Q:

What should I look for in an all-around trail-runner?

I’m an experienced road runner, and now I want to train for an off-road triathlon. Where should I start with trail-runners? Chris Indianapolis, Indiana

May 20, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
Salomon XA Comp 3 Trail-Runners

XA Comp 3 Trail-Runners

A:

Lots of good choices out there, Chris. Earlier this year I purchased a pair of Salomon XA Comp 3 trail-runners ($85). They’re a nice shoe, with quick-drying synthetic uppers, good fit, and a nice combination of cushioning and support. They’re also very stable, which is a concern for me, as I over-pronate. Plus, they have an appealing price. I dunno what your road-shoe habits are, but anybody who runs three or four times a week and logs 20 miles or more really ought to be buying new shoes twice a year. That’s because a shoe that can look fine may well have cushioning that’s about kaput. Keeping up with an aggressive shoe-replacement schedule is easier if you aren’t looking at $125 a pop.

And that’s exactly what some high-end trail-runners go for. That’s because most have a waterproof liner of some sort, an add-on that makes some sense but isn’t mandatory. A good example is Salomon’s XA Pro 3D XCR, which is $125 because of the federal vowel tax. And because it has a Gore-Tex XCR liner. Otherwise it’s very similar to the Comp 3s, with maybe a little fancier midsole.

A little down the price ladder you’ll still get a Gore-Tex liner in The North Face Ultra 104s ($110), which have a lot of good features such as a medial post for extra stability and odor-fighting insoles. Nice shoes. Or go without the liner and split the difference between high and low end with the Asics GT-2130 ($95), from a company that was my favorite shoemaker when I did a lot of road running. These shoes are more like a road shoe than the trail-oriented Salomon or The North Face shoes, so if you’re on good trails you might take a look.

The 2008 Summer Outside Buyer’s Guide is now on newsstands. Look for it online soon.

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