K-Swiss – Blade Max Trail Running Shoes

I live at the bottom of a valley, and with recent rains it’s getting a bit like a shallow quagmire of mud that makes walking, let alone running a bit of a slippery chore. I’ve been testing the K-Swiss Blade Max trail-running shoes for a few weeks now, off an on and whilst they are undeniably very comfortable, I’m not totally convinced.

Very Judge Dredd

Slipping them on is a pleasure; they’re made with a soft and supple fabric upper which feels more like a thick sock than a ‘trainer’. The lacing system is great, and my sample has an extra lace-hole at the top which helps hugely in snugging the shoe to your foot when running. The laces are also flat, which I like since they don’t come undone too easily.

Walking around they feel lightweight (370g) and airy, which is a bonus since they’re waterproofed with Ion-Masking – a nano-technology water repellent that keeps wet, dewy grass from soaking your toes.

A great big heel cup keeps your foot held comfortably in place and looks protective, but the same can’t be said for the toe-end, where only a very soft rubber coating keeps your tootsies protected. I’d not like to kick a rock in these, it’d hurt.

The upper is reinforced by a leather-finish moulding that keeps the whole shoe snug on your foot, and it’s seamless, which means no chafing on long distance runs (which I don’t do, since I regard running as a necessary evil only for catching buses and reviewing shoes).

The sole is designed in a series of angled ridges, which look like they should push you along. They work really well indeed at shedding mud – a quick wander on some grass gets rid of almost all mud – but when running I found the single-direction anti-slip design quite unstable. I turn my feet outwards slightly when running, so I experienced a fair bit of sidewards sliding.

Mud-shedding sole, but a bit slippery

The mid-sole is soft enough to cushion against rough surfaces, and has a built in stone-guard to take the shock out of any sharp edges which you land on. It’s what I’d describe as a medium thickness, so not totally disassociated from the ground, but certainly not barefoot. That’s the kind of shoe I prefer, so I was happy with only a little feedback from the trail.

Looks wise, the Blade Max are a bit Marmitey. The quite subtle upper is juxtaposed onto a bright yellow squelch of midsole and then a huge chunky detailing on the sole itself which emphasises that there’s plenty of air channels in there to give you cushioning. Indeed, the heel-strike of the Blade Max is soft and forgiving.

SUMMARY: Very comfortable running shoes with a seamless upper and well-cushioned midsole. Lacks much toe protection for gnarlier trails, and whilst the sole is excellent at shedding mud, I found it to be quite slippery – especially sidewards. My running gait is quite splayed, but this still affects the rating.

 Price: £90
 More: K-Swiss 

  • Bonners

    If you turn your feet outwards the nany stable trainer is not going to be suitable; this will only be exaggerated running on muddy trails. I knwo you get these to try, but you should really have a proper gait analysis whilst running, with the correct shoe, from this make or any other, you should not be sliding sideways.

    Cant comment on the actual trainer, but to do a proper review you do need a pair designed for your feet.

    • You raise the point that any review falls down on – subjectivity. I don’t think that any review, of any piece of gear, can be taken as enough evidence to base a purchase on since everyone’s use of an item differs. Indeed, one of the piece of gear on my own Gear of the Year list has been brilliant for my needs, but utterly lambasted by many of my friends for being unreliable. When it comes to THIS review you’ll notice that it’s fairly plain and factual, talking about the shoe’s features, rather than concentrating on my own experience of them too much. Universal points, like seamless comfort, are highlighted. However, the ratings we use at GearWeAre aren’t about how GOOD a product is, they’re about how much they rocked our world. I like these shoes, but they’re not for me… hence the middling rating.

  • Bonners

    TBH Andy, I dont reckon this view is about subjectivity, it is about a lack of understanding of the important factors that you need to consider when reviewing a running shoe. At £90 they are in the ‘serious’ trail running category. Anybody who would buy a shoe at that level would probably be a serious trail runner, especially as trail running shoes have a shorter lifespan typically than a road running shoe (2-300 miles).

    Before you can even look at things like comfort and fit, you have to have the right shoe for yourself, which means the stuff underneath, to then go on to do a subjective review.

    It is a fact that you were slipping in these, I would not call that subjective. But, it is important to note what wearers the shoes were designed for.

    In my own totally subjective opinion I dont think they are a brand I would consider for running, as they appear to be just dipping their toes into the trail running market with an astounding lack of information behind the design of the shoe on their website. I could be wrong, but it would appear they are more interested in the ‘look’, rather than what serious trail runners need. If that is not the case then they need to seriously look at being more informative on their website. The more I look at it, I think the problem may not be with your review, but with their lack of information about their shoes.

    Sorry to go on, but one, I generally love the reviews on your site, and two I am fairly anal about getting correct footwear for running and felt the above needed pointing out.

    • As with all footwear, and for that matter apparel, reviews. There is no substitute for trying things on. I’d personally never purchase a pair of shoes before trying them out – even if an internet discount was massively alluring.

      Thanks for the comments. Good stuff. 🙂