Published

ALL-PURPOSE This crossover shoe performs well on a variety of surfaces. On technical trails, it’s stable and comfortably cushioned, thanks to high-rebound foam in the midsole and a solid plastic protection plate in the forefoot; on hard surfaces, the cushion almost makes this shoe feel like it was made for…

Moderate Stability Think of the Triax+12 as a Mini Cooper. While wider-footed testers found the cockpit a bit cramped, everyone else raved about the shoe’s fast and in-control feel. Credit the Triax’s ample cushioning for heavy heel-strikers and nimble, low-to-the-ground profile. A sturdy medial post provides a…

Thanks to a full-length TPU Flexion Plate that instigates forward motion, we simply felt fastest in these light stability shoes. In other words, they’re pricey but worth it. And you can run them hot: The breath­able mesh is treated with temperature-regulating material that actually seems to work. 10 oz;…

The women-only PDQ is a minimalist shoe that’s great for agile runners with good biomechanics. We love the use of partially recycled materials and reduced use of glues and parts overall, though we did notice some early wear and tear. 5 oz; endfootwear.com…

Burly Day Hiker Whether for a dog walk or an eight-hour peak assault, testers came back to this shoe again and again—even if the forecast called for rain. The waterproof Gore-Tex lining in this nubuck hiker kept our feet dry but never steamy. Want something sturdier for multi-day excursions? Opt…

DIRTMONGER The Wildwoods are designed to work equally well on dirt as on pavement. And while we found the Wildwood isn’t fluid enough for the road, it shined in hilly, rugged terrain. The outsole feels secure in the steeps, while an underfoot protection plate defends against sharp jabs. Ultra freaks,…

Good for Trails If you run both roads and mellow trails, be good to your budget: Buy one shoe that can handle both. The Boulder Canyon has the guts of a neutral road shoe—a single-density EVA foam provides ample cushioning on pavement. But it also has grippy,…

Trail If you want the rock-solid side-to-side stability of a mountain runner, Gore-Tex for mud stomping, and extra armor for nasty trails, you’re going to pay a slight weight penalty. But we still loved the snug heel and arch (for good agility) and wide forefoot (to accommodate swelling on descents).

LIGHT AND FAST These shoes are as close as you’ll come to sprouting a layer of tread on your feet. The minimalist 790’s are extremely light and low to the ground, providing a nimble feel that’s almost like a racing flat. 6.6 oz; newbalance.com Bonus: These kicks look…

Moderate Stability Unlike most stability or control shoes, which use a stiff medial post near the heel or arch to correct an overpronator’s foot roll, the ProGrid Stabil’s post runs the entire length of the shoe—heel to toe. Although you’d think that might stiffen the shoe, Saucony…

The Gripper On the worst running surfaces of our test—loose dirt, rock slabs, and muddy sidehill traverses—the Rockridge excelled. Prominent lugs and sticky rubber combined for a gluelike grip on all surfaces, making these an “epic adventure partner,” as one tester put it. The mesh upper was supremely breathable, thanks…

This futuristic, iPod-compatible shoe—put the wireless chip in the sole and go—is chock-full of women-specific features. Most notice­able are flex grooves that are aligned relative to a woman’s lower center of gravity, resulting in a more efficient gait. 10 oz; nikerunning.com…

No shoe is perfect for road and trail, but this one comes close. Gel cushioning in the heel and a flexible forefoot make the 2140 pavement-friendly, while traction (beefier than last year’s model) and good side-to-side stability help it perform off-road. 10 oz; asics.com…

Stability Road Runner For mild to moderate overpronators, the CT Stamina 2 offers stability with noticeable comfort. The stable heel cup gives way to a light and flexible mesh upper. And for a stability shoe, there's significant cushioning. Testers loved the Stamina 2 for distance training, but its light weight…

BREATHES EASY Biggest surprise of the test: In light rain and on moist trails, the Chinscraper’s soft-shell upper blocked out water just a well as Gore-Tex but breathed considerably better. Plus it felt smooth on moderate terrain and in snow, even paired with snowshoes, though not as much on rocky,…

Good for the Road If you’re like the vast majority of runners, you’re looking for a shoe that offers a touch of stability and ample cushioning but don’t want to pay the price in extra weight. Voilà: We give you the Ravenna. Its lean construction (10.1 ounces)…

Road Not so sure about this minimalist running craze? The Vectana hears you. It’s a classic stability shoe—beefy midsole, thick heel, and big medial post—with an agile feel and a noticeably secure upper. The ride is a bit stiffer than most. Some liked it; some wished the forefoot was more…

SMOOTH AND STABLE Prone to twisted ankles? The sole below the Ascend’s fore-foot fans out slightly, which made testers feel secure on trail and road alike. Additional support comes from a visible, wave-shaped, shock-absorbing composite plate that runs from the heel of the shoe to the midfoot. 9.9 oz; mizuno.com…

1. Fire roads. Technical trails. Even races and runs with short stretches of pavement. Regardless of what they were doing, testers reached for the Mountain Masochist more than any other shoe. And although it weighs less than 11 ounces and feels light and agile overall, it has just enough…

Flat and Fast If you’re running dry, flat dirt trails, you might as well enjoy road-shoe-like comfort. Here the SyncroFuel XC delivers with a seamless upper and even cushioning—pillowy enough for long, slow miles but light enough to feel fluid at a lung-busting pace. The upper’s secure midfoot wrap held…

While this trainer may not serve up super-stability or piles of cush, we appreciated its simplicity, light weight, and ability to comfortably take on miles. It’s a good choice for neutral runners to mild pron­ators, as the medial post does offer a tinge of support, which is plenty for…

Stable and protective, the all-terrain Release, with its women-specific fit, cushioning, and outsole, was our top pick for rocky trails and all-day hike-and-run epics. 11 oz; patagonia.com…

Bare-Bones Speedster Designed with input from ultrarunner Anton Krupicka, who’s so allergic to carrying extra ounces he races nearly nude, this super-minimalist trail shoe, with its wafer-thin midsole and highly flexible forefoot, is among the lightest we’ve ever seen. Ideal for faster runners with perfect mechanics who pick their way…

STORM CHASER Messy technical trails and foul weather are no longer deterrents for this major update. The new seam-sealed Gore-Tex upper kept testers’ feet warm and dry in cold slop (but it’s muggier in warm temps than its soft-shell counterparts), while the grippy outsole, underfoot protection, and torsional stiffness added…

Good for the Road This affordable neutral shoe had testers raving about its plush cushioning. It was easily the softest of our test but somehow found a way to impress everyone, from our heavier, slower runners to our faster, svelter ones. The reason: For all the shock…

Trail Newton’s first trail shoe still uses the company’s trademark set of prominent, extra-springy lugs under the forefoot to encourage mid- and forefoot running, but it adds tight mesh to the upper to keep debris out and grippier rubber for traction. It’s good for working on form and running fast,…

HARD CHARGER Aggressive, all-conditions runners will love these stable, protective, and well-cushioned shoes. Rocks, logs, unstable sand, and even snow gave us no trouble, thanks to a lug pattern that grips in all directions. The gel cushioning absorbs impact on hardpacked trails, and the forefoot flexes easily for a comfortable…

Packed Trail Everything about the pared-down X-1 is made for speed. Midsole foam is kept to a minimum, forefoot flexibility is maxed, and a snug-fitting heel and arch promote agility. Not surprisingly, this sub-ten-ounce racer is at its best on smooth or rolling terrain like fire roads.

Long-Distance Voyager Ultramarathoners are a picky lot, but ours loved the Cascadia 5. The shoe has enough forefoot flexibility and torsional (twisting) rigidity to keep foot fatigue at a minimum on insanely long runs. Thankfully, it’s also comfortable enough for casual days—one reason this is the top-selling trail runner in…

Runners seeking structure that can stand up to long training runs and marathon-distance races will appreciate this stability shoe. This tried-and-true model got some major updates this season, including better rear-foot stability and new women-specific support in the midfoot. 11 oz; asics­.com…

If you run hard-packed trails, the Whisper is for you. While the thin sole wasn’t comfortable on rocky terrain, the Whisper’s great traction on loose gravel and secure one-pull lacing (plus its light weight) make it race- ready. Best for wide feet. 9 oz; salomonsports.com…

Hybrid Hauler The Adrenaline ASR 7 is a classic stability road shoe with a perk: four-wheel drive. Its outsole has teeth for grip on snowy roads and moderately technical trails, but the rest of the shoe is made for high-mileage pounding on pavement. The tread didn’t wow us on rocky…

TAKES IT EASY Good for Packed Trails If cushion is king for high-mileage training or heavier runners, then the Supernova reigns supreme. Its pillowy crash pad is perfect for cruising on mellow trails. And despite its speedy geometry—the shoe is tilted slightly forward—the forefoot foam doesn’t feel gutted.

1. Who says you can’t please everyone? Whether our testers had wide or narrow feet, or preferred slow, long runs or quick, on-your-toes workouts, somehow all were convinced the Glide was the perfect shoe for them. The key is a generous amount of padding in the heel collar and…

Good for the Road No one likes to stand corrected; fewer still like to feel corrected while they run. Among stability shoes, the updated Sequence plays the part of the gentle guide, offering noticeable pronation correction followed by such a smooth transition to toe-off that the support…

A running shoe that weighs less than eight ounces is usually a flimsy racing flat. So imagine our shock during the first test runs in the Kinvara: It’s a legit training shoe but with 30 percent less weight than most other high-mileage trainers. There’s radically less rubber on the outsole—only…

Feeling competitive with no partner in sight? This featherweight plastic training watch has a Shadow Racer feature that lets you compete against your previous runs to check your progress en route. adidas.com      …

em>Packed Trail If you run on a mix of pavement and dirt—often in the same outing—you’ll appreciate the Voza. To prove the point, we tested these lightweight trail runners on the streets of L.A., where the shoe’s midsole, and especially the amply cushioned heel, proved remarkably comfortable.

Speed Demon For shorter trail races, no shoe made us feel faster than the Avi-Stoltz. It’s a highly reactive shoe whose comfortable, simple upper felt “like a house slipper,” according to one tester. (Others found the high ankle cuff annoying.) Despite its light weight, the Avi-Stoltz delivers enough support and…

1. The problem with most waterproof trail runners is that they don’t breathe very well. So instead of using a Gore-Tex-like membrane in the Syncroseeks, Pearl Izumi opted for a tightly woven, DWR-treated soft-shell upper, which kept our feet almost as dry as with waterproof shoes, without any clamminess.

Testers liked this solid, supportive training shoe best for long road runs. And while it’s a great pick for logging lots of base mileage for spring marathons, it can handle speedy fall jaunts like a 10K, too. A secure arch wrap and heel make for an agile stride, and…

Muck Stomper True, you’ll wear this shoe only on nasty, muddy, slushy winter days—or paired with snowshoes (see page 58). But compared with other trail runners with an integrated gaiter, this is the lightest, most spry-feeling of all, weighing an impressive 13 ounces despite all that protective material. Underneath the…

Page 2