Felldancer Challenger £51.99


Posted: 16 June 2000

Weight 292g
Evaluation Cross-country spikes aside, if you want maximum speed and confidence when you’re running off-trail, you’ve 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 what’s happening underfoot. They grip well whether you’re on moorland, pasture, mud or rock, and they’re designed to give you a secure footing for running uphill, downhill or contouring on steep hillsides. They’re also far lighter than normal trail shoes.
It’s 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 Walsh’s shoes? Felldancers are heavier, like for like, partly because they’re board-lasted (this also makes them more stable). The Extreme also has a more effective stability design than Walsh’s equivalent. Comments from testers who’ve 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 there’s 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 it’s 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.
In short Felldancers are sometimes seen as the poor man’s Walsh, but that needn’t be the case. While their grip still doesn’t quite have the edge over Walsh’s, 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)

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