New Balance Summit QOM GTX

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New Balance Summit QOM GTX
290g (women’s 6)

A real workhorse of a winter trail shoe for runners who need something to log the winter miles mainly off, but sometimes on, road. The ride is a firm one, but one that also gives plenty of support and cushioning, which combined with the 8mm drop means there's a decent feel of spring as you go. The snug fit, well-placed lugs and Vibram sole give total confidence and grip on technical, twisty, rocky, rooty and wet trails. The shoe is surprisingly flexible on steep stuff, given how rigid the outer is, making this shoe a really decent all-rounder – as long
as you’re OK with the stiffness of the outer.

Verdict: Stiff, but good for logging the winter miles. 

Columbia Montrail Caldorado III Outdry

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305g (women’s 6.5)

If you need a good all-rounder to cope with rocky, muddy, wide, singletrack trails, as well as some bits of road, then the Caldorado is a good place to start. The grip is good, helped by multi-directional lugs, while the fit is reasonably roomy with a broad forefoot, so there’s the potential for slippage on steep contouring. That aside, the shoe flowed well and gave a feeling of confidence when descending technical trails. The Outdry upper (as opposed to the others on test, which are Gore-Tex) means this is by far the most flexible shoe, but still one that gives a well-cushioned ride, and, with an 8mm drop, makes you want to run fast.  

Verdict: Comfort for miles on any trail surface.

Merrell MQM Flex GTX

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305g (women’s 6.5)

Merrell sells this as a hybrid trainer for moving quickly in the mountains, mixing walking and hiking. With quite a wide fit and a low drop (3.5mm) the MQM is fine for moving fast with the occasional jog, but doesn’t have the ride or cushioning you would want for pure running. It’s fine for short bursts of running, but best kept for hiking and some scrambling. Think rugged conditions and you'll have the type of terrain and weather this shoe can deal with. Of course, that does mean they're a little heavier, so definitely leave them at home if pace is on your agenda. If, however, it's raining and muddy, they're tough to beat!

Verdict: A shoe best for fast hiking – not out-and-out running.

Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX

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310g (women’s 6.5)

That this is the 13th iteration of the Cascadia says a lot for its pedigree and quality. The fit is good, if a little tight at first in the forefoot, and the Gore-Tex lining means the upper is reasonably rigid. They give a medium/soft ride, with good flexibility that means steep uphills and downhills are easily handled; as are the twisty bits over roots and rocks. The one downside is they aren’t the best on wet rock – other than that they make you want to run fast so you can see why they are
a favourite with trail racers. With a 10mm drop, they’ll suit those who shy away from the minimalist style of shoe.

Verdict: Great for racing and training on trails.

Salomon Sense Escape GTX

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270g (women’s 6.5)

Salomon says this cushioned shoe is designed for those who run a couple of times a week, mixing the comfort of a road shoe with protection for the trails. That’s an accurate description if you like a pretty rigid but cushioned ride, with a snug, well-fitting shoe. Flexibility, given the stiffness of the outer, is surprisingly good even on steep uphills and the snug fit means good foot control on uneven surfaces. The 10mm drop and stiffness, however, means they don’t feel as stable as some on test when running fast on rocks and roots, especially downhill. We love the speed lacing, but for some that can be a bit Marmite-like.

Verdict: Good if you want one pair to mix trail and road.

Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX

Scarpa Neutron 2 GTX
320g (women’s 6.5)

Designed for alpine-style trail runs and sky marathons, the Neutron 2 feels much more at home on rocky paths compared to muddy, twisty single-track due to its reasonably wide forefoot, designed to give more comfort on longer runs. The Vibram sole means you get a decent level of grip on wet rock and the overall feel on technical loose rock is one of confidence. The most expensive, and the heaviest, shoe on test, the Neutron 2 has a smooth, decently cushioned ride. The 6mm drop, while giving a good feel for the ground, also gives quite a flat ride with limited bounce. Flexibility on steep uphills is still good. 

Verdict: Good comfort and protection on rocky trails.

On Cloudventure 2 GTX

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On Cloudventure 2 GTX
315g (women’s 6.5)

On Running has made massive gains in the road running market thanks to the cushioning and energy return claims for its shoes. The Cloudventure is no different – you feel like you are springing over the trails and can happily mix in a bit of road running if needed. The 6mm drop means there’s surprisingly good stability over looser, more technical ground, giving you the confidence to run at speed. The grip is OK, but the nature of the outsole means the number of lugs in contact with the ground at any one time is limited, so not the best on wet rock or muddy trails. The laces are very thin and a pain to undo with cold hands.

Verdict: Well-cushioned ride that makes you want to run fast.

Dynafit Feline Up Pro

Available April 2019

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252g (Men's UK 9.5) 

This is a light shoe with a narrow fit, designed for mountain running. The sole uses Vibram Litebase technology to deliver rugged, durable grip but with reduced sole thickness and weight. The v-shaped lugs give great traction on rock and light mud. The upper is hard-wearing material, with a tough toe bumper for protection. There's a quick lacing system with a cover over the laces, which helps keep dust and debris out, plus a ‘heel preloader’ with a thick rubber band that adds tension to the heel and promotes a natural running gait. On the run they're light and responsive, but also provide good cushioning.

Verdict: Fast, grippy, durable and lightweight shoe.

Scott Supertrac Ultra RC

340g (Men's UK 9)

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Traction versus grip is the name of the game with these shoes. According to Scott’s experts, ‘traction is directly related to the kinematics of a runner’s movement.’ Essentially, the radial traction allows your foot to naturally adapt to the conditions whereas grip is pretty definitive – so it stops you instantly. What we really loved, however, was the nice, solid, responsive feel it creates. So, if you fancy testing yourself with something a little longer or want a nice, cushioned but solid-feeling shoe with all the usual protective elements (stone guard etc) then this is definitely one to look out for. It has an 8mm drop.
Verdict: Solid and reliable in all but muddiest of conditions.

New Balance Minimus 10v1

181g (Men's UK 6.5)

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For a minimal shoe, this offers a surprising amount of stability. You won’t get too many shoes that are lower to the ground – working off a 4mm heel drop – but equally you won’t get too many that feel quite so controlled. If you fancy venturing into the barefoot world but fear the consequences, then this is the shoe for you. You’ll enjoy the support and there’s even some cushioning which, given the sandal-like feel, you’ll be amazed by. Of course there are some downsides – yes, they’re breathable and great for canal paths, but don’t take them on rocky Alpine paths or boggy fell runs. 
Verdict: A fabulous entry into the world of barefoot running.

INOV-8 Terraultra G 260

260g (Men’s UK 8)

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Given these are the first running shoes to feature graphene in the soles, Inov-8 promise durability without compromising grip. They have a lot to live up to as manufacturers say one pair’s soles lasted 1000 miles in testing. They’re so new we haven’t had chance to take them that far, but both the soles and the Kevlar-enhanced uppers seem to be standing up quite well after 200 miles. We found they coped well with the hard trails they were designed for and are very comfortable despite not much cushioning, with a wide forefoot. Precision is great, especially with the zero-drop heel-toe ratio.

Verdict: Comfort from the first mile with good grip on hard trails. 

See here for our full review.

Adidas Terrex Two Boa

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306g (Men's UK 9)
You’ll either hate or love the colour scheme, but this shoe mirrors its look: light and flexible. The ride is slightly harder than a road shoe, with a performance feel to the build. Breathable uppers make it a summer or early autumn shoe, but underneath there’s a superb grip thanks to the agressive Continental rubber outsole. They feature a Boa Closure System that offers a secure fit, which is perfect for unpredictable terrain. It uses a simple micro-adjustable click and twist of
the round dial, which tightens the thin nylon cord lacing system. They use a 6mm heel
to toe drop, so mid-range.

Verdict: Quite flexible; feels like it will love road as much as trail.

Asics GT-2000 6 Trail PlasmaGuard

Stewart Haynes reviews the latest offering from a long-running series

Weight: 300g


Asics have been making great road shoes for decades with the GT-2000 series being one of their best-selling styles. This adaptation for the trail market certainly ticks boxes for those who like plenty of cushioning in their off-road shoes thanks to their proven Gel system. This shoe features PlasmaGuard, which is a water-repellent coating applied to the upper, and it actually does stop rain and mud soaking through to your feet. The outsole is made of a tacky rubber and we felt it was most at home on harder, rocky trail surfaces as well as road surfaces too. The shoe also offers plenty of stability for overpronators and has reflective detailing too.

Hoka Torrent

255g  (Men's UK 9)

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An interesting shoe given Hoka’s well-known high rise feel. This, while sitting on Hoka’s usual superbly cushioned base, actually feels quite solid and low to the ground. It’s the kind of shoe that creates a feel for the surface, while offering good protection thanks to that Profly midsole, high-traction rubber and aggressive lugs. The resulting good traction means the shoe provides a nice feel at pace, so you could easily use them for racing as well as training. Hoka’s extreme cushioning means the 5mm heel drop is very easy to get along with and if you’re keen on moving to lower numbers, they’re a great starting point. 

Verdict: Fast paced, well cushioned, easy to get on with.

Scott Kinabalushoe shoe review

320g (UK 8)

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The Scott Kinabalu is an extremely comfortable shoe, cushioned with 29mm of Aero Foam+ at the rear, making it ideal for those who like longer races and offers a bouncier feel to your run. The 8mm heel drop and the unique eRIDE midsole geometry is designed to increase efficiency, and the shoe certainly feels fast despite coming in a bit heavier than some of the competition on the market at 320g.

This is also definitely a shoe for harder, firmer trails as the lugs aren’t particularly deep and won’t be great at eating through mud. It's a surprisingly responsive shoe for something that looks a little bulky.

Verdict: 7/10
Ready for rock and drier conditions – think alpine.

See the August-September issue of Trail Running out on July 12 for our more all-rounder trail shoe reviews.

New Balance 910v4 shoe review

329g (UK 9)

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From the hard knocks school of running, the 910v4 is solid feeling – the type of shoe that enjoys serious mud and nasty conditions. Given the shoe's rigid feel, it's best suited to controlled, steady running rather than racing or pace work; but for everyday running it's just fine.

New Balance use a Rockstop plate between the midsole and outsole for extra protection against roots and rocks, and the Hydrohesion rubber outsole provides grip in adventurous environments. There’s also a 10mm heel to toe drop. The rigidity might be an issue for some runners, but we found them comfortable
mixing road and mud.

Verdict: 7/10
Solid feeling initially, but quickly loosen up.

See the August-September issue of Trail Running out on July 12 for our more all-rounder trail shoe reviews.

La Sportiva Lycan shoe reviews

275g (UK 10.5)

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A solid all-rounder is the perfect way to describe this lightweight, supportive shoe. Packed with plenty of extras – including a rock guard outsole with an impact brake system and breathable mesh upper – the Lycan provides a solid, secure feel in most running conditions.

Perhaps best at home on solid trails, the grip is good on all but the slippiest of surfaces and you’ll also notice the support provided. To some it might feel a little unforgiving, but to others it will feel like a robust, hard ride. The 6mm heel drop is quite competitively low for a La Sportiva shoe, but it doesn’t feel tough to get on with.

Verdict: 8/10
Good on technical trails, and great
on the road. 

See the August-September issue of Trail Running out on July 12 for our more all-rounder trail shoe reviews.

Columbia Caldorado III

366g (UK 11)

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The UTMB tag suggests these are tough, uncompromising beasts. Tough they may be, but they’re also very soft and cushioned – happy on solid paths, but also ready for off-road action. The FluidFoam technology provides a soft and supple ride, while the grip is perfect for everything from canal paths to dry mountain tracks.

The uppers are suitably abrasion-proof and there’s a slimline, racing-shoe feel to the fit. Given the UTMB approval stamp, the Caldorado III is perfectly happy tackling rocks, roots and uneven ground. Its armoury even includes a rock plate in the forefoot, with an 8mm heel drop.

Verdict: 9/10
Road-friendly and capable of tackling the toughest trails.

See the August-September issue of Trail Running out on July 12 for our more all-rounder trail shoe reviews.