New Balance Gobi Trail v2 Review
The hybrid road/trail version of the Zante!
With the New Balance Zante being one of my favorite shoes of all time I was pretty excited to hear about the Gobi Trail. Which, is marketed as the trail version of the Zante. At the time of writing this review I've put in 144 miles and raced twice in them. The first race was a 50K trail race (Run Woodstock) on fairly dry and non-technical mostly singletrack trails in the Southeast Michigan area. The second race was a 50 mile on dirt roads in Pennsylvania at Tussey Mountain (Tussey Mountainback). Lets go over some things I like about these shoes!
A solid "hybrid" shoe. Hybrid anything is tough. You have to be equally good at two different things without sacrificing quality. That being said, the Gobi does a really solid job as a road shoe and as a trail shoe! Now, I'm not saying to lace a pair of these up for your next 5K. But, on the roads the shoe performs like a slightly heavier and sturdier version of the Zante. For dirt roads, this shoe is King. The extra stiffness in the midsole and outsole really helps to protect your feet from feeling every little rock. The build of the upper seems to help keep out more debris than a road shoe without feeling bulky. On the trail, this shoe performs really well in dryer conditions. During the Run Woodstock 50K I had no problems running in the Gobi. I never once felt that I needed a more "traily" pair of shoes. It gripped the dry dirt and roots fine and I loved the low to the ground feeling from the lower 23mm stack height and 6mm heel to toe drop. I will say though, I would definitely think twice about wearing these to any race if there is chance the trails might be wet. Probably not the best choice for any sort of mud or slushy trails. Think of the Gobi as an all season tire vs a summer or winter tire. It's kind of awesome knowing that if on your run you have to run a little roads before you get to the trails that you've got a shoe that can handle both(unless of course the trail is a mud pit).
No real wear issues after 144 miles. There's something about me running 50 miles that destroys shoes. I'll recover from the race and go out for a run in the shoes I wore on race day and the shoe feels like an entirely different shoe and I'm left scratching my head like "What the heck?" So, when I put on these shoes for a post race week hike in the woods I was shocked. My first thought was "ah, these shoes are so comfy" instead of the usual feeling like I just stepped into a deteriorating pile of mesh and rubber. I don't see any rips or holes in the upper after 144 miles so its a good sign I should be able to get some life out of these.
They really do feel like the Zantes. The marketing around this shoe was right. They are similar feeling to the Zantes. Differences being that they're heavier, sturdier, the outsole has small lugs and there is toe protection. I've tested the toe protection first hand by smashing my foot into a few roots and rocks and I can say it works! What would I do without toe protection?! It's a must in trail shoes and I'm glad to see it in the Gobi.
Overall, the Gobi Trail v2 is a great hybrid road/trail shoe. At $99, everyone who switches between roads/trails should grab a pair. I actually recommended this shoe to a friend who is newer to running and recently has decided to give trail running a shot. He's thinking of running a race that is on non-technical double wide trails. He also happens to be a Zante lover so it should be the perfect fit! Have you tried the Gobi? Leave me your thoughts in the comments and have fun at those Turkey Trots coming up!