Trail Running Shoes Duke it Out

Warning: Reviews of products by Snowshoe Magazine can be beneficial to your purchasing decisions. Please understand that we do not solely promote a specific brand but rather we promote snowshoeing with equipment and gear that is comfortable to each and every snowshoer, worldwide. Products are products, snowshoers are snowshoers – the latter being the most important to us.

Ladies and gentlemen…in coordination with Snowshoe Magazine, The North Face and Nike ACG…a title bout between two trailrunning shoes is taking place. I am reviewing the benefits of The North Face’s Ultra Gore-Tex XCR and Nike ACG’s Air Teocalli Plus.

Although the choice in outdoor running shoes span a number of brands, I felt these were among the top choices. The North Face is known for its high-quality outdoor gear, its reputable number of products utilized for the most extreme conditions and its overall involvement in the worldwide expansion of outdoor awareness.

Nike, as many know, is the source and indubitable answer to many people’s footwear needs. The Nike swoosh is the trademark of all trademarks; the swoosh represents fitness, activity and sport. The ACG (All Conditions Gear) division of the company has limelighted its way into outdoor enthusiasts’ focus product lines. An extensive offering of footwear and apparel has prepared ACG as the “go-to” company for outdoor products that stand the test of the elements.

So, the fight begins. Here’s how we’re scoring and reviewing this match-up:

*Each shoe was put through a number of “tests” that further illustrated their durability, strength, comfort, resistance (to the elements), and performance (specifically when strapped to a pair of snowshoes).

*Price is another aspect that I tend to notice as well. However, how much the shoes retail for and how well they perform in the elements are important details in how snowshoers will trust the purchase.

*Construction and style are certainly noticed among consumers who are making buying decisions. So, how do these shoes hold up after taken through some of the most stringent and rigorous of activities?

*Longevity is another reason many people will buy a pair of these shoes to either use during snowshoeing or trailrunning. Is there one shoe that can stand the test of time?

*Insulation provides warmth to snowshoers and although each pair is engulfed in Gore-Tex, one shoe proved to be much more shielded than the other.

*Each shoe will be given a number of points out of ten to prove my choice and preference. Simple.
My experience with both shoes was positive. I took each shoe through the rigors of snowshoeing and trailrunning…and each pair held-up like champs. However, in the end, I chose one over the other purely on a level of comfort rather than durability.

During my snowshoeing efforts, The North Face XCRs were my choice for snow excursions. But, the snow had to be shallow or packed to be wearing the XCRs in a pair of running snowshoes – any deeper than 5 inches required the use of sport gaiters.

The XCRs are well constructed but lacked a certain amount of finesse – they were more flashy than they were poised for the outdoors. Although the price was somewhat decent, around $110, the XCR shoes did not exude a sense of longevity. After taking the shoes on a few trailrunning trips, I found the soles of the XCRs to be either too thin or too spongy.

Let me explain…

When running I could feel the rocks and other pathway obstacles when stepping. That made the shoes highly uncomfortable…and I was highly perturbed when it came time for them to actually perform under strenuous activities.

With that in mind, I would suggest the XCRs purely for the use of snowshoeing, not trailrunning. They performed brilliantly when strapped in a pair of snowshoes and kept my feet completely dry when dipped in snow.

I give The North Face’s Ultra Gore-Tex XCR shoes a score of seven out of 10. Although a great snowshoeing cross-trainer, the XCRs proved to be somewhat uncomfortable on the dry trails of the Rocky Mountains.

The Nike ACG’s Air Teocalli Plus shoes are a “can’t-go-wrong” purchase. Placed in the same environments and activities the XCRs experienced, the Teocallis performed well in snow and out-stepped its competition in the trailrunning arena.

On a comfort fit level, the Teocallis took the title crown of Snowshoe Magazine’s “Snowshoeing/Trailrunning Shoe of Choice.”

When snowshoeing in the Teocallis, I experienced the same sustained warmth as I did with the XCRs. Keep in mind, there is more Gore-Tex in the XCRs than the Teocallis (The North Face boasts the XCRs are lined with Gore-Tex in the outer and inner shells). Could this be a construction issue?

The Teocallis – although not as flashy and designed to look like dollars were spent – the materials used confirmed their longevity. Supported by Nike’s trademark “air bubble” in the heel of the shoe, my trailrunning experience with the Teocallis was flawless. I felt supported and not pestered by an over-spongy sole.

Another great feature of the Nike ACG Teocallis is the sole’s tread and grip. Made with a strong rubber material (reminiscent of an automobile’s tire tread), the soles were equipped with teeth that actually created a magnificent trailrunning feature.

I found the Nike ACG’s Air Teocalli Plus shoes were an all-around smart purchase. Not only did they perform as well as the XCRs in the snowshoeing arena, they surpassed the competition in trailrunning. I give the Teocallis an eight and a half out of 10. They proved to be the better choice in outdoor running shoes.