2012 Trail Running Shoe Review

Photo: Scott Draper/Competitor

Find the best Fit, Feel and Ride for the trails you run and how you run them. 

Trail running shoes have finally evolved.

Gone are the days of settling for heavy, overbuilt models or wearing ineffective road shoes. Trail runners can now choose from a bevy of lighter, more flexible and more agile trail-specific sneaks.

The models made for off-road running have become dynamic trail tools possibly influenced by a number of factors, including the huarache sandals worn by the Tarahumara in “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, the lighter, stronger and more resilient materials available to shoe manufacturers, or by the fact that more people are running fast over hill and dale.

Although trail shoes generally fall into three categories—barely-there minimalist models, middleweight hybrid/crossover shoes and burly mountain runners—those lines are blurred by the types of trails you run and how you run on them.

For example, do you mostly run on smooth, flat trails with a consistent stride? Or do you run rocky, hilly routes in which no two footsteps are the same? Do you prefer a thickly cushioned shoe or one that offers protection against the various obstacles your feet encounter out on the trails? Are you an agile runner who likes to run nimbly in minimalist shoes no matter what the terrain is? Or would you rather wear a burlier model and bulldoze over rocks, roots and other trail debris?

To find the right shoe for you, consider those questions as you read about the 14 new shoes we’ve reviewed here, as well as additional reviews we’ve posted on Competitor.com.

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