GoLite Sun Dragon Falling Apart

I bought these GoLite shoes a few months ago, and wrote a very excited and optimistic post about them.

Today I have a different story to report. 🙁

I hiked a grand total of 3 hikes in them: a quick overnight to Kendall Katwalk, a day hike to Annapurna in the Enchantments, and the West Coast Trail.

Comfort and trail-use wise they performed really well. As I said in my first post – they are amazingly comfy and had excellent traction on a lot of terrain. However, durability wise, they were appalling. I'm amazed how badly they appear to be falling apart after a total of 7 days on trails.

Read on for more pictures of the damage.

Here's a shot from the top of the left shoe shoe:

This is one of the biggest tears – a flap of about 3/4" x 3/4" has opened up exposing the material underneath.

Here is a shot of the top of the right shoe:


This time the tear is about 2 1/2" long right across the crease in the toe-box. You can also see that the toe-kick at the front is peeling – although I would expect some scuff damage here.

On the side-shot, you can see another 1" tear in the blue fabric.

And finally the lugs on the sole seem to be wearing at an alarming rate.

I'm not the first person to notice the poor durability performance of these shoes, here are a few other user reviews:

Nate on Trailspace

Raymond on Backpackgeartest

Carol on Backpackgeartest

I stopped using them and gone back to my trusty old Salomons.

I'm really surprised that GoLite is selling these with such a design flaw. I can't imagine they would not have tested them for more than seven days.

I have noticed that REI is no longer stocking them in the Seattle store and all of the ones they had are now in the bargain bin.

The GoLite gurantee says "We guarantee every product we make. The GoLite Guarantee is simple: we want you to be happy with your GoLite product.", so I contacted their customer support to see if they consider this 'normal' wear or not.

I'll post the response that I get.

3 thoughts on “GoLite Sun Dragon Falling Apart

  1. samh

    It was originally my opinion that GoLite made a smart move in joining with Timberland to create a line of ultralight shoes. Shoes that I must add have numerous technical advances and innovations. Timberland is considered to be a top company when it comes to innovation and their “iF” or “Invention Factory” seemed to have come up with a great line of shoes co-branded with GoLite – a leader in the mainstream ultralight backpacking industry.

    It is very unfortunate to have heard at least half dozen reports both online an in person in regards to the unworthiness these shoes have proven themselves on trail. From your report Brett to an individual I met in the middle of the Paysaten Wilderness I’ve heard only failing reports of the shoe in terms of wear and tear.

    Although I have heard many reports of a lack of durability I have heard good things about the shoes as far as their comfort and performance. They are lightweight, drain well, have excellent traction and have some good innovative improvements over many shoes.

    Do technical innovations and good short-term performance outweigh durability and performance over the long term? Not for the individual who can’t afford to purchase new shoes every hundred miles.

  2. brett Post author

    Interesting perspective. I hope they can iron out the kinks and there is a 2nd generation – as I agree – they have such potential to be a spectacular shoe. I also think that in general GoLite is doing great things in bringing Ultralight gear to many more people – hopefully mass-returns to a large retailer like REI doesn’t impact their bottom line too much.

    I’m curious to hear their take on it.

  3. Bill Dodge

    Hello, my name is Bill Dodge and I am the General Manager for GoLite Footwear. I am sorry to read that you have had problems with the durability of your GoLite shoes. We have had some problems with the first production run of these shoes and it is also very frustrating for us. As you point out, these shoes perform really well. I went for a hike yesterday, on a very difficult trail in New Hampshire and they performed brilliantly.

    This concept was thouroughly tested with objective testers who put many, many miles on them before we went into production. Through this process we did discover some issues and diligently developed solutions to all potential problems. In fact during testing we saw some problems with the duralbility of the fabric in the uppers and worked very hard to resolve this problem… and the solution works well.

    However during the first production run, untold to us, the factory we use decided to revert back to the original production technique. This technique involved treating the fabric upper with a bonding agent that works well for assembly but in fact makes the material brittle and prone to rip as you have witnessed.

    These shoes will be fully covered under warranty and will be repalced. Please contact Customer Service – 1 866 784-6466. I am very sorry for this inconvenience.

    For this time of year, you may want to try the Storm Dragon. These are built with a Soft Shell fabric that provides some water resistance, but are still quite breathable. Also, this shoe comes with a lightweight integrated gaiter which I find to be quite handy.

    You will see many great shoes from GoLite in the years to come. The Sping line-up is very exciting and will be in stores beginning March 1st.

    Happy Trails!


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