Barefoot running is all the craze right now, leading to numerous minimalist trail running shoes to meet the demand. The Tecnica Diablo MAX is NOT one of those shoes. Big, brawny, and badass are good terms to describe the massive amounts of shoe that wraps the foot in comfort and performance for those long trail runs over rocky terrain. Barefoot runners steer clear, because these shoes are the yin to your yang.
Personally, I like ample amounts of bells and whistles in my shoes and the Tecnica Diablo MAX fit the bill. Heck, even compared to regular running shoes, these kicks stand apart, mainly for the impressive rockered sole (we’ll talk about that later.) The shoes also feature a mesh upper with PU overlays for a combination of breathability and support, an Ortholite footbed with anti-microbial properties, a Phylon EVA midsole that’s light weight and full of cushion, and a sole that features the TRS (Tecnica Rolling System) MAX Tecnigrip with multidirectional lugs.
I’ve been running the trails above Salt Lake City in the Tecnica Diablo MAX for a few months now, and have a pretty good handle on the advantages and disadvantages of such a massive amount of shoe.
First, the sole is huge. Imagine trail running shoes are a pair of skinny skis, then imagine the Diablo MAX are a pair of the most ridiculously wide powder skis money can buy. Keeping with the ski analogy, the Diablo MAX actually have a rockered sole. That’s right… rockered shoes. The length of the sole is rounded like a reverse-cambered ski, which promotes an even, smooth transition from heel to toe. Add an impressive width for stability, traction and easy cornering, and you can see that this is no ordinary running shoe. I had a blast just cruising the trails at speed while feeling like I had monster truck tires on my feet. Yet somehow, despite their size, the shoes are nimble and light weight for their class.
Second, the traction is phenomenal. The Tecnigrip multi-directional lugs are among the most sticky soles I’ve ever run on. Going up and down steep hills covered in loose dirt and rock was completed with ease, without any slippage or uncertainty.
Third, the uppers wrap the top of the feet nicely, and are pretty breathable. However, I tested the Anthracite (read black) color and they got pretty hot on warm, sunny days.
I found few issues with the Diablo MAX shoes. Although the massive rockered soles allowed me to run over even the nastiest terrain without feeling a single sharp rock or root, they do take a bit of getting used to. I felt disconnected to the ground while running, as if the shoes were floating along the terrain. Under the heel, this sensation was especially pronounced. While this is a good thing for comfort, I felt that it detracted from response time to terrain changes. Also, the rockered soles were a bit wobbly over especially rocky ground. Although I never even came close to rolling an ankle because of the shoes’ superb stability, the feeling was still a bit uneven… again, something to get used to when transitioning from standard shoes.
Also, while the heel is plush and cushy, the toe area is a bit less so. This helps for the above-mentioned terrain feel issues, but also makes the toe box much more roomy. I have narrow feet, and while the shoes fit true-to-size, they were too big side-to-side, which led to hot spots on my big toes. As a result, I think the Tecnica Diablo MAX are better suited to runners with wide feet.
Overall, if you’re not among the barefoot bretheren and are looking for a trail running shoe that is one the complete opposite side of the spectrum, then the Tecnica Diablo MAX are worth a look.
To purchase, or for more information, visit Tecnica online at www.tecnicausa.com