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Do You Need a Trail Running Shoe?

April 11th, 2013

If you’re running on trails, it may be a good idea to invest in a pair of trail running shoes. Using your retired pair of road shoes doesn’t count (they are retired for a reason), even if you don’t mind getting them dirty. Trail shoes are built differently than road shoes to protect your feet and help you navigate varied terrain.

Finding a pair of trail shoes that suits your needs can make your offroad running experience that much better. Below, choose the type of trail running you’re doing and check out what you should look for in a trail shoe.

I run mostly roads, with a little bit of fire road thrown in the mix.

If your off-road running is limited to fire roads, in many cases you’ll be able to get away with running in your road trainers. But a shoe that can handle both roads and trails will offer you more traction and stability when you’re running on dirt. Several “trail-ified” versions of popular road models provide a bit more grip while still remaining fluid and flexible during road duty. As a couple of examples, look at the Asics GT 2000 Trail or the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9.

I run fire roads and well-maintained trails.

You’re running on trails, but none of it is too technical. The type of trail shoe you should look for really depends on the running experience you’re seeking. If you want a more minimal shoe with a closer feel for the surfaces you’re running on, then check out the Brooks PureGrit 2 or the Altra Lone Peak.

If you want a traditional running shoe experience with plenty of protection from the ground and a more substantial upper, then lace up the Asics Gel Scout or Brooks Cascadia 8. Since your foot will encounter more ground angles over varied terrain and you are more likely to be up on your toes as you navigate trails, trail shoes typically have less pronation support than their road-specific counterparts. If you wear a max support road shoe, don’t fret if you can’t find a trail shoe with exactly as much support.

I run technical, uneven trails with mud, loose rocks and debris.

When you head out the door, your goal is to tackle the toughest trails you can find. You don’t shy away from hills or loose, rocky approaches. You need a shoe that can keep up with your adventure-seeking soul. In this category, you want to look for a trail shoe with intense lugs, and a secure fit. The lugs will help you mountain-goat your way through tricky terrain and the secure fit will help you feel more stable and confident in your shoes. For this type of running we like shoes such as the Salomon Speedcross 3 and Inov-8 Mudclaw 300.

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Montrail Rogue Fly – Our Take

January 27th, 2012

Montrail Rogue Fly Men's Running Shoe

Our Tweet

Montrail’s lightest trail shoe, Rogue Fly impressed our feet with a seamless, sock-like mesh upper on Rogue Racer’s mid/outsole.

Runners Say

“For me, this shoe’s a winner. Traditional trail protection in a light and fast package. I was surprised how different this shoe feels compared to the Rogue Racer, which sits on the same midsole/outsole. The Fly has only a few tenths of an ounce on the Racer, but feels like a much more nimble shoe for my foot.” – Jonathan

“I’m impressed by the fit of the upper, particularly given that there’s not much material covering your foot. The fit is somewhere between sock-like and slipper-like to me. I had to cinch down the laces pretty snug to feel anchored on the platform.” – Matt

Big Features

  • All-Mesh Upper: The first thing you notice about this shoe is the clean, simple upper. There’s a surprising amount of structure, with reinforcements along the lateral side and toe of the shoe in particular that give you extra confidence on highly technical trails.
  • Montrail Rogue Fly Outsole View

  • “Fly” Weight: The Fly lives up to its name, and is indeed the lightest trail shoe Montrail offers. Our measurements came in at 7.7 oz for Men’s size 9. The stripped-down upper design makes the Fly a few tenths of an ounce lighter than the Rogue Racer.
  • Flexible, Responsive Midsole: The midsole of the Fly is unchanged from the one in the Rogue Racer, which has earned praise for its low weight, smooth transition and long-haul comfort.
  • Rock Protection: Benefit from both a TPU shank and Trail Shield technology in the forefoot for protection when you’re out on the trail.
  • Gryptonite Outsole: Gryptonite is Montrail’s proprietary outsole material that provides traction where you need it. It’s perforated to keep weight down.

Trail Test

Even though it’s based on the mid/outsole of the Rogue Racer (see Men’s Rogue Racer and Women’s Rogue Racer), the Rogue Fly feels like a very different shoe. All the changes in the upper come together to create a shoe that feels more nimble, and dare we say a little faster, than the Rogue Racer.

The all-mesh upper is obviously the big story in this shoe. A few testers felt a bit too much lateral movement in the shoe, but even so, all of us were impressed by the balance of structure and flexibility in the upper of this shoe. We’d like to see more manufacturers introduce such clean, elemental designs in their road and trail models.

Out on the trail, you still get all of the great features Montrail has packed into the midsole and outsole, including Gryptonite to keep you firmly moving forward and rock protection in the mid and forefoot. With many stripped-down and minimal trail shoes moving to a lower heel-to-toe drop, some folks may find it strange that Montrail is sticking with a 10mm offset. But we think that the feel under foot is so good that the heel-to-toe drop shouldn’t be a major factor for most buyers.

The Men’s Rogue Fly in Red/Laser Yellow and Titanium/Bronco is available now, with the Women’s Rogue Fly in Red/Yellow coming in April.

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