It’s almost September, which means that cross country racing is about to get kicked into gear! To ensure that you have the speediest season possible, we’ve picked out our top cross country spikes and spikeless flats for 2017.
The Best for Beginners
If you are a first timer or still learning to love cross country, the Nike Zoom Rival XC Spikes and Spikeless are fantastic options that won’t break the bank. With sticky rubber lugs on the outsole and an additional 6-spike design on the spiked version, this racer has plenty of traction for the mud, grass, and rocks that you will face this fall. To keep your feet held tight without pinching, the breathable mesh upper has a dynamic arch band and Flywire supports for an adaptable fit.
The Best Tech
For the experienced racer facing the grittiest conditions, the Nike Zoom Victory 4 Spikes and Spikeless have all of Nike’s top-tier racing tech. The new Anti-Clog Traction outsole ditches heavy lugs in favor of a semi-smooth geometric surface that won’t pick up mud and rocks while still offering enough traction to complement the 6-spike design in slippery conditions. The shoe also features a breathable, water-resistant upper with a high-top collar to prevent debris from entering the shoe and free-floating Flywire within a dynamic arch band to provide a snug and secure fit. At an incredibly light 4.8 ounces, this is the racer’s best friend. The spikeless version features the same upper and midsole design with lugs on the outsole to grip and rip the faster, rockier, dirt courses.
The Best Value
With the same advanced midsole and outsole designs as the Zoom Victory 4 Spikes and Spikeless, the Nike Zoom Forever 5 XC has the highest value per dollar in our lineup. These racers can handle a multitude of conditions but are catered towards the competitive high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate athlete. Where this shoe differs from the Zoom Victory 4 is the upper, which features a more traditional lightweight mesh and a dynamic arch band with Flywire support to hold your foot securely within the shoe.
The Lightest Men’s Model
Still the lightest men’s model in our lineup, the Saucony Carrera XC3 is the pick if you’re looking to keep weight to an absolute minimum. With the men’s model weighing just 4.6 ounces and the women’s model weighing 4.1 ounces, this spike has no unnecessary weight. The lightweight midsole allows the shoe to adapt to variable underfoot conditions while the 6-spike design has grippy traction that makes it ideal for grassy courses. To keep your foot locked comfortably in place, the spike features an adaptable ISOFIT upper.
The Lightest Women’s Model and Most Aggressive
If you like to be up on your toes, the Brooks Mach 18 Spikes and Spikeless are the pick. With a highly aggressive midsole and outsole shape and aggressive traction for a variety of surfaces, these shoes are made to fly. The seamless upper with an internal microfiber support system provides a snug and comfortable wrap that also allows the shoe to be worn without a sock. Weighing in at 4.0 ounces for the women and 4.8 ounces for the men, this spike is super light as well.
The Most Natural
Keeping in line with Altra’s zero drop and wide toe box designs, the Altra Golden Spikes deliver the Altra experience in a fast, cross country racing package. The sticky rubber outsole and 5-spike design can handle a variety of conditions while the breathable and quick-drying upper offers a lightweight wrap. If you use a zero drop trainer and are looking to tear it up this fall, this is the spike for you.
Will has been running competitively since high school, and is currently running with the HOKA Aggies, a post-collegiate club here on the central coast of California. With a preference for the humorous and the verbose, he enjoys playing the wordsmith almost as much as his daily runs.