These are great shoes. I prefer minimal type shoes and was looking for something with a little more protection after I possibly broke a metatarsal after stepping on a really sharp rock while wearing my Merrell Pace Gloves. Although still not "cushy" they seem to protect the feet better on sharp rocks. I use them on roads, sand, crushed gravel/sharp rocks, and dirt trails. I don't do any technical trails so I can't speak to that. I did run a trail 50k in Indiana using the Ascends and they were great. Even in the muddy spots, I felt like I had sufficient traction. I originally purchased these on RRS but they haven't been available since last year. I'm excited that they are carrying them again.