A lot of innovation has been happening in the trail running shoe sector over the past year. Trail shoes are echoing their road counterparts in that they are getting lighter, lower and more nimble.
Not long ago, trail shoes were characterized by stiff midsoles, aggressive outsoles, and uppers with plenty of overlays. The keyword was “protection” from trail debris. But in recent seasons, trail and ultra runners have been demanding speed and better connection with the ground along with adequate protection. We think it makes sense that runners who prefer natural terrain are also attracted to the idea of a more natural running experience.
As every runner knows, lighter weight is an essential component of a faster shoe. Manufacturers are introducing more trail models that are stripped down but still offer the core features your feet need to stay safe on the trail.
Examples of Streamlined Trail Shoes
- Asics Gel Fuji Racer: Get in touch with the trail in Asics’ lightest trail model yet.
- Brooks PureGrit: A perfect example of a trail shoe stripped down to its core elements.
- Inov-8 X-talon 212: Sticky lugs and a snug upper allow for fast, stable running on dirt, grass mud and other terrain.
- Merrell Bare Access: 8mm stack height in heel and forefoot, engineered with just a touch of cushion.
- Montrail Rogue Fly: Mesh upper + responsive midsole = fast and light.
- New Balance MT/WT110: Extremely popular, this shoe is proof that nimble trail shoes are hot, hot, hot.
- Saucony Kinvara TR: A light, flexible trail running shoe with multi-surface lugs and a welded upper.
Of course, there are several minimal models for the trail runner as well, including the Merrell Trail Glove, Vivobarefoot Neo Trail, and the upcoming New Balance MT/WT00. We think the latest crop of elemental trail shoes strikes a healthy balance, offering grip, rock protection and a little cushioning along with a nimble feel for the ground.
What will be your shoe of choice for the trails in 2012?