Dynafit Feline SL
290g (men's UK 7) £135
With its rigid structure and overall look, the Dynafit Feline SL appears at first glance to be a beast of a shoe. However, at 290g, it's surprisingly light and comfortable. Our tester was able to wear them straight out of the box on a seven-mile road and trail run without any issues. However, this shoe is designed for use on rough terrain in the mountains and serious off-roaders won't be disappointed, thanks to the 'ballistic' bumpers in the heel and toe and a multipad midsole to reduce the effect of impact. We love the easy lacing system, plus the Vibram outsole, which offers a sturdy grip. The shoe also has an 8mm drop.
Verdict: The comfort of a road shoe with the grip of a trail shoe.
Scott Supertrac RC
250g (men's UK 8) £130
Traction is the name of the game for Scott shoes, and that's definitely the case in the RC. You’ll be impressed with the super-light feel this shoe offers – it’s pretty low to the ground, with a 5mm drop and you’ll feel like picking the pace up for sure. And this is partly as a result of the multi-directional lugs, which rather than simply dig in, adapt to the rolling nature of off-road running to make you feel pretty secure. In this instance, the lugs aren’t as deep as other shoes, so fell runners might not appreciate that but regular trail runners – mixing road, with paths and fields – will enjoy the security and performance on offer.
Verdict: Fast and furious; a good shoe for most conditions.
La Sportiva Mutant
310g (men's UK 9) £115
The Mutant is straight out of the heavier, wider platform school of trail shoes. Despite its relatively high 10mm drop, it does feel like a responsive, faster shoe. The grip is good, with the Frixion XF outsole working particularly well on muddy paths. Fit is good, holding your foot in place on demanding terrain. You’ll be more than happy to take it out onto muddy, rocky areas as the upper consists of a single breathable, abrasion-resistant mesh and integrated gaiter.
The SpyralTongue lacing system is integrated to the uppers through the FusionGate. It's a nice idea, but feels a little bit over-engineered and fiddly.
Verdict: A supportive shoe that can cope with every off-road trail.
Adidas Terrex Fast GTX Surround
385g (men's UK 8.5)
Straight out of the box this shoe has a slightly stiff feel – particularly around the cuff and base of your ankle – but once you’ve run for a few minutes the upper softend up. Adidas has teamed up with car tyre giant Continental to create a rubber outsole that, while it doesn’t have particularly deep lugs (5mm), offers good grip in the wet and mud. The super-thin layer of Gore Tex Surround lining helps keep your feet dry, with beathability enhanced by big air channels in the midsole. The bungee lace mechanism is well designed without being fiddly, and although the shoe is quite heavy it doesn't feel clumpy. It has an 8mm drop.
Verdict: Solid all-rounder that could be used in all conditions.
Hoka Challenger ATR 5
266g (men's UK 8) £115
It’s probably fair to say most of us need grip that works superbly in the middle ground. The road-friendly, soft ride Challenger is good for just that. The lug pattern – wider at the front and closer together at the rear – provides a smoother, more consistent feel than the previous model, while the wider spread means more grip. This light shoe copes well with muddy paths and long sections of road. The ATR 5 works off a low drop 5mm, but such is the cushioning and elevated platform, you don’t really notice that low profile. Hoka can come up a little narrow in the toe box for some runners, but a wider option is available.
Verdict: Great for mixing and matching road and mud.