It’s easy to trip over the superlatives when testing outdoor kit, with every new shoe, backpack and eco tee initially seeming the best, the comfiest or the most waterproof EVER. In the interests of balance, I always trial new clothes and gadgets for weeks or even months before finalising a blog, determined to find and report the snags. After two months wearing the Haix Black Eagle Adventure 2.2, the only snag I can report is that, for a pair of shoes designed for running through mud, they are possibly too pretty to wear.
In Haix, I can genuinely say I have found my favourite brand (EVER!). As with my fantastically flexible Scout Gore-tex hiking boots, the shoes immediately have the familiarity and comfort of a favourite pair of cwtchy socks. I’ve been kindly gifted the Black Eagle Adventure, welcome respite for the current daps that have clocked up easily 1,000 miles in the last 18 months. I choose the Sky / Orange and, on their arrival, I fall instantly, deeply in love, as they match my favourite cushion.
Trail shoes are the perfect option for not only off-road running, but those not-so-strenuous, not-so-mountainous walks that, nevertheless, require more grip than a dodgy pair of trainers. Ahead of Christmas, I plan to do plenty of both the off-roading and the gentle-ish walking during a much-needed break from busy NHS comms – from my doorstep, of course, with Wales entering a fresh lockdown as soon as the clock strikes school holidays. With the onset of the new year, I also switch allegiance from Map My Run to Strava, and am keen to record every kilometre.
The Black Eagle Adventure for women come in a range of soft tones, including sleek graphite, a quietly attractive cloud colour and metallic grey and mint. And the problem seems to be the same with all of them – they are just too darn lovely to wear. I usually can’t wait to get outside in new footwear and go find some muddy puddles, but these sit on my chair, gorgeously complementing the cushion, for some time, patiently awaiting a sunny, squeaky-clean day.
When I finally start wearing (rather than looking lovingly at) them, they are comfortable straight out of the box, no breaking in needed. The microfibre fabric is soft and superbly lightweight, with no rub around the ankles or toes. The textile is breathable, while the inner GORE-TEX® membrane lining is not only breathable also, but supremely waterproof. The elastic laces allow for a quick fit and eliminate the peskiness of knots coming undone a few miles into a run (I have been known to triple knot the laces of some road running shoes). When pulled tight, the remaining lace elastic is quite long and a potential trip hazard, and I think I’ve found the snag – until I realise I can simply tuck it safely under the looped Haix label and go.
As with my Scout boots, the sole gives excellent grip on different terrains. I venture out on a breathily icy morning and the Haix perform perfectly, keeping me from slip-sliding away on glistening patches. The sole is made of a special rubber promising long life but, as I’m only 43 miles into my 2021 1,000-mile challenge, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
And yes, the fabulous Haix finally find the dirt. A gloriously crisp route to the top of our local Garth hill traverses mud frozen into furrows; I mainly hop cleanly across the troughs, but eventually – inevitably – a sun-warmed patch tricks me and my feet squelch through melted ice straight into the brown, sticky stuff. I briefly think about crying at the sight of such filthy footwear, but the ridge is ahead and a hefty wedge of Christmas cake is tantalisingly weighty in my pack. With the winter sun firmly in my eyes and the simple joy of a January walk warming my soul, I dance, in my new shoes, on.