Update (June 15, 2016): Also read my full review.
Earlier this year Salewa launched its “Mountain Training” category with three distinct models for trail running and hiking. The Lite Train is the most minimal of the bunch, but most definitely still shares hallmarks of Salewa footwear, like robust design and impeccable construction.
I will eventually write a review based on long-term use, which reveals much more than a few outings ever will, but that will take time. For this post, I will mostly extrapolate and speculate, in an effort to help fill the current void of information and insight about the Lite Train.
Specs, features, and observations
- 260 grams (9.2 oz), men’s size 9; 290 grams (10.2 oz), men’s size 11.5
- Stack height: 12 mm (toe) to 17 mm (heel)
- 5 mm drop (per Salewa PR) or 6 mm drop (per Salewa website)
- Traditional laces, which are more reliable long-term but cost minutes for mid-run adjustments
- A “breathable mesh” upper, although airflow is lacking
- Very thin midsole rock plate
- Small and semi-rigid toe bumper
- Rubber toebox guard, mostly for resistance to abrasion, not impact
- Aggressive Michelin outsole specific to the Lite Train
- MSRP: $130
The Lite Train is suitable for trail runners and hikers who want:
- A neutral and very lightweight shoe, with
- Excellent ground feel,
- Limited cushion and protection, and
- Aggressive traction for steeper slopes, soft dirt, grass and leaves, and consolidated snow.
The Lite Train is not a good choice if you want a generously cushioned or protective shoe, perhaps for hard or rocky surfaces, or if you need a supportive or corrective build.
Personally, the Lite Train has found a place in my shoe quiver for short, technical outings, especially when the trails are soft, wet, or slushy. For non-technical trails, long runs, and multi-day backpacking trips, I generally want more cushion and protection. I might not have to look far — Salewa’s Ultra Train and Speed Ascent are intended to fill those niches.
Among other shoes that I have used, the Lite Train reminds me most of the Salomon Fellraiser, in their neutral rides, low-to-the-ground builds, and lugged outsoles. The Lite Train is slightly lighter (by 1 oz, 30 grams) and has a thicker midsole (12-17 mm v 6-12 mm); but its upper is less protective, less reinforced, and less breathable. Also, the Lite Train’s insole should not absorb nearly as much water than the Fellraiser’s OrthoLite insoles.
Another good comparison is the discontinued La Sportiva Crosslite. The Lite Train is several ounces lighter, and the durability of its upper seems more promising.
I’m a size 11.5 in Altra, La Sportiva, Merrell, and Salomon. The 11.5 Lite Train fits true to size.
The Lite Train has a narrow last and low-volume upper, but I don’t find it constrictive. It fits similarly to the aforementioned shoes, as well as to the Salomon Sense Pro.
The feel of the last shoe that I reviewed, the Altra Lone Peak 2.5, is nearly the polar opposite. It’s like the difference of a Buick and a sports car. Neither is “best,” but their optimal uses are not the same.
Disclosures: This post contains affiliate links. Salewa provided me with the Lite Trains for testing.
yes, another question, sorry. have you tried the speed ascent? how does it compare to the other two you’ve reviewed, including fit? no experience with salewa, just trying to sort this out…and what better source??
Haven’t tried them. I know they are being discontinued after this year.
Versus the other two shoes, it’s beefier. It also has a rockered sole, which some like and others do not.
thanks, andrew. i’m guessing you’re not too crazy about the rockered sole? re the curved-up toe in particular, do you think that could cause strains and/or injuries for some people?
My understanding is that it works for some, not for others.