Nothing says 'woo hoo it's summer!' quite like looking out of the window at grey skies, relentless rain and the muddy arse of a wet sheep.
Whilst this summer has yet to morph into the flip-floppingly hot number we marinated in last year, we've still been out and about on the trails giving our pale-skinned limbs the off road adventures they so heartily crave.
From short muddy hill intervals and low level forest trails to long mountain days and nerve-jangling ridge scrambles, we've been trying to get out and about as much as possible to put all the latest new running tech to the test.
Our favourite shoe of the summer running season so far is the brand new, burly off road beast - the Salomon Speedcross 5 W.
With bags of protection and comfort, the 5th edition of the legendary Salomon Speedcross trail running shoe stays true to its all-rounder roots but takes things up a technical notch with improved fit, enhanced grip and added stability.
We've been putting the Speedcross 5 W to the test in a variety of terrain over the last couple of months and can confirm it's more precise and responsive than ever before.
We took these shoes on a nerve-janglingly exposed traverse of the An Teallach ridge recently and found the large, spacey lugs offered belting grip on steep terrain and the Contagrip rubber outsole felt really tacky on the rock.
Accurate foot placements on the airy sections were absolutely key and the Speedcross 5's didn't let us down. There were a fair few tricky sections of down climbing but as long as our weight was in the right place, the Speedcross 5 W's stuck to the rock like the proverbial lizard.
Definitely one to consider if you're eyeing up a sky running event such as the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline later this year!
LONG MOUNTAIN RUNS
On a long hot multi-Munro bagging mountain day on pathless terrain with mucho ankle-rolling potential, we really appreciated the combination of the Speedcross 5 W's welded upper and deeper heel unit that offered both comfort and stability in droves.
When you're tired at the end of a long day in the hills, blisters can appear, form can be lost and injuries can arise but the construction and cushioning of the Speedcross 5 does a great job of keeping you protected from fresh right through to fatigue.
The substantial 10mm drop may be a significant departure from the modern minimalist norm but if you're prone to running-induced niggles, then it's great to have a shoe that feels like it actually wants you to finish a long run with all tendons and ligaments intact.
The overall feeling is one of a springy ride with noticeable rebound thanks to the Speedcross 5 W's EnergyCell midsole that gives back all day long.
Ideal for anyone eyeing up a summer alpine ultra mission such as the UTMB with a bunch of back-to-back brutal ascents and descents.
SHORT MUDDY HILL INTERVALS
Pretty Gritty HQ lies at the bottom of a small but seriously steep wee hill in the Scottish Highlands and whilst this titchy top ain't got nothing on Mont Blanc, it still packs a quad burning punch every day of the week. Throw in a month of rain and this diminutive wee hill transforms into a mini monster of slick slippy mud that will have you on your arse before you can say 'hoots mon, you're a slippery wee bastard'.
This kind of humble pie serving terrain is the Speedcross 5 W's bread and butter however. The deep and widely spaced chevron lugs are designed to dig in to soft ground with almost crampon-like penetration, leaving you free to focus on firing up and down the hill rather than flailing around like a uncoordinated trail numpty.
An ideal shoe for the UK where 'character building' saturated fells and muddy moorlands are a part of our daily trail life.
The Nitty Gritty
Buy this shoe - if you're looking for a comfortable, cushioned trail shoe for technical trails
If you buy this shoe - you will reduce your exposure to overuse injuries on long runs
Don't buy this shoe - if you enjoy spanking your hard earned cash on minimalist shoes that fall apart after a few weeks of serious use
WHAT SHOES ARE YOU ENJOYING RUNNING IN THIS SUMMER?
LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW!