Let’s face it – it sucks that Australian running stores are living in a perennial yesterday in terms of their trail shoe offerings (I won’t speak on behalf of the NZ market – for all I know, you guys may be riding front-of-wave). But let’s not blame the frontliners – it’s the distributors who get the things into the country. And even then, who knows what marketing strategies Head Office dictates to the backwater Antipodean market: “Ah give ‘em the offcuts – convicts’ll be happy with that.” Meanwhile Stateside (or Japan-side, or Continental Europe-side) trail hounds are enjoying the fresh fruits of their CAD-design cobblers’ labour. Well, that’s how it is with the Mizuno Cabrakans – here we’re stuck on version 2.0 whereas 3.0 has already hit the dirty ground running in markets elsewhere.
So it kind of felt like slipping on my big brother’s hand-me-downs when I received the Cabs. Yet, they were damn comfy out of the box, I’ll admit. And the styling? Each to their own but these were my kind of class – all dark and broody and Batmobile-for-your-feet-like.
If you do your web surf research, you’ll know that the Cab 2.0s (officially there’s no .0, I just like ‘webclature’) have a few minor updates, none of which will really make a hoot of different to trail ride. There’s a new toe box protector (surely a stock-standard on any trail shoe looking to go gnarly?), an added top lace tab to ‘snug you in’ better, there’s a premium collar lining (aka fluffier feeling ankle collar) and the upper has been made water resistant. Nothing there will win any Red Dot design awards. And I’ll flag now that the water resistant upper only scrapes into the definition of ‘resistant’. A stretch of wet grass and you’re pinkies are wet, trust me. No matter – that’s trail running.
What you want to take notice of in the Cabrakans are the core design features that were always inherent, the primary one being the wave plate buried in its midsole. Extending from heel through to the forefoot it offers protection for the foot from trail bumps and boulders. But the real genius is the way the wave plate responds to that surface variability. It flexes where it needs to, ‘giving’ to the intruding rock or root and dispersing impact over a larger area, while the rest of the plate remains strong offering support and protection to your foot.
I found that while not a specific pronation control shoe, they did give me a high level of support. And where most ‘protectionist’ style shoes lose all trail feel (and thus some runner stability) the Cabs afford good feedback from the terrain to your foot, allowing you to adjust to what’s happening down below. Add to that killer aggressive grip, a lightweight construction and an in-shoe comfort factor that rates highly (wider toe box tapering back to a slimmer heel for good foot hold) and you have yesterday’s shoe outperforming many of tomorrow’s.
Great For: rugged trails with lots of underfoot challenges, runners who want good protection and stability while still being able to feel the trail for some feedback
Not So Great For: wet conditions; mud as the tread collects
Test Conditions: trails with a high level of debris, some sand stretches, slippery surfaces, softer forest trails
Tester: Chris Ord
Tester mechanics: slight pronator, dodgy hip, undergoing treatment for ITB so can be grumpy and blame shoes for bad biomechanics