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As a product tester, one of the things I appreciate about GoLite Footwear is that they’re an equal opportunity supplier. More specifically, as I researched their BareTech shoe line earlier this fall on behalf of my wife, and discovered that the Amp Lite shoes I reviewed were mainly geared toward men, they were happy to provide the women’s equivalent for my wife to test.
That shoe is the Micro Lite, a fairly lightweight (9.0 oz) trail runner with all the technology features of the Amp Lite, as well as some inherent design modifications that are more suitable for female runners. In other words, the Micro is just as well-built as the Amp, but a little more svelte and eloquently designed – which, come to think of it, is a fair metaphor for the comparison of women to men in general, right?
Like the Amp, the Micro is geared towards runners in one of two categories: 1) those who are transitioning from traditional running shoes towards minimalist footwear, or 2) those who like to combine some benefits of natural running with the comfort and/or security of a traditional shoe. Its most distinguishing performance features are in the midsole: a zero-drop design that provides a flat platform to promote midfoot striking, and Soft Against the Ground technology that puts the firmer EVA close to the foot and the softer stuff underneath (see more details in my Amp review). Midsole height of the Micro is 16mm, compared to 20mm for the Amp.
Other technologies are carried over from the Amp, such as the PreciseFit footbed system that allows users to customize the roominess of the toebox, a synthetic leather and closed-mesh upper with abrasion-resistant toe and heel reinforcement, and an internal lacing system with a TPE cage that surrounds your midfoot area to keep the foot secure on all types of terrain. The lacing system is actually an improvement over the Amp, which uses a strange crossover pattern that is somewhat cumbersome at times; by comparison, the Micro’s traditional lace pattern is a breeze to secure.
Although my wife has used them as a hybrid for both on- or off-road running, the Micro is designed as a trail shoe, with outsole technologies like “Paw Pad” wedge-shaped construction for enhanced traction, and GripStick rubber for increased overall durability and improved stability on slick surfaces.
Most of the gender-specific distinctions of the Micro are built into in the last, which is contoured with a narrower heel and a slightly tighter instep than the Amp. Many footwear companies just downsize their men’s last to build the women’s model upon, but GoLite uses an entirely different shape to ensure optimum fit. The last is also posted 3mm on the medial side, which is 1mm greater than the Amp, and allows for improved alignment of the hips, knees, and ankles. (Biomechanically speaking, the angles between pelvis, knees, and feet are different for women than for men – but that’s a whole different discussion.)
My wife has logged well over 100 miles on her Micros, and has generally been very pleased with them on both roads and trails. She confirms that the ankle fit is noticeably more snug than other running shoes she’s used, but is very comfortable and keeps debris out quite effectively. She says the uppers and lacing system keep her feet securely in place on all but the steepest downhills. One drawback of the upper is that the ratio of leather to mesh is very high, which is helpful to keep trail dust and debris out, but doesn’t ventilate nearly as well as her traditional road trainers.
Most critically, considering the category of this shoe, is that she reports it’s very easy to run flat-footed in the Micro, and that it’s been a great transitional shoe as she's moving towards more minimal footwear. Perhaps by the time GoLite’s purely minimal Tara Lite (see preview here) comes out in the spring, she’ll be ready for it.
I concluded my Amp Lite review by saying it was a compelling shoe for the particular population niche it serves – and considering that the gender specific modifications of the Micro are all improvements, this female version is an even more attractive option for women venturing towards natural running. It's also 10 dollars cheaper: GoLite’s Micro Lite retails for $100 with free overnight shipping from Endless.com as well as other online vendors.
*Product provided by GoLite Footwear
** See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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