With the launch of their debut model in 2021, Speedland was clear about doing business outside of conventional standards. One major tenet of this approach was the “one release only” aspect of their products, meaning each shoe model is launched only once and when they sell out, they’re gone forever. With their first three product launches spaced about 9 months apart, a glance at the Speedland website provides a status update on this process: the original SL:PDX is completely gone, while the second and third shoes are available only in men’s size 9.5 or lower. This fall sees the release of Speedland’s fourth model, the GS:PGH, which is available in a full-size run with the company’s traditional unisex sizing model. This release is in closer proximity (about 7 months) to the most recent GS:TAM shoe and from a construction standpoint, is almost identical to that model, with the exception of some stylistic differences.
Inspiration for the GS:PGH comes from Speedland athlete Cameron Hanes. He is an avid outdoorsman who traverses the remote wilderness landscapes of Alaska and the Western US, is an accomplished bow hunter and weightlifter and tackles ultras in excess of 200 miles. The PGH name comes from Mount Pisgah, one of Hanes’ primary training peaks near his home in Eugene, Oregon. As with the GS:TAM, the GS:PGH is a maximally cushioned trail shoe built for comfort and durability over ultra-distance training days and races.
Truthfully, the phrase “As with the GS:TAM” could begin almost every sentence of this review, because from a spec standpoint, here’s what we’ve come up with as a difference: the PGH is 0.4oz lighter, due to a slightly lighter compound construction of the Pebax midsole material, and the lateral collar height is 5mm lower. Otherwise, every aspect of this shoe is pretty much identical to the GS:TAM aside from the color scheme (more on that shortly).
In some ways, the similarity makes reviewing the PGH shoe easy, because we’ve logged enough miles on the GS:TAM to know what to expect. The uppers are pleasantly but not excessively wide in the toebox, with strong puncture and abrasion resistance, and the dual-BOA dial PerformFit wrap allows you to customize the fit in a variety of circumstances. The blended Pebax midsole has a relatively firm ride with excellent energy return, and the optional Carbitex plate can provide even greater protection on rocky terrain and propulsion on smoother surfaces. The performance lifespan of the midsole compound is estimated to be about 600 miles, and we’ve found that this is likely accurate. The durability-limiting aspect is the Michelin rubber outsole which, for us, has worn down over a similar 300–400-mile timeframe as many other high-durability outsoles on the market. It’s an impressive shoe with an outstanding thickness-to-weight ratio, and performance capacity that is equally satisfying to athletes gunning for podium spots as for mid-packers looking to cruise in comfort.So, the primary difference here is the color scheme, which evokes the hunting and survivalist nature of Cameron Hanes. It’s not hard to notice the red splatters on the midsole. Those are meant to be bloodstains. If you aren’t aware of what caused the blood, the arrow piercing Hanes’ own “Keep Hammering” slogan on the upper will clue you in. And the outsole is red, as if you stepped in blood while harvesting your kill. The theme maybe isn’t for the squeamish, but rugged individualists (and maybe true-crime junkies) could find it compelling.
All of these similarities to the GS:TAM don’t diminish the GS:PGH in any way for us, because we’ve found the GS:TAM to be an outstanding shoe over a long period of time. The primary reason we see for buying the PGH is if the TAM shoe is no longer available in your size—which seems underwhelming for a company seeking continual innovation and disruption but shouldn’t detract from an objective assessment of the PGH as a great model. On the other hand, if you’re on the lower end of the size range, you can choose between the TAM and PGH models based primarily on aesthetics, without any performance considerations.
The Speedland GS:PGH shoe is available in unisex sizing at www.runspeedland.com.
Features and Specs:
- Weight (unisex size 9): 10.5oz
- Unisex sizing
- Stack height: 37/30mm
- Heel-toe drop: 7mm
- Upper: Spacer mesh with integrated bootie, PerformFit wrap, and dual BOA Li2 Fit System dials
- Midsole: Dual density 100% Pebax foam
- Accommodates Carbitex DFX carbon plate, sold separately ($35)
- Outsole: Michelin Fiberlite rubber with 4.5mm lugs
- MSRP: $275