Q:

Which light trail-running shoes are tough enough for an ultrarathon?

I've run one ultrarathon and looking to do a few more this year. What are the best and lightest trail shoes on the market? I tried the North Face Arnuva 50 Boa, but I'd like to hear about some lighter choices. Thanks! Alex Iowa City, Iowa

Mar 24, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
The North Face Arnuva 50 Boa

Arnuva 50 Boa trail runners

A:

Well, Alex, you’re really chasing grams at this point, and I’m not sure you’re going to gain much benefit from it. Your North Face Arnuva 50s ($125; thenorthface.com) actually are quite svelte at 25 ounces. Other trail runners include Salomon’s new trail-ready XT Wings ($120; salomonsports.com), which weigh 25.5 ounces. Vasque Blur XCR shoes ($110; vasque.com) are 29 ounces. Montrail’s Hardrocks ($95; montrail.com) are about 31 ounces. And the Asics Trail Gel Sensors ($112; asics.com) are 30 ounces for the pair.

Trail runners tend to out-weigh regular running shoes because they need to provide the extra foot protection and support you need when running on rough, uneven surfaces. So that means trail runners have heavier midsoles than road runners, toe bumpers, thicker outsoles, and other things that add weight.

That said, trail runners such as the Arnuvas or the Salomon XT Wings compete well with road shoes on weight. Asics’s excellent Gel 3000s ($117), for instance, come in at 25.1 ounces for a pair, or just a shade heavier than the Arnuvas. Which really kind of surprises me, but there it is.

You might shop around for really light road shoes. Road shoes wouldn’t last as long, but if you’re on generally decent trails in dry weather, they wouldn’t cause you any great harm. After all, you’re already abusing your body rather savagely. Try a pair of Nike Zoom Elite 4s ($102; nike.com). They’re 21.4 ounces for a pair.

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