My wife says that I never throw away anything. A garage back-filled with out of date ski designs, dog-eared copies of the Mountain Gazette and a pair of road-chewed Salomon XT Wings are all key to her evidence.

“I’m replacing those XTs,” I respond, but there is hesitation in my voice. Those shoes could still have another five or ten runs in them, despite the ground-down asphalt hamburger of the toes, and the impact-evaporated instep.

There could be a day of gardening left in them, I reason, digging for new roses or fast walking wheelbarrows of fresh chip. There could be dog walks, brunches or off days…or the fact that my wife is absolutely correct.

The fact is the XTs were game-changers. With the benefit of the Quicklace system for custom-adjustments and the EVA midsole for support, they really did help introduce a whole new class of on to off-trail running shoes, due in no small part to the XT’s unerring level of rebound and grip.

I ran in mine from New Mexico to South America, on treadmills in Denmark and before my friend Graham’s wedding in Colorado, on the Nordic trails of Devil’s Thumb that were creaking with a late summer frost. Everywhere they ran, they rocked.

And there is the memory now that comes with every great piece of gear, of moments where time, technology and effort were all lost in the task. Remembering how you gave over to it; that place where the equipment starts to define the environment. Then now knowing that these shoes are headed for the trash.

To replace the XTs, I have already lined up a short list of new shoes to test, from Brooks, Nike and Five Ten (and have already passed on to other runners two pairs of shoes that, my feet at least thought flat out sucked). Is there another legend like the XT out there? Here’s where we start to find out…

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