These are not your standard shoes you find at a sporting goods store. GovX has got a selection of athletic trainers that are designed to perform better on runs, hikes, gym routines, and whatever else you want to throw at them. So take a good, hard look at those Famous Footwear kicks you’ve been wearing for years and think about trying something new. Something built to your exact needs and athletic demands. Let’s take a look at some tactically-inspired alternatives, shall we?
LALO Tactical – Grinders
These are definitely among the most unique shoes I’ve ever worn. The first word that came to mind when I considered its outsole was “spongy.” The shoe has an almost bounce to it, giving me this spring in my step that definitely caught my attention.
The Grinders are unlike any other athletic shoes I’ve ever worn. When I was running, I noticed my stride was comfortable and shock absorbent and propelled me into each footfall. Trying to think critically, I thought that maybe this was some kind of placebo effect, that the feeling of being motivated to run faster was somehow all in my head. But then the next day I did the same run with my two-year-old pair of Adidas, and … I preferred the Grinders. They just felt better than any other athletic shoe I’ve ever worn. I think the benefit they offer is real. I even tried them without a pair of socks and they still performed excellently. Personally, I appreciate their feel better with a pair of socks, but if you’re the kind of runner who likes to get a little more feel for the road, then you can wear these without socks and still have plenty of protection and support.
The shoe is lightweight and feels like it can take abuse and keep on going. I haven’t tested out their water wicking features, but there’s drainage ports at the bottom, and holes strategically positioned around the shoe (including mesh “gates” at the back which I imagine would be pretty effective). I like how the laces feel sturdy and strong—they’re almost like cables or wires—and I’ve never seen them loosen significantly even after extended wear. Finally, though I’ve already mentioned the quality of the outsole, I’ll mention again that its thick and rubbery construction provides a quality footfall that can tackle asphalt roads and dirt trails. Later, when I went to the gym, they worked excellently on floor mats during a set of squats and the rest of my routine.
As for the look, they’re definitely unique. I consider that a mark in the plus column. I went with the Desert ones, and I’ve just never seen anyone wearing a shoe remotely like it. I like how the camo pattern isn’t a true duplicate on the other shoe, but not to the point where they look mismatched. It’s an unconventional look on an equally unconventional shoe.
I’m quite happy with the LALO Grinders. They feel very true to size, and I didn't have to worry about going up or down a half-size. If you're looking for something to replace your basic Reeboks, then I'd recommend the Grinders.
5.11 Tactical - Recon Trainers
I was looking for a reliable pair of athletic shoes that wouldn’t break my bank. I’d gone with basic brands like Nike and Reebok and all those you find in Big Five stores, and while they worked just fine, I still wanted to try something new. With all the five-star reviews I saw people writing for the 5.11 Tactical Recon Trainers, I had to see what the big deal was. First off, I love the design. The “5.11” logo over the top is subtle, and really only shows when the light catches the shoe right. They look good with a pair of ankle socks, and the little Velcro patch on the back is a nice touch. I like the thin yet strong laces that 5.11 used here. They’re durable and I can tell they’re going to last a very long time.
These shoes definitely perform. They’re lightweight, but not way shoes designed exclusively for running feel lightweight. They don’t have a “barely there” feeling, which is actually what I prefer, since super lightweight shoes tend to make my feet cold. They’ve got just the right amount of heft to them, while still offering the mobility you’d expect from a shoe designed to be a cross trainer. They don’t skimp on the outsole either, providing plenty of capable protection while remaining super comfortable. I enjoyed the feel of my stride on a neighborhood run. My ankle felt supported and I had a good bounce to my step. They felt great on the weight room’s spongy floor during some deadlifts, and their light weight really felt great here, letting my feet breathe as my heart rate increased.
Another thing I noticed: Right out of the box, they didn’t have any kind of “break in” period like a lot of other shoes I’ve owned. They’re not stiff, and they don’t have a sting in the ankles or toes like many new shoes do. I put them on right after UPS delivered them and was on a run an hour later. Additionally, my shoe size is a 9, and so I ordered a 9 and they ended up working great. They don't run big or small, they're pretty true to size by what I can tell.
One minor gripe in an otherwise perfect shoe: The tongue tends to lose its position over the top of my foot if I don’t tie the laces particularly tight. But that’s a tiny gripe in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite athletic shoes. Nicely done, 5.11. Now I just gotta find a rope to try out your “Rope Ready Zone” on the inside.