Light, Fast & Free: 2014 Summer Trail Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide

New Balance 860v4 Trail

New Balance 860v4 Trail, $120

12.4 oz. (men’s), 10.0 oz. (women’s)

26 mm (heel), 14 mm forefoot

Category: MODERATE HYBRID

Fit: This shoe fits like a comfortably cushioned road shoe, with equal cushion-enhanced snugness from heel to toe.

Feel: If you’re used to wearing traditionally cushioned stability shoes on the roads, you’ll know exactly how this shoe feels. It’s has a copious amount of semi-soft cushioning with a firm medial post for stability and a supportive upper reinforced with stitched-only overlays. (This is just like New Balance’s 860v4 road shoe, only with an outsole modified to offer traction on smooth dirt and gravel trails and a water-resistant mesh.)

Ride: Despite the built-up construction and slightly heavier weight, this shoe runs with a consistently smooth vibe on flat trails with a few extra features for paved roads and bike paths. That smoothness is semi-firm and supportive, which makes it ideal for bigger runners who want more shoe under foot. Our wear-testers liked this shoe for what it is supposed to be, but they unanimously agreed it wasn’t the right tool for more rugged terrain. “There’s a lot of material in this shoe, probably too much for my liking unless I’m just running on a flat dirt trail or gravel road,” one wear-tester said.

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