Straight out of the box for test on my midweek jaunt to Beinn an Dothaidh were the Haglöfs Crags.
They come with the new Sole insoles ready fitted and after my recent good fortune pulling the same trick with the Escape Ventilators, I laced them up at the carpark and set off.
But, these are a very different shoe indeed and after a mile or so I was taking them off and wiggling my toes wishing I’d thought it through a little more.
They’re a classic-style approach shoe, not a trail shoe. That might seem like nit-picking, but it means that they’re stiffer, both in sole-flex and the upper, and with a set of as-yet unmolded Sole’s in them, my feet nearly blew a gasket. So, some re-lacing was done and I was away again, and after a few hundred metres I was happy enough. It turns out that they need a little breaking-in, which I just never thought of.
Once I was back into my stride I started to gain confidence in them. The sole is a Haglöfs-branded soft compound affair and it proved to be grippy on everything I encountered, on rock they’re like velcro, but there’s enough of a pattern to latch onto mud and grass, and on the super-steep descent on mixed terrain the second day, I never lost my footing once.
The lacing is a little clunky, the mix of lacing loops makes sense from a strength and security point of view, but it’s a bit faffy to do them up. I’m assuming they’ll ease off with more use.
The upper is beefy and designed to take the knocks, on the rough ground and rocky stuff they just bounced through, but they’d taken enough of a mold of my foot and have enough flexibility for me to jog down the trail quite happily as well. They drain and dry well whewn the water gets in with some large mesh areas, and that means they’re cool as well. And, once the upper eases into your shape, they’re comfy. They’re quite high volume, but with the Sole and my current Wigwam Trail Runner Pro and Smartwool PHD sock combo I didn’t have any hotspot or rubbing issues.
It’s early days, but I like the look of them. They’re not a trail shoe by a long way, but they’re not a low cut boot either. They sit in the middle as a robust shoe that still allows full use of your foot and ankle. I know that’s stating the obvious, and maybe that’s what an approach shoe is supposed to be, but then it’s not really for approaching anything, it’s for using when you get there isn’t it? So that’ll make it a mountain plimsole then.
PS I’d like to say that the photie on Haglöfs website makes these shoes look rubbish, they look far better in the flesh, and in the budgie green option.