Arc’teryx Sylan Review: $200, But Worth It, For The Most Part

A detailed look into this trail running shoe that blends innovation and durability for technical trails; including the features that work, some that don't, and ultimately if they're worth $200.

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This Arc’terx Sylan review is going to go into a fair amount of detail as these trail running shoes have some pretty cool innovations going on that I feel deserve extra time to be explained, as it will help demonstrate what the features are there for, and whether they work as intended, or if they’re just style over substance.

This is also a premium $200 running shoe so I feel they deserve deeper insights to help you decide on whether they’re worth the high price tag, when there are so many other great trail running shoes available right now. I’ll be sure to let you know if they’re worth the high price tag towards the end of this review.

Arc'teryx Sylan Review | Trail & Kale
Arc’teryx Sylan Review | Trail & Kale

The Key Specifications

  • Price: $200 at arcteryx.com
  • Sizing and fit: True to size with a medium width fit.
  • Weight: 10.3oz (292g) for a size US(M)9 (my pair).
  • Drop: 6mm – Stack height: 28mm at the heel, 22mm at the toe
  • Toe box width: Medium.
  • Stability: Neutral, so there’s no additional stability or support.
  • Midsole Cushioning: Responsive ‘InFuse’ foam; a light, responsive EVA and Polyolefin composition with a rocker geometry.
  • Best for: technical trails, and daily trail running under half marathon distance.

Who are they going to be best for?

I’ve been running in the Arc’teryx Sylan for a few trail runs with terrain that includes plenty of elevation gain, flat stretches, concrete paths, light and technical trails, and even some slippery rocks during my many climbs here in Northern California.

Running on such a wide variety of trails allows me to narrow down exactly where they perform well, where they need improvement and ultimately who they’re going to be best suited to.

From my experience, it’s evident that the Arc’teryx Sylan is engineered with technical trails in mind. They’re a versatile beast designed to handle a broad spectrum of trail conditions, whether you’re looking for a reliable daily trail runner to take on a variety of trails or a solid racing shoe, the Sylan does a good job of stepping up to the challenge.

While they don’t boast the lightest weight on the market or come equipped with a carbon fiber plate, their all-terrain capability means they can adapt to virtually any kind of trail you encounter. This makes them a strong competitor for many trail races, offering a blend of durability and versatility, for trail runs up to half marathon distance.

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The features of the Sylan that work really well

Alright, we’ve reached that part of the review where I dive into the features of the Arc’teryx Sylan that really stand out to me, before touching on a few areas where I see room for improvement in future iterations.

Let’s kick things off with the shoe’s upper, arguably the most distinctive and innovative aspect, aside from the midsole rocker geometry, which I’ll get onto in a moment.

Arc'teryx Sylan review trail running shoes 21

First off, the appearance is striking – it catches the eye in the best way possible, but it’s the MATRYX mesh upper, which is not only super breathable (you can literally see my white socks through the tiny ventilation holes) but also keeps my feet cool and comfortable, even on a really hot day here in California.

The upper also has several other smart features.

Arc'teryx Sylan review trail running shoes 16

The collar, for instance, made from a soft knit material, acts as a gaiter to keep trail debris out of the shoes, and ensures a snug fit, allowing for easy slip-on while providing ample room inside, making it a solid choice for those with medium to slightly wider feet.

I recommend wearing socks that rise above the collar as you may get some hot spots on your heels if there’s nothing between the collar and your skin.

Another cool aspect of the upper is the stow garage for the laces, a clever design element that keeps laces tucked away and secure during runs. This means no tripping over untied laces or getting them snagged on trail hazards, like roots (it happens).

Sylan's stow garage for the laces
Sylan’s stow garage for the laces

Plus, it maintains a neat look while being incredibly practical as you can see in my photo above.

The durability of the shoe is noteworthy as well, for example, the toe bumper, edged with a resilient plastic-like material, might not be reinforced, but it holds up exceptionally well against wear and tear and keeps plash water out of the shoes when you run through puddles.

Moving onto the midsole rocker, this feature is quite innovative in the world of trail running shoes. The Sylan’s extreme rocker geometry not only looks unique but also significantly boosts efficiency on flat stretches, propelling your feet forward with minimal effort.

This profile view of the Acteryx Sylan trail running shoes shows the extreme rocker geometry well
This profile view of the Acteryx Sylan trail running shoes shows the extreme rocker geometry well

It’s a feature that you typically find in “super shoes” of the road running category, offering a sensation of speed and fluidity that’s hard to match. A good example of one such incredibly fast road running shoe, is the HOKA Cielo X1.

Lastly, the outsole deserves a special mention as it is equipped with my favorite Vibram Megagrip with Litebase technology. It offers unparalleled traction, with an aggressive tread pattern featuring deep lugs for superior grip.

Interestingly, the lugs in the central area are shallower, a thoughtful design choice to moderate the rocker effect during your stride, ensuring a more natural feel on technical trails.

Arc'teryx Sylan review trail running shoes 18

Moreover, the outsole incorporates Vibram’s Litebase technology, reducing its thickness (and consequently, the shoe’s weight) without compromising on grip or durability. This lighter outsole makes navigating steep descents and rugged terrain feel really good, and at no point have I felt out of control or lost confidence in the Sylan’s ability to stick to the trails.

➡ If you’re enjoying this review do me a favor, drop a comment down below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more running shoe reviews just like this one. If you’re familiar with these running shoes, share your thoughts on them in the comments.

The features that could be improved for the next version

It’s time to share the aspects of the Arc’teryx Sylan that I believe have room for improvement, and will ultimately make the Sylan 2 a better trail running shoe.

First on my list is a design tweak for the upper section that sits right above the toe box. If this part of the shoe could be slightly raised, it would alleviate some pressure on the top of the toes. While it’s not exactly uncomfortable, especially mid-run, it’s definitely something I’ve noticed. See the image below to reference the part of the shoe I am referring to.

Arc'teryx Sylan review trail running shoes 5

Another area for enhancement is the heel lock system. Achieving a secure heel fit requires utilizing the final eyelet for a racer’s loop heel lock lacing technique. This adjustment ensures your heel stays snug and stable within the shoe, which is a critical factor for trail running on technical terrain.

If you stick with the factory lacing, you might find your heel slipping, so definitely make that last eyelet work for you.

Next, let’s talk about the heel counter; during my runs, I’ve realized that a bit more rigidity here could offer much improved support.

Arc'teryx Sylan heel counter is very flexible
Arc’teryx Sylan heel counter is very flexible

For those who might not be familiar, the heel counter is the part of the shoe that cradles your heel. The current design is somewhat flexible, which is fine for running on light trails, but a firmer reinforcement would enhance stability on technical trails, decrease the risk of rolling an ankle, and just generally improve control during fast, technical descents.

Finally, a word on weight, at 10.3 ounces, the Sylan isn’t the lightest trail runner out there, and while it’s not the heaviest either, shaving off a bit of weight could make it even more appealing, especially considering its $200 price tag.

A lighter shoe would enhance its competitiveness in races but don’t get me wrong, the ride is fantastic. It’s fun, responsive, and overall, a joy to run in; I’m really enjoying these shoes and plan to keep them in my rotation for many more runs.

Is the Arcteryx Sylan worth buying?

So, the big question on everyone’s mind then: Are the Arc’teryx Sylan running shoes worth their $200 price tag? For the right person, absolutely.

If you’re someone who doesn’t shy away from investing in high-quality, premium products, appreciates durable design coupled with innovative features, and has a particular fondness for the Arc’teryx brand and its iconic logo, then these shoes are definitely going to work for you.

They’re very comfortable and excel on most trails, and while there are a few minor areas for improvement, overall, the Sylan stand out as excellent trail running shoes.

However, I understand that not everyone is comfortable dropping $200 on a pair of trail running shoes, especially when they’re not race-tuned, and that’s perfectly okay. Budget constraints are real, and the good news is there are plenty of other fantastic trail running shoes available at a more accessible price point, around $155, like the HOKA Speedgoat 5, for example.

I’ve compiled a list of our favorite trail running shoes catering to various needs – whether you’re into racing, ultrarunning, fast trail running, tackling technical trails, or looking for an all-terrain hybrid option, I’ve got you covered. Follow that link, and you’ll find the perfect pair for your trail running adventures.

I really hope you found this review of the Arc’teryx Sylan trail running shoes informative and enjoyable. If you did, don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter, so you don’t miss our other in-depth running shoe reviews as they drop.

YouTube Video review

Did you know we also create shoe review videos on our YouTube Channel too? Click the image below to watch our Arc’teryx Sylan video review on YouTube next.

Arcteryx Sylan review YOUTUBE

Arc’teryx Sylan review gallery

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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