The Best Road and Trail Running Shoes

The Best Road and Trail Running Shoes

Forget about your footwear and just enjoy the run.

Jul 24, 2009
Outside Magazine
Running Shoes

   Photo: Photographs by Shana Novak

1. Nike LunarGlide+
In a word: sproing! These were the most responsive trainers we tested, capable of turning every road run into an all-out dash. The key: Nike's new midsole compound, made of rubberized foam. Though it's airy light, testers found it surprisingly energetic. It is also set at an angle, so runners with a neutral foot strike or mild pronation got the support they needed—without the chunky block of denser foam you find in most stability shoes. As for fit? Seamless and soft—like a slipper. 10.9 oz; $100;

2. Ecco Biom B
The Bioms are all about tough love. The heel and forefoot are extra firm, designed toencourage you to land on your midfoot, like a barefooter. Some of our test team, mostly lighter runners, adapted to the new concept and embraced the soft-stepping gait it fosters. Others found the shoe a little jarring, particularily on long runs or downhills. If you have a biomechanically correct stride and time to ease into them, you'll probably love the Bioms. But if you live for cushion, probably not. 11.2 oz; $198;

3. Salomon XT Hawk
If your trails are mellow and your gait is quick, the Hawk is your shoe. With a low-profile tread, medial posting for pronation control, and a pace-pushing forward lean, the Hawk performs like a road shoe, albeit with toe protection and a gusseted tongue. While faster runners gave it high marks for its flexible, low-to-the-ground forefoot and low overall weight, it's not ideal for gnarly terrain: The pull-tab laces don't secure the foot well enough for tight cornering or steep downhills. 11.2 oz; $115;

4. The North Face Wolf Ridge
Pronators usually get snubbed when shopping for trail-running shoes—there simply aren't that many options out there. But the Wolf Ridge offers real medial support for long, flat trails and stretches of tarmac on the way to the trailhead. The extra support and low weight make longer, base-building, and fitness runs a delight, especially for runners with low arches. Our only quibble: While the shoe is solidly built, the upper's mesh and liner seem a little cheap for the price. 12.3 oz; $110;

5. Adidas Supernova Sequence 2
What's the Sequence's secret ingredient? We'd guess butter. The richly cushioned midsole and padded upper are about as comfortable as they get. Add in a gently corrective medial post and a deeply grooved, shock-absorbing heel and you've got the smoothest running shoe of the test. The result: Slower and longer runs are a breeze. However, as with the ASICS model below, faster runners may want more responsiveness.11.8 oz; $100;

6. ASICS Gel-Pulse
New to running? Minding your budget? The Gel-Pulse is a reasonably priced version of ASICS's top-tier road trainers, designed for nonpronators who want a lot of cushioning. The combination of a luxuriously soft but still very lightweight midsole drew rave reviews from most of our Gear Army testers, especially heavy heel-strikers and slow-and-steady types who crave comfort over speed. For the price, it's simply a steal. 11.5 oz; $85;

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