325g (UK 10.5) altrafootwear.co.uk
With a toe box designed to give your toes room to spread more naturally, it isn't a surprise that the forefoot of the Peak 3.0 is roomy. But Is it comfortable? Yes. Does that sacrifice some precision and the sense of a secure fit? That’s a yes as well. On more even ground that’s not a problem. The grip is good with the stickiness giving you more confidence.
This is combined with a midsole that offers good cushioning and guidance. In keeping with the desire to have a shoe that allows your foot to behave more naturally there is zero heel drop, which does mean the Peak 3.0 can be tricky to get used to.
Natural feel with a good midsole, but not fully responsive.
See the August-September issue of Trail Running out on July 12 for our more all-rounder trail shoe reviews.
330g (UK 10.5) arcteryx.com
The look of the Norvan LD is deceptive. There isn't a lot of visual impact, but this is a
very comfortable and effective trail shoe. The upper looks very simple but the fit is very good, and the comfort matches this. You get a grippy outsole that works on a fair range of terrain, in particular harder ground and slippery surfaces, and is combined with a midsole that offers a smooth and comfortable ride.
While this isn't a lightweight shoe, there's a well cushioned midsole that comes with a 9mm heel drop. Fans of the brand will appreciate Arc'teryx's move towards more competitive running shoes.
Good cushioning and ride – will log plenty of miles.
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300g (UK 10.5) salomon.com
These shoes are comfortable from the off. Anyone used to Salomon shoes will have already taken into account the need to buy half a size larger than normal, and the fit is very good throughout the foot once this is factored in.
The ride is comfortable with a good spring to it that, when combined with good flexibility, adds to a responsive ride – including for faster running.
The grip is good on most terrain – although not so much for the mud – and adds to the feeling that this shoe can cope with a wide range of trails. The 8mm heel drop is easy to get used to and helps make the Sense Ride comfortable with pace work.
Comfortable and responsive on a wide range of terrain.
Priced at: £150
Designed in collaboration with UTMB winner Francois D’haene the new version of the S/LAB Ultra combines stunning looks with ultra running-specific design. The Sensifit system incorporates two arms on each side of the shoe which link directly to the Quicklace; this holds the foot incredibly well offering good comfort and stability from quite a minimal upper. The midsole is constructed from several grades of compressed EVA, each offering different levels of cushioning and energy return to maximise protection, comfort and the transition from landing to take off. The Energysave foam insert in the forefoot adds cushioning and protection. The midsole is customised to each shoe size offering different levels of cushioning to reflect the likely increase in a runner’s weight with foot size. The new Contragrip outsole is designed for better wet traction than ever before and the tread pattern includes reverse lugs on the heel to aid downhill running. Click this link to be directed straight to these incredible running shoes: https://www.salomon.com/uk/product/s-lab-ultra.html?article=402139
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We haven't tested the new Mammut Sertig Low shoe yet, but it sounds like one to keep your eye out for. We'll have a test for you soon but in the meantime Mammut tell us it has been developed for ambitious mountain training on changing surfaces. It sits close to the foot, is lightweight and offers effective cushioning, making the shoe ideal for different speeds and distances.
It weighs just 255 grams, and has a seamless tongue construction designed to prevent pressure points. The Advanced MTR Speed Lace System allows to make lightning- fast adjustments to the laces during the run, ensuring a perfect fit at all times. Surplus ends of laces can be tucked out of sight in the blink of an eye.
Another highlight is the patented Rolling Concept. Thanks to this sole concept developed according to orthopedic principles, optimising the foot's natural rolling behaviour thus reducing fatigue - and therefore the risk of twisting an ankle. Sounds good, watch this space for a full test.
Waterproof footwear put to the test
Xodus ISO GTX
385g Men’s 10.5
There’s general agreement among trail runners that GTX shoes can be rigid and unforgiving. But that’s certainly not the case with these amazingly flexible, lightweight, performance-loving shoes. More than any other shoe on test, they're as at home on the road as they are off it, making them supremely versatile and a great bet for urban trail types. The technology is old-school Saucony, featuring a resilient Everun topsole and an ultra-grippy PWRtrac outsole, all working off a competitively
fast 4mm drop. Fit is less of an issue with shoes today and this is no exception – it feels comfortable from the off.
As close to a racing shoe as you’ll get in the world of GTX shoes.
Ultra Raptor GTX
457g Men’s UK 10.5
These shoes might well shock you; bulky and heavy-feeling
on that first in-shop fitting, you’ll probably think they
won’t cope with anything too serious. But take them out on the trails and they’ll surprise you. Sure, they’re not racing snakes but, actually, the fit and general cushioned feel makes them feel pretty lively, and they're capable of a good
clip. Of course, the Gore-Tex means they can cope with wet mud, while the grip, perhaps a bit slippy for road, comes via the Frixion XF outsole. But, all this aside, it’s the fit and cushioned response, along with the higher 12mm ride, that will impress you the most.
An ideal shoe for long days in the – preferably wet and muddy – hills.
Speedcross 4 Nocturne GTX
368g Men’s 10.5
There’s plenty to like with the Speedcross 4 Nocturne GTX. As ever, Salomon has provided very good fit, thanks to its Sensifit technology, which holds your foot in place over technical terrain. The shoe offers great cushioning, which is on the harder side – but that's an asset for the type of run you’ll take these on. Demanding, wet, rocky conditions are what these shoes thrive on, and you’ll certainly feel confident in the protection on offer. We love the technology and the 10mm drop, but appreciate that some won’t get on with the lacing system and tighter feel that it can create. Keep that in mind when making your decision.
A supremely technical shoe that will cope with the most severe of conditions.
365g Men’s 10.5
Flexible, surprisingly plush underfoot, and pleasingly lightweight, you can expect the unexpected with Scarpa's Neutron GTX shoes. The excellent Gore-Tex lining makes them a waterproof shoe, but the dual-density EVA midsole provides a superb level of cushioning – which makes them a very handy shoe for everyday wear. Everyday, that is, as long as you live near some horrible wet, sticky mud. That’s because the grip is right up there in terms of security. For a relatively low-cut shoe – it has a 6mm drop – they feel nice and supportive. They're easy to get on with pretty much straight from the box.
Flexible, lightweight and cushioned – just
pull on and go!
359g Men’s 10.5
Featuring a huge variety of add-ons, this alpine path shoe certainly leaves an impression. It’s from the firm-ride stable –
a racing-type shoe – but does offer suitable cushioning and protection for those venturing further. Essentially the adaptive grip, multipage midsole and invisible lacing systems are all about allowing your foot to adapt to the underfoot conditions and create balance and support. The Vibram used on the super-aggressive-looking sole definitely signals that these are made for mud,
snow even, which means the Gore-Tex is perfect. The shoe is on the narrow side, working off an 8mm drop.
Mud, snow and very wet conditions, all dealt with comfortably.
313g Men’s 8.5
For a shoe that appears to be relatively standard in appearance, the 910v4 GTX from New Balance is actually packed with technology, featuring all the elements you need to run on the wettest of trails. The REVlite midsole, Rockstop plate, and HydroHesion rubber outsole all provide a safe, secure and, more importantly, dry environment for your feet to enjoy. Significantly – for us at least – this is a shoe that can cope with road and urban trails as well as the more demanding winter surfaces many of us enjoy. The 8mm drop creates a low-to-the-ground feel, but the cushioning is quite responsive.
Gets on with the job without drama – safe and secure in the nastiest of conditions.
T2 Kinabalu GTX 3.0
421g Men’s UK 10.5
Scott uses eRide geometry which provides a smooth and natural heel-to-toe transition – think of it as rocking your foot in a forward motion and you’ll get the idea. Thanks to this ‘faster’ feel, and despite the friendly 11mm drop, the T2 Kinabalu GTX 3.0 from Scott is the kind of shoe that’s most at home on forest trails. However, there’s plenty built in to help you on tougher terrains – the rock plate is a good defence. Claims of self-cleaning lugs might be a bit bold, but it’s true they don’t clog up! The Gore-Tex goes about its job pretty well in that the upper, built without seams, feels light and breathable.
A faster-feeling shoe that can cope with a host of different terrains.
Parkclaw 275 GTX
340g Men’s 10.5
The GTX tag implies a certain degree of additional weight, but as we’ve discovered with this season’s versions, that’s not always the case. Light, low to the ground, but not excessively so – thanks to a 8mm heel drop – these are the type of shoe you want to accompany you on a (very) wet path where performance is key. We don’t generally think of waterproof shoes as racers, but these could well do the job. Most importantly, they provide a smooth transition from your front door to some moderately challenging conditions. No, you don’t want deep mud, but as for rain and slippery surfaces… bring it on.
A shoe fit for a variety of runs, from training all the way to racing.
Fast, light and responsive. Excels on long, technical trails.Read More
Lightweight, cushioned and fast draining – great for long runs and puddles.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.