Review: GoLite Lime Lite (say that five times really fast)

GoLite Lime Lite in Dusty Olive

C’mon, enough of the technical mambo-jumbo already. What’s with product makers nowadays churning out a veritable alphabet soup of product acronyms and proprietary lingo? Everything seems more focused on marketing nowadays and less so about property rights. Case in point, the following is the safety features list (which I extracted from its catalog) of Volvo’s new XC60: WHIPS, SIPS, ACC, RAB, CSS, ABL, DSTC, IDIS, ROPS, PCC, HBA, DAC, PDFAW and LDW. WTF?

GoLite, and much of the world of consumer products, receive a big wag of my finger, as well. With terms like Baretech, All Terrain, CrossOver, Sticky Gecko, Trekker, GSR, SAT G Technology, and Precise Fit System, GoLite’s naming practice is following the trend, rather than the exception. So what’s my point? Well, I know manufacturers want to stand out and sometimes it IS a necessity, but seriously, this is getting out of hand.

That said, I’m glad to report that that’s where the similarity ends when comparing GoLite with mainstream shoemakers. This outfit makes superb shoes (and outdoor gear, in case you’re interested) and are not short in the innovation department either.

As a self-proclaimed minimalist footwear, uh, person, I offer no apologies for reviewing the Lime, which is a “normal” shoe. After much research and decision-making I purchased these dusty olive-colored GoLites – along with a pair of Ahnu Lodi IIs – in February, back before the barefoot bug caught on (for various reasons). So six months in, I figured it’s probably a good time as any to present a long-term user report.

Design & Packaging – 5

Planet-friendly packaging – check. Design/production cohesiveness and innovation – check. Floats my boat – check.

I like this shoe A LOT. While the Lime is billed as a light trekker, I can attest to its versatility on- and off-road. It is my opinion that the individuals at GoLite who were involved in penning the concept and green-lighting it to production deserve an entire pack of gold star stickers for their annual review report card. It would be awesome if the shoe was more popular amongst users (then again, I like well-kept secrets, or maybe the same users prefer other models in the GoLite lineup). During my life sojourn around the Bay Area, I have yet to spot another pair of Limes or the similar Rock.

The reason this humble writer’s eyes were drawn to the Lime was mainly the versatile design. I already knew the functionality was there, but what sold me was the Lime’s uncanny ability to blend in with its surroundings. In fact, it can blaze through a technical trail one moment, and switch to its daily shoe alter ego in the blink of an eye. To this day, I’m still amazed by how I can pair them with a pair of khakis or jeans for a day at the office (plus a shirt, of course). I work for corporate, so considering the environment, I still receive plenty of compliments on the shoes.

Workmanship is excellent. No over-gluing, very defined stitching, little to no inconsistencies between the left and right shoe. Removing the insoles reveal further proof of tight quality control; usually under the skin is where many shoes show signs of cost-cutting or inspection slip-ups. Not so with this pair.

One defining feature of the Lime is its eyelets. As you can see from the photos, there are seven of them per edge, as opposed to the usual 5-6 on regular shoes. It has been noted by another reviewer that because of this, the lace-to-toe setup is very similar to a dedicated rock climbing shoe. I agree, and it allows for a very high degree of flexibility, in terms of fit and in movement.

But wait – there’s more. After all, having one or two innovations is SO boring and SO yesterday.

With this shoe, GoLite has this idea of inverting the soles by placing the softest part of the shoe (normally the insole) at the bottom for maximum shock absorption, as well as traction. A harder insole, in turn, supposedly allows for a more stable foot, reducing rear foot movement (by 33%, according to the company’s research goons) and reducing ankle injuries. The soft outer sole (Grip Stick Rubber) is relatively flat, sparingly peppered with equally soft lugs. The fore and hind foot has an interesting molding reminiscent of a mountain lion’s paw, according to the manufacturer. IMHO, it is another really hard attempt to steer us away from the obvious camel toe analogy.

Nature-inspired design
Comfort – 4½
Precise Fit customizable pad

The maiden voyage in the GoLite Lime was strange. It’s a little unusual wearing this shoe and feeling like your feet are resting on planks, such is the effect of the harder insoles. Okay, hard as planks is an exaggeration, because the insole is really not as hard as you might think; it does have subtle cushioning thanks to its Precise Fit pad. Therefore, after my feet adjusted to the different sensation, it very quickly became a non-issue.

When I actually started moving, another odd sensation took effect. The soft, pliant lugs and soles made it seemed as if I was walking on a synthetic running track, which is not a bad thing at all. Venturing onto rougher terrain revealed the true benefit of GSR – it grips like glue, while traction on rocks is amazing. It almost seems like the lugs act like velcro on loose surfaces.

One word of advice, be sure to wear-in the sole BEFORE tackling wet/slippery surfaces. The lugs are as smooth as a baby’s bottom when new, so be cautious. I was walking up the rain-soaked driveway of our son’s daycare (he was in my arms), and my over-confidence in these brand spankin’ new pair of Limes proved to be my downfall. Literally. Thankfully, I was able to break our fall with my part of my hip, thigh and plentiful bum.

The relatively wide toe box was a surprise. We all know the benefits of this: it gives our little digits a lot of room to wiggle and, more importantly, splay during motion. If I didn’t know any better, I would think it’s trying to be some kind of wannabe minimalist shoe. Perhaps it’s also intentional, or maybe a blessed coincidence, that mid-foot/tarsal support is very effective in preventing my toes from jamming against the toe box in spite of all that extra space.

Wearability – 4½
Wear has tapered off lately

Six months in and the bottom sole remains in pretty decent condition. Lug wear was a major concern initially, but has been acceptable considering the 100+ miles (65% urban, 35% off-road) I’ve put into them. Moreover, don’t judge the wear merely by the distance traveled, because within that hundred-odd miles, I’ve worn it carrying heavy loads (a house move), while jumping on trampolines, jogging, walking in light snow and mountain biking. Not bad, I’d say.

Even more surprising has been the leather outer shell. Despite its use and abuse, scuffing is minimal; the same thing can be said for the toe caps and heel protector. Sure, it looks drabby right now, but nothing a good leather cleaner won’t fix. To improve it’s versatility, as well as to add some light snow and rain capability, I sprayed some 3M waterproofing; just remember not to over-saturate the leather.

The laces have worn a bit, but they remain taut and strong.

You know, besides my 11-year old Dr. Martens, the Lime is one of the most durable shoes I’ve owned.

Value – 5

Bought this for less than $80 from shipped. It’s a little on the expensive side, but compared to its compadrés from Merrell or Keen it seems about right. Ultimately, I felt like I got a lot of shoe for the price. I don’t regret it and wholeheartedly recommended this to anyone looking for a double agent shoe. Trailblazer – check. Office lemming duties – check. Go get it. Now!

Aaron’s Final Thumb Index

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