|Fellraisers. Yes, they've been used.|
Inov8s somewhat took over as my preferred race shoe in the intervening time and have become a tried and trusted shoe and sole unit for me.
However, when Salomon created the Fellcross a couple of years ago, my interest was piqued (despite it looking like a football boot), but £140 was a bit on the steep side for me to pay for a pair of shoes. (Perhaps more on that in a later post).
|Fellcross... sorry... stock picture|
Exciting times, a Salomon shoe dedicated to the fells, and at a price point that is similar to (some) inov8s? Seems like a goer.
Still, I had to wait until I had broken the majority of my other shoes before being able to justify buying a new pair of shoes, so finally, I have myself a pair of Fellraisers.
When I took them out of the box, they looked smart enough - as you would expect. A quick look at the grip revealed a decent deep tread with quite an aggressive pattern. Something that resembles a cross between the
|Well. It LOOKS grippy|
A note on sizing- especially if you are somewhere around size 7. There is always the conundrum if 7, 7.5 or even 8 might fit best. Shoe sizes are so ridiculously subjective, I've started looking at the Japanese sizes now - which come up in centimetres, so at least you have some idea of what might be going on. (though Salomon do have a sizing guide on their website, with sizes corresponding to the length of your foot... Apparently I am about 25.5cms which correlates to a european 41.3 in salomon sizes... whatever.
The fit is as I remember the XA pros to be. Comfortable and nicely enclosing. They don't feel like an inov8 - they feel almost a bit more plush. A clubmate mentioned that after running and racing for a number of days, back to back in inov8s, it was really nice to put on some fellraisers, simply because if felt like running in a pair of shoes made for comfort, with a toebox that doesn't feel restrictive... which is what it seems like.
On running in them, yep, nice. No problems. I went straight out for an 8 miler on the hill, and had no issues
with blisters whatsoever.
However, since wearing them, my language has got a lot worse. (note... there is a post script on this....)
The speedlacing system, which I have got on with very well on various Salomon shoes is a complete pig on the Fellraisers. Yes they do up well. No they don't come undone. However, the loose end of the lace, which is meant to tuck under a flap in the tongue of the shoe just doesn't stay there. I've tried all manner of tricks, and cheats, but it just won't stay. On a recent run the lace didn't stay tucked for more than 5 steps each time I stopped and remedied it, and to be honest, I was close to just throwing the shoes in a river. I don't know if it is an issue with Fellraisers in general, or with my particular size, or what, but as I say, this is the first time I've come across it as an issue.
|Contragrip. Please Salomon, make something good for wet rock!|
Grip- the bit that everyone wants to know about. Before buying them, I was told by another clubmate that they are good in mud, but treacherous on anything like wet tarmac. I took it with a pinch of salt, and thought that he was being a little overdramatic.
First run out, they seemed pretty good at going down a damp road, and once I got onto the mud and peat of the moors, they were fine. As good as I would have expected a roclite to be. I was a little ginger when descending, they just don't give the confidence of an x-talon or a mudclaw - and was quite glad of holding back as I had my first experience of them on wet rock.
Treacherous is pretty much an understatement. Think rollerskates on ice. In fact, think high heels on ice. When recceing a route (in the sun) but over some wet rocks, there was not a bit of grip that could be discerned from the soles of my shoes. The only thing that I could be absolutely sure of was that wherever I put my foot, it would end up slipping. Running on wet rock? No way. It's bad enough walking on wet rock.
Not only that, but bizarrely, on my first run I was coming back along the side of a hill, when I slipped and took a proper fall. "odd", I thought - must have hit a rock. And then proceeded to do the same thing within 20 seconds. No rocks in sight.
So Fellraisers aren't really able to cope with moss either. - Which, quite frankly, is mental when you think about it.
I think that considering the terrain that these shoes work on - and the terrain that they don't, they should perhaps be a heads up for a name change. I haven't used these in the Lakes yet, and with the amount of stone and rock, (which is inevitably wet) that they have up there, I don't think I am likely to.
These shoes work well on the moor, and as such, maybe they should be called Moor-raisers. It doesn't quite have the same catchy feel to it, or indeed, a link to a film, but its a bit more honest.
So overall - a nice comfy shoe, looks grippy, and copes with mud, but use it on wet rock at your peril. I know that nothing really works on wet rock, but these are worse than quite a few other shoes that I've used in the past.
As soon as someone works out a rubber compound that actually works on wet rock, that doesn't wear out in 2 weeks and also works in mud, that person may well end up very well off.
Ok - Post script about the lacing system.
While taking the photos of the shoes for this blog I had a bit of a search around the tongue section... when you roll the lacing "holster" all the way back, there is a little hole which I hadn't noticed before. (That's what happens when you always wear a pair of shoes in the dark).
The top taggy bit of the speedlace fits in there nice and snug, and when you turn the top of the holster over.... hey presto... all done up with no flappy out bits. So maybe this is the way in which you're meant to do these shoes up, without the tag forever falling out. I'll have to try it out on my next run.