These running shoes are ready to roll.
These running shoes are ready to roll. (Charles Dustin Sammann)

The Best Trail Running Shoes of Summer 2018

After a season of testing, these eight came out on top

These running shoes are ready to roll.

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Whether you prefer fat or fast, these kicks are ready to roll. 

Saucony Peregrine 8 ($120)

(Courtesy Saucony)

With a moderately thick midsole and good energy return, the Peregrine 8 manages to be both agile and well cushioned. Technical trails? Mud? You’ve got six-millimeter lugs, a rock plate, and a sticky, full-rubber outsole. The shoe is wide, but the thick tongue, flat laces, and padded heel collar make casual runs a dream. 10 oz (men’s) / 9 oz (women’s); 4 mm drop

Men's Women's

Columbia Montrail Rogue FKT II ($110)

(Courtesy Columbia)

If Dr. Frankenstein created a shoe, this would be it. The Rogue FKT has the burly outsole of a mountain runner, the breathability and low weight of a speed shoe, and the squishy midsole and deep heel of a comfort cruiser. (Though the midsole does sacrifice precision on rocky ground.) Our biggest quibble? The laces just wouldn’t stay tied. 8.9 oz (men’s) / 7.4 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop

Men's  Women's

Inov8 Trail Talon 290 ($125)

(Courtesy Inov8)

The Talon 290’s finest feature is its buttery ride, which takes the sting out of hardpack. Yet the moderately low midsole still delivers a quick, energetic, and lively feel. (Watch out for sharp rocks, though!) Steep grades caused some foot slippage. 10.2 oz (men’s) / 10.2 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

Altra Superior 3.5 ($110)

(Courtesy Altra)

Runners who like zero drop with moderate cushion will love the Superior 3.5. The shoe takes a centrist’s approach to foam and protection, with a slow, cruisey vibe and a wide, boxy fit best suited for ambling runs on less technical trails. 10.3 oz (men’s) / 8.2 oz (women’s); zero drop

Men's Women's

Arc’teryx Norvan LD ($160)

(Courtesy Arc’teryx)

The Norvan LD is Arc’teryx’s first attempt at a more cushioned, distance-capable shoe. It’s firm, responsive, and precise in technical terrain, with quicker turnover than the weight suggests. But it’s a little clunky and stiff, and the ride is still a bit firmer than we’d like. 10.9 oz (men’s) / 9.2 oz (women’s); 9 mm drop

Men's Women's

Brooks Caldera 2 ($140)

(Courtesy Brooks)

With a plush upper, pillow-soft midsole, and broad, flat lugs, this was the shoe we reached for when we wanted to take it easy on our dogs. On most trails, the Caldera provided ample protection, though those accustomed to stiff, aggressive shoes found it lacking on rocky terrain. 9.9 oz (men’s) / 9 oz (women’s); 4 mm drop

Men's Women's

Vasque Constant -Velocity II ($120)

(Courtesy Vasque)

This maximalist shoe was the most comfortable ride of the test, mostly because of its flexy fabric heel cup and the deepest, spongiest midsole we’ve ever encountered. This shoe is on the heavier side, but we loved it for recovery days. 11 oz (men’s) / 9 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

Salomon XA Elevate ($130)

(Courtesy Salomon)

While the midsole is firm to the point of harsh on hardpack, this shoe’s responsiveness is off the charts. Plus, with a snug, narrow fit and meaty lugs, it was one of the fastest, most technical, and most agile shoes we tested. 10.4 oz (men’s) / 9 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

From Outside Magazine, June 2018 Lead Photo: Charles Dustin Sammann

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