I want to start with this definitive statement: These are the most comfortable trail shoes I’ve ever worn.
I’ve not worn anything made by Carn before this month, so it was interesting when they contacted us and asked us to test something. We let them choose what to send over and what arrived surprised us – I was expecting boots and the Cobras look more like running shoes.
Having a nose at the Carn website told us that the Cobra is aimed at trail walking and running, and a poke at the shoe itself reveals that there’s a little more structure and protection for the foot than in a standard running-shoe. A big TPU (rubbery plastic) toe-bumper protects your tootsies from rocks on the trail, and a nice solid heel cup keeps things secure and protected at the rear. Carn have a very lightweight mesh on the top of the toes, which is awesome for breathability but can leave your toes feeling a little vulnerable. I certainly wouldn’t wear these if there was any risk of things falling on my feet.
Carn have opted to do away with the tongue and create a slip-on shoe. This works really, really well here because the shoe’s upper has a nice soft flex to it, and the overall effect is like sliding your feet into slippers, rather than shoes. There’s nothing to rub or chafe even if you leave the laces loose and lazy which just adds to the comfort. However, if you DO do the laces up, the effect is one of snugness and support. I especially like the way that the top-lace pulls an extension of the heel-cup inwards and helps stop slippage on steeper trails.
I’m most enamoured of the Poron (shock absorbing foam) heel pad. When you strike your heel particularly hard, or if you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis (which I do occassionally), it is a thing of wonder – it soaks up a huge amount of energy and irons out the trail.
These are shoes for summer, or people who don’t mind wet feet. There’s no form of waterproofing whatsoever. Personally, I don’t mind that at all since I’m usually wearing wool socks and don’t mind wet feet. On that note, I teamed these up with some bamboo socks last week and they were way too slippy inside, so bear that in mind if you try them out in store.
The sole is quite shallow in tread, but quite gnarly in use. It’s been brilliant at gripping everything from dry stream beds to dewy grass. And equally as impressive is the midsole which has a firm reinforcing bar which stops too much flex and again lifts these above the status of running-shoe towards trail shoe.
Fit wise, the Cobra is quite wide at the toe and medium width at the heel. I felt that the sizing was much more ‘true’ than some brands. I was a perfect 8.5.
Pricing online varies from £53 upwards. I happen to think that they’re worth every penny of whatever you end up paying because they’re just SO comfortable and soft, but supportive and well-built.
SUMMARY: Unparalleled comfort with a great mid-sole and padding as good as a sumo-wrestler. Not for hard-core trekking, deep mud or those who like solid-feeling boots, but if you like lightweight, cool-feeling feet and a shoe that’s as happy trotting around Waitrose as it is yomping across grassy fields then give the Cobras a look. I love these shoes.
Price: from £53
From: Google Shopping
More info: Carn
Women’s version also available.