I agree: Summer is a great time to run, especially on trails. They’re drier (well, usually) than in the winter, you can run early or late without headlamps, and the cool forest beats running out on the hot pavement.
So for summer you want a little different trail runner. Something lighter and more breathable than winter shoes. These are my three favorites.
Best Summer Trail Runners: Minimalist
I’ve long been a fan of New Balance—their shoes are sturdy, reliable, and fit well. Now they have a trail runner that takes some cues from the minimalist running world. The Minimus 10 Trail ($105) is built with a light, airy upper that is connected to a grippy Vibram outsole for a great combination of superlight comfort and great feel for the trail. It’s low (4mm) drop from heel to toe helps encourage a neutral foot strike, and it can be worn with or without socks.
Best Summer Trail Runners: Stability
Not many companies know trail-running and endurance sports as well as Salomon. That experience goes into their new XR Mission ($110), which besides coming in some wild colors, has lots of great features. Those include Salomon’s excellent Contragrip outsole, a design that wraps the foot closely for a great fit, and a lightweight built-in chassis for stability.
Best Summer Trail Runners: Women's
ASICS have been my go-to shoe for many years. Women, I know, will appreciate that company’s attention to detail and excellent cushioning. The GEL-Scout ($120) is a shoe for rugged summer runs, with a protective rock plate and reverse lugs for downhill stability. It has a great fit, and, of course, sports ASICS’ excellent gel cushioning.