salomon exit aero 2 loch na sguabaidh

Sat, Aug 21, 2010

It was a wild night last night, with Force 11 gales forecast though it didn’t seem to be as bad as that. However, these winds normally arrive in November and this is the second big storm of the summer so I don’t know what the weather is doing these days. After last winter’s lack of wind and Alpine snow conditions, perhaps this one will be a real stinker with proper storms. We shall see as they say. Today it definitely felt autumnal though. Very windy and alive. A wonderful day to be out and about. So I took the Salomon Exit Aero shoes kindly supplied by Fitness Footwear for an outing round Loch na Sguabaidh near Torrin as the tops were clagged in and it was gusting 40-45mph at sea level. I hadn’t been along this route in years since I took the MTB along it but ended up with a broken chain so I decided to head back and do a circuit of the loch this time. It was one of those days where if you didn’t like the light, just wait a minute or two for it to change.

The east face of Belig

The first thing about these shoes is they are very comfortable straight out of the box and very light and cool thanks to the mesh uppers. That also means your feet get wet on a path like this.

The track to Luib beside Loch na Sguabaidh

Even more so when it deteriorated into a lochside bog. It was here I tested the grip provided by the Contagrip soles, which turned out to be really good. Leaping from tuft to tuft was easy in these as they’re so light and grippy, even in the black glour the path becomes along the loch shore. Once away from the loch I took a detour up the boulders and scree of Beinn na Cro to get a feel for what they’re like on rock. Well, they’re equally at home on gabbro boulders and scree. Not a slip anywhere and they grip the surface really well and as they’re so light you can target your feet easily to skip across the boulders.

Salomon Exit Aero

It was while I was sitting on the side of Beinn na Cro that I spotted a path on the other side of the glen and thus hatched the return along the other side of the loch but that meant crossing the river which couldn’t be done dry shod. There was just too much water around after the storm. But I thought to myself, these shoes should dry easily, it’s a fairly warm day so go for it! So I headed back down the scree, leaping from block to block like a fly on a wall and crossed to the other side of the glen.

I would have thought twice about it if I’d been wearing boots and gaiters but the shoes were fun and once wet they became even more fun. It was great to just splash across all the burns on the way back to the road and where the path ended up in glour on the loch shore again, I just walked in the loch. Waves were crashing against my legs and spray flying up over my head. It was superb! I was having really good fun! Again, I wouldn’t have done that with boots so the shoes opened up a whole new way of walking where you just walk where you want, get soaked feet but dry out 15 or 20mins later.

So all in all a promising first use of the Aero shoes. There are always some things that aren’t quite right though and which need a bit of tweaking. The first is the insoles are very thin and the front of each one is physically bonded to the inside of the shoe so you can’t get it out to dry the shoe’s inside. No problem there though. I just removed them. I presume they’re stuck in as they’re very thin and would deform perhaps if they could move freely inside the shoe. However, the sole of the shoe isn’t too stiff and gives a good rolling motion and you feel you connect to the ground in a most pleasant way. You really feel part of the landscape wearing these shoes. Having said that, they don’t feel too soft over rough stony ground. Just about right I’d say. I’ll prolly be replacing the insoles with my Superfeet ones though as my gait was a little on the wonky side walking back along the road.

The main problem I found was the outside of each of my big toes became quite painful. Indeed, kneeling down with one foot on the ground was actually painful on the big toe. The front of the shoe is quite cramped and my big toes continually hit the upper part of the shoe. The rest of the shoe feels fine and comfy. Wide enough for me to wiggle my toes but the toe box is just too cramped for my big toes. I suppose the Superfeet could make this worse or it might just be a lack of breaking in but I doubt it. The lacing is excellent, with enough friction to gather up the looseness and get a good tight fit to keep the foot from sliding forward going downhill. It’s just a pity about the toe bash. Having said that, I had toe bash with the Merrells to start with until I’d sorted the lacing but the Aero’s toe box just does seem a tad cramped compared with the Merrells.

Next outing I’ll take the Aeros up a hill but I think I’ll stick the Merrells in the sack just in case my toes protest too much.

Fitness Footwear stock a range of Salomon Trainers as part of their Salomon footwear collection and my wife has a pair of Aeros and she loves them so I’m prepared to take my weirdly shaped feet into account. These shoes were fun to wear, very light and grippy but just a tad cramped in the toe box for me.

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