Discover the history of RaidLight
Written By: SportsShoes
Ask most UK trail runners about RaidLight and it’s likely you’ll be greeted with a puzzled look and muted response –odd for a brand with such rich history and worldwide recognition.
So, the question remains for many - who are RaidLight? and just what is it that makes them so famous and unique?
MADE IN THE FRENCH ALPS
Founded in 1999, by French product designer and world-class trail runner Benoit Laval, RaidLight has grown from a small start-up company, to a successful global brand. During this time, they have developed products for trail runners of every ability, offering lightweight, technical and innovative products for active enthusiasts to professional athletes.
“The core business of RaidLight is the passion for sport” - Benoit Laval
For over 20 years, RaidLight has successfully developed and engineered a range of products, priding themselves on their relationship with its wide customer base.
During these years, RaidLight has travelled in the footsteps of its customers. It has followed them in the Marathon des Sables, from trail runs to races worldwide, and on journeys such as the Pilgrims trail to Santiago de Compostella, forever adapting its products to their needs.
Turning the spotlight on this innovative French brand, our Sportsshoes.com Running Ambassador Ben Mounsey has been busy testing our range of RaidLight products. Here he gives his lowdown on his top picks for 2021:
1. RAIDLIGHT RESPONSIV DYNAMIC TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
|Length:||True to size|
Comfort: 4 | Cushioning: 2 | Support: 4 | Grip: 4 | Protection: 4 (All out of 5)
As someone who has tested hundreds of running shoes, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I’ve ever worn a pair of RaidLight trail shoes. I have always been aware of the brand, but guilty of ignorance, overlooking them in favour of other more ‘popular’ brands – something I now regret having had the opportunity to test the Responsiv Dynamic trail shoes.
Despite being primarily designed for movement through technical or high alpine conditions, they are strangely well-suited to British terrain. Grippy, comfortable and versatile, are all words I’d use to describe this shoe and having tested them throughout the winter months, I’ve found them to be a very reliable all-rounder.
A more aggressive option than both the Responsiv XP and Ultra, the 6mm lugs grip especially well on soft, wet and boggy ground. They can confidently handle a range of off-road terrain, perhaps with the exception of snow and ice, but that said, I’d always wear spikes in these kinds of extreme conditions.
I really like the build and design of the Responsiv Dynamic. Aside from the grippy outsole, the dual density Sensor 3 midsole provides cushioning and additional stability via a torsion plate to reduce twisting during movement. With anatomical heel support, a structure built into the back of the shoe, it offers high levels of protection, flexibility and stability. This protection extends from heel to toe, with a protective rand wrapping around the entirety of the shoe, creating an excellent barrier against loose rocks and debris. The rest of the upper material is made from a lightweight breathable mesh that allows water to drain away easily if feet are submerged in deep water and effectively wicks away moisture in hot conditions.
The shape and design of the upper, plus the clever lacing system, all work together in perfect harmony, wrapping neatly around and locking the foot in place, to provide ample stability and comfort. Laces can be tightly drawn for a tailored fit, with spare lace stowed in a handy lace pocket located on the outer layer of the tongue. The only slight improvement I would suggest here is to have a more effective integrated tongue design to help prevent mud and debris from entering the shoe. For example, I’ve found that trail shoes with a high sock liner, provide a better barrier in this respect.
At 290g, this shoe is light enough to wear for both racing and training, but personally I prefer it for the latter. In many ways this is a compliment, as my training shoes are generally versatile all-rounders and therefore better suited to a greater range of conditions and terrain. All things considered, The Responsiv Dynamic is an excellent choice for runners of every ability and particularly for those who are new to the sport and looking for a trail shoe to tackle everything off-road.
2. RAIDLIGHT RESPONSIV 12L VEST
The fit and feel of this vest is second to none, constructed from breathable mesh and lightweight stretch material, it wraps and fits perfectly around the contours of your body, to the point that you may even forget you’re wearing it. The fit can be adjusted at various points. Firstly, via the two chest straps that lock securely into place. The straps are made from a durable and stretchy material that help to restrict movement during exercise, but provide just enough flexibility for maximum comfort. Once adjusted and securely fastened, the contents of the pack stay firmly in place, without any annoying movement or bounce during exercise. In addition to this, the FreeLock dial system on both sides of the bag can be twisted in either direction to tighten or loosen the fit. Both dials are accessible and easy to use during exercise and on the move. This is perhaps my favourite feature of the vest, as compared to other similar products on the market, there is no excess material or flailing straps to annoy you or get caught on other objects and obstacles as you run. Finally, there are also 4 smaller straps at the rear of the vest connected to the outer (2 on either side) that can also be adjusted to tighten or loosen the fit depending on the type and volume of contents being carried. Collectively, these 8 adjustable features work together, allowing you to completely personalise and tailor the fit to suit your desired comfort and needs.
Aside from the FreeLock dial system, my other favourite features of this running vest are the storage pockets located on both sides of the chest. Neither are zip pockets, but this isn’t an issue, as both are deep enough to store water bottles for long adventures or smaller items (like a mobile phone) for shorter runs. Because these storage pockets are made from lightweight, stretchy material, they allow you to access these items with the greatest of ease, even on the move and also when you are wearing thick gloves. It’s worth mentioning that this pack comes complete with 2 X 600ml EazyFlasks that have been specifically designed in size and shape to fit these front pockets. Personally, I tend to carry my mobile phone inside one of these pockets, which itself fits inside a waterproof case for extra protection against the elements. After testing several other race vests and packs, I’ve often found that front pockets on other models aren’t always large enough to store my phone and it’s either impossible, or at best a struggle, to fit inside.
Located below these deep and very handy storage compartments, are two other pockets, one zipped and the other open. The former is ideal for keeping important items (like keys) safe and the latter is ideal for storing food and additional fluid, because it’s easily accessible and despite being an open pocket design, extremely unlikely that items will ever fall out, unless forced.
The main inner compartment of the running vest has ample room to store all of your kit, extra clothing and essential items, whilst still maintaining high-levels of comfort and restricting unnecessary movement during exercise.
The rear of the pack also features three large storage pockets on the outer, which are ideally shaped and designed for carrying additional food and water. Although thin and lightweight, this stretchy material is both strong and durable. Like the front pockets, they are easily accessible and hold items securely in place whilst you run.
So, if you’re looking for a high-quality and super-versatile running vest, then I highly recommend the RaidLight Responsiv 12L. Suitable for every distance, it’s the perfect choice for anything from short runs to epic adventures.