The Six Best Trail Runners of 2016

Tough and nimble, these off-road kicks are ready to fly

Aug 12, 2016
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Outside Magazine
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic, Salomon Speedcross 4, Merrell All Out Crush Shield    Photo: Inga Hendrickson

From lightweight speedsters to ultra-comfortable puddle-jumpers, this new crop of trail runners features some of the best yet. Here are six of our favorites.    

Adidas Outdoor 
Terrex Agravic ($135)

Adidas
  Photo: Adidas

Best For: Sure Footing Through Slop 


The Agravic is a moderately low-riding shoe with Euro flare and—thanks to oversize lugs—abundant bite 
in muck and on slippery loam. A thin layer of Adidas’s springy Boost foam gives this fast shoe a smooth, rolling feel on the trail, as well as some extra cushion for longer 
outings. The fit is slightly narrow, with 
a snug heel. 11 oz; 
6 mm drop

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Salomon 
Speedcross 4 ($130)

Trail running
  Photo: Salomon

Best For: Big Alpine Outings

Not many mountain- running shoes have both technical chops and loads of comfort—that’s the Speedcross’s secret sauce. With its narrow last, rock-solid fit, and big six-millimeter lugs, it can quickstep through sketchy rock piles and bank tight switchbacks with confidence. A steep ramp angle means the Speedcross is definitely a shoe for heel strikers, although you shouldn’t expect a squishy, drowsy landing: the foam is firm for precision and quickness. 10.9 oz; 
11 mm drop

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Merrell All Out 
Crush Shield ($110)

Merrell
  Photo: Merrell

Best For: Tiptoeing Along the Trail

Low, thin, and flexy, the Crush Shield is a fast, fun ride for efficient runners who like to feel like they’re in touch with the ground. We loved the high-speed turnover and the attentive foot placement such a shoe demands. Trail sensitivity cuts both ways, though—just a few miles of rocky terrain left us wincing. Best to stick to shorter jaunts on milder dirt or sand. Bonus points for the upper’s exterior water-repellent film. 9.5 oz; 7 mm drop

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Brooks Mazama ($140)

Brooks
  Photo: Brooks

Best For: Rolling Fast and Light

The most precise offering here, the new Mazama is a low—flying speedster that knows how to hopscotch over root wells and blast through rock gardens. It was the most confident shoe for sharp downhills, uneven trail, and aggressive paces. The “propulsion plate” in the forefoot made the ride a little harsh on hardpack but also injected some pop into each step. 9.3 oz; 6 mm drop

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Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell ($150)

Altra
  Photo: Altra

Best For: Charging on Rainy Days

Few trail-running shoes are more comfortable on first stride than this spongy lowrider. Credit goes to the midsole, which turns even pavement into cushy turf. But our favorite feature is Polartec’s waterproof Neoshell, which completely blocks out moisture, unlike other materials that leave you with a dry foot 
but a heavy, damp shoe. Note: with a cavernous toe box 
and high-volume last, it struggled to keep all but the widest feet locked in on downhills. 10 oz; zero drop

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Saucony Xodus 
ISO ($130)

Saucony
  Photo: Saucony

Best For: Stomp
ing Across the Flats

Think of this as a tank with a soft side. The Xodus ISO is a chunky, disconnected shoe that ratchets up the comfort with an extra layer of rubbery foam under the insole, pavement-friendly herringbone lugs, and floating overlays that wrap snugly around the midfoot. The downside is a loose fit that felt sloshy on any kind of incline or choppy ground. The Xodus is no speed freak, but it’s as kind to your dogs as anything out there. 10.3 oz; 4 mm drop

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