Swedish outdoor enterprise Haglöfs is not really a trademark you would associate with foot gear. Since a couple of years they build some pretty nice alpine and hiking shoes besides their key range of clothing. Recently they paired up with Japanese footwear powerhouse Asics to please the booming trail running market. The distinguishing presence of their main model Gram XC is nothing to oversee. This shoe is red. Just red. Funky.
Appearance is a lot for me when it comes to running shoes. If I don’t like the look of a shoe I would not really use it. Indubitably taste is something that is interpreted in a lot of special ways. For me this shoe looks good. I like the shape of the shoe and the little gimmicks that come with it. It is well build and pleases the eye with its individual monochrome design. Something new in a very special way.
It is raining and storming when I lace up the Gram XC to go out in the forest for a test ride. The first couple of kilometers lead me past the local farm roads and through grass tracks. The shoe feels solid on tarmac. Sometimes trail soles feels awkward running on normal, even ground. This one is a bit unalike. The lightness of the shoe is a main feature according to the product information. Yes, the shoe is light but not any different to comparable models. It feels good and for a shoe with this amount of cushion it certainly is not heavy.
Just when I take a sharp turn into a soaky grass trail I get to feel a nice feature this shoe has to offer. The grip is pretty awesome for a sole of that style. A very sweet foam mixture of the sole and the shape makes it nice to move aggressively in corners and on technical trails. A very responsive feeling is something you really appreciate with this shoe. I continued on some slippy trails through the local forest. Hurdled some trees and cruised along rock sections that generally make a road running shoe scream. Not so the Gram XC. Very straightforward performance by this guy.
I continue to wonder about the flexibility of the Gram XC and certainly feel that this shoe obviously does have a Rock Protection in the AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Resistance) sole, as I land on some sharp gravels. The Asics Gel system nevertheless works nice and for a forefoot runner like me the cushioning is well placed in that shoe. As always I could do with a bit less plastic on the back. After running the shoe for a couple of weeks now I have to say that the sole material looks pretty “run down” at some parts. Something that other shoes in my rack don’t.
As you will see the pictures the Gram XC has some mesh covering the lacking. They say it is a ‘lace pocket’. I could not really fit the laces in there, as it is cut way to short and rigid. I tried it twice but lost the interest in that feature pretty fast. Other then this feature it is a nice protection against rocks and sand. Not so against water and rain. I found the shoe to get soaked pretty fast. Even with light rain and misty trails. The lacing system does come across a bit thin but feels good and holds the feet in a secure position. Also the cut of the shoe in the back gives a nice and secure feeling and all kind of undergrounds.
So did I like this shoe? I certainly did. Despite being a shoe designed for trails and off-road running the Gram XC pleased me on all king of terrains and weather conditions. It is a nice and well build all-day training shoe. For me the highlight is the sole and the way it supports you and keeps you on track. I’m exited to see what Haglöfs has on offer for the next round of trail running models. The start was ok. Lets see what the future holds.
Tune of the day: Talib Kweli - State Of Grace