Craft Endurance Trail Review: Let’s Talk About Tommy Rivs
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10.7 oz. (303 g) for a US M9,
9.3 oz. (263 g) for a US W8
Men: 36 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)
Women: 34 mm in heel, 25 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)
Gravel and non-technical trails
Px Foam midsole, lightweight upper, road-to-trail lug layout
SAM: Just last year, if you had asked me about Craft, the crisp, modern apparel and footwear company out of Sweden, I would have mumbled abstractly about a plated shoe with a crazy red and blue pattern that Taylor and Matt reviewed (the Craft CTM Ultra Carbon 2), and followed it up with a slight shrug. Now, Craft lives in my Instagram feed rent-free and on running news pages as the brand that Tommy Rivs runs for.
This is mostly a testament to how a great story and a recognizable person can strengthen a brand through partnership. Rivs, or Tommy Rivers Puzey, is an elite ultrarunner, physical therapist, massage therapist, and anthropologist who was diagnosed with an exceptionally rare lung cancer in 2020. Now in remission, barely three years out from diagnosis, and a year from relearning to walk, he ran the NYC marathon in 2021 and Boston in 2023. If you don’t know his name you’d probably recognize his wavy and impeccably groomed red beard or his penchant for wearing as little as possible (all of it black) during races.
My introduction to Rivs was through an interview he did with Rich Roll, which is worth checking out. They talk about the potential for pain and suffering as gifts, how it feels to face death, and the endurance of gratitude. He’s inspiring, and not only for his ability to look good in a crop top. Maybe what I secretly want from this review is for a few more people to listen to a great conversation about the limits of endurance, even in the face of death. But also, I’m mainly here to talk about a new shoe from Craft, one that Tommy Rivs shows up in advertising for — the Craft Endurance Trail.
This shoe is another looker, with a one-piece engineered mesh upper featuring Craft’s Regular Fit, which it says is slim in the heel and forefoot with room in the toebox. There’s a chunky midsole of Craft’s proprietary Px Foam, with a stack of 36mm in the heel and 27mm in the toe (for the Men’s version) and a slight rocker. Below that is a trail-directed outsole that has a tight enough lug spacing to not suffer on the pavement. If someone like Tommy Rivs likes this thing, it’s got to have something going for it, right?
SAM: The Craft Endurance Trail has done the work to sell me on one thing I’m usually peevish about, and that’s overlays. The overlays here are really just a series of thin white horizontal lines that add structure to the engineered mesh upper. Performance-wise, they probably do a little less than they’re supposed to. Visually? As soon as the upper gets dirty, those lines start to stand out. It’s a cool effect and enhances an already good-looking shoe. Craft has nailed the colorways here, and I especially like the contrasting colors of the laces on the colorways that have been released so far and the gradient that runs the length of the midsole.
The engineered mesh is breathable, and the aforementioned overlays add some extra durability. There are toe and heel overlays for a little extra protection where you’ll need it most. I’m a fan of the heel construction on the Craft Endurance Trail. Lower profile heel counters that still provide support are my jam, and here there is just enough cushion, but not so much that anything feels bulky.
When I first pulled out this shoe, I had severe doubts about the Px Foam midsole. It feels, sounds, and looks like a more durable chunk of the styrofoam you find in the box for a set of shelves from Ikea. I’m all for using that to protect my affordable nondescript shelving set before I have to mark out the warzone building it will create, but I don’t really trust it to protect my feet over long distances. I could not have been more wrong in my assumption. The durometer of the Px Foam in the Craft Endurance Trail is so near to exactly what I want underfoot. It’s medium firm and has just enough compression and rebound to feel lively underfoot. A forefoot rocker keeps your stride smooth.
Underneath that, the outsole with close-set circular lugs has lots of grip on gravel and hardpack. The thick midsole and lug configuration makes this a decent road-to-trail hybrid.Shop Craft Endurance Trail - Men Shop Craft Endurance Trail - Women
SAM: The first and most glaring problem with the Craft Endurance Trail is that the sizing and fit are absolutely wild. My review pair was a US M10.5, and it was quite a bit big for my US M10 foot. Yet, the indent in the midsole for the arch of your foot is too long and hit the underside of the balls of my feet like it belonged in an even bigger size shoe. This caused a fair bit of discomfort on runs longer than 5 miles, so I’d recommend going down at least a half-size or maybe a full-size if you plan on picking up a pair.
While the look of the overlays won me over, they don’t do much for support and lockdown, and there’s nothing else in the upper to keep your midfoot in place. The upper here has less lockdown than many road shoes I’ve worn, but the Endurance Trail also comes in heavier than many trail shoes, at 315 g or just over 11 oz. for a US M10.5. The midsole is pretty light, and it doesn’t feel super heavy on foot, so Craft could have just jumped down the weight hole and added some overlays or underlays for support.
With the height of the midsole, some instability in the heel, and lack of lockdown, I can’t imagine that heel strikers with weak ankles will have a good time on anything more technical than a dirt path in this shoe. There’s some stability in the forefoot, so my midfoot strike didn’t struggle quite as much. You’d think that the firmer durometer of the midsole would allow Craft to drop the stack height some to make for a more nimble ride, but it’s possible that the formulation of Px Foam suffers when deployed with a lower stack. I have no idea.
As much as I love the feel underfoot, I’d love less height. On top of this, a 9 mm drop from heel to toe is madness for trails. Coupled with the lacking lockdown, this makes steep downhills into brief adventures in toe crunching. Anything steep and technical has you doing everything in your power not to fall right off the trail.
Lastly, because of the close nature of the lugs, the outsole here really struggles with anything sloppy or loose.Shop Craft Endurance Trail - Men Shop Craft Endurance Trail - Women
SAM: Craft has an attractive, unique trail shoe in the Endurance Trail, and a midsole foam that feels nearly perfect underfoot. However, sizing, fit, and lockdown issues make this a shoe mainly for gentle, non-technical trails and roads. If you can get it to fit your foot, this could be a great contender for your local gravel paths, especially if you want to stand out from the usual shoe suspects you see around. Maybe you can use such an eye-catching shoe to recommend a good interview with a runner who has been through the wringer and back. I did it with this review, and if you’re still reading here at the end, it kept you around.
You can pick up the Craft Endurance Trail for $159 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the buttons below.
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Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone PeakMore from Sam