GoLite Tara Lite Review
When I tested the GoLite Amp Lite last year, I took it out on the Crystal Spring Cross Country Course in Belmont, California. I’m using this trail as the benchmark for all minimalist trail shoes that I test in order to get a one-to-one comparison on performance. I did the same run with the New Balance Minimus Trail. I’m running a lot more trails (increasing from 10% to 40%) because of lots more minimalist trail shoes coming to the market.
Inspired by the Tarahumara tribes of Mexico, whose name means “those who run fast”, the GoLite’s newest Tara Lite takes the best aspects of the Tarahumara sandal and adds the protection, stability and traction. The result is a hybrid shoe with a lightweight mesh “second skin” upper and an internal sandal thong. There is a thong post inside the shoe and it works like a typical sandal (separating your big toe from the rest) except the sandal has a soft upper.
The picture on the left are the oval shaped lugs in the Sticky Gecko outsole. The picture on the right shows the hidden thong post. You can also see where the thong post is positioned inside by looking at the PreciseFit insole/footbed.
GoLite’s unique closure system provides adjustable fit and security. This design provides security and energy efficiency by preventing excessive foot movement.
And included is the BareTech platform where runners can enjoy all the benefits of a natural gait with the exceptional stability and protection of their Soft Against the Ground (SATG) technology on all terrains. The BareTech platform provide an anatomically contoured and neutral last that does not alter your gait.
GoLite’s newest outsole is inspired by the gravity-defying traction of geckos. The small Gripstick lugs (over 300 of them) replicate the tiny hairs (setae) on a gecko’s feet that create surface contact and friction.
The Tara Lite is billed as the ‘true trail race shoe for the elite outdoor athlete’. Included in the package is a pair of Tabi socks – split toe. This will fit well for those of you who wear socks when you run. The alternative is a set of compression calf sleeves or Injinji toe socks.
The Tara Lite weighs in at 11.6 ounces, about the same weight as the Amp Lite. But it has a thicker stack height of 23mm, the total height from the bottom of the foot to the ground including outsole, midsole, insert and additional materials for lasting/lining. The Amp Lite is about 3mm lower. With such a tall stack height, I could barely feel the ground 🙁
The adjustable closure system is a little stiff but I did not have to make any adjustments from the default setting. It also has two pull tabs to help you get into your shoes quickly.
The video below will provide a different view of the shoes.
I was disappointed with the total weight and stiffness of the dual density EVA midsole and Sticky Gecko outsole in the Tara Lite. But I loved the wide toe box, the internal sandal thong, and their unique closure system. This is the first generation and will only get better with time. The Fall release of the Women’s model will have a lighter weight upper material. But it should also be in the current men’s model…
The Sticky Gecko outsole works great on trails but proved to be too thick and stiff for road running. For transitioning runners who runs a balanced amount of road and trail surfaces, this is a great bridging shoe. For trail running with the Tara Lite, I got a blister from the slightly-raised arch insole as I don’t wear socks. But the Tara Lite is a robust trail shoe otherwise and works great on both hard pack, loose, and soft trails. I personally prefer a much lighter trail shoe with lots more flexibility.
The more trail shoes I test, the more I appreciate trail running. And I’m thankful for all the new minimalist trail running shoes coming into the market from footwear manufacturers like GoLite Footwear.
*Product provided by GoLite (MSRP $115).
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