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

Oboz Helium

Vasque Ultra SST, $170

10.6 oz. (men’s), 9.2 oz. (women’s)

28 mm (heel), 22 mm forefoot


Fit: It has a wide interior and runs a bit long (so consider sizing down by a half size), but the BOA dial-to-fit lacing system offers reassuring snugness and incremental adjustability.

Feel: When you first glance at this shoe you might wonder if you’re looking at one of those crazy carnival fun house mirrors. With a chunky, semi-firm EVA midsole and medial sidewall design of this shoe, its shape and dimensions look grossly distorted, even for a maximalist shoe.

Ride: The ride of the Ultra SST is definitely uniquely firm. While our testers were split on where this shoe performed best—some thought this shoe was great for very rugged terrain, while others preferred it only for semi-technical trails—most liked the protection it offers against everything out on the trail. Our testers (especially those with wider feet) liked it for both its protection and the cinched-down feeling of the Boa lacing system. Although it’s more at home on rugged terrain, it lacks agility for faster running on technical terrain. “By far the most unique shoe in this test session,” said one wear-tester. “I think it might be good for hike-a-run adventures and peak-bagging, but it’s not quite as nimble as it would need to be for an everyday training shoe.”

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