Cross-country spikes aside, if you want maximum speed and confidence when youre running off-trail, youve got to have a fell shoe. They have brutally deep outsole studs, minimalist uppers, a snug fit, and thin midsoles that let you feel exactly whats happening underfoot. They grip well whether youre on moorland, pasture, mud or rock, and theyre designed to give you a secure footing for running uphill, downhill or contouring on steep hillsides. Theyre also far lighter than normal trail shoes.
Its a niche market, dominated by a Bolton-based company called Walsh
, but Felldancer, of Burnley, has updated its range. Felldancer says its fit and traction both critical elements have been improved, with thicker, sturdier studs, a softer, better-gripping outsole rubber, and the option of narrow and standard widths.
Like Walsh, Felldancer makes three models: a core training shoe (the Challenger); a racing shoe (Racing, 256g, £52); and a support version (Extreme, 352g, £61). But how did they compare with Walshs shoes? Felldancers are heavier, like for like, partly because theyre board-lasted (this also makes them more stable). The Extreme also has a more effective stability design than Walshs equivalent. Comments from testers whove run in both included the following. When you get the right pair (they seem to be sized small), the Felldancers are at least as glove-like in terms of fit. Their rear studs appear to clog with debris more easily, and theres slightly less grip at the extreme ends of the shoes because the Felldancers studs are replaced
by rubber fins at the outsole tips. Their cushioning is smoother (though its minimal on all fell shoes) and their uppers stay more supple when they dry out after a wet run. In theory, Felldancers should grip better on wet rock because their rubber is softer, but no one picked up on the difference.
Felldancers are sometimes seen as the poor mans Walsh, but that neednt be the case. While their grip still doesnt quite have the edge over Walshs, some of their qualities including price are better.
Try it on if you liked
Walsh range (£55-£62); Adidas Equipment Davos (£60)
; New Balance RX Terrain (£55)