The competitive running shoe biz has been an all-out arms race of innovation where the industry’s biggest brands are outfitting their speediest models with carbon fiber plates, state of the art foams, ultra-light synthetic meshes, and other seemingly over-the-top yet practical upgrades. Whether you’re a medal-chaser, globetrotting for marathon finishes, or hit the occasional 5K, the options are simply over-flowing. However, trail-running doesn’t quite have the broad smorgasbord of dishes. While it’s a sport popular in select regions of the world, the art of outdoor running on shaky terrain is still a large market that only expanded once citizens of the world looked to the wilderness during the deepest stages of the pandemic.
In comes Speedland, a hyper-performance outdoor/trail sportswear company started by sneaker industry vets Dave Dombrow and Kevin Fallon. With decades of corporate exposure and know-how, the two decided to join forces inspired by mutual love of outdoor running. Their flagship launch shoe is the SL:PDX, which on paper reads like one of the most technically advanced athletic sneakers on the market. Two BOA-cable systems offer lockdown that can be micro-adjusted, while the upper blend of Dyneema (durability) and knit tongue (elasticity/comfort) provide right right blend of protection. The interior midsole is made of Pebax, which offers the rigidity and flex needed in trail runners, while the removable CarbiteX plate provides that springy feel that is now a standard in running shoes. Finally, the Michelin rubber outsole will keep you gripped onto the terrain.
Just why is all this tech stuffed into one shoe? Dombrow says “The SL:PDX was built with a no compromise approach. When you take this approach you have the ability to use the best of the best materials and cost is analyzed at the end of the process rather than the beginning.” Simply put, it’s the best of the best, and the $375 price-point is a reflection of its choice nature. Dombrow adds: ” The SL:PDX takes a Hyper Equipment Approach, more like Bikes or Skis, giving the Trail runner tune-ability options for their terrain/region. When you take this Design Approach it also allows for new solutions (cuttable blocks, removable carbon plate)… solutions that have never been realized in Trail Footwear.”
Purely on an aesthetic standpoint, the SL:PDX falls in line with the tech/outdoor trends that continue to persist. We’d love to see collaborative exploration with a tech-wear brand such as Arc’teryx, but for now, the minty-green launch colorway will excitedly do. Just 1,200 pairs will be available through the Speedland online store; check out the photos ahead as well as a video detailing the Speedland origin.