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

Altra Superior Trail 1.5

Altra Superior Trail 1.5, $105

11.1 oz. (men’s), 8.2 oz. (women’s)

15 mm (heel), 15 mm forefoot (men’s)

Category: MODERATE HYBRID

Fit: This has the most unique fit of any shoe in this review. It’s snug in the heel, semi-snug at the midfoot and decidedly spacious in the bulbous-shaped forefoot. (It’s shaped that way by design, giving ample room for the foot’s transverse arch to flex and allow the toes to splay upon impact.)

Feel: This shoe also has the most unique feel of any shoe in this review. First, the zero-drop (flat profile) and low-to-the-ground design are immediately evident, offering a “barely there” feeling that allows proprioceptive interaction with the ground. Secondly, although there isn’t much cushioning, it feels fairly soft—or at least softer than many of our testers expected.

Ride: The ride is natural and completely uninhibited. If you’re the type of runner who wants to feel the trail and rely on your foot sensing the ground to cue how the rest of your body moves, this might be the shoe for you. (It has a thin, flexible, full-length rock plate that can be removed when not running more rugged trails.) The directional lugs of the subtle outsole offer good traction on most kinds of terrain, but a few wear-testers said it felt slippery on loose gravel and dirt. “I love the flat, soft and very natural feeling of this shoe,” said one wear-tester.

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