Editor’s Note: Brian Metzler has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of running shoes over the past 25 years. This is the sixth and final installment of Brian’s recommendations on how to buy a pair of running shoes. The final topic is one particularly important to the OCR crowd: A shoe that can take a beating. In previous installments he has written about fit, cushioning, support, offset, and flexibility.
Part 6: Durability
If you are a Spartan athlete, a frequent CrossFit participant, or a trail runner, you’ll want—actually, you’ll need—your shoes to be durable and protective. Durability and protection come partly from the materials of a shoe and partly from the design of a shoe. Key durability-enhancing materials and features to look for include a protective toe bumper, a full-length rubber outsole, reinforced sidewalls, a mesh upper that’s been enhanced by thin thermoplastic polyurethane overlays, and a flexible rock plate sandwiched in the midsole. There are some trade-offs to consider, though, because the features that provide durability and protection add weight. For example, if you have a shoe with more cushioning or thicker outsole lugs, it might offer plenty of protection without a rock plate. Similarly, a shoe with a wider toe box won’t need as much of a toe bumper because your toes won’t be quite as vulnerable.
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