Columbia Ravenous 2010

It can take an incredibly short amount of time for hard-won hill fitness to be lost. But weekly runs can maintain your aerobic fitness and stamina and get you outdoors.
My running footwear includes a pair of old Asics trainers that have completed the Snowdonia Marathon and a pair of aggressively soled fell shoes, great off-road but not on pavements. Neither provides much support and as my physique operates on the chunkier side, that’s the one thing that I felt would improve my running.
Sure enough the Columbia Ravenous offers excellent support underfoot, and I felt the relief in my knees and shins on my first run from the Trail office. There’s a really comfy bounce to it over harder surfaces and that, over a few months, could mean a lot less stress on knees and shins.
The Ravenous features a Techlite midsole with a ‘decoupled heel’ designed to promote shock absorption as your heel strikes the ground. There’s an angled area on the sole at the heel to encourage you to hit the ground here and then roll from heel to toe, which definitely aided my running style and made for a more economical stride.
These shoes are also impressively light thanks to the Techlite material used around the heel cuff and in the footbed, and the mesh upper that keeps you cool and allows your feet to breathe. All this added up to an impressively comfy run, which – when I can easily come up with a hundred reasons not to run – does spur me on my way.
These shoes perform perfectly for genteel runs over relatively hard surfaces like pavements and tracks, and they’ve still got sufficient bite to take you over fields, mud and inclines. The front of the sole, where the majority of the propulsion takes place, features a series of hooked crosses that deal nicely with grit, gravel, wet grass and slopes. On the back of the sole, where more braking occurs on descent, they give great control over a variety of terrain.  When running up more serious slopes with mud as part of the equation they did struggle, but then so would most shoes in this category because they simply don’t have the aggressive sole and increased lug depth required for fell races. There’s also less protection from rock on the upper mesh, but that won’t really be an issue if you restrict these to the purpose for which they have been designed: trail running on good paths, tracks and trails.
The clear plastic area at the back of the Columbia Ravenous is an external heel support that’s designed to keep the heel in place and there is a larger space at the front of the foot, which will help prevent pressure sores that can occur here when your foot swells after a long run. With the heel support on the outside this also means the added advantage of having the Techlite material next to the skin, which can mould to the shape of your foot for increased comfort.
All that delivers an exceptionally comfortable shoe that feels great to run in and can deal with pavements, off road terrain and hill trails, which could inspire you to get out more often. And that could pay big dividends on your next walk.

Upper gusseted tongue and 3D Techlite heel system
Midsole dual density Techlite
Sole Omni-Grip dual rubber
Sizes 6-14 (men’s); 3-10 (women’s)
Weight 650g (pair, size 10)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (01189) 220130; www.columbia.com

Verdict
The Columbia Ravenous’s great cushioning and light weight means lots of comfort; design encourages an efficient running style. But it is not designed for fell running and more serious hill events. All in all, it’s a great pair of running shoes for walkers who want to keep fit when not in the hills.

Review by Matt Swaine
First published in Trail magazine April 2010