A breakdown of the latest trail running shoes available on the market.
Lightweight performance has become the name of the game in the trail running category, with a sweet spot falling between the recent minimalist running trend and the beefier run/hike hybrids of yore. The latest offerings let you have your cake and eat it too with aggressive treads, extra cushion and proprioception to the max — and even the burliest models weigh less than 11.5 ounces.
Merrell Ascend Glove, $120
Category: Lightweight Dirt Dancers
Weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s), 6.8 oz. (women’s)
Heights: 10.5mm (heel), 10.5mm (forefoot)
Fit: The Ascend Glove holds a foot securely while giving toes plenty of room to move.
Feel: Light and low to the ground, the Ascend Glove oozes a sense of agility. These feel like low-profile running moccasins with just enough underfoot cushion to keep feet happy. They’re light and have somewhat of a “barely there” feeling, but there’s enough technical detail to keep feet from feeling vulnerable.
Ride: These shoes definitely put your feet close to the ground, but the heel and forefoot rock plates soften the impact against rocks, roots and other terrain features. The lower-profile tread is surprisingly grippy, even on wet pavement. Wear-testers with different strides and strike patterns were able to enjoy this minimalist-styled shoe for various types of runs, due in part to the full-contact sole design.