The GOrun Ultra running shoe from Skechers is a good choice for hikers looking for a cushioned step. Athletic shoes seem to splitting down minimalist versus cushioned lines, with the minimalists going so far as to go barefoot and the cushionists stacking on the padding. The hiking world is no exception with debates raging on backpacker forums about the merits of trail runners contrasted with traditional beefy hiking boots. One hiker described following barefoot footsteps for many miles on the John Muir Trail so the extreme minimalists have penetrated the long distance hiking world, too. Skeptics doubt that trail runners can provide enough support but real world hikers are proving them wrong. In the end, it’s another case of HYOH (hike your own hike)—what works for some might not work for others.
For those looking for a softer journey the Skechers GOrun Ultra is worth a trial, before one embarks on a long distance hike, of course. Unlike the GOrun (sans Ultra), which is a minimalist shoe that displays the profile of the trail (meaning that you feel the bumps on the path), the GOrun Ultra is enhanced with a thick layer of Resalyte, an injection molded compound that is yielding. This is paired with the more rigid Resagrip outsole for enhanced support. The traction control is impressive, with protuberant, knobby soles. The heel drop is 4mm without the insole; 8mm with the added optional insole. The side panels have 4-way stretch mesh with a mesh fabric upper so they are maximally breathable. They are lined with a soft fabric so sockless athletes will find them comfortable and they are treated with Agion for odor control. A women’s size 7 is 7.5 oz; 8.7 oz for a men’s size 9.
My husband, Steve, and I have each been testing the GOrun Ultra as we gradually ramp up our training in preparation for the >200 mile John Muir Trail backpacking trip we’re doing later this year. We had been reading a lot of the discussion points about the benefits of trail runners and when we had the opportunity to test these we jumped at the chance. We’ve been taking them out on 5-15 mile hikes and so far we have positive, though differing, opinions about their utility on the trail. When picking them up out of the box there is no doubt that they feel feather light. At 8 ounces for one size 9 shoe it’s almost half the weight of one of my hiking boots, which weighs in at 15.87 ounces. They are a good looking shoe too, if that's important to you.
When I put them on they felt very soft, comfortable and fit true to size. The mesh was supple while the sole felt extremely forgiving. The rocker design, with a thick midsole compared to the heel and toe felt a little unusual and I wondered if it would feel strange when walking--it didn’t. I tried them on asphalt roads and uneven hiking trails littered with boulders and tree roots. I liked them a lot on roads and felt like the cushioning was beneficial in protecting my joints from the hard surfaces. But on rough trails I sometimes didn’t feel like I got enough support as the mesh upper let my foot wobble around a bit. Fair enough—it’s not designed as a hiking boot so I can’t expect it to provide equivalent support. I liked the rugged sole that provided good traction on the trail.
But Steve, on the other hand (or foot, more precisely), took to them immediately, permanently abandoning his hiking boots. He loves everything about the GOrun Ultra, specifically the squishy soft sole that is so thick he can’t feel rocks or sticks underneath, the incredibly light weight, the mesh upper that lets his foot breathe and isn’t confining, the rocker design that propels him forward and the thick lugs on the bottom of the sole that grip the trail. He doesn’t even wear his custom orthotics, which he’s worn for decades, in his GOrun Ultras, because the shoe fits his foot so well. Overall, he feels that it is a very stable shoe and he’s planning to use these, paired with lightweight, breathable, fast drying Tilley socks, on the John Muir Trail this summer.
Skechers, a billion dollar, international retailer, markets over 3,000 brands around the world. The GOrun Ultra is part of the Skechers Performance division; the other is the Lifestyle division. Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, CA they put a little California fun in every shoe. Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, American Meb Keflezighi, is a brand ambassador for the Skechers GOrun line of shoes and worked with them on the design.
Bottom line: We agreed that the shoes are lightweight and comfortable. For my style of hiking I liked the GOrun Ultra on smooth paths but still prefer a hiking boot, which provides more lateral support, on rough trails, while Steve finds the support sufficient and has adopted the Skecher GOrun as his preferred hiking shoe in every kind of terrain, even bushwhacking.
The GOrun Ultra is a high performance shoe that easily wins in the running crowd. It can be cross purposed to hiking trails for the set of hikers looking for a lightweight but durable, breathable and very comfortable shoe.
Disclosure of material connection: I received test samples from Skechers but the opinions expressed are solely my own.