The track wound around trees, twisted between crags and rose steadily onto the slopes of Wansfell Pike above Ambleside.
The new Timberland Route Racer is just one of a new range of shoes in the brand’s Mountain Athletics range. As I ran through the woods, the shoe felt ideal on forest tracks, and it tackled muddy grass slopes well thanks to the studded sole and supportive torsional stiffness. There is good cushioning too underfoot and this made the short jog from the house to the track reasonably comfortable, although a dedicated springy road running shoe would be better. The upper is mesh to aid breathability, but this is protected by an external moulding and so far this is standing up well to scrapes on runs.
Running along country tracks is without doubt better for you and the planet than driving to a gym and pounding a floodlit treadmill in a centrally-heated building. Although if you airfreight your running gear across the planet, drive to the countryside and replace kit often then the eco benefits of a run in the country are not as obvious.
To combat the negative effects of simple outdoor pleasures like running and walking, many gear producers are beginning to provide more eco-friendly outdoor gear.
Timberland has a long history of forging partnerships between communities in need of help and developing eco-friendly initiatives, such as its Sole4Souls project, Earthkeepers projects and Green Index Scoring system to rate climate impact of their product range.
Timberland’s latest green initiative is to use Green Rubber in its footwear sole units. This compound consists of at least 85 per cent recycled car tyre rubber and thereby reduces the environmental effects of worn tyres that are no longer safe for use on cars and would otherwise end up in landfills. This Green Rubber is mixed with virgin rubber to produce the outsole of the shoe, so less virgin rubber is needed.
Green Rubber is featured in the Timberland Route Racer, just one of a new range of shoes in the brand’s Mountain Athletics range. This is the first time Timberland has incorporated its environmental values into its performance range of products.
As I did my best to speed ahead, the design of the Route Racer was a definite benefit. The outsole has a deep studded lug pattern that grips well on mud as well as loose earth and rock. Most importantly there was good cushioning on the heel for the rocky sections of a run as well as a smooth rolling action for speeding back downhill on good tracks and paths.
The shoe was light and responsive, and I found it ideal for general off-road running on Wansfell Pike, while the cushioning made road surfaces or rocky pitched paths also comfortable underfoot.
The Timberland Route Racer is certainly improving my health, while its Green Rubber outsole means my running may have even less impact on the environment.
Upper polyester mesh and overlays; Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole 50% Green Rubber (which contains 85% recycled rubber)/50% virgin rubber;
Sizes 7-15 (men’s); 5-11 (women’s)
Weight 820g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stockist details tel. (01753) 497000; www.timberlandonline.co.uk
Verdict: The Timberland Route Racer uses environmentally friendly rubber; light and responsive; excellent grip and cushioning. But lighter shoes may be even more responsive; more cushioned shoes are better for distance road running. Overall, the Timberland Route Racer is a trail running shoe that is better for you and the planet.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2009