Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Skechers GoTrail Ultra3 Review

It has been months since my last blog entry and i apologize for not being "up to date" with my postings. In fact, for the money I spent to host my URL (, I am not getting the Return of Investment (ROIs) - posting wise. Rest assured I am still very much into blogging and the reason for missing out were because of my work and travelling commitment. 

My last review of Skechers were back in March this year where the GRR5 which was a total revamp of the previous GRR series - or to put it bluntly, a total change to how Skechers approach their products. When I received the news that I will be receiving the GoTrail Ultra3 way ahead of time, I can't wait. It was also the week that Skechers Warehouse in Malaysia caught fire, and burnt all stocks (current and yet to be launched model) up in smoke. Somehow, the pair meant for me and Deo was saved as it was sent in advance to our regular pick up point - I call it lucky!

Skechers has went on a journey of Minimalist to fully cushioned shoes. The Resalyte material continue to lend the cushioning at the midsole while the material upgrades were evident from model to model. With the Skechers GoTrail Ultra3, the game changed in terms of cushioning and stability, and down to the sole durability. Compare this to the first generation GoTrail I reviewed 3-years ago.

Back To Basic?
I was initially less than excited about the new model, as it seems Skechers is taking a step back from producing lightweight minimalist shoes that I grew very fond off. Shoes that are suitable for all foot type and are very forgiving as it doesn't restrict of forces you to change your running gait. Having used the Skechers Ultra and UltraR (or Ultra Road), I grew to like the additional cushioning it may provide especially when I run everyday, sometimes twice a day. This happen during my travels - and i truly enjoyed the stability and additional cushioning. However, the two biggest complains I have with the Ultra and UltraR are the usually softer landing, that the shoes felt sluggish, and that the soles shows wearing out pattern fast. I also learnt that despite it shows wearing out fast, it's still very much good up till 500km with no compromise on the grip (Ultra) or the cushioning (for both). Obviously, with the new GoTrail Ultra3, my expectation were somewhat "calibrated" towards lesser expectation. And I was so wrong.
GoTrail Ultra3 : Red
The color of choice this time around was Red, as the shoe before this, the GRR5 was blue. The other available color in Malaysia is Blue and Grey. My first impression as I held it in my hand was how impressively light the shoe felt despite the bulk. It sort of accentuate the Hoka series in terms of cushioning. The rated US9 size comes in at 11oz, which is similar to the UltraR. This Ultra3 seemed to carry over some feature of UltraR and improvised on a few key items. The most obvious was the outsole where it was a complete overhaul and do not have the GoImpulse Pods. The sole was harder than usual and felt very convincing for the trails in terms of grip-abilities and having large  drain/channel that will help in dispersing any mud, dirt or soil that get stuck in the trail. These deep channel also helps in providing great flexibility and potentially good transition when running. Experience tells me that these feature are important. I have written about Trail Shoes feature this in 2012, when the Brooks Cascadia5 was my all time favourite. For the record, I still have the Cascadia5, though it's super underutilized after I found the joy of Skechers.  
upclose with the Ultra 3 soles
The Ultra3 is made/designed for Ultra runs, meaning the shoe is designed for longer distance running with the cushioning and comfort via  the Ultra-class midsole design and next generation Resalyte cushioning mid-sole. One thing I noticed too, is that the shoe looked like it has a wider footprint when look from the top. The sole sort of extend outside of the shoe shape, so to say.
Tall shoe. Heel is 36mm stack. Notice the up-curve and how it extent outside of the heel cup. Evidence of wider footprint.
How does this add to the usability of the shoe? With wider footprint, it should lend more stability. This were visible when looking from the rear towards the heel cup as well. Despite the height, the Ultra3 is  4mm drop shoe. Stack height is 32-36 forefoot-heel. 
32-36 Fore-Heel stack. 4mm drop. Neutral feel.
The toebox of the Ultra3 was the next thing I noticed. it's wide. Skechers however note it as "medium" in their website. It's by far the widest I've experienced and for an Ultra and trail shoe, that is important. I was told that the Hoka may have tighter front and restrictive mid-foot wrap (anyone to verify, Hoka owner?) where else the Ultra3 felt like a welcome change. 
Wide with Reinforced toe. Notice the silver detailing which is the reflective finish
As expected, the MStrike remains standard where the Skechers Performance encourages Midfoot strike instead of heel striking. Again, the ability to run forefoot/midfoot landing has very much to do with how you are able to correct your running posture. 
What Are Those Holes On The Side?
I was looking at the side of the sole and noticed two holes on both inner and outer side of the sole. Logic tells me that it will, or should allow water to get out - and in. The position of these holes were mid of the mid-sole, and one may ask is there or how will the water logged inside can get out? 
Holes at mid of midsole. Why?
A little checking revealed that under the insole were 4-channels that will drive water out from the side.
Covered in mesh, in case sands gets in from bottom
Even the innersole or liner has holes to help express water out. The engineers at Skechers has thought of it in totality.
8 chevrons to allow water out
The upper part of the shoe is a combination of both synthetic and mesh material which lend to both durability and reduced weight. At this bulk, material engineering plays a big influence to the overall weight. 3D printed overlay lends structure and support to the shoe, giving a good fit to the foot.
Close up of the mesh
3D overlay adds to the structure
A welcomed change is the replacement of the Quick-Fit loop at the heel cup with a proper loop, which really helps pulling the shoe back up without unlacing. The tongue is about the same padded as the UltraR, which is essential for comfort in a long run or race. These small changes (loop) and consistency (tongue) is what adds to the final 10% of what gives the satisfaction to the users in my opinion. The details, it matters.
With reflective detail at back logo and loop. Nice
Use Review
The Ultra3 surprises me with the responsiveness when compared to the previous bulkier GoRun Ultra series. Everything from the toe box space, to how it fits the midfoot section, and the heel cup provide the stability. How it gives the assurance to the run both on and offroad, the flexibility and usability in all condition makes me use this for all runs since receiving this about 6-weeks ago. I've clocked close to 250km since, mostly clocked in my run when I travelled.
Street of Prague
Cobblestones of Europe with the GoRun Ultra
In the trails of Petrin Hill, Czech
And cobblestones of Prague Castle
Unfortunately, I did not manage to test this in the street of Bangalore and Manila - but they felt as good on the treadmill performing speedwork and Interval training. Not forgetting the two Running Clinics the team conducted during the period of testing. The Ultra3 has been extensively tested by Deo for his Nuang training, that he too, are convinced that this may just be "the" ultra trail shoe he will be using for his upcoming A race.
Confidence on the trail as on the road at fast switchbacks
The Ultra3 gets two thumbs up from me, and this has influenced the decision for wifey to buy one as well to replace her aging GoRun Ultra and GoRunRide4.
Last pair of US7 Grey left
Customised with laces from GoRun2 and GoRun UltraR
Note: This pair of Skechers GoTrail Ultra 3 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is available, but limited sizing for now. Retailing at RM499 for men (Semenanjung). RM10-20 more for East Malaysia.

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