By Steve Casimiro, editor of Adventure Journal
If you’re a casual runner, you don’t buy shoes that often—once a year, maybe twice—and so you probably don’t stick your foot in that many models. But over the course of 12 months, I probably test 60 pairs of shoes, and what I’ve learned is that each guides your foot in its own way, through heel lift, pronation control, height off the ground, and a score of other methods. Unless the shoe is particularly extreme, your body will quickly adapt to it, but to my mind that’s the opposite approach: Your shoe should adapt to you, not the other way around.
With Somnio footwear, that’s exactly what happens. And with the new Westridge trail runner ($130), Somnio has achieved what I think is the holy grail: the perfectly neutral shoe. How so? Somnio is the first customizable running shoe. It has swappable components in the forefoot cushioning, heel cushioning, the insole, and the varus wedge that sits under the insole. Altogether, there are thousands of combinations per pair. Your local Somnio dealer will analyze your gait, then work with you to find the mix of parts that makes the perfect fit.
When I first tried Somnio, I was open minded but dubious on whether it would make a difference because I’m not a special needs runner. (Special needs boulderer, surfer, and slackliner, yes. Runner, no.) Other than slight pronation, which is more common than not, my feet, gait, and running style are typical. But then I got fit and ran in the Westridges and what I felt changed my thinking about shoes completely: For the first time, I had a shoe that conformed to my foot rather than vice versa. It felt like an extension of my body, not something wrapped around it to protect. And that liberated my running.
The Westridge has a shallow tread that looks adapted from a road shoe, which certainly boosts versatility for on/off dirt but can reduce its grip in loose or gloppy conditions. My size 10s weighed 13.75 ounces with medium cushioning and insole and no varus—typical for a trail shoe with this amount of padding. There’s slight rocker in the toe, but it’s very slight; in practice the shoe feels flat, which enhances the sense of neutrality. The toe box is generous.
So, who should buy this shoe? If you’re a hard-to-fit trail runner, it should be one of the first you consider. If you run 50-50 road and trail or run on firmer trails, take a good look. But for intensive trail use, I’d like to see Somnio bring a bit more to the tread and lighten the upper. As it is, the Westridge is like the 2011 Toyota 4Runner — it fits more people in more conditions — but it would be nice if Somnio offered a Land Rover, too.
- Nat Geo Expeditions