VJ SPORT IROCK 2

PRICE: £110
WEIGHT: 210g

Designed for trail running and obstacle course racing – and worn by OCR world champion Jonathan Albon – the Irock 2 from Finnish company VJ Sport is a grip specialist. With a butyl rubber outsole and deep, well-spaced lugs, it clings to trails, grass, mud, rock and road, whether it’s wet or dry. The Fitlock lacing draws the shoe around the foot for a snug fit. We found the forefoot a bit too narrow, however, and the heel not quite fitted enough – definitely worth trying before you buy. There’s enough cushioning to be comfortable running on roads and harder trails. 6mm drop.

VERDICT: Super grippy on all terrain. Very narrow, particularly in the forefoot.

GRIP: 10
CUSHIONING: 5
PRECISION: 9

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MORE MILE CHEVIOT 3

PRICE: £30
WEIGHT: 265g

British sports brand More Mile has designed the Cheviot 3 firmly with muddy fells in mind. It’s a straightforward design, with close-weave single-piece uppers and good toe/heel protection. The sole is very aggressively lugged – in fact, we’d challenge you to fall over in any conditions wearing these – so it’s not suitable for anything other than the softest terrain. It also feels quite hard on your feet, so not ideal for longer distances – but at £30 it’s great when you need all the grip you can get. The sizing’s small so you may need to go up half a size. We like that More Mile are dedicated supporters of grass-roots sport. 6mm drop.

VERDICT: A great-value basic shoe that’s made for the fells.

GEAR: 10
CUSHIONING: 3
PRECISION: 8

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INOV 8 X-TALON 212

PRICE: £95
WEIGHT: 215g

If you’re after a shoe for serious racing or a fast fun in the fells, this is for you. Light and responsive, the superb X-Talon 212 is perfect for those wanting to speed their way over rough terrain. Its foot-hugging fit is comfortable as well as brilliant for fast running on technical trails. The 8mm sticky rubber studs are super-grippy, allowing for high-speed cornering and contouring even on the muddiest of hills. It also sheds mud and water well and offers excellent foot protection. Surprisingly for a shoe that’s so obviously designed for the fells, it’s even comfortable and grippy on the road. 6mm drop.

VERDICT: Superb grip, highly responsive and great comfort. A top fell shoe.

GRIP: 9
CUSHIONING: 5
PRECISION: 10

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SCARPA NEUTRON G

PRICE: £170
WEIGHT: 435g

This is a specialist shoe for running in snow and ice. Underfoot, a grippy Vibram ice track sole provides traction, and the midsole provides a moderate level of cushioning with a neutral 6mm drop. The upper has been designed for winter use, with a comfortable quick-laced inner shoe and an integral water-resistant Outdry gaiter. The two-layered upper creates a warm and protective shoe. It’s expensive but essential for racing or training in extreme cold. The Neutron has a roomy fit, allowing you to wear thick socks without compressing your feet. It’s at the heavy end of the test, but feels good on the feet and nice to run in.

VERDICT: An awesome pair of shoes if warm, dry feet are a priority.

GRIP: 8
CUSHIONING: 7
GRIP: 6
 

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SALMING ELEMENTS

PRICE: £130
WEIGHT: 310g

Swedish company Salming has produced a lightweight and grippy shoe designed to allow you to run anywhere. The twin-skin construction combines a light, soft and breathable layer against the foot, with a more protective mesh outer, adding reinforcement around the heel, toe and instep. The lacing tightens to cradle the foot and create a stable but comfortable shoe. The deep studs provide excellent grip, and the low-profile Runlite midsole provides adequate cushioning. The toe box is generous for a shoe this technical, making it excellent for longer distances, where comfort and precision are key. 4mm drop.

VERDICT: A lightweight, super-grippy technical running shoe with a generous fit.

GRIP: 9
CUSHIONING: 5
PRECISION: 7

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LA SPORTIVA MUTANT

PRICE: £95
WEIGHT: 365g

The Mutant is a funky looking mountain-running shoe with an emphasis on durability, foot protection and stability rather than minimal weight. La Sportiva’s heritage lies in mountaineering shoes, and it has used the experience to produce a protective sole unit with a 10mm drop that works well on dry mountain terrain but is also good in mud and on grass. The Spyral tongue wraps the foot, giving a lot of adjustment to foot shape and adding to the stability; it also acts as a grit gaiter. The Mutant has a slightly wider fit than some La Sportivas, which
works well for longer-distance mountain running.

VERDICT: A tough and dependable long-distance mountain-running shoe.

GRIP: 8
CUSHIONING: 7
PRECISION: 7

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SALOMON SPEEDCROSS 4

PRICE: £100
WEIGHT: 270g

The Speedcross 4 manages to deliver top-notch precision and grip in a super-comfortable, protective shoe. The aggressive lugs give superb traction on muddy and rocky terrain, whether you’re climbing, descending or contouring steep hillsides, yet the ride is smooth and cushioned enough for hard-packed trails. The only conditions it’s not great in is on wet, slippery rocks and roads, as the rubber’s not as sticky as some on test, and if you’re running through water the padded upper means it doesn’t drain quickly. But for an all-round off-road shoe – anything from a 5k to an ultra – they’re hard to beat. 10mm drop.

VERDICT: Protective, cushioned, grippy and comfortable. A great all-round off-roader.

GRIP: 8
CUSHIONING: 6
PRECISION: 7

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DYNAFIT FELINE SL

PRICE: £125
WEIGHT: 335g

A futuristic-looking shoe that taps into Dynafit’s ski heritage, this is a precise-fitting mountain-running shoe. The Vibram outsole is designed to offer great grip on any terrain, but excels on rock and snow. The sole unit has an 8mm drop and enough cushioning to allow you to race down long technical descents with accuracy and comfort. The upper is lightweight but still includes tough toe bumpers and a quick-lace system, which hides under a grit gaiter. The shoe has a standard volume but a narrow toe shape and a low heel; it could benefit from an extra lace hole to hold the heel more snugly.

VERDICT: An exciting, technologically-advanced mountain running shoe.

GRIP: 8
CUSHIONING: 6
PRECISION: 9

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