Like all my reviews, this is a down and dirty, no mumbo jumbo review using my real world experience. We are taking a new direction today, this will be my first foray into non-tech gear reviews. What are we going to see today, what has the dubious honor of my first tech-free review? Carson Footwear’s Iguana Racers.
If you’re not familiar with Carson Footwear (http://carsonfootwear.com/) I can’t say it’s your fault. They are new player in the footwear world, but at 2.5 years old they are definitely making their way into this ever-burgeoning field.
I will say this before I get into the nitty and the gritty, if you are into buying American designed, American made (As a note, Carson Footwear is based out of Milwaukie Oregon), and almost entirely American sourced products, you need to check them out. If you like to buy from the underdog, the small guy, the hip new upstart, check them out as well. OK enough chit chat let’s get to it.
Disclaimer: I contacted Everett Carson after a mutual acquaintance introduced me to the product, and he was gracious enough to agree to let me have a pair of his premiere offering for review. This will not influence my review, but in order to have full transparency I want to let you know.
Breathability: The upper of the shoe is made of a tough, synthetic fiber in a tight mesh weave. It’s lightweight, allows plenty of airflow when in use and so far seems to be pretty tough.
Weight: These shoes are light. I have big feet (size 13 or 14 depending), and shoes normally list the weight for a size 9-10. I can tell you that these are probably the one of lightest pair of shoes I own. 10.3 ounces is what the postal scale shoes the size 13 weighing at. Pretty light.
Durability: I’m not going to lie, I’m rough on footwear, but these have been pretty darned good so far. I’ve run a couple hundred miles on the trails and the roads (combined) as well as walked around San Diego during Comic Con with these guys. They have also pretty much become my go to casual shoe, so they get a lot of mileage on them.
Sole: The sole on these is pretty nice, aside from the lug pattern, which is good on the trails it’s made from lightweight polyurethane instead of your typical EVA. From what I have read this material wa created especially for Carson with the help of BASF. I’ve also read that it helps to dissipate force horizontally as well os vertically so it can be thinner than its EVA counterparts.
Designed, Built and mostly sourced from America: For some of you that might not be a plus, but for me it is. I like supporting smaller, independent manufacturers and if they can add more to their local economy as opposed to somewhere in China or Bangladesh, even better.
Trailability: The PU sole with its unique lug pattern is great on multiple terrains. Dirt, gravel, sand, muddy areas; they performed admirably under most conditions. The one area where I saw a dip in gription (grippyness and friction) was in wet surfaces. They can be a bit slippery on wet stones and grass. Not terrible by any means but it seems to be their weakest point.
Zero Drop: I won’t mislead you; I like zero drop footwear. Inflated heel height is not natural and you shouldn’t stand for it (pun intended). I know a lot of people either don’t know the difference, don’t care, or think it’s weird but having the front and rear of your feet at the same point is where it’s at for me. For those who don’t know zero drop means that the front and the rear of the shoe are the same height. Typically running shoes have anywhere from 4mm – 16mm of difference between where the forefoot and the heel are in relation to the ground.
Stack height: Measuring in at 10MM the Iguanas fall squarely into the mid-range stack height for me. My work shoes are zero drop, .5mm stack height VivoBarefoot RAs and my marathon shoes are Altra Paradigms with a whopping 34mm stack height.
Don’t let the stack height fool you though, I have run 6-8 miles courses in these and they are as comfortable as some of my shoe with 18-24mm stack heights for the same distance.
Price: At $100 they fall right into the upper price point for non-professional runners, but factoring in the fact that they are manufactured and assembled here in the USA it’s a bargain as compared to most other companies that have everything made overseas.
Fit: These run a bit smaller than I am used to. Truth be told I probably need a size 14 in them. They have a narrow toebox, and crowd my caveman toes together a bit. Luckily though the upper material is stretchy and they expand on the landing portion of my stride to allow my toes to splay a little bit.
No Rock Plate: Every shoe has to make compromises, weight for cushioning, breathability for waterproofing, or in this case no rock plate for flexibility. I get it, It’s not a huge negative but I wanted to make sure I let you know, being a minimalist shoe, they are very thin and flexible, which means no protective plate. For me that’s no a big deal but for some people it may be.
Warranty: Carson provides a one (1) year warranty on the workmanship of the shoes. You’ll get a nifty warranty card with the serial number of your shoes when you get them.
Packaging: like most shoes, they come in a box, but in that box is a nice bag to store your shoes in. In a world where companies like to give you less and less, it’s a nice touch.
So looking at the Iguanas as a whole, you can see the PROS well outweigh the CONS. The shoes are durable, lightweight, good for road running, and great for trails. They are a little bit on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for, and really don’t you want your feet to have the best quality you can get for them? If you have wide feet consider getting a size larger than you usually wear. Don’t worry there are different patterns for the shoes, so you don’t have to have reptiles on your feet if you don’t want to. After a couple hundred miles and my daily life I can say that Carson Footwear is Rob approved.