Let me get this out of the way right up front: The Teva X-1 is the best trail running shoe I’ve ever worn, and may well be the best running shoe of any kind I’ve worn. That’s not to say that it’s the perfect shoe for everyone, but it’s definitely worth your time to check it out the next time you’re in need of a new pair.
The X-1 is technically a trail racing shoe, and as such it’s quite a bit lighter and less structured than typical trail shoes. (Since I got mine in the fall, Teva has rolled out a full line of X-1s, including a motion-control version, a model using the Wraptor XCR system and a pure racing shoe.) The version that I have is 10.4 ounces, which is roughly the weight of an average road trainer, but compared to regular trail shoes, it feels like a slipper. The X-1 uses Teva’s proprietary Wraptor Lite support system, which comprises support straps on either side of the shoe that originate in the midsole and integrate with the lacing system. The result is an amazingly good fit and tremendous lateral support, especially for such a lightweight shoe.
I’ve had my X-1s for about six months now and have put a serious beating on them. The trails I frequent in northern New England are pretty gnarly and often include stream crossings, tons of roots and non-trivial rocks as well as the occasional coyote. The X-1 has handled all of this terrain with aplomb and I have to say that whoever designed the cleats on the outsole is a genius. No matter how much mud and snow and ice I run through, the cleats never get clogged, which is a big problem with most other trail shoes I’ve owned. You can have the best traction design on earth, but if the outsole is a solid sheet of mud, you’re going to end up on your can in no time.
The ride of the X-1 is very comfortable, especially given its minimalist design and construction. There is not a ton of cushioning in the midsole, but that’s never been an issue for me. I haven’t run for more than about 90 minutes at a stretch in them, but the lack of cushioning might take a toll in long races or training runs. The shoe’s upper is mainly mesh, which makes for excellent water drainage, as you’d expect from a company that started out making sandals.
The X-1 does not come cheap–$90 for the original and X-1 Control and $95 for the new X-1 Racer-but the prices are not out of line with other high-end trail shoes. And for my money, you’re not going to find a better training and racing shoe than the X-1.
Full disclosure: I bought my X-1s fair and square; Teva did not send them to me for review.