KSWISS Blade-Max Trail Running Shoe Review
For the last few years, KSWISS has been entrenched in the tenacious pursuit of becoming one of the premium performance footwear brands for serious runners and triathletes. Well, gear hounds, tune in because they’re definitely getting somewhere.
Past KSWISS models we’ve tested had somewhat uncomfortable, rigid upper materials and odd-feeling platforms, but if the 2011 K-SWISS Blade-Max Trail shoe is any indicator, KSWISS is upping the ante. This first KSWISS foray into trail footwear sports a very plush seam-free, hydrophobic (water-resistant) upper made of premium-feel materials. The result is very comfortable and felt great for leisure use and road running, but some testers responded that they might like a more secure fit with more ‘lockdown’ for aggressive trail runs on technical terrain. The Ion-Mask™ upper material, developed in the labs at P2i worked very well to fend off showers and light splash from puddles.
The KSWISS Blade-Max Trail is built on KSWISS’s Blade-Max base, which places Superfoam and a Rock Block Protection Plate directly underfoot with the K-EVA ‘blades’ carrying the outsole. These blades create a void between the footbed and the outsole and collapse during footstrike to provide cushioning and adaptation to uneven terrain. The blades work extremely well and create a very plush ride that works on the road as well as the trail. This model is posted for moderate pronators.
The outsole of the Blade-Max doesn’t have overly aggressive lugs, and initially we were skeptical about the traction we’d get in these, but the outsole sports a very sticky compound, and we were surprised to never have issues scrambling over exposed rocks and roots. I have a pet peeve that most trail shoes offend, and that is outsole cutouts with exposed plastic which slides really well on exposed roots! The Blade-Max does have a midsole cutout, but it is deep relative to other trail shoes, and we didn’t have a problem slipping in them.
We tested this shoe on a variety of terrain, running on roads, smooth gravel trails, and some technical terrain on runs of up to 13 miles. Overall, the KSWISS Blade-Max Trail is an amazing entry considering it is the brand’s first off-road model, and the most comfortable, plush KSWISS model we’ve tested to date. It works well on the road as well as off, so we recommend this model as a good all-around shoe for those needing a bit of stability and great cushioning that can take them from the house to the trail, and handle everything in between.
The KSWISS Blade-Max Trail will be available soon and will retail for $125. For more, point your interwebs to www.kswiss.com.