What are the best trail running shoes for handling spring mud and rain?
Spring rain and mud, indeed. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had a full-on La Nina spring—meaning rain, more rain, and the occasional snowfall. So yeah, muddy trails have been on my mind.
The challenge is finding a shoe with grip that can also keep your feet dry. At the high end, price-wise, is Salomon's XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX trail runners ($155). (I think they charge by the number of words in the name.) Salomon knows plenty about adventure racing, however, and it shows in this shoe, which comes with high-traction Contagrip outsoles (a proprietary design); a supportive EVA midsole; toe and heel caps; and one-pull lacing. The upper is built with a Gore-Tex liner for waterproofness. I’m always skeptical about putting Gore-Tex in footwear, but when you're running through wet grass it's a no-brainer. That'll soak a shoe in seconds.
Women might like Montrail’s Mountain Masochist II Outdry ($125). Along with a nice combination of support and stability, Montrail’s proprietary Outdry waterproof-breathable membrane is billed as more flexible than the competition (it has no seams and is heat bonded to the upper). And like any good trail-runner, the Mountain Masochist is designed with more heft in the midsole than a road-runner, which helps to deflect rocks and branches, saving your feet from bruising.
And if you're interested in minimalist shoes, Merrell’s Barefoot Run Trail Glove ($110) offers a thin layer of rubber between your foot and the ground. The soles have decent traction, and, while not waterproof, the uppers dry quickly if they get wet. I've worn the Trail Gloves without socks, but in soggy conditions I'd recommend a light wool layer to help avoid blisters. Happy running!