The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe made a huge splash when it debuted for the price for $375. Yes, really. I first started seeing it on social media, and I wondered…is $375 worth it for a trail shoe?
Is it worth it for any shoe?
Will I automatically run a PR?
This will likely be a longer-than-usual review.
The more expensive the shoe, the longer the review? Right?
Not really, but a lot is going on with the Speedland SL: PDX. In short, it is an AWESOME shoe.
Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe Quick Facts:
Weight: 9.7 oz
Heel to toe drop: 5 mm
Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe Introduction:
Like there are many different trails, there are many different trail shoes. Specific trail shoes are better for certain things. Many trails in the Northeast are more hiking versus the well-groomed trails out west. So it makes sense there is a wide variety to meet what you want and need in a shoe.
The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe aims to be the jack of all trades trail shoe. Great for running up giant, rocky, east coast mountains but also great for those smooth and well-groomed fast trails you see out west.
The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe was created by industry gurus Dave Dombrow and Kevin Fallon. Both have dedicated years to designing running shoes and working on top brands. When working on other brands, they were limited by a budget. This meant they might want something but had to compromise with something not as great. When they set out to design the Speedland Trail Shoe, they had no budget. They got to do things: “their way.”
In short, the Speedland Trail Shoe uses expensive materials, and that’s what makes it expensive. It’s not the first trail shoe with a carbon plate, but it might have done it the best.
What makes the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe different?
- Carbon fiber plate trail shoe
- Removeable Carbitex plate featuring an asymmetrical flex. This means it’s stiff one way and flexible the other. A removable midsole is unheard of in running shoes…until now.
- BOA Li2 Fit System: This is the most advanced BOA technology to date. It uses two dials. Both of these dials are multidirectional and micro-adjustable. Before, BOA only tightened in one direction. This means that if you needed to adjust your fit, you needed to reset the entire dial. Now you can adjust without resetting it. The BOA system also features “Dyneema,” a fiber over 15X stronger than steel.
- Small batch: Only 1200 Speedland Trail Shoes have been created to start
Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe Fit:
The upper of the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe is made from a ripstop mesh that is both lightweight and breathable. Not taking into account the BOA lacing, it’s fairly low-key.
In my opinion, the best running shoe uppers are those that disappear off your feet. The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe does just this. Once it’s on, you don’t feel anything. It really does just disappear.
The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe uses PerformFit™ Wrap powered by BOA Li2 Fit System. This is actually huge because the dual-dial can do multidirectional incremental adjustments. There is a dial around the ankle and another around the lower foot. It actually reminds me a lot of cycling shoes (and I don’t even cycle LOL).
Instead of having to redo an entire dial if you “unlock it,” you’re able to get a more custom fit. This means that it takes a little bit to get the best fit and feel for you. I wouldn’t take the Speedland out for a race without running a few times in it and making sure you like how it fits and performs. After about 2 runs, I found the best fit for me.
The Dyneema knit makes the upper more of a sock than a shoe. Truthfully with all of the customization you can get with the two dials, I think the Speedland SL:PDX is one of the best fitting shoes out there.
Typically in running shoes, I wear a women size 10-11 wide. In the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe, I found the size 10.5 (men’s size 9) to be perfect as far as length goes. I got the right fit after a few runs of adjusting what I preferred in a trail shoe. The Speedland SL:PDX isn’t overly wide but it is fairly accommodating. I flirt with wide models in several brands and haven’t had an issue of the shoe feeling too narrow.
Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe Ride:
Whew, the ride. The ride of the Speedland SL:PDX has been one of the most talked-about rides for any running shoe.
Almost every part of the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe is customizable. This includes even the midsole, which until now was unheard of. The Speedland SL: PDX does something no other shoe, trail or not, does. They put their cushioning into the specific Pebax insole. You’ll feel a good blend of cushioning, and if you hate it, you can just take the insole out. Taking the insole out makes the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe extremely low profile and minimalist.
Now, what the heck is the Carbitex Plate? The Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe carbitex plate makes the shoe pop. This is the carbon plate that makes you feel fast. It’s the first shoe that you can remove the midsole, and wow, that’s weird. You can split your run and have half of it with the plate and half without. Without the plate, it feels much softer.
I appreciate the Carbitex Plate is flexible. Unlike the road carbon plated shoes, you aren’t going to feel extreme propulsion forward. It feels much smoother well equipped for trails.
Durability and Traction: The Speedland SL: PDX uses a Michelin rubber outsole with 6 mm lugs. If you prefer 3 mm lugs, you’re able to cut them down from 6mm to 3 mm! Something feels so daunting about cutting up a $375, so I have not. Having deeper lugs means more traction and a little more weight. I also find deeper lugs will keep the outsole lasting longer. Since I don’t run trails to win (LOL, I run trails not to fall), I don’t think the few ounces make a difference for me.
As far as durability, the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe claims you can get between 400-500 miles in them. So it could theoretically get twice the miles of many trail shoes. I’ve put about 100 miles on mine and they don’t look lkie they are wearing down anytime soon.
So far, I haven’t found a trail that the Speedland SL:PDX hasn’t been able to grip onto.
How does the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe perform in wet terrain?
If you are going to run on muddy or wet trails, you’re able to clip the drainage ports on the medial side around the midfoot. This allows your shoe to drain quickly.
Running in the Speedland SL: PDX feels interesting. It’s definitely a shoe made for trails, and while I don’t feel bad running on other surfaces like the road, I definitely don’t want to waste it there.
I’ve run in several different styles of the SL:PDX shoe. I’ve run sandy dirt trails around me, as well as extreme mountain runs with over 5000 feet of vertical. I’ve grown to enjoy the Carbitex Plate because I do like the extra cushion. I have done some more minimal runs and if you are someone who loves feeling the ground, you’ll love the feeling of running in the Speedland SL: PDX without the midsole. If I needed one trail shoe for everything this is what I would grab. I haven’t found a trail it can’t handle.
Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe Conclusion:
Yes, this shoe is expensive, but there is no other shoe I can think of that matches the quality. If you are someone who is really getting into trails and wants a fully customizable shoe to match your needs, you’ll like the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe. Plus if you run on different types of trails which require different types of shoes, the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe can handle most everything.
I wanted to say: “it’s hard to justify the cost of the Speedland SL:PDX” but it has features that no other shoe has (even in the road running circuit). Sometimes when a shoe is expensive, you ask: where is my money going, but with the Speedland SL:PDX, you can see exactly where it’s going. The cost is definitely going to be a limiting factor here, but if you run trails and are looking for the best of the best, the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe is a great option.
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Questions for you:
Have you tried the Speedland SL:PDX Trail Shoe?
What is your favorite trail shoe?