Trail Runners

May 15, 2007
Outside Magazine

Upper: For warm weather and well-maintained trails, choose breathable mesh uppers to keep feet cool. Opt for sturdy, reinforced uppers when stability and durability are priorities.

Toe Cap: Always run rocky trails? Choose a shoe with an armored rubber toe cap, even at the cost of extra weight. It protects shoes and feet.

Outsole: A multi-density mix of rubbers helps shoes achieve a just-right combination of traction, stickiness, and durability. Look for characteristics that meet your needs.

Lugs: Take a spin in the store. Any true trail runner today should have low-profile lugs that feel subtle—not clunky—underfoot.

Midsole: This is the guts of the shoe, what gives you cushioning, support, and energy transfer. Most use a combination of soft EVA and hard TPU.

Protection Plate: This guards against "stingers" caused by rocks and roots. It's usually a slim plastic plate that protects without adding much weight or making the shoe too stiff.