Newton impresses with BoCo Sol
I’ve been privileged to test upwards of 100 shoes over the past 18 years, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to run in Newton.
It’s been a pleasant second introduction.
Around five years ago, I discovered their road shoes for the first time. In my opinion, their soles seemed unnecessarily rigid and over-padded, with a raised set of lugs under the midfoot. It seemed they were on a very different wavelength to other running shoe designs. Remember, this was also the start of the rise of minimalist shoes, with some brands having no midsole, and most as flexible as a pancake.
Happily, things have changed on the Newton front. The designers have retained this midfoot band on the BoCo Sol, but shrunk it to less prominence. They call it Action/Reaction™ Technology, and I could feel its presence on my first run. It feels like there’s a ridge under the ball of your foot, like there’s beefier cushioning there.
Compared with my touch-feel-only assessments of those early Newtons, the BoCo Sol is lightweight, soft to the touch, and felt nimble on my runs.
It will suit runners with wider feet, who still want cushioning (23mm heel height, 20mm forefoot) on a low-drop shoe (3mm differential).
If you like shoes from Altra, Hoka One One, and Vivobarefoot, among others, you’ll probably like this shoe. A lot.
The Newton BoCo Sol’s wide toe box provides good space for toe freedom and foot comfort.
On the opposite end, I found that I loved the narrow heel cup’s firm but extremely comfortable grip on my heel.
It’s light at just 272g for UK8.
Comfortable. It’s safe to say that foot comfort seems to have featured uppermost on the shoe’s design team. The upper is particularly soft around the collar, where the ankle enters the shoe.
The upper is beautifully detailed and the synthetic panels are made from an extremely fine material. This gives it a very classy detailed appearance. The breathable mesh is not as fine though, and can be expected to give good heat dissipation on hot days. That might be why Youtube shoe reviewer Reggie Rowe says that the BoCo Sol is best suited for warm weather running, but in most SA conditions a pair of warmer socks will make them warm enough. If you’re doing runs in fine powdery sand, the mesh is bound to let some grains through, as most shoes will.
Although the panels on the flanks are welded/glued, the front panel behind the toe protector rubber, and the aft section, which incorporates one of the largest reflective panels I’ve ever seen on a trail shoe, are traditionally stitched.
PANELS AND STITCHING
The heel cup area is ensconced in the very plush and silky smooth material mentioned previously. However, the toe area stitch does have a very slight raise on the inside of the shoe. It’s so far forward though, that a pair of properly fitted shoes will mean the seam is well ahead of your toes, except perhaps when descending and braking, when one’s toes move towards the front of the shoe. The ridge I’d be more concerned about is the one that runs from roughly the small toe area, to the first lace hole on the lateral (outside flank) of the shoe. It’s not a hard ridge though, so even if you run shorter distances without socks, you should not have any problems with it.
For runs 21km and longer, I’d recommend socks, unless you’ve hardened your feet over a period of time. The same applies for the wear-point ahead of the first lace above the toes. There is a slight ridge, but when I put the BoCo Sol next to the equally impressive Brooks Mazama (it’s in the same lightweight running category), the stitching and material on the Boco Sol was slightly less pronounced, and softer. Neither shoe should cause a problem in this area, as the wear-point will normally not be making contact with skin or socks.
I loved the flat laces. A better description would be that they’re oval, rather than rectangular, in cross-section. They mesh securely together, and I’d recommend tucking the loops under the first few laces, to keep them out of the way, and prevent snagging on twigs, as they’re of ample length, even when double-tied. I’d always prefer more lace than less, personally, because tucking laces away works better for me than short loops flapping free.
The fourth and sixth lace eyes are nearly 1cm wider apart from each other on either side. They can be used to pull the upper towards itself more snugly than the remaining four closer laces on either side. There are eight lace holes on each side, compared to the seven of most trail shoes. Use them well to customise the fit to your foot shape.
The tongue on the Boco Sol is a traditional one, gusseted from half way, which will reduce some grit ingress. It’s moderately padded, so it’s lightweight with just enough comfort for feet used to trail running shoes. There’s a lace retaining loop through which the fifth and sixth laces are threaded. The laces then act as a support to prevent the tongue moving from side to side, or slipping down towards your toes.
The front of the shoe has a high wrap-around toe protector which I wish more shoes would include. Combined with a 1cm or so gap ahead of the toes, I’d expect to see very few black or broken toenails for runners in the BoCo Sol. A toebox protector is a feature I value highly in every trail shoe. It would be in my top three considerations when buying a trail shoe. The other two are the right fit, and suitable grip.On the very front of the shoe, the Boco Sol has low-profile lugs to offer a little better grip on toe-off than if it was just flat rubber. You’ll also appreciate the lugs in situations when you’re scrambling and needing grip on the extreme front of your foot. Think Skyrun and any open rock face situations.
In December 2016, I ran the 35km race at Ultra-trail Cape Town and it was one of my best experiences on trail I’ve had. Apart from the feelgood from the course, I did better than I expected and finished top 10 and first veteran.
The Boco Sols were excellent on the dry stuff. Their grip in dry powdery conditions is superb.
The fit on my feet was brilliant and if you have wide feet, I’d highly recommend them.
The toe guard is similarly very effective. I kicked one hard object (most likely a rock, damn those things!) very hard and although my toes did feel the impact, it was nowhere near what I expected. So if you kick things more than you’d like, the Boco Sol is a good shoe to consider.
On the downside, their grip on wet rock is not that great. I slipped and fell hard on a slick rock section at Krantzkloof Gorge Nature Reserve. Not many shoes would have any grip on that section, but I was expecting more from the Boco Sol. I think the rubber compound might need tweaking to make it stickier.
Normally, sticky means soft, and quicker wear, but despite not seeming to be sticky, the Sol also seemed to wear down pretty fast on its red midsole lugs.
Admittedly, I had done at least 20 road runs in them, but not all of the run time was not on tar. I also ran on gravel and grassed traffic sections. I feel the durability could be dialed up a bit in future.
This Youtube review by Reggie Rowe is worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvM_9xdhDvY
- BMT Shop2, Uniepark Shopping Centre, Stellenbosch (021) 887 3417
- Runner’s Emporium Shop 11, Pretty Gardens Lifestyle Centre, Bloemfontein 072 629 1546
- The Natural Runner Shop 26, Byls Bridge Promenade, Pretoria 082 798 0819
- Optimum Running 17 Tim Street, Boksburg West 082 807 9606
- Triangle Sport 161 Main Road, Walmer (041) 581 7041
- Price R1 899
- Weight 272g
- Heel-to-toe drop 3mm
- Sizes US7.5-15
Featured in TRAIL issue 21
These low-drop trail shoes are perfect for off-road adrenaline junkies looking for their summer backcountry soul mate. They’ll keep you cool and dry, with the open-weave, highly breathable mesh upper and durable water repellent coating. Just because it’s breathable, doesn’t mean you’ll have a shoe full of sand, as the Boco Sol features anti-debris mechanics.
Protection from rocks, roots and other trail hazards is provided by a durable rubber toe bumper. The ETC Sock Liner is an added layer that staves off underfoot friction while also providing anti-microbial properties.
Enjoy the fit afforded by the anatomically designed stretch panels around your toes. The laces are non-slip, and there are reinforced lock-lace holes for those who suffer from shifting heels.
The ride is rugged and agile, with multi-directional lugs that give you uncompromised ground feel and traction.
The Boco Sol likes any offroad experience from groomed trail to rugged backcountry terrain.
- Anatomical metatarsal stretch panels
- Non-slip laces
- Heel lock lace
- Gusseted tongue
- 360 degree reflectivity
- 4-lug platform
- Outsole employs multi-directional lugs to provide optimal grip on uneven terrain
- Tuned Action/ReactionTM technology in the midfoot
- Biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate
- Enhanced medial midsole platform
- High rebound EVA
- Highly durable s.h.a.r.c outsole composite
- ETC anti-friction, anti-bacterial sockliner
- 100% recycled laces, webbing, insole top cover
- 100% recycled PET upper mesh
- 100% recycled box, packaging
- 10% recycled outersole rubber
— TRAIL magazine (@TRAILza) November 18, 2016