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Hiking Boot Meets Marathon Running Shoe: Deckers X Lab Enduro Max Review

Looking for a hiking shoe high on performance and visually attractive to just about everyone? Meet the latest from Deckers X Lab, a crossover hiking, mountaineering, and running shoe.

Deckers X Lab Enduro Max on trail(Photo/Andrew McLemore)
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At first, the whole concept behind the Deckers X Lab Enduro Max seemed a bit far-fetched to me. A hiking shoe combined with a mountaineering boot and a marathon runner? I suppose if HOKA and La Sportiva had a shoe baby, it might look something like this. But it took me some time to warm up to the idea of these shoes.

I came around, though. After weeks of wearing the Enduro Max from Deckers X Lab climbing crags and state parks, I can confidently say these shoes got close to their intended goal and hit the bullseye on substance and style. They cross over between outdoor activities and make the trail feel a little easier.

The Enduro Max shoes don’t just perform, either. They also draw attention. Since arriving in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I’ve not only been hiking and climbing in these. I’ve also worn them to bars, restaurants, and grocery stores. That has resulted in a consistent refrain I didn’t expect: “Hey, man. Those are cool shoes.”

The brand is still somewhat under the radar. But if Deckers X Lab keeps making shoes like this, I think footwear fashionistas and outdoor enthusiasts will start to pay attention.

In short: The Deckers X Lab Enduro Max has a Vibram outsole base, a 32mm stack height, and an EVA midsole frame surrounding a nitrogen-infused midsole with a V-shaped carbon plate. They have a lot of cushion and energy return. What they lack in feedback from your environment, they make up for with a comfortable and activated running/hiking experience. On top of that, they’ve got plenty of flash to their aesthetics.

Deckers X Lab Enduro Max Low


  • Type Hiking/Marathon Hybrid
  • Drop 6mm (Both Mid and Low)
  • Weight Mid GTX – 419g | Low – 318g
  • Upper Eco-suede upper
  • Midsole 'Super V 65 shell,' nitrogen-infused midsole
  • MSRP Mid GTX – $249 | Low – $199


  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight and supportive
  • High coolness factor


  • Rocker geometry may not be for everyone
  • No feedback from terrain

Deckers X Lab Enduro Max Review

The folks at Deckers X Lab like to get creative with footwear. The Enduro Max certainly lives up to the company’s growing reputation for quality innovation.

In this case, the new kicks come in two styles: the Enduro Max GTX Mid, a more traditional hiking shoe with a GORE-TEX waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry. It’s a sweet-looking shoe, but I opted to try the Enduro Max Low, essentially the same thing but without the weatherproofing and extra ankle protection.

deckers x lab enduro max 2
Trying out the Enduro Max at Tennessee’s Woodcock Cove; (photo/Archana Viridian)

Both models use an Eco-Tan suede upper with 10 metal eyelets for easy lacing. Personally, I love a shoe that I don’t have to worry about retying every time I put them on. That’s the case with these. Unless I’m going for a run, I just slip them on with the same knot and go on my merry way without a problem.

The midsole offers a running equivalent of the proverbial kitchen sink. An EVA midsole frame surrounds the nitrogen-infused midsole, with a V-shaped carbon plate in the middle. An E-TPEE sock liner adds even more cushion and a heel-to-toe rocker rolls you from one stride into the next with minimal effort.

As for the outsole, gear-obsessed runners may recognize the Vibram Litebase, a recent innovation that supposedly trims outsole weight by 30%.

Oddly, there is no information on the Deckers X Lab website or any other about this shoe’s lugs. We’ve reached out to the brand for specs and will update this section once we have them.

deckers x lab enduro max tread
(Photo/Andrew McLemore)

The shoe’s 32mm stack height makes for a plushy running experience even on the roughest terrain. It’s undeniably reminiscent of HOKA’s signature sole design, and its overall function is similar. With so much energy return, finding motivation for another trail run was always easy.

Per Deckers X Labs’ own description, the Enduro Max is supposed to meld an “all-terrain, all-distance trekker” with a mountaineering boot and a runner. That’s a lot to try and pack into a single shoe. All three of those styles of footwear are designed specifically for those activities. As I started testing, I wanted to see how close the brand got to achieving that ambitious design goal.

In the Field: My Impressions

Because the Enduro Max is a hiking/marathon hybrid, it made sense to try it in diverse conditions. I wore these shoes on several runs through Atlanta’s beautiful parks, including the calf burner to the top of Stone Mountain. It served me well on rocky approaches to several climbing crags in Tennessee, and helped me run up and down hundreds of stairs at Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park.

On all types of terrain — from loose rock and wet grass to muddy trails and metal stairs — the shoes provide a palpable bounce, as though every obstacle is made from the same bouncy rubber as the Enduro Max’s towering stack of foam. That energy return made even tough climbs feel significantly easier to me, as though I’d given my feet a pair of trekking poles to ease the burden.

The rocker geometry of the shoe is also new to me. But it’s becoming increasingly common among race shoes, and though it took me time to adjust, I can ultimately see the advantages of the shoe shape.

It’s certainly harder to kick-trip against a rock with a toe curved so aggressively upward. It’s easy to forget what you’re walking on with these shoes. That’s another boon for competitive runners looking to beat their personal best or win a race.

And while these shoes are bouncy, I never felt any slippage in my footing, even after they got covered in mud. As a climber, I’m typically sensitive to shoe grip, and I didn’t notice any loss of traction while wearing the Enduro Max.

The most universal callout for these kicks, however, will likely be their comfort. Whether you use these for a trail running marathon or a trip to the grocery store, you’ll immediately notice how good they feel. I could almost hear my knees thanking me when I walked around. I imagine that the Enduro Max would quickly prove themselves on a multiday hike.

The Geometry of Disconnection

One thing was bugging me about the Enduro Max, and I couldn’t quite name it until I read a review from GJ’s fearless editor-in-chief, Adam Ruggiero.

When reviewing the Reebok FloatZig 1, another shoe with a massive stack height, he noted the lack of “feedback.” With a shoe so cushy, it’s difficult to stay mindful of the terrain under your feet. For some runners, that may not be an issue. But I certainly felt the difference and couldn’t take my mind off of it.

deckers x lab enduro max toe drop
(Photo/Andrew McLemore)

It’s a blast to feel like you’ve got pogo sticks on your feet. But that also results in a physical and mental disconnection from what you’re walking or running on.

It’s a bit like driving in a large vehicle. You feel powerful and removed from the surface below. Secure, to be sure, but also a bit too distant. Some people will likely love that feeling. I can see the appeal.

But as Ruggiero pointed out, I want to feel more connected to the terrain I’m running on — not merely bouncing along on top of it. That’s completely a matter of preference, but something worth noting.

I’m similarly conflicted about the rocker geometry of the Enduro Max. HOKA has made those visible curves at either end of the shoe a mega-popular design among runners. But I’m no marathoner, and I’m not sure I like it when cruising down rugged trails. My toes seem to miss the touch of the ground — no matter how comfy the rest of my feet feel.

Enduro Max: Final Verdict

enduro max
(Photo/Andrew McLemore)

This is a powerful, comfortable, and very fun shoe. Most of my initial reservations were quickly swept away by the sheer plushiness. Every trail run, hike, and approach I took them on was made easier and more enjoyable thanks to the design of the Enduro Max’s cushy midsole.

More broadly, there’s a larger trend here: Stylish, functional hiking shoes. It wasn’t too long ago that buying a pair of high-performance outdoor shoes meant something in green, brown, and black, with a design your grandpa would recognize without his glasses.

I’m so happy to say those days are long gone. With the Enduro Max, I have a pair of shoes that crush a difficult approach to local climbing crags in Georgia and Tennessee, or spring their way up hundreds of steps at Tallulah Gorge. But those same shoes (in peach, red, and purple) will earn me compliments when jamming with musicians at Northside Tavern in downtown Atlanta. It’s a brave and beautiful new world — at least for our feet.

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Andrew McLemore

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