Reebok Trifecta Racer Review

Introducing the Reebok Trifecta Racer

Finally, it looks like Reebok is stepping up to the plate with some real, practical gear. Even better, it’s specifically designed for OCR! Well, sort of. While this shoe is great for extreme conditions, it would also make a great trail racer or performance trainer. The new “Trifecta Racer” won’t hit shelves for at least a few more months, but I had the opportunity to get my hands on a pair last weekend at the PacNW Spartan Race Sprint, and have already put some decent mileage on them. Here’s the scoop.

First ever "race sighting" of these the Reebok Trifecta

First ever “race sighting” of the Reebok Trifecta Racer.

For a shoe to be a good fit for OCR, it needs to meet a couple of basic criteria. Is it lightweight? Does it have good traction? Does it hold excess water weight? Is it comfortable? Let’s take a look at each of these criteria one by one.

Weight (dry) – there’s no official specs out on these, but I weighed them myself and got 6.3 ounces for a size 9.5 (*) or 12.6 ounces for the pair. While slightly heavier than some xc flats like the Brooks Mach 15 (5.4 ounces), 6.3 ounces is on par with Nike Waffle models and the inov8 x-talons. So, is it lightweight? I wouldn’t call it featherweight, but all things considered, it’s still pretty light.

Weight (wet) – what’s really great about this shoe compared to others isn’t its dry weight, but its wet weight. Water drains from the shoe really quickly and it doesn’t hold onto excess mud or water since the entire upper is made from very thin but durable fabric. After racing in these on Saturday, all it took was 60 seconds with the hotel hair dryer to get them ready for another day of competition. That, I like.

But… I don’t like the tongue or laces. The cheap, flat laces come untied easily and the tongue tends to shift across the top of your foot instead of remaining in place. Both minor issues, but a Nike-style one sided tongue would really make these cool. I also don’t like that water stays underneath the insole; not enough to add weight, but after use this area stays damp and will make the shoe smell bad unless you remove the insole. I always prefer shoes without an insole at all.

Reebok Trifecta Racer Side View
Traction – To have good traction in thick mud, a shoe needs big lugs. Big lugs add weight. What you have with the Trifecta Racer is small lugs similar to the inov8 trail-roc series – big enough for good grip in most situations. Scaling a 60 degree incline wall is *always* going to be a challenge, so don’t blame your shoes when you struggle with that one. The grip on these is perfect for racing in both mud and in dry conditions, since the lugs are big enough be “grippy” but small enough not to be annoying. Another plus side to small lugs is that they won’t hold onto dried mud or clumps of grass like really big lugs can.

Reebok Trifecta Racer lugs

Trifecta Racer (front) compared to Saucony XC flats (back). The Reeboks have slightly thicker lugs.

The one thing I don’t like about the design of the bottom of the shoe are the small crevices in which little pebbles in dirt get stuck. They don’t hold enough dirt/rocks to add significant weight, but it’s just tacky. If you happen to take these on a training run, don’t bring them inside afterwards or you’ll scratch your floor and track dirt in.

Reebok Trifecta Racer bottom

Great traction, but the grooves hold onto pebbles.

Flexibility vs. Protection – as a very minimalist runner myself, I’ve never liked how stiff and rigid most cross country flats are. That’s why I’ve always raced in light weight trails shoes rather than “racing shoes”. The Trifecta Racer offers a compromise. It’s thick enough to provide adequate protection from rocks, rigid enough to provide some stability, but has the flexibility to appease minimalists like me. I’m guessing the heel-toe differential on these is about 3-4mm; I am a big 0mm drop fan, but these felt good anyway.

Reebok Trifecta Racer bend

Passes the bend test!

Comfort and sizing – these shoes are only slightly wider than most racing flats, but just that little bit of room was enough to make me a lot happier. All of my training shoes have wide toe boxes and I absolutely hate it when my feet are constricted by narrow shoes. I’d still prefer a E width version, these had enough “give” to be comfortable, even on me.

The shoes run small. Normally, I’m a size 8.5 and occasionally a 9. In the Trifecta Racer, I’m a 9.5 (well, actually I’d be a 9.0 E, but whatever). So when these do come out in stores, try them on first or order a 1/2 size up! And maybe order two pair while you’re at it. I’m sure you’ll love them.

February 2014 Update:

After running more races in these, I’d like to update my review:

They ended up being pretty fragile shoes, and only lasted about 50 miles of racing. I’m definitely not happy with that. However, my understanding is that these were a prototype and that the final version will be more well put together. Hopefully that is the case! Meanwhile, I’ve been racing in the Brooks Mach 15, another shoe originally recommended to me by Hobie, and love them. They are my go to racing shoes now! The Nike Zooms are too narrow for me, but the Brooks are pretty comfortable (for a racing shoe). I’m still a die hard Altra Running fan when it comes to training shoes. I’d love for them to make a racing shoe, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Alec Blenis

Alec Blenis is a trail runner and obstacle course racer from Atlanta, GA. He has been on the OCR scene since 2011 and has since competed in over one hundred events, including dozens of podium finishes and overall wins.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    This is hardly a new shoe. The upper is different but I’ve been running on some Reebok Circa Waffle Racers for 10 years (no not all my mileage but occasionally off an on) and that sole is exactly the same. Here’s some for sale http://www.shoebuy.com/reebok-circa-waffle/70759/308944 I wish Reebok would have come up with something really original for OCR. Disappointed, but it’s still a good shoe, I can attest to that. 🙂

    • Alec Blenis says

      I had never heard of the Circa Waffle Racers, but after researching them, they definitely have similarities. The sole of the shoe appears nearly identical, but they’ve shed a lot of weight by doing away with that nasty upper from before – that would have held a ton of water and mud weight. They’ve also added drainage holes in the tongue and made the upper from a porous fabric so that no water stays inside. Reebok simply looked around in their basement and found a sole that would be great for the trail. Just because it’s not new doesn’t mean it doesn’t work! Of course, I would still like to see more more modifications made like a lower profile heel, 0mm drop, no insole, no tongue, etc.. The basic sole design is great though, so no need to change that, even if it has been around for 10 years 🙂

      • Anonymous says

        Sorry if I came off a little critical. I was just hoping for something really fresh. The upper is definitely different and it sounds like it is well adapted to OCR. However, I liked the prototype that Hobie had shown off a few months back with the side claw for ropes and medium lugs. I find that the tiny lugs are good for hard dirt, walls, and grass, but fall flat in the mud, I got a hamstring tear to prove it. I’m being anonymous to protect future dealings with Reebok and Spartan. I am not currently affiliated with either.

  2. Shyam Sriram says

    Thanks for the great review, Alec! I really appreciate your attention to detail and the comparisons with similar shoes. I know this may be an impossible question, but is there an OCR shoe that offers more support for people like me who have flat feet/tend to overpronate?

    • Alec Blenis says

      Shyam, look into some of the “beefier” inov-8 shoes like the Mudclaw 300 or the Merrell Mix-Master. Generally speaking, no “racing” shoe is going to offer any support or pronation control, but you don’t have to use a racer to race. Another idea would be to get custom footbeds or orthotics for use in a more conventional racing shoe. I know a lot of people like to do that anyway! (I’ve never tried it)

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the review. I’m currently searching for a new OCR shoe and have been leaning towards a pair of Innov-8 X-talon 212 unitl I saw your post. I’ve been searching the web including Reebok’s website but can’t locate the Trifecta racer anywhere. Do you know where I can get then from?

    Scott

    • Alec Blenis says

      Thanks Scott. Unfortunately, the Trifecta Racer isn’t available yet – I think this are going to be launched Spring 2014, but it could be sooner. In the meantime, the x-talon would be a good option. You can also check out some of the xc flats I mentioned in the review like the Nike Waffle or Brooks Mach 15. I would also recommend the Merrell Ascend Glove or New Balance MT10 if you’re looking for a racing shoe that’d also be great for every day use.

      Check back in month or so – I will update the review after I’ve done some durability testing and again when I get an official launch date!

      • Thanks Alec.
        I’ll look into those other shoes you mentioned. I’ve been wearing the Merrell trail glove which I thought went pretty well although they were my first trail/ocr shoe so I don’t have much to compare to. I’ve worn them nearly everyday for the past year and have just recently worn a hole on the outside from rope climbing.
        Thanks again

        Scott

      • do you recommend X-Talon 190?

  4. You should look into the Breatho Trails by Vivobarefoot. I have run almost all my Spartan races in these and the traction is great, zero drop, and sheds water well. I’m not at your race level Alec, but judging by your comments, I think you would like them.

  5. I have used Nike Zoom Waffle Racer 8’s in a Spartan Super & Tough Mudder & couldn’t have been happier. Light weight, heaps of grip, drained well & were dirt cheap. Can someone tell me what the advantages over the Nike’s would be & why I would I want these?

  6. Just a thought in response to the shoelace comment in the original review; I currently run my obstacle races in inov8’s, and replaced the standard shoelace with the bungee cord type that has the tightening clips. I simply thread them through the clips, knot them at the end, tighten and go.

    Along with the benefit of a sturdier lace material, they adjust to a comfortable tightness easily, they stay tight during the run, and you don’t have to worry about them getting untied! Perhaps if the shoe incorporated this element in some way, it would improve its overall performance.

  7. Thanks for the honest and open review Alec! I’m pretty happy with my Salomon Speedcross 3 CS shoes for OCR. They are a bit heavier, but I don’t notice it since I’ve only run ocr’s with them. They’re great for traction, both up and down (wet grass too!). I’d like to try the Nike Zoom Waffle Racer 8, as they are shoes worn by the legendary Hobie Call!

    • After running more races in these, I’d like to update my review:

      They ended up being pretty fragile shoes, and only lasted about 50 miles of racing. I’m definitely not happy with that. However, my understanding is that these were a prototype and that the final version will be more well put together. Hopefully that is the case! Meanwhile, I’ve been racing in the Brooks Mach 15, another shoe originally recommended to me by Hobie, and love them. They are my go to racing shoes now! The Nike Zooms are too narrow for me, but the Brooks are pretty comfortable (for a racing shoe). I’m still a die hard Altra Running fan when it comes to training shoes. I’d love for them to make a racing shoe, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  8. Domingo Gonzalez says

    Have you tried running in the Altra Lone Peak 1.5’s before? I received them as a gift this past Christmas and have not had a chance to run in them yet due to injury but am curious as to your thoughts since you are an Altra fan..

    • Yeah, great shoe. I prefer the flexibility and lighter weight of the Superior though. Maybe it’s just what I’m used to…. Other than the rigidity, the Lone Peaks and Superiors are very similar.