Gear: A Trail Runner for Every Personality

Check out four new trail shoes we are slipping into this spring to start training for big summer goals.

We put away the calipers, microscopes and scientific doo-hickeys, and instead put in some old-fashioned, sweaty, gritty miles for this trail shoe test. Because isn’t that what you do in the early months of the year, when your actual fitness level is a few steps behind your goals? The results of our testing is these four shoes that’ll get you ready to race, whether it’s a brutal mountain ultra or a street sprint.

Technical Trails

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3

Best For: Long or short distance over tech terrain (rocks, roots and other trail surprises)

The Lowdown: How fitting that this shoe is named for Karl Meltzer, who has won more 100-mile trail races than…anybody. Weighting in at a svelte 10.3 ounces ( in a men’s size 9), the Speedgoat is designed with the mantra, “go anywhere, run everything.” It runs well straight out of the box, according to one tester. A wide platform, spacious toe box, robust support and an aggressive, luggy Vibram outsole all add up to create a shoe that’s up to any task – even hiking, if that’s your thing. The reinforced upper withstands miles, as will HOKA’s trademark, ultra-durable mega-cushioning, which proved resilient over the long haul. $140;

Altra Racing

Altra Timp 1.5

Best for: Long days off road when you want to cover a ton of ground fast

The Lowdown: The Altra story starts with natural running. And the brand’s zero-drop philosophy means that the height from the heel to the toe is—you got it—zero. This encourages a mid-foot plant, as opposed to the heel-to-toe roll that we’ve gotten used to. A shorter stride equals faster leg turnover and, the story goes, better trail times. Jam-packed with off-road features like a trail-gaiter-friendly design and flexible lugs, the 10.5-ounce Timp will be a favorite on the trail ultrarunning circuit this year. It fits like a slipper–the tongue, for example, is skinny and not overbuilt, allowing it to conform comfortably to your foot. The flexible outsole and cavernous toe box let your forefoot splay out and grab rocks, especially on the uphills. $130;

Dirt and Pavement

Salomon Predict RA

Best for: Anything you want to do

The Lowdown: The Predict RA hit the trail with flash this season, thanks to an innovative new design. It features a de-coupled, highly cushioned bottom package that’s soft without  sacrificing stability. Weighing in at a feathery 9.1 ounces, the Predict RA allows the foot to move more naturally, similar to a minimalist shoe design, but with more cushioning. Its unique upper stretches and conforms to the foot’s contours. It’s a trail stalwart that can compete in the paved world. $160;

Road Training

Brooks Glycerin 17

Best for: Road runners wanting to comfortably increase their mileage

The Lowdown: If you’re ramping up the miles for a spring road marathon and need some new moccasins, look no further than the Glycerin 17, made with a singular focus on cushioned comfort. But too many shoes give up responsiveness or staying power if they go too soft. Not this 10.6-ounce pavement pounder. The upper delivers nearly as many amenities as the midsole, with breathable, plush mesh and a cuff that’s flat-out spongy. Who says that logging sidewalk miles requires suffering? Maybe that’s why 2018 Boston Marathon champ Des Linden picks these babies for her title runs. $150; 

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