Running Shoes: Road Shoes and Trail Shoes

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Running Shoes: Road Shoes and Trail Shoes

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1. Rock Hopper

If you want one shoe for everything from long, slow runs on groomed paths to fast 5K jaunts on technical singletrack, pick up the Salomon Speed Comp. It’s one of the few shoes that feature both fat rear-foot foam (for shock absorption) and a thin, flexible forefoot for an agile, close-to-the-ground feel. Testers also loved the one-pull lacing system, which effectively snugs the foot to the midsole and creates a socklike fit. 12 oz, $90;

2. Takes It Easy

Think of the North Face Fire Road GTX XCR as a 4×4 for your feet. It pairs the aggressive outsole and forefoot rock shield of a mountain runner with the medial heel posting and smooth feel of a stability road shoe. Its forte seems to be high-mileage runs on flat roads and hard-packed dirt; it felt less responsive on fast-stepping, technical trails. We loved the waterproof Gore-Tex liner in cool weather and muck, but it got steamy on warmer days. 12.8 oz, $110;

3. Speed Racer

Trail races are grueling enough without a beefy protective shoe slowing your stride. So Pearl Izumi melded a stripped-down, road-inspired upper and midsole with a minimalist outsole to create the Peak XC, one of the sleekest and lightest trail racers we’ve tested. It has the quick-flexing responsiveness of a marathon shoe, but just enough cushioning to blast hard-packed trails and forest roads. Tread carefully on rough terrain, though: “Ultralight” also applies to the armor. 9 oz, $110;

4. King of the Mountains

La Sportiva’s Lynx excels on terrain that turns most runners into walkers: big climbs, jagged switchback descents, and loose rocks. Two dozen semi-independent lugs deliver precise cornering, edging, and braking on uneven surfaces, and a scree gaiter under the laces helps snug up the fit. Though it’s not svelte enough for short-course races, it minimizes unnecessary armor, so it’s as light as a stable, well-protected mountain shoe can be. 12.3 oz, $100;


5. Soft Touch
Runners with the most efficient strides need the least structured shoes. For them, there’s ASICS’s Gel-Nimbus 10. A pillow-plush cushioning shoe (best for runners who roll their heels little, if at all, on impact), the Nimbus has been updated with larger gel packets for a gentler yet responsive feel underfoot, and an asymmetrical lacing pattern to relieve pressure points. The result is an ideal shoe for high-mileage, comfort-minded runners. 12.4 oz, $120;

6. Smooth and Stable

Got a little wobble in your stride? New Balance’s 1224 helps stabilize runners who have moderate pronation issues, but it still boasts the lavish softness of a neutral shoe. A multidensity-foam layering system in the heel and forefoot combines with a well-cushioned footbed and premium sock liner to make smooth, subtle foot-strike corrections. Our only gripe: Faster runners will notice the 1224 is a shade heavier than other stability shoes. 12.8 oz, $140;

7. Braced for Impact

Heavy-duty doesn’t have to mean sluggish. While most motion-control shoes come with a weight penalty, the Adidas Supernova Sequence offers impressive underfoot structure without adding ounces. Severe pronators will rave about the fast, smooth feel of this widebody, with its especially forgiving, decoupled-heel crash pad and quick transition from heel to toe, but even typically neutral runners will appreciate the extra support on longer runs. 12.2 oz, $95;

8. Light and Fast

Slip on Nike’s LunarLite Trainer and all other shoes seem like clogs. Though nearly as light and quick-flexing as a racing flat, the LunarLite is stable enough to handle serious training mileage. The midsole incorporates a new ultralight foam wrapped with a second, denser type, allowing a soft initial impact while still bracing against side-to-side sloshing. The result? Our legs didn’t feel as worked after a 15-miler on pavement, even when we pushed the pace. 8.8 oz, $100;

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