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GoLite Discover Lite / Trail Lite shoes

GoLite's Discover Lite shoe for men and the Trail Lite shoe for women turn footwear design on its head, putting cushioning near the ground, while placing firm support underfoot.

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GoLite’s design philosophy with shoes is to turn everything on its head – that is, the company’s shoes put the cushioning near the ground to absorb the bumps and lumps of the ground, and place firm support underfoot. In theory it sounds like a good idea, so the SNEWS® team ordered a couple of pairs of multi-purpose shoes to wear test – the Discover Lite for men and the Trail Lite for women.

Now, to be the perfect travel shoe for our veteran editorial team, the shoe needs to look as good with jeans, khakis, dress slacks, a skirt or kilt as it does with a pair of hiking shorts – sans black socks pulled over the calf, thank you! It also has to provide supportive comfort and good traction when pounding through airports, across concrete sidewalks, up and down trade show aisles, as well as on a trail winding through a local park or up a nearby mountainside. It has to be easy to clean, resistant to scuffing, have a no-marking outsole, and must dry out relatively quickly if soaked in a wayward puddle, stream crossing, or all-day urban downpour. Oh, and being resistant to odors is a plus – just hate the nasty footwear smell from microbes having a party in your shoes after wearing them 15 hours a day.

GoLite told our team that the shoes they were sending us had the “ride of a clog, but the feel of a sneaker. Shoes you won’t want to put away once the trip is over.” They were, we will assert, underselling them. We wore our shoes extensively from November through March. Both testers were in New Orleans in December during the heaviest rainfall in a single day on record and, yes, they were walking – or, shall we say, sloshing at times — around the French Quarter. Needless to say, the shoes were soaked. Our male tester even wrung water out of his socks. But, given the shoes were the only pair he had brought, rain or shine, damp or dry, he had to wear them. Never did they feel uncomfortable, and when he stuffed the shoes with newspapers they dried overnight completely. Best of all, no bad odor. And, once dry, they looked just as good as they did the day they came out of the box.

The rubber on the shoe soles is a high-grip compound for extra traction on wet surfaces, and the soles worked as advertised, save for one slippery moment on a skating rink of wet linoleum in a Louisiana restaurant.

A unique feature of GoLite shoes is the company’s PreciseFit system, which utilizes specially designed inserts that you place in the insole to increase or reduce volume. Both our testers have low-volume feet and still found the fit across the foot to be extraordinarily good with not one pinch spot or irritation from Day One. They literally fit like a glove without the need to cinch the laces in as far as they could go to accommodate less volume. It is possible a wider or higher-volume foot may find the fit too snug, though. One tester did find the need for an additional arch support, inserting a thin, half-length, plastic support under the footbed without a hitch for unobtrusive wear and the feeling of better support.

The flexible leather upper, rubber toe and heel guards still look good, with no scuffs, nicks, rubs or tears, despite nearly five months of hard duty serving our editors’ feet. No, they aren’t high-fashion, but they offer a clean enough look to do well in varying scenarios. Plus, they are extremely lightweight, making them a no-brainer to pack along.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $110, Discover Lite (men’s); $100, Trail Lite (women’s)