Limits
By K.B. Gould
on 12.19.13
Photo by Henry Phillips

Founded in 1996 to develop footwear technologies for Nike, Adidas and Saucony, Boulder-based Newton Running eventually launched its own line of shoes, refining its prototypes and acquiring over twenty patents in the process. Today their CEO, Jerry Lee, estimates that one in every four triathletes wears Newtons. Though Newton currently makes two designated trail shoes, they’ll soon drop the Terra Momentum and offer only one: the sturdy, lightweight BOCO AT ($129).

MORE HANDS-ON REVIEWS: ECCO BIOM Terrain Plus | 10 Best Trail Running Shoes | Adidas Springblade

At first glance, the BOCO AT looks like a traditional sneaker (albeit slightly flashier), though closer inspection reveals several features integrated specifically for trail runners. The first becomes obvious the moment the shoe is lifted from its box: weighing in at only 9.6 ounces, the BOCO ATs pack a lot of features into a light package. Though heavier than more minimalist trail runners — say, the ultra-light Salomon S-Lab Sense — the BOCO AT offers extra cushioning and a solid, durable toe-cap. Both come in handy, especially when slogging through five inches of snow in the streets of Manhattan or along trails covered in rocks and ice.

In addition to demonstrating the BOCO AT’s all-around grit, the weather showcased the effectiveness of the shoes’ water repellant coating and gusseted tongue. Throughout the entirety of our run our feet remained snug and dry. They also remained cool, thanks to mesh paneling that overlays the all-weather lining on either side of the metatarsals.

Though you never see them, the BOCO ATs feature four articulating lugs that sit just under your metatarsals. Combined with the minuscule 3mm drop, they promote force a midsole strike, which, according to Newton, mimics a natural stride. Though a midsole strike often encourages heel pop — to see what we mean, put the heel of your hand against a table and roll forward to your fingertips — a layer of dampening foam sits above the lugs and keeps your foot stable. The minimal drop also helps to promote stability, as do the multi-directional lugs on the outsole.

On many of their shoes, Newton uses a proprietary technology called the “biomechanical sensor plate”. Normally we avoid pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo, but the science behind the sensor plate seems interesting, and we felt its effects during our runs. Apparently, just as we start salivating at the sight of a juicy strawberry (i.e., we experience a biological response to the mere sight of a fruit), so too does our brain register the feel of a given terrain and tell our foot how to respond. Or, in Newton’s words, “The foot senses the ground and sends a message to the brain to tell the muscles what to do.” Located in the heel, the biomechanical plate allows one to sense the ground despite the separating inch of foam. As a result, the runner makes more appropriate decisions about where to step and how much weight and power to put into each stride.

In addition the bright color scheme, the shoe features reflective strips on the heel and forefoot — you know, just in case you want to take some snowy trails by night. It fits true to size, and the $129 price tag puts it on the lower end of high-end running sneakers. For advanced runners looking for new kicks for the next XTERRA triathlon or an amateur interested in getting off the beaten path, the BOCO AT performs. Consider it open season on juicy strawberries.

FILED UNDER ,