BIG SHOE TEST 2017

Looking for the perfect running shoe can be a daunting task and there’s a huge range available, from deep-studded mud specialists to super-light racing flats. Consider how you’ll use them and the terrain you’ll be running on. Great fit and comfort are essential, and having the right balance of weight, cushioning and grip will ensure you have the most running
fun possible.

How they were tested

Jen and Sim are lucky enough to live somewhere with easy access to country lanes, muddy hills, steep rocky trails and gravelled towpaths, to put the shoes through their paces. They ran in each pair of shoes over a variety of terrains and in different conditions, comparing them against each other and their recommended use.

IMG_72818 copy_preview.jpg

WOMEN'S WATERPROOF running JACKETS

There are a few things you need to look out for when choosing a jacket for the trails. Obviously a waterproof jacket needs to be, well, waterproof, but it has to be more than that. You need a jacket that's roomy enough to allow decent airflow without being flappy whilst running. It has to fit so that it allows for natural movement whilst covering your arms and body. Are you looking for a hyper minimalist jacket for races or something that can be worn every day? Thankfully, Jen Benson is on hand to test the best jackets available to help narrow down your options.

TR0038Bob Atkins.JPG

MEN'S WATERPROOF RUNNING JACKETS

Waterproof jackets are one of your most important pieces of kit. Not only do they keep your head dry, you generally need to keep one handy when entering some races. But there's more to think about than just how well they keep out the rain. Do you need a coat that's well ventilated? Is this coat suitable for daily use? And what exactly is a 'smock' any way? Fortunately, Sim Benson has tested the best jackets available to make sure you stay dry on the trails.

_MG_9692.JPG

LIGHTWEIGHT HYDRATION PACKS

Whether you're doing an ultra or just running for fun, it's important to be prepared. Water, food, first aid kit, extra layers - these are all things you need to consider when heading out. This is why it's worth putting serious thought into what pack you carry. It's vital to be able to take your essentials on the run, but to do it comfortably is equally important. Who wants to run with a bouncing lump on their back?

Fortunately, Jack Hart has tested the best middleweight hydration packs out there to give you a head start.

tr-lomond-1903.jpg

BEST MEN'S 3/4 LEGGINGS

More protective than shorts yet lighter than full-length tights, three-quarter-lengths are a very versatile choice for the trails. They keep you warm during chilly days, and there are no more muddy cuffs to worry about. But with so much choice out there, it can be easy to get a little confused over which pair is right for you. Are you looking for a pair that has great compression? Or are you looking for high reflective detailing to keep you safe during your evening jaunts? Wild runner Sim Benson has put the best to the test. 

_MG_0405.JPG

BEST WOMEN'S 3/4 LEGGINGS

Spring is the perfect time to break out your three-quarters; it's too cold for shorts and it's too warm for full length tights. Add to that the huge variety that's available, opting for capri pants is the obvious way to go. But lots of choice can sometimes make the choosing even harder. There are differences in length, basic vs technical fit, and do you need stretchy fabric or compression? 

Wild runner Jen Benson has done the hard work for you by picking out the best tights for the spring trails.

_DSC3696.jpg

BEST ROAD-TO-TRAIL TRANSITION SHOES

Here at TR HQ, we’re realistic enough to know you’re not always going to be able to run off-road, let alone over fells or through snow-blanketed valleys. Even when you do, paving stones, canal paths and gravel roads are fairly common occurrences whilst out on the trails.

Clearly road running is a necessity for many of us, so it makes sense to invest in shoes that can handle both surfaces, which is particularly true if you’re new to trail running. Transitioning from tarmac is one of the best choices you could make, but make sure your shoes are up to it; Training Editor Jack Hart picks out your best options.

IMG_64645_preview.jpg

BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR MUDDY TRAILS

When it comes to tackling muddy trails, grip is king. You need a shoe that can almost stick to the earth, giving you enough confidence to really tackle those mountain trails. Depending on what kind of trails you will be facing, it's best to look at three elements: durability, cushioning and fit. Getting any of these three wrong could make all the difference, but how do you know what shoe is great for what? 

By comparing these shoes over a variety of surfaces, both in dry and wet conditions with mixed gradients, experienced runner Dave Taylor is here to get you on the right track.

BEST WINTER TRAIL RUNNING SHOES

Throughout winter, more than at any other time year, grip is the issue that concerns us trail runners. Get it right and you can fly across wetlands, through the darkest bogs in the worst weather and up and down the steepest, slippiest hills, safe in the knowledge that your feet will go where you expect them to. Get it wrong, and you'll be reduced to a walk. And we're not Trail Walking magazine! That's why we've taken a look at these eight shoes. As ever, every terrain will have different requirements. Great grip in a Cambridge park is a different beast to the deep lugs you need for Pen y Fan in South Wales. Keep your preferred terrain in mind when reading this review by Paul Larkins and you won't go wrong.

AZ5A9050_preview.jpg

6 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES WE LOVED IN 2016

DSC_9502.jpg

With such as extensive range of trail running shoes available right now, sometimes the choice can be overwhelming. Even when you've narrowed it down to a brand and type of surface, suddenly you're confronted by the choice between GoreTex lining or no GoreTex lining - and it's no easy choice to make. Along our travels, though, we've encountered shoes of such blinding brilliance that we feel compelled to share them with you guys. Whether you want to do speedwork, ultras or all-round training, look no further; one of these will be perfect for you. Frankly, you could justify buying all six.

Here, Dave Taylor rounds up the six shoes we loved from 2016.

HEART RATE TRACKING WATCHES

Why do you need to know your heart rate? Once you've confirmed that, yes, you do indeed have one, what's the fuss about? The answer will depend on who you speak to. Training for a race will often involve running to particular average speeds, and training to an average heart rate is the next evolution of that. Trying to get faster? Run in a greater heart rate zone, to condition your cardio system. Trying to increase stamina? Keep your heart rate down and focus on getting the miles in.

Heart rate training is certainly valuable, particularly to elite runners for whom marginal gains make a noticeable difference. For anyone trying to pick up their own pace, emulating the experts could be the upgrade you need. Hannah James assesses your best options for success.

_D608983.jpg