With an odd string of warm weather, I’ve had a hankering for trail running. It’s been kind of nice actually, but I really should still be making turns on the hill. Either way, I’m getting out and enjoying myself and looking forward to testing the slew of trail running shoes I’ve got in the hopper.
With shoes, there’s always an element of personal preference and fit, but the overall performance of a shoe should be there regardless of foot type and running style. Natural stride combined with trail conditions will show the best and worst of each pair of shoes. First up is the END Stumptown 12 trail running shoe.
About the END Stumptown 12 Trail Runners
I’ve been a big fan of END Footwear since their official launch last Fall. The crew is solid and they are dedicated to changing the way shoes are built for the better. The Stumptown 12 was one of the original launch products and is considered a key shoe in the END trail running lineup. Stumptown 12’s are built with a combination of lightweight softshell materials, supportive cross members, basic support and a trail-worthy outsole all wrapped up in an eco-friendly package.
Stumptown 12 Specs
- Seamsmart synthetic and mesh supportive uppers
- END Evo Biosmart midsole with medial post
- Co-molded protection plate
- Trail radius regrind outsole
- Synergy heel system
- Stumptown 12 Technical Specs (PDF)
- 11.5 oz (Men’s 9), but real-world weights are lower
- MSRP: $85
END Stumptown 12 Review
Out of the box, the Stumptown 12’s feel very lightweight. Other testers have noted that they weigh more in the 10 oz range (see iRunFar), which feels more like it and puts them on the lighter-side for trail shoes. The softshell exterior is very comfortable and extremely thin/breathable due to the minimalistic build approach to the uppers. I’ve worn other softshell trail shoes in the past and the materials were a bit thicker than these, so mid-summer running wasn’t as comfortable–not so here.
I’ve found that even though these are softshell, breathability is outstanding. The flip side of that breathability is that they don’t protect you from the elements as much as other softshell designs. But, if you consistently run in an extremely wet environment, you can choose to go with a Gore-tex or eVent shoe. I have not run in a full-on downpour, but I have run in the snow and slush with these. I found that the sides of the material did absorb moisture fairly easily, but also dried out quickly as well.
Cushioning on the Stumptown 12’s is very straightforward with the EVO Biosmart Midsole. The shoe is built with simple cushioning and a little added support via the slight rear-medial arch post. I’d say these are a shoe that’s built for the majority of runners who don’t need oodles of cushioning and nor do they need gobs of support, just something in the middle.
The Trail Radius Regrind Outsole provides tenacious traction on both uphill and downhill terrain. Most of the trails I ran on were still fairly damp and tacky with a few moderately-loose sections. Never once did I feel like traction was compromised. Stability was pretty good overall with an ever-so-slight tendency for my foot to roll to the outside. For my feet, it seems like just a tad more lateral support would do the trick. As-is, they are still solid and I never once rolled my ankle, I’ve just felt more supported in other shoes.
As mentioned above, breathability is surprisingly good for a softshell. I could even feel the breeze blowing on my feet, which is always welcome (so long as it isn’t of the 15-degree variety) since my feet tend to get pretty hot.
Performance on the road is good as well. The only thing that would make me hesitate running long distances on-road is the lack of cushioning. They do provide excellent cushioning on the trail and acceptable cushioning on the road, but for a flat-footer like myself, I need a little more cushioning in a dedicated road shoe. But, for their intended purpose, I’d say they are solid trail shoes with the ability to run on the road when necessary.
NOTE: I didn’t test these shoes with the stock insoles. Because I have very flat feet, I need more support. So, I ran in these with both the SOLE Dean Karnazes footbeds and Superfeet Blue insoles. I’m 5’11” and weigh 175 lbs. with regular-width but pancake-flat feet.
Good Stumptown 12
- Softshell exterior keeps out water, dirt and sand, yet breathes well
- Tread provides excellent traction
- Eco-friendly and sustainable material usage
- Very lightweight, yet still durable
- Capable on and off-road
- Trail flat efficiency
- Excellent pricepoint
Bad Stumptown 12
- Entry can be difficult with the collapsible heel
- Center lace strap limits cinching
- Middle-of-the-pack cushioning
The Bottom Line: END Stumptown 12 Trail Running Shoes
These shoes are a great entry into the market with innovative materials all wrapped in an eco-friendly package. Performance has been excellent overall with no red flags to speak of. All materials are holding up very well and this shoe is definitely very smart looking for both trail or urban assaults. On top if it all, the modest $85 pricetag should ring home with those looking for a versatile shoe that’s both green and affordable.
Buy Now: Find Trail Running Shoes at REI