worked with the SCOTT elite athletes in La Palma photographing the new apparel and shoes to be launched later this year and early in 2017.

The SUPERTRAC RC shoe is arguably the racing flagship for the brand that has been known for years for making darn fine excellent bikes. Well, ever since 2012, SCOTT have also been making darn fine run shoes, it’s just taken a while to get the message out. The Kinabalu Supertrac is still one of my favourite shoes. So good was the shoe, it beat many others in my test HERE.

The new SUPERTRAC RC has in all honesty little connection to the beefy 8mm drop trail shoe as listed above, however, it does carry over some of the traits.

Noticeable points are:

  • Seamless upper and overlays
  • Form fitting performance tongue
  • Reinforced toe cap
  • Radilal ‘360’ traction
  • EVA cushioning

The RC looks completely different to the Kinabalu Supertrac and the back/yellow ‘RC’ colour combination reflects the ‘RC’ range from the road bike and mountain bike range. I like that, I like that connection. It very clearly states, ‘This is the best of what we offer!’

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For the Supertrac RC the stats are as follows:

  • 5mm drop
  • Forefoot cushioning height : 17.5mm
  • Heel cushioning height : 22.5mm
  • Cushioning : AeroFoam + (same as Supertrac inline)
  • Weight : 270g in US9 men with insole in (some brands weight them without insoles)
  • Outsole : Outdoor Industry award winning 360° geometry made in wet rubber compound.

The Supertrac RC is not the lightest shoe but it does have plenty of cushioning and protection with 17.5/22.5mm of AeroFoam.

At 5mm drop, the shoe is certainly designed for an efficient mid to forefoot striker in contrast to the 8mm drop Kinabalu Supertrac that most definitely is a more ‘forgiving’ shoe.

Ultimately though, the RC is all about the ‘new’ grip that has been tweaked and tweaked through 2016 with feedback both in training and racing from athletes such as Andy Symonds, Jo Meek, Marco De Gasperi, Ruth Croft and the SCOTT team manager, Martin Gaffuri. The 360° geometry made in wet rubber compound is a real, real winner! The outsole is made for racing and training on trails where rock (wet or dry) is in abundance. The outsole though has less depth to the lug than say the Kinabalu Supertrac and so therefore grip is not as secure in mud.

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Initially I was disappointed that the tongue was not gusseted. A gusseted tongue is becoming normal now on many shoes and for me just makes sense. The RC does though have a form fitting tongue and it does hold the foot nice and firm.

Seamless upper is a winner, in theory it should mean that you have no possibility for blisters or abrasion from any seams. I did have a slight issue with rubbing on one of my toes where the shoe bends in the propulsive face, however, I do think that it is due to the test shoe being slightly too big. I will know more with testing.

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Cushioning for me was a surprise and I have to say I was surprised by the relatively hard feel of the shoe. I had expected a more plush ride but that may well come with more runs. It’s still early days in the test and the is just an initial first impression.

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Heal box is snug and really does hold the foot secure. The toe box is really well protected and therefore ideal for rocky, technical and mountain runs. The lacing is very secure and does compensate for the lack of the gusseted tongue, however, I am really surprised SCOTT didn’t include a ‘lace locker‘ to store excess lace as they do on many of their other shoes. It’s just a little elastic that weighs nothing but is ideal for keeping loose lace ends out of the way… maybe it will be added to the shoes for when they go on sale in 2017?

This is a first impression review and without doubt, I think we are going to see the Supertrac RC appear on many trails and mountains in 2017. Lets face it, you’ll have no problem noticing them…! The combination of grip, good looks, cushioning and seamless upper is going to make the RC a winner. I will come back with a full and detailed review after another month of trail and mountain abuse.

Scott Supertrac RC HERE

The North Face #TNF Ultra Endurance Shoe Review

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraEndurance-3919A couple of weeks ago I took a look at the TNF Ultra TRII, I said then that TNF are really getting their act together with run shoes. The recent products from the brand have continued to impress and the addition of the ULTRA ENDURANCE adds another quality shoe that offers runners another option to tackle the trails. The current TNF line up is as follows:

ULTRA TRII read my review HERE

ULTRA CARDIAC read my review HERE

ULTRA MT read my review HERE

and the ULTRA ENDURANCE

In a review toward the end of 2015, when I compared many leading shoes against each other (not all shoes I must stress) the Ultra Cardiac very nearly took top honours, it was just pipped by the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac. (Read the review HERE).

If I did that review now, I strongly feel that the battle between the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac and the TNF Ultra Endurance may well be even closer but the Supertrac would still get the nod from me due to the outsole which is extreme and made from a superior wet traction rubber compound that works really well on a multitude of surfaces, overall comfort and flexibility.

To provide some clarification, we need to look at the current TNF line up and see how (in simple terms) the shoes are to be used so that you can decide which shoe is for you:

ULTRA TRII – Is a dry trail, light and fast shoe for a runner who like a more minimalist feel. Cushioning is 8mm/ 16mm and It has an 8mm drop.

ULTRA CARDIAC – Is a cushioned trail/ mountain shoe that feels plush, fits snugly and works well and on dry trail, wet rock and very moderate mud. Cushioning is 12mm/ 20mm and it has an 8mm drop.

ULTRA MT – Has an aggressive outsole and is designed for off-road use in mud, mountains and demanding terrain. Cushioning is 9mm/ 17mm and it has an 8mm drop.

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Enter the ULTRA ENDURANCE – 9mm/17mm with 8mm drop.

This new shoe from the TNF brand sits somewhere between the CARDIAC and MT and as you would expect, has an 8mm drop. I like this! But then again I would… I am a real fan of 8mm drop shoes and as I have said many times before, this drop sits in the perfect middle ground that can work for most people. TNF have obviously thought about this and hence the continuity between the ‘ULTRA’ range. It’s also fair to say that as the name suggests, the ‘ULTRA’ shoes are designed for running longer and therefore 8mm will be more forgiving.

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Slipping the shoe on, it does feel different to the CARDIAC but more similar to the MT. This primarily due to the gusseted tongue which is secured within the shoe – this holds the foot firmer and in addition reduces the chance of debris getting in the shoe. It’s a winning combination that I love.

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The front (toe box) is wider than both the CARDIAC and MT and therefore allows the toes to splay a little more. Protection at the front is excellent with a very reinforced toe box bumper that will definitely protect against all those unplanned collisions with rocks, stones or other debris.

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Heel box is plush, padded and holds the foot secure and has FlashDry technology.

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Key features of many TNF shoes is ‘Snake Plate’ and the ‘Cradle,’ these two elements are present here in the Ultra Endurance and add to the overall benefits of the shoe.

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Snake Plate adds protection to the forefoot of the shoe and protects against rocks/ impact and so on, TNF vary the plates from one shoe to the next depending on what they consider to be necessary. In other shoes this would be called a rock plate.

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The cradle is designed to hold the rear of the foot more secure and stable.

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The upper is breathable and most importantly seamless, therefore reducing the chance of rubbing, hot spots or the chance of blisters. The upper is welded TPU with suede overlays.

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The outsole is Vibram Megagrip which is making an appearance on countless shoes in the trail world. I need to clarify here that Vibram don’t only make one Megagrip outsole (see here). They do many variations, so, please check! A classic example is the outsole on say the TNF ULTRA CARDIAC and TNF ULTRA ENDURANCE – they use Megagrip but they each have three different variations of the product. The Ultra Cardiac having a more subtle version, the Ultra Endurance a more aggressive outsole for mixed terrain and to draw comparisons, the Scott Kinabalu Supertrace (has a special Scott outsole) that is basically just aggressive, extreme and made from a superior wet traction rubber compound that works really well on a multitude of surfaces.

For example:

Ultra Cardiac outsole:

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Ultra Endurance outsole:

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Scott Kinabalu Supertrac outsole:

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Cushioning in the Ultra Endurance is single-density compression folded EVA which does a great job of allowing you to feel the ground but provide enough cushioning for a long day out.

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IN USE

The upper is seamless and snug and the gusseted tongue is a real pleasure which holds the foot firm. The toe box feels noticeably more roomy in comparison to say the Cardiac or MT.  The shoe feels relatively light but not super light. You really feel as though you are wearing a shoe that will take a battering. This in many respects is reflected in the shoes name, Ultra Endurance.

8mm drop for me is perfect, it provides a drop that allows me to run longer and when I can’t keep my form, the extra height allows for some compensation. As I mentioned above, this is obviously something that TNF have really thought about and the whole ‘Ultra’ range of shoes has an 8mm drop. This is also great as it means I can seamlessly move from one who to the other shoe without having a shock. A clear example of this is that I have been doing road runs in the Ultra TRII and I have been out in the really muddy stuff in the MT.

The shoe works well in mud but it’s not an out-and-out shoe for muddy trails, better get the MT if that is what you need. The Ultra Endurance is a great trail/ mountain shoe that works well and transitions from a multitude of surfaces. As I mentioned above, I believe it would give the Scott Kinabalu Supertrac a run for it’s money as a potential best ‘all rounder!’

To emphasise a point, if you were looking to but just one shoe that could handle many terrains and provide you with happy and many days out on the trail, then the Ultra Endurance would be a good place to start. It’s not a great road shoe, but it will gladly provide a cushioned and responsive ride for road sections between trail. It’s not an excellent performer in very muddy conditions but it does provide some grip that will allow you to progress. Where the shoe excels is when all these elements combine, say on a long training run, long hike or a race when you may well be mixing from road to trail, to rocks, to mud, to scree and so on, here the Ultra Endurance works so well.

It’s a shoe that excels of dry trail, rocky trail (wet or dry) and some road. It has actually become a real favourite when travelling when space is limited and I need a ‘one shoe does all’ scenario. Feel for the ground is good and has improved the more I have run. The first few runs felt a little hard and flat but the shoe bedded in nicely. The Vibram® Megragrip sole is as mentioned, almost becoming a standard feature on trail shoes. the version applied to the Ultra Endurance compliments the shoe perfectly.

Grip in mud is compromised, it always is in a shoe that is designed for trail. That is not a criticism as the shoe is definitely designed to be an all rounder. If you need out-and-out grip and a shoe that will just be used for soft-ground, mud, fells or other messy terrain, you’d be better looking at the TNF Ultra MT or a fell shoe from say inov-8 – the Mudclaw 300 for example is a great off-road shoe.

The heel box holds the foot secure with no slipping. It’s snug and reassuring.

The relatively seamless upper and sewn in tongue really holds the foot secure and has given me no hot spots. It’s a real bonus and it’s great to see that TNF are incorporating this more. For anyone who has used a Salomon S-Lab shoe with ‘endofit,’ a gusseted tongue really is just so much more comfortable. Although the TNF version is different to the Salomon version, similarities can be drawn.

The shoe has a neutral fit as does all the TNF ‘Ultra’ range and so therefore you could add an insert or orthotic if required. Drop is 8mm. Sizing is true to size, I take a UK9.5 in most shoes and my Ultra Endurance is UK9.5. However, due to the wider toe box the shoe does feel different to the Cardiac or MT so you may want to just make sure by trying in-store.

This is not the lightest shoe on the market but I don’t think that is really an issue. It’s not trying to be the lightest. What it does, is offer cushioning, protection and longevity in an attractive package that will last for many days, weeks and months. The colour-way of blue and yellow also looks pretty swish.

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Conclusion

This shoe is a great all-rounder and may well be a perfect ‘one shoe’ purchase for anyone who is looking for something that can do many things well. It excels on dry trails and loose surfaces such as scree, stones, sand etc. Grip from the Vibram sole is good on wet rocks and the shoes transition from trail to road well and the cushioning allows for plenty of happy miles.

The Ultra Endurance can handle mud as part of a mixed terrain trail run but if you wanted an out-and-out shoe for muddy trail, this is not it. It’s a really solid shoe with some serious toe protection, a plus for anyone heading out into mountainous terrain.

I have been working with and running myself in harsh, rocky, desert like terrain in Lanzarote, La Palma and so on and I think the Ultra Endurance would potentially make a great shoe for someone participating in a multi-day race like the Marathon des Sables. The combination of features sits well, the slightly wider toe box, protection, grip and cushioning all combine to make it a great shoe for such an adventure. I will feedback on this after the 2016 Marathon des Sables where I will test the shoe daily.

To draw a comparison, I think those runners who have enjoyed the inov-8 Race Ultra 290 will find the TNF Ultra Endurance very appealing. The plus side being the TNF who has more grip.

The TNF ULTRA ENDURANCE alternative colour-way

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The inov-8 RACE ULTRA 290

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The downsides are minimal for me. It’s a slightly heavier shoe and I have touched on the reasons why above. Longevity in TNF shoes has been an issue in the past so I will hold judgement on this and feedback. Currently after 100+ miles of mixed terrain, the shoes are holding up well with no issues.

The North Face say: With its Vibram® Megagrip outsole, Snake Plate™ forefoot protection and Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ stability, the Ultra Endurance will keep you tearing up the trail without tearing up your feet. CRADLE™ technology provides extra heel stability on uneven terrain, a gusseted tongue keeps loose trail debris out, while the rigid-yet-flexible ESS Snake Plate™ delivers on lightweight, heavy duty forefoot protection.

▪Welded TPU and suede mid-foot support overlays

▪Molded-TPU toe cap for protection

▪Gusseted tongue for protection from trail debris

▪Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ heel-stability technology

▪Single-density, compression-molded EVA midsole

▪Vibram® Megagrip outsole for durable sticky traction in all conditions

▪ESS Snake Plate™ forefoot protection

▪Cushioning 9mm front/ 17mm rear

▪8 mm offset

▪Weight per shoe 260g+/- for a UK8

▪Approximate Weight Pair: 510 g

TNF Technologies explained:

Snake Plate™

The patent-pending Snake Plate™ consists of a forefoot plate that winds back and forth between the medial and lateral sides of the foot. Because it is not one solid element, it is not as uncompromisingly rigid from side to side and front to back. The result is a forefoot plate that allows the foot to do what it is physiologically designed to do: flex, bend, and contort to changing terrain. At the same time, the Snake Plate™ delivers rigidity where and when it is still needed. The thickness, composition and size of the Snake Plate™ vary from style to style as appropriate. For example, a thicker, more rigid Snake Plate™ addresses the technical, ever-changing demands of a mountain run. A thinner, more flexible Snake Plate™ reconciles flexibility with a decreased demand for protection while on smoother dirt paths.

Vibram® Outsole Technologies

The North Face® collaborated with Vibram, long respected for quality and durability, to create various outsoles (Vibram® Humbolt Outsole, Vibram® Mikeno Outsole, Vibram® Walsh Outsole, and Vibram® Rubber Outsole Compound) with superior traction, stability and protection.

Ultra Protect™

A shank plate for torsional rigidity and consistent underfoot feel.