Thanks to rigorous testing on the Dragons Back 300km staged ultra marathon, Berghaus has developed a versatile shoe that could be a good option for those looking for lightweight, multi-terrain race footwear.
As test environments go, The Dragons Back race along the length of Wales is hard to beat for developing a trail shoe that can cope with just about anything. This 5 day, 300km epic with 17,000m of climbing is one of the toughest foot races in the world and so it’s not only important to make sure you have a sturdy pair of legs but also the right kit to survive it. This is where Berghaus took their Vapour Light Claw shoe to put it through it’s paces during development, which indicates the kind of runner that they are aiming them at: those who like to run over anything for a very long way.
The Vapour range from Berghaus is part of their fast and light kit, primarily designed for runners and adventure racers. Along with technical tees jackets, packs and shorts are two pairs of shoes that are very similar other than one has a Gore-Tex liner and lace guard, appropriately called the Vapour Claw Gore-Tex while the other uses a lightweight breathable fabric and is called the Vapour Light Claw.
At first glance the Vapour Light Claw appears chunky but pick it up and it’s actually quite light (340g for a size 11). The chunky looks are due in part to the wide fitting of the shoe that leaves plenty of room in the toe box. There is also a large amount of padding in the tongue and around the ankle area that makes for a soft and comfortable fit. Berghaus use a ‘Limpit’ fit system on these shoes that includes an elasticated panel on the inside of the forefoot that allows the upper to stretch around your foot. In practice the padding and the width of the shoe mean that you have to tighten down the laces quite hard before the limpit takes hold, and during the first run I found I had to re-adjust after 30 mins as the soft padding compressed down and the shoe loosened.
The fabric used in the upper is both lightweight and breathable and almost transparent in places. During a hot run in July I was not aware of any overheating problems which is probably a good sign that this works.
Given that the Vapour Light Claws are designed for multi day, multi terrain events it’s no surprise that the soles have a reasonable level of cushioning. On day 4 of a long race most runners will find that their gait is not quite as strong as it had been, so some additional underfoot protection is useful. Out on the trail this cushioning is unobtrusive and they don’t feel too structured with a good amount of flexibility and feedback from what’s happening under foot. Where they come into their own is on hard pack and asphaslt where the cushioning prevents the harsh jarring that more fell shoe orientated footwear can fail to protect against.
The Opti Stud lugs are mid-sized (around 5mm) and arranged in a seemingly random pattern on the base of the shoe. The Terracious Grip rubber helps them hook up well on dry roots and rocks and provide traction on most loose surfaces. I found they became a bit more jittery on very loose material as the depth and spacing of the lugs wasn’t enough to bite in, but this would be the case with anything short of proper fell shoes. The July heat wave left very little chance to find any deep mud to play in but the simple lug pattern should allow the soles to clear easily.
- A good level of cushioning for long events on varied surfaces
- Excellent traction on rocky trails
- Wide fitting might not suit some feet
Berghaus calls these versatile and agile, which is a good description for what is designed to be an all-purpose shoe. Although relatively light for a multi-terrain shoe they haven’t compromised on cushioning or grip. The shape of the shoe may be the limiting factor for some runners so best to try before you buy, but if they fit then these would be a great choice for multi-terrain racers. On their own they may not be enough to get you all the way across Wales, but it’s a good start!
- 5 density EVA midsole – for heel crash protection and less stone bruising.
- Highly breathable – with dual layer mesh to the upper
- Terracious Grip™ rubber compound outsole
- OPTI-STUD® trail lugs
What Berghaus says about the Vapour Light Claw: Lightweight, breathable and agile trail running shoe
Model: Vapour Light Claw
Used for: Varied trail running on grass, rocks, hard pack and soft mud
Spec: AquaMarine/ Acid Glow
Weight: 340g (size 11) website claims 306g
Sizes Available: 7-12
Colours: Aqua Marine/ Acid Glow, Red and White, Dark Gull Grey/Lemon Chrome