With the cross country season quickly approaching, runners of all levels are beginning to gear up for race day. But with a large selection of spikes and flats on the market, it can be a challenge to determine which racing shoe is best for you. Below, we present our view of the best options for the 2016 cross country season.
Best for Beginners: Saucony Kilkenny XC Spike MSRP: $60
If you’re a newer runner looking for your first XC spike, the Kilkenny is a great option. A nearly seamless upper gives the shoe a comfortable feel and an accommodating fit makes it a great option for a broad variety of foot shapes. Paired with reliable traction, this spike offers the essentials for racing at a great price. (Spikeless versions also available: Men’s, Women’s)
Best Bang for your Buck: Nike Zoom XC Spike MSRP: $90
If your looking for a higher end spike but don’t want to pay top dollar, the Nike Zoom XC Spike may be the spike for you. This spike will give an extra snug foot wrap for great lockdown and utilizes the original Victory XC outsole for reliable performance. While the platform is a little dated, it is still relevant and the modern upper make this a great option for the competitive runner. (Spikeless versions also available.)
Best for the Experienced Racer: Nike Zoom Victory XC 3 Spikes MSRP: $120
For the veteran XC runner looking for the highest end XC racing experience, the Nike Zoom Victory XC 3 delivers. This spike is one of the lightest on the market and the snappy ride from the carbon fiber shank makes it an ultra fast option. High traction, a responsive ride, and a secure lockdown are all bundled in one spike. The Nike Zoom Victory XC 3 utilizes the highest end materials to optimize performance when every second counts. (Spikeless versions also available.)
Lightest Weight: Saucony Carrera XC Spikes MSRP: $110.00
If you’re solely focused on specs and in search of the lightest XC spike on the market, you’ll need to look at the Saucony Carrera. Weighing in at 4.2 oz for men and 3.7 oz for women, this spike utilizes a semi aggressive spike plate, with a stripped down midsole, and super lightweight ISOFIT upper. With a seamless design that has the most comfortable fit, this spike provides an almost barefoot like feel. Ideal for grassy XC courses but versatile enough to use on a variety of terrain, the Saucony Carrera spike is a fantastic option when you’re looking to keep weight at a minimum. (Spikeless versions also available: Men’s, Women’s)
Most Aggressive: Brooks Mach 18 Spike MSRP: $100
Built with aggressive lugs and a high toe spring, the Brooks Mach 18 is the ideal choice for mid-forefoot strikers looking for something that will tear through rough XC conditions. The high toe spring gives an almost track spike like feel and the 5 pin pebax plate grips into the ground with ease. For the most aggressive XC spike on the market, you should consider the Brooks Mach 18 spike. (Spikeless versions also available: Men’s, Women’s)
Best For Road Filled XC Courses: Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 MSRP: $80
When it comes to versatility, the Streak LT 3 was built to take on a variety of surfaces. This is a popular shoe in California, mainly due to the fact that most “XC” courses here have some form of asphalt or concrete sprinkled in. The Streak LT 3 utilizes a spikeless waffle outsole with a sticky grip that can take on both semi-technical XC terrain and road running with ease. Mixed with a soft and snug seamless upper and a snappy ride, this flat is a great option when you’re looking for a fast, versatile XC option.