Thursday, May 2, 2019

VJ Sport XTRM- The best shoe the world does not know about



95/100
When it comes to the best trail running shoe companies on the market, Hoka, Salomon, or Merrell are usually the first that come to mind. However, the Finland based shoe company VJsport has taken the shoe market by storm by producing quality shoes that are durable, have great grip, and offer excellent comfort.

VJs newest shoe to hit the market is the XTRM. This is a true mountain running shoe. I have worn a numerous amount of trail shoes and this shoe meets the requirement’s I need in shoe, including midsole comfort, durability, and inventive lug design.
                            

The powerful VJ XTRM
 

I have ran over 100 miles in this shoe and they show no signs of use or damage.

Specifications

Weight: 8.8oz or 250 grams
Heel to toe Drop: 4mm
Material: 48% Kevlar and polyester blend in the upper
Lugs: 6mm lugs of Butyl rubber

Overview

VJsport XTRM is the company’s second main shoe to hit the market in the USA, the first being the IROCK. This shoe was highly praised by Obstacle Course Racer and Sky Race World Champion, Jon Albon. It was designed to provide foot protection while still remaining flexible and comfortable enough for long distances on trails.





Throwback 80s neon color

I was initially interested in trying this company based on their reputation for valuing quality over quantity. This company produces fewer than 20 different types of shoe due, focusing closely on the design of each one.

This shoe is one the few shoes that shines in all aspects of trail running. While most shoes excel in certain areas and lack in others, the VJ sport covers all its bases.


When I first received the shoe, I was impressed by the comfort and the aggressive outsole and it offered.

The shoe does have some tiny flaws that I will touch on later, but they are insignificant in comparison to the remarkable features the shoe offers.

Looks

When I first received my pair of XTRM’s I was immediately impressed with the overall look of the shoe, especially the color schemes they chose. I personally love bright color shoes that can be seen a mile away and the XTRM fit that description perfectly. However, I do see how some people could be put off by the vibrancy.
At a first glance, the shoe looks heavy. However, they are surprisingly light.
Dog approved

Fit

The XTRM runs true to size and offers a very secure fit. I have had no issues with my foot-sliding forward when running. It’s always a relief when the shoe runs true to size.
One new of technologies that I have come to love in this shoe is the Fitlock feature in the midsole. The design of this lacing system allows the shoe to provide a secure midfoot feel without being too snug or loose. 



Snug Fit

I did notice that this shoe feels somewhat narrow at first and this probably could become an issue for some people who prefer a wider fit. I consider myself lucky since I am able to wear both wide and narrow shoes.
My first run in this shoe was a very muddy trail run and the shoe performed admirably. I did notice both my of pinky toes began to develop a blister on the top of the toe however this only happened on the first run and has yet to reoccur. Many of my favorite shoes had pretty significant break-in periods, so I consider this a win.

Upper

The XTRM’s upper is comprised of 43% Kevlar and 57% Airmesh, which is very flexible with good breathability. It allows the shoe to remain comfortable for the duration of the run. VJ continues to use a Kevlar mesh upper because of the lightweight nature of the fabric and its strong durability.


Thin but durable upper

One of the new features I discovered with this shoe is the Fitlock technology. The design of the lacing system allows the shoe to provide a secure midfoot feel; I could best describe this as hugging the foot. This allows you two have a secure tight fit without have to tie the laces too tight. The toes and heel box still have plenty of room for comfort.



Game changing Fitlock technology

This technology is so durable that it seems to good to be true. Yet, the only negative I can think of is it the drainage capabilities. While the mesh and polyester do a great job of keeping water out it also means the shoe will not drain well.

I would categorize this feature as “good but not great”, since the shoes does drain water somewhat quickly however not on par with some of its competitors.

This is, however, a very small prize to pay for such a great and durable upper.



Bullet proof mesh but doesn't like to drain
Laces and Shoe Tongue

The laces of the shoes are excellent even though they are thin and compact. They do not stretch, but are still durable and stay secure when tied.



Excellent laces

The tongue of the shoe is extremely thin due to the form-fitting performance, but it can slide to the side while running, which can sometimes expose your socks to debris.


Thin but  tongue

At first I was not a fan of the shoes tongue however I have grown to enjoy the simplistic approach and its light weight. Another perk of the thin shoe tongue is that it does not retain water when the shoe becomes wet.

Midsole

The XTRM was designed to provide enough comfort for longer races. VJ introduced the rock plate in the midsole to provide protection for the foot. Regardless of the terrain, it helps to diffuse the point of impact. Although this shoe is made for longer duration races, it has no problems with control or stability.


Comfortable midsole reinforced with a rockplate

The longest I have ran in this shoe is 2 hours and it performed marvelously. I am confident that I could have ran another 3 hours in this shoe and my feet would still not hurt.

I am very impressed with how VJsport has constructed this shoe. In my experience, whenever a shoe has an aggressive outsole with big lugs, it tends to be less comfortable and cannot be used in longer races. Somehow, the XTRM has broken that trend and offers everything required of a quality trail shoe.


Thin insole

The insole of this is very thin. When you take it out it is relatively flimsy and does not seem like it would offer good protection. However, for some reason, inside the shoe it offers amazing protection.

Heel Cup

The heel box has minimal padding but holds the foot secure and is extremely comfortable. However, when sliding your foot inside the shoe the upper sometimes folds in, because of the thin material. This just requires some patience.


If you prefer a shoe with thick cushioning around the heel, this shoe may be problematic for you.

Outsole

The outsole of this shoe is where it truly shines with its butyl rubber 6mm thick lugs. When I first ran in these shoes I immediately noticed how fantastic the grip from the lugs are. I was able to run up sections of the trail I usually would slide down. I attribute this to the sticky butyl rubber lugs.
When I first put on the shoe and walked around in it I noticed after each step there was a popping sound, which I soon discovered was the sticky rubber lugs. After 100 plus miles on the trails, the lugs show no sign of wear and tear and I would be shocked if they ever do.


Phenomenal butyl rubber outsole

What is fantastic about this outsole is that it excels in the toughest terrain, including muddy, technical trails and rocky ground. When the shoe strikes the ground, you feel the instant connection with the ground and feel confident in each step.

I am amazed with how VJ somehow created a shoe that provides exceptional traction on wet rock. This is hands down the most difficult trail running element for shoe companies to master. Without a doubt, the XTRM has mastered it. Well-done, VJsport.


Ready to embrace any terrain

The XTRMs lugs remind me of an Inov-8 shoe, but shockingly are better and much more comfortable. I am 100% confident anyone wearing these will be able to climb any terrain without an issue.

Another function of this shoe I have grown to love is the strengthened rubber toe cap, as I somehow find a way to kick a rock on almost every run. This offers excellent protection for the toes on all terrains.


Reinforced toe bumper
Performance
I have found this shoe to perform the best on technical trails and rocky terrain as well as in obstacle races with wet and muddy conditions. The rubber lugs are great, even in some of the most difficult trail conditions.

The XTRM can perform in any terrain

I use this shoe primarily as a racing shoe due to its durability and comfort during long distance races. I do plan on buying another pair for training purposes because they are such great shoes and a joy to run in.
 Durability
After 100 plus miles on the trails the lugs show no sign of wear and tear and I would be shocked if they ever do.

I do notice on the part where the midsole meets the outsole there is some glue residue, which could be cause for concern. However, so far, I have not experienced any separation.


Glue residue


Recommended use
Hard ground trails – Yup!
Soft ground trails – Absolutely, it will tear through mud
Rocky terrain- Definitely, this shoe excels here
On road – Not recommendable, it will wear out the lugs.
For speed - Yes, this shoe can handle anything
For distance - Yes, push it to the limit
 Pros:
     Durability
     Grip
     Fitlock technology
     Rubber toe cap
     Light weight

Cons:
     Thin upper
     Somewhat narrow fit
     Price
If you race obstacle races or run in the mountains I highly recommend this shoe.

Conclusion

Have I possibly discovered the holy grail of trail running shoes? Only time will tell, but I do believe this shoe could very possibly the best trail shoe I have ever worn. There is no other shoe on the market that compares to its phenomenal grip, durability, and comfort.

This company should be on everyone’s radar for the upcoming years. They are serious competitors to all major trail running shoe brands. I would rank VJsport as high as the other shoe giants, including Salomon, Inov-8, and La-Sportiva.

This small Finnish company will quickly become a household name in the shoe market in 2019. Thank you, VJsport, for making quality shoes.

 

 

 









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