281g (UK 8)
Hoka might not have invented the lightweight cushioned shoe, but it certainly knows how
to do it well. The Speedgoat 3 provides what feels like day-long comfort on harder surfaces. The fit is locked down, if on the narrow side, which almost makes it feel like you’re wearing a second skin, albeit one with grippy lugs on the underside. Shock absorbance for heel strikers is there in abundance, with a profile that rolls the foot foreword to toe-off with more purpose than these shoes’ slightly orthopaedic appearance might otherwise suggest. Not cheap, but exceptional performers. Heel to toe drop is 4mm.
Verdict: Stacks of cushion, bags of bounce. High performers.
291g (UK 8)
A thin, lightweight and breathable upper makes these feel like old friends the minute you lace them up, while the combination of a cushioned midsole and pockets of air in the outsole gives the impression of simply sinking into the Cloudventures. A 6mm offset ensures that they will suit most runners, with a decidedly neutral ride. Those odd-looking ‘clouds’ grip like a brickie’s handshake, and it’s also worth noting that the toe bumper feels substantially more protective than that found on the Inov-8 shoes also tested here. And no, we didn’t pick up any small stones in the air gaps of the outsole...
Like sinking into a comfy mattress... for your feet.
320g (UK 8)
Right, whose bright idea was an all-white trail running shoe? Accept the fact that these
will never look as good again after your first run (actually, baby wipes help...) and they’re actually exceptional performers. They’re roomy at the toes, very flexible and also breathable. The Boa dial closure gives you a perfect fit in seconds, too. Impact absorption from the thick midsole foam is positively bouncy, really putting a spring in the step. Continental rubber (widely used in adidas running shoes) provides high grip for dry trails. The only niggle we have is that the stiff tongue is very long and rubs a little on the lower shin. 6mm drop.
Precise-fitting, grippy shoe for those wide of toe.
329g (UK 8.5)
With an inner sock system negating the need for a tongue, these shoes wrap around the foot and feel secure on the go. New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole is used on its marathon running shoes; it’s built to go the distance, and we felt we could do so in comfort and with ease with the 8mm drop Hierros on our feet. Cushioning is top-drawer, but the response was there when we needed
it, too. In all, these are a very stable pair of shoes with grip to match anything on these pages. They’re a little on the weighty side if that bothers you, but we can’t find much else to nit-pick at. A fine choice for summer running.
Locked-down fit and exceptional cushioning.
300g (UK 8)
A roomy toebox allied to a lightweight and breathable upper ensures that these shoes score highly in the comfort stakes. Shock absorption and energy return are also of a very high standard; we found our pace picking up when wearing the 290s, even when out for what we'd planned to be an easy run. There is a rubber toe bumper at the front to protect from stray rocks, but we’d say these shoes are in their element on simple singletrack and forest roads; they realy excel on dry trails. Which isn’t to say they’re lacking grip: the flexible outsole has you covered for digging in and pushing on when the need arises. 8mm drop.
Comfy, roomy Jack-of-all-trades. recommended.
257g (UK 8)
Low-profile and lightweight, the Sense ride 2s operate off an 8mm heel to toe drop, giving
a neutral feeling that at home equally with rolling along at chatting pace or really getting a shift on down fire roads. The cushioned midsole lacks little in the response department, either. Although the outsole's lugs are shallow and widely spaced, they’re surprisingly grippy, so will take you confidently over hardtop and rocks as well as parched trails. Venting is decent for summer use, too. We’re not huge fans of the ‘quicklace’ system, though – who doesn’t have time to tie their laces? Fool-proof systems like adidas's Boa dial are better.
Verdict: Lightest shoe on test, and very versatile.
341g (UK 8) £139.99
These are the closest you’ll find in this test to what feels like a fast road shoe built for the trails. The levels of bounce per ounce (8.5oz per shoe, for imperial measurement fans) are sky-high; each footfall is absorbed then translated into responsive, motive force to power you along parched tracks. Head into technical terrain and the incredibly flexible lugs on the outsole provide peerless grip. They might be the most expensive shoes on test, but if you can stretch to them they’re something else. It’s worth noting that, while they felt stable and secure, the midfoot is rather narrow. 8mm drop.
Verdict: Springy sole and exceedingly good grip
304g (UK 8) £109.99
We couldn’t imagine wanting any more grip this summer than that which is provided by the peregrine iso. The Powertrac outsole provides exemplary traction on whatever surface you care to tread on, and its flexible nature resists rolling of the foot, possibly even helping to prevent ankle injuries out on the trails. Although not the lightest shoe here, these are certainly some of the best vented, with our feet feeling comfortable and dry throughout. Cushioning is right up there with the best, too. Their 4mm offset will suit those with upping the pace in mind, and those runner with well- conditioned feet.
Verdict: Traction- packed and very breathable