Q:

Which trail-runners perform well in the mud?

I’m so glad it’s finally spring, and I can’t wait to get out on the trails. But it’s pretty muddy on some of my favorites. Which trail-runners do you recommend for these conditions? Kevin Boulder, Colorado

May 10, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Montrail Hurricane Ridge XCR

Hurricane Ridge XCR

A:

Mud is difficult to deal with in trail-runners. It’s murder on the shoes, because the grit gets into all the little crevices, plus the organic matter in most mud can make shoes, well, smelly. And it’s difficult to keep your feet dry regardless of the shoe, because inevitably you’ll over-top the shoes or splash mud and water from one foot to the other.

So this is a three-pronged response. First, get shoes that can stand up to wet conditions. Salomon’s XA Pro 3D XCR shoe ($125; salomon.com) is one over-alphabetized candidate. They’ve got good, grippy soles, Gore-Tex XCR liners to keep your feet dry, and breathable mesh uppers so that your dogs don’t overheat. I also like Montrail's Hurricane Ridge XCR trail-runners ($125; montrail.com). They’re the same price as the Salomon’s, and a little more rigid in their design if that’s something useful for you. The Hurricanes are very rugged shoes, but excellent on trails. Or, take a look at Asolo’s new Tenacity XCR shoes ($125; asolo.com). They are a little higher cut than the Salomon or Montrail shoes, so you might get better splash protection.

Next, get some short gaiters. REI Mistral Gaiters ($24; rei.com) are perfect—short, light gaiters made with a breathable but water-resistant Schoeller Dynamic fabric. They’ll go a long way in keeping mud from getting into the shoes from around your ankles.

Lastly, keep the shoes clean. If they’re really muddy when you get home from a run, then they’re also pretty wet. So, there’s no harm in completely rinsing them in cool water. If they’re just sorta muddy, it may be best to let them dry and then bang them together to get off the dirt. But you will want to keep them pretty clean, as grit and sand will erode the stitching and clog the uppers so the Gore-Tex is less effective. And give them a little spritz of Tectron Water Repellent ($6; rei.com) now and again; it’ll help the water and gunk bead up more efficiently.

Check out Outside's picks for Gear of the Year and 400-plus gear reviews in the 2007 Summer Buyer's Guide, on newsstands now.

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