The Lite Train is the lightest shoe in the new Alpine Speed Collection from Salewa. Designed for mountain training and developed with tyre giant Michelin they promise a lot and look excellent on paper. Sim has been testing a pair for the last couple of months to see if they deliver. Here’s his verdict:

Image: Salewa

I was excited about testing out these shoes as I’ve recently entered the Lakes Sky Ultra, taking place from Ambleside on 23rd July. In preparation I’ve been increasing my mileage and seeking out technical hills to train on: ideal conditions to test the Lite Trains. The race covers 54km of Lake District fells with 4300m of ascent including a grade 3 scramble, so shoe choice is crucial.

The Review: Salewa Lite Train £110 290g UK 10.5

The Lite Train is designed as a lightweight mountain training shoe with a great balance between high performance, grip and durability. This sounds perfect for my needs: minimal weight; a sole I can trust whatever the conditions and good levels of protection, comfort and durability. At £110 they’re pretty standard for a shoe of this type. I’m expecting them to be good over shorter distances but interested to see how they stand up to the bigger miles; would they see me though the Lakes Sky Ultra? Read the full review below – or skip to the summary.

First Impressions

In my opinion Salewa have nailed the Euro-cool mountain looks. The colours and graphics look great – technical and minimal but stylish at the same time. The men’s version comes in three different colorways; the women’s model comes in two.

The Fit

I’ve always liked the fit of Salewa footwear – it feels precise and snug without being tight, with enough padding. The sizing is fairly standard, but if you have wide feet you may need to go up half a size. It may be useful to know that I’m a UK10.5 in Salewa but I’m a UK11 in Salomon, but the fit is similar.

The Sole Unit

Salewa have partnered with Michelin to create the sole unit on the Lite Train. Inspired by the classic Wild Grip’r mountain bike tyres, the sole is a clever combination of sculpted outsole with cut out sections designed to increase control when contouring. The sole unit also features reinforced blocks in the heel section to help with braking and an anti-torsion shank. The grip is designed for mountain running and is between 3mm and 4mm deep. In use I’ve found the tread offers good and predictable grip on grass and gravel both up and down hill. As would be expected with this type of shoe they aren’t great in deeper mud. The treads are well-spaced and shed mud well so they clear quickly when you get out of the muck keeping your feet light. They grip well on rougher rock like granite and sand stone but they are surprisingly slippy on limestone and steep tarmac. The soles have worn very well so far: I’ve ended up doing a few miles on road which often wrecks off road shoes so they get a tick for durability. Perhaps a softer compound rubber would offer better all round grip on rock at the expense of some durability.

The outsole is shaped to fit into the midsole which is made from a closed-cell foam and offers a reasonable amount of cushioning for such a light shoe. The 6mm drop from the heel to the toe is spot on for this type of shoe, feeling responsive and close to the ground but not too minimal.

The Lite Train doesn’t have a rock plate in the sole so you can feel sharp rocks through the forefoot especially when running fast downhill. It would add weight and depth to include one but I think it would be better with a bit more protection. I find that my feet start to feel a bit battered after 10-15 miles of rocky running; this is fine for shorter races but I think I might want a bit more protection for a longer race or training run.

The Upper

The upper is a light and breathable synthetic mesh with a seamless construction and some light padding. A rubber toe bumper extends around the forefoot adds protection without much extra weight. Salewa use a system they call 3F which extends the arch support up the sides to the lacing (the yellow structure on the side of the shoe); it’s hard to know how well this actually works but the shoe does fit well, hugs my foot and offers plenty of support. The shoe isn’t waterproof but drains very well.

Inside the shoe the heel section is lined seamlessly and the forefoot is unlined. The heel cup is padded adding comfort and stability.

In Summary

A great pair of trail shoes that perform well over most terrain. The light weight, low profile and snug fit work well at speed on technical trails, while good protection and durability mean I’ll be using them for a while yet. They’re best suited to short- to mid-distance training and racing on technical rocky or grassy trails.