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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.

The Runners Vibe - PT-1000 Review

>>03 August 2011


Wear Test: UK Gear's 1,000-Mile Shoe
Posted by Frank Field


There’s no shortage of marketing claims that shoe companies will make to get you to buy their wares. But it’s not very damned often you see a shoe company with the huevos to make claims about how many miles you can put on a pair of their kicks. UK Gear, however, makes training shoes for people who aren’t afraid of facing death on the battlefield, so maybe they aren’t afraid to come right out and say their PT-1000 will last a thousand miles.

That’s right a THOUSAND MILES.

Oh, sure, the shoe guy at your local shop will probably tell you your conventional shoes should last “about 300- to 500-miles.” That’s pretty standard. And it’s also pretty true, generally. Most conventional trainers show heavy wear and lose a lot of ability to attenuate shock after that mileage. The Runner’s Vibe is aware of none that claim to hold up for 1,000 miles.

So, how’d they do it? Well, UK Gear isn’t saying, exactly. Their spokesperson said in an email reply to questions that, “The shoe features UK Gear’s Force Dynamic System (FDS) – classified technology built on a foundation of proprietary compounds and materials. Such technology took over 8 years to develop with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC), culminating in 40 of these physically demanding instructors running thousands of miles in final prototypes.

“It is a combination of such FDS technology, the use of the RAPTC in our wear testing programme and an intense durability test programme at SATRA laboratories (editor’s note: SATRA is a lab accreditation group. It doesn’t endorse products, but accredits lab procedures) that allows UK Gear to confidently claim to have developed the world’s first running shoe built to survive 1000 miles.”

So, basically, the answer is what you’d expect: they have secret materials in the outsole and midsole that last longer than other shoes. No surprise. Perhaps one day we’ll crack the code, until then, our job is to wear and wonder.

Now, if you’re one of those people who wears shoes until you can’t stand the stink or until the soles literally wear off, then bully for you. Maybe you remain free from injury running in shoes like that, so double-bully. But if you keep getting hurt, or your performance isn’t what you’d like it to be, perhaps it’s time to re-think your strategy because nothing out there does at 500 miles what it does out of the box — unless you’re logging a thousand miles in UK Gear’s new treads.

So, UK Gear isn’t your ordinary running shoe company, and it stands to reason that they don’t make ordinary running shoes. That much is clear. Perhaps a little history is in order.

Army Physical Training Corps - Running TrackUK Gear got started in 1993 making equipment for Scottish and Welsh athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games. By 2001, the company’s reputation earned it an agreement to work with the British Army’s Physical Training Corps. By 2004, they had developed their first military-spec training shoe. And by the next year, they’d found friends with German and Australian forces and the U.S. Air Force.

Not content, UK Gear launched a retail market shoe in 2008, and the company has begun to aggressively court feedback from actual runners.

Let’s dispatch quickly with aesthetics as they are totally subjective. These are purposeful-looking shoes that, while they lack the shiny pizzazz of some mass-market shoes, are certainly handsome enough that nobody’s going to think you got your running shoes at WalMart. The only out-of-the-box drawback of the PT-1000 may be that it’s so sturdy that it looks heavy. At 12+ oz., they’re not “lightweight,” but there are plenty of shoes out there that weigh far more and don’t claim to last as long.

UK Gear shoes come in various shades of grey and black with some red highlights. There’s also a desert model in khaki colors. Women's models come in lighter greys and one has baby blue highlights. More colors are due “in six months” the company says.

Military-spec shoes for the U.S. Coast Guard are navy blue, red and white and are actually quite sharp-looking as casual wear in our eyes. UK Gear puts a grey-scale flag on the back of the heel counter, one resembling the US flag, one resembling the UK union jack. The overall effect is perhaps a bit generic, but it’s certainly not ugly. Perhaps future generations will see overlays symbolic of a UK Gear logo instead of the vertical zig-zag currently in place. It would help make the product more identifiable if nothing else.

And while you can visit the UK Gear Web site and see people running in UK Gear branded apparel, you can’t get your hands on it, unless you’ve enlisted. No loss to serious runners anyway, as their shirts are all cotton. However, UK Gear does have plans to enter with a performance sock. They recently held a Facebook contest to find a wear tester, but no word on when that product will debut. Suffice it to say UK Gear is focusing on the foot before branching out into apparel. Would that more companies focused on their core competencies.

The fit is roomy, but not wide. It seems to run true to size length-wise and the width seemed true to standard D width (regular for most U.S. models). It seems high-volume, especially in the toe-box. That’s not a bad thing if you’re a person whose toes reach out a bit on your stride, you won’t wind up with blistered toenails because of hitting the toe-bumper. But if you like a more snug fit, you’ll wish for just a bit less material. The midfoot fit was standard, again with enough volume in the upper to handle the thickest of trail socks. The heel felt secure, but not tight. The shoe should accommodate orthotics well.

The uppers are synthetic, not leather. They are not waterproof, but the company says feedback is that the shoe “dries quickly.”

OK fine, you’re thinking, so how’s the ride?

Well considering that the company has been getting the bulk of its feedback from people in the military, it’s a far cry better than the loud, harsh, jouncy, all-wheel-drive armoured vehicles they tool around in.

PT-1000_Review.jpgThe PT-1000 comes in a stability (“SC,” for structured cushioning), and a neutral (“NC,” for neutral cushioning) version. This wear test was in the neutral shoe. And this shoe is not merely a trail shoe. It’s a bit of hybrid, with UK Gear promoting it as a “road/trail” shoe. The first run was an easy 5K jaunt on the roads, just to get a feel for it.

And you will feel it. It’s neutral, but the cushioning was quite firm, at first, on asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks. Plus, it’s pretty stiff out of the box, including in the toe-box, even though there are some forefoot flex grooves cut into the outsole. That’s not surprising for a shoe expected to hold up to 1,000 miles, but is a bit jarring at first.

After only a few miles, however, the shoe proved to be surprisingly compliant. Nobody’s going to mistake this for a shoe you lace up on speedwork or tempo days, but that’s clearly not its intended purpose. Unless you require an uber-soft midsole, it won’t take long to get used to. Nor were there any negative side-effects the next day from having tread in a fairly rigid shoe.

The PT-1000 is far more at home on trails. In fact, it positively shines. On dry, single-track over undulating hills, the PT-1000 felt more sure underfoot, had great grip and laughed at rocks. The collar, like the midsole, is a bit stiff, but the overall feeling is one of security. Hey, these people make stuff for the people who take bullets for their country, one would think security is exactly what they were going for here.

The compromise, and there must be compromises in hybrid shoes, comes in muddy traction. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t create a feeling this would be the go-to shoe for icy conditions or deep muck. Now, it’s pretty near impossible to make an outsole that is durable with a grippy tread pattern for trails that is also comfortable and smooth on roads.

The PT-1000 is, to our way of thinking, an excellent shoe for rocky, technical, hard-packed trails that can do double-duty on roads. With more than a fair share of rain in the Midwest (where the wear test occurred), runs on wet, grassy or muddy trails were a little more work to maintain balance, but no worse than many trail-specific shoes we’ve worn.

Let’s not forget that this shoe retails for $130. That’s a lot of versatility and durability for the dollar.

PT-1000_SC_GREY-AQUA_running-shoe_lateral_thumbnail.jpgNow, you might be a purist who would never think of donning anything but a minimalist glove-like “barefoot” shoe for any run. Obviously this isn’t your next set of kicks. And if you need something flexible that weighs less than your energy bar, then, again, move along.

However, The Runner’s Vibe sees some serious genius in bringing this shoe to the masses, especially if they can get it into retail stores on a fairly wide-spread basis.

About that. If you’re itchin’ to buy a pair right now, you have to either join the appropriate branch of military, in which case you get yours for free. Or, visit Roadrunnersports.com, Shoebuy.com or Amazon.com (shameless plug: our link to Amazon is on the right side of this page). But, the company replied, “…as brand recognition increases in the US along with our product line, we aim to be available in selected retail outlets for the general consumer in the near future.” No solid date on that, so go ahead and click that link as it helps yours truly keep this site online.

Back to the “genius” of this type of shoe for the mass market. The fact of the matter is that runners have gotten older and slower. While you might be a speed demon who wants minimalist footwear, the vast, vast majority of running specialty shoppers we see are overweight folks who want something they can use to lose weight. And, having seen the shocked look of many a customer in my own time in running shops, I know a lot are surprised to learn their shoes actually wear out. In a few months, not years, the way they claim their old Chuck Taylors held up for “all four years” of high school track and field. Yeah, I know, but the customer is always right, eh?

Anyway, let’s not forget that the economy is in the dumper on a global scale and people are looking for a good deal. So, along comes UK Gear with a shoe that can go from trail to road and will last as long as two or three pairs of conventional shoes for half or a third as much in total cost? Sounds like a no-brainer for a lot of runners.

The Runner’s Vibe thinks that UK Gear’s biggest problem will be giving enough people the confidence to drop $130 on that first pair in order to remain viable in the retail market. But we also think that if those who do try them out fit the profile of the UK Gear customer, they should have a thousand carefree miles behind them before worrying about getting the second pair.

source: www.therunnersvibe.com