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UK Gear’s training shoes were originally designed in association with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC). These elite fitness professionals were closely involved in the development and tested our products in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth. Only when approved by the Military do we consider our products... Built to survive.

PT-03 DESERT review by Footwear Today

>>05 July 2010


Shoes for the Sun Struck - Henry Harington hops on a plan to Saudi Arabia to test the Desert shoe produced by UK Gear

Imagine you are a soldier who is trying to keep fit by running while posted to some dry and harsh country, like Afghanistan or Iraq. You leave the military compound - and get blown up – not a good idea! But soldiers do get sent to more benign places to train, to prepare for desert warfare where it is safe for them to go outside the camp to train.

So to test a pair of shoes designed for training in the desert I hopped on a plane to Saudi Arabia. You don’t actually “just hop” on a plane to Saudi Arabia you have to be invited (the Desert Kingdom is a very exclusive club y’know). Being invited out on an assignment I was asked by the Editor of Footwear Today to test the Desert shoe produced by UK Gear.

UK Gear have created niche for themselves by creating and testing their shoe designs in cooperation with the Army Physical Training Corps. Getting the Army to test your running shoes gives you “street cred'” even if the design of the shoes is intended for anything but street running. On the one hand the company gets a product that is tested to destruction so they have proved that it does what is says on the box for a very demanding clientele.

Secondly, they have a product that has the credibility and stamp of approval from the army, which almost guarantees them a market among our troops, and (if they were to be completely honest) the wannabes who wouldn’t have the guts to joint the real army, but strut around in army surplus or fashionista camouflage fatigues.PT-03_DESERT_Sandproof_Composite.jpg

Training in desert conditions is grim. Two things make it hell – rather obvious really – but, if you are training for the army and you are sent to the desert you just have to put up with the amount of sand and the amount of sun.

But, then there are the lunatics who chose to run in the desert, those who run marathons in places like Morocco and Egypt. In November this year those taking part in the 7 Tribes Endurance Race will run in desert terrain in the Sinai Peninsula for 110 kilometres over four days. Mad they may be but the is to in aid of the local Bedouin, helping them improve and deepen their wells to secure their water supply.

Those promoting another run for the mentally challenged, the 6 day, 243 km Marathon des Sables, that takes place in Morocco in April, warn you may lacerate your feet if you do not have the right shoes.

The PT-03 DESERT could just be up to the challenge, UK Gear say is built on a uniquely formulated midsole which delivers excellent durability and shock absorption in extreme heat. In addition it has structured cushioning that is supportive and long lasting gives an excellent level of cushioning. It has a heat resistant gum outsole and a bio-flexible underfoot bruise plate that means you can run safely and comfortably in the hottest and most arid of environments. I have had shoes in the past that quite literally melt on hot tarmac; I believe that the PT-03 would not melt in the desert.

This is exactly the type of shoe runners in these desert marathons will need. I confess not to have run a marathon in them. Had I done so I probably wouldn’t be here to sing their praises. But, having word them in the desert, I can testify to a comfortable and hardwearing shoe.

While I didn’t run a marathon in Saudi Arabia but I can confirm that these are stable, comfortable shoes perfect for desert conditions. Many running shoes have some sort of breathable mesh on the top to let your feet “breath”. Well, when you are running on sand that is of no use. So the PT-03 may not have that ventilation, but they are not hot shoes and they have a really unique feature…

Have you ever arrived at the beach and in your enthusiasm to get to the water’s edge rushed headlong over the sand dunes – only to find, when you reach the sea, that your shoes are full of sand? You can imagine how full your shoes would get if you were running in the desert!

The PT-03 have (optional) gaiters. We are most familiar with the knee-high gaiters we use on country walks but these are more like spats that cover the shoe and lacing up to just above the ankle. They look a bit like small tents erected over your shoe and attached to it with several Velcro tabs that loop on a ribbon the is laced around the shoes. It is very clever and very effective.

The Desert shoe is the sister shoe (or is that brother in arms) of UK Gear’s Winter shoe that has proved itself in the opposite conditions for those wanting to train in the cold and snow. While the Winter model is a stylish blue and does not give any indication of its military antecedents, the Desert is, well desert coloured. I found both shoes attractive to look at and was a bit annoyed at having to wear them in battle to test them. They are both quite suitable for the wannabe fashionistas or anyone who wants a tidy-looking and comfortable casual shoe, with chunky soles that give grip.

Source (page 14)