Hiking boots are excellent for hiking for their grip, stability and waterproofing. They’re also big, hot and heavy.
Many hikers are switching over to smaller and lighter trail running shoes that don’t offer the same stability but are much lighter and more comfortable to wear over long distances. Many trail runners didn’t have the support in the sole, the grip or durability that make hiking boots good over long distance.
So which do you pick?
The Magma trail shoe from Tecnica is first trail shoe that’s firmly aimed at being light enough to be a trail runner, supportive and durable enough to be a hiking shoe, and sticky enough to be an approach shoe for getting to climbing areas.
So it’s trying to be three different things that are apparently opposites to one another. Can it really be good at all 3?
XO Shield outsole with Vibram Litebase and Megagrip
Excuse me? That’s a mouthful. Let’s unpack that.
Tecnica calls the the outsole on the Magma (grippy rubbery thing on the bottom) the XO Shield outsole.
It’s made with a rubber compound from Vibram called Megagrip. Megagrip is a sticky but durable rubber that lasts longer. Usually when rubber is sticky, like on climbing shoes, it doesn’t as as long. It wears through and gets holes fast but is very sticky. Or on the other side you can have very hard rubber like on hiking boots, that’s very stiff and last a long time, but it’s not sticky and can have a tough time on smooth surfaces like dry or wet rock. Megagrip is a bit better at both.
We tested Megagrip on the Norda 001 trail runners recently as well.
Instead of gluing on an extra protective rand around the outside of the shoe for protection and stickiness, the sole just wraps up around the edges too.
Vibram Litebase is just a technology they developed to make the outsole thinner and lighter but still have the grip and durability their old outsoles did. It just makes the shoe lighter than it would have been with their old outsoles.
The tread pattern which has lugs of many different sizes and patterns from the front to the back, is inspired by mountain bike tires that can grip in wet mud or dry dirt and rock.
And one last part about the bottom of the shoe is the wide heel, and stability fins down the sides on the back to help with stability and breaking going down hill. I like to be able to stop when I’m on steep terrain.
Oh, and one last last thing about the bottom of the shoe. There’s a bit of curved rocker under the toe in the midsole to help roll you into the next step. It’s not super noticeable like having curved shoes but it doesn’t help with each step when you’re running. An ESS shank in the midsole controls twisting and a rockplate keeps your feet happy when you’re bashing them against hard, sharp rocks all day.
The fit out of the box for the Magma is snug around the heel and a mid-weight in the toe area. It’s not as wide as a Altra shoe in the toe area but I found it plenty wide for my mid-width feet.
The heel and sides can be heat-molded with Tecnica’s Custom Adaptive Shape (CAS) technology, just like in ski boots. Their Forge hiking boot can be heat-molded in the same way.
The insole is heated and then put into the shoes, and then with the shoes on your feet, giant, sock-like heaters compress around your legs pressing the shoes (or boots) into your feet, molding them to the shape.
Tecnica says the shoes are somewhat pre-molded and I found them a great fit out of the box. I think if the the sole or heel bugged you a little bit, then you could get a custom fit at an outdoors shop with a heat molder.
For being pre-molded, the insole support was very mild, which I liked. Some supportive insoles are aggressively tall and I spend dozens of kilometers running with sore feet trying to bash them down lower.
The tongue is a classic tongue, separate from the shoe all the way down, with a small loop to run laces through.
This version is not waterproof but there is a Gore-Tex version available.
All the Specs
- 8mm drop
- Ventilated 3D mesh
- 5mm lug height
- ESS Shank
- Forefoot rock plate
- Anatomic fit
- Classic tongue, laces can go through the tongue
- Vibram Litebase outsole with Megagrip rubber
- CAS – Custom Adaptive Shape around heel and with insole.
- High-rebound compression molded EVA Midsole
- 310 grams (mens size 9)
- $190 CAD ($140 USD)
What I like
The Fit is Great
I love when I can pull a pair of shoes out of the box and go for a run. No hotspots, no plantar fascia pain, just a nice fit right away. The heel was snug immediately and has yet to rub on any of my runs or hikes.
The grip is very good
So far in our hot dry weather, the Magma has easily gripped everything I’ve thrown at them. Dry rock, gravel and dusty dirt are no problem for the Megagrip sole. The smaller, round lugs at the front and larger stiffer lugs in the bag seem to help with gripping anything underfoot. I’ve stood on dusty dirt and dry rock on extremely steep parts of the trails hiking and running. The degree of the slope has been well past what I’m comfortable walking on (and my ankles turn to) and I can stay standing.
Light enough to run but stable for hiking
The Magma’s aren’t going to be the lightest trail shoes on the market at 310 grams but it’s not bad. Typically hiking shoes have thick outsoles and midsoles to beef up their stability and durability but that makes them heavier. The Magma’s feel great running on the trails.
Cushion a bit stiff for the road
The Magma’s aren’t meant for running on the road but I tested them there anyways. I usually run a bit on the road to get the trails when I head out. They aren’t soft and cushy on the road, but they don’t hurt either. Hitting the road in the new shoes usually gives me sore feet but they were happy after couple kilometers to and from the trails over the last few weeks.
Prefer video? Here’s the video version.
Who is the Tecnica Magma good for?
If you are looking for a trail shoe that you can run and hike in, the Magma can absolutely do those things. This is not a great shoe if you are putting in a lot of kilometers on the road but that’s what they’re meant to do. They’re meant to be a 1-shoe quiver. You can trail run on the weekends and hike during the week no problem