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Cool Runner We have to admit, the Ravenous surprised us. Columbia is new to the running market and debuts with this breathable, lightweight, perfectly competent trail shoe. It’s best on rocky terrain and—with its particularly breezy open mesh—begs to be unleashed in humid climes. The traction ranked high on dry…

Why They’re CoolThe translucent outsoles are made of a house-brand polymer that, according to Brooks’s R&D crew, lasts 30 percent longer than that supersticky rubber you see on approach and climbing shoes. It also improves wet and dry skid resistance by 20 percent. In the lab, anyway. » The road…

SMOOTH, CUSHIONED VERSATILITY Lucky number 13? It is if you count a commitment to research as good fortune. The 13th version of this all-purpose favorite is the result of years of accumulated R&D. This Kayano boasts thicker gel cushioning units in the heel than previous models, resulting in an even…

CAN TAKE THE HEAT The 874 is built like an elite road racer: a slender torso atop a powerful lower body. A weird physique for a shoe? Perhaps, but the combination of an almost lacy, two-layer mesh upper wedded to a thick midsole and luggy tread works extremely well on…

ROCK AND ROAD Sometimes run roads, sometimes trails? This hybrid combines ample cushioning and a road-shoe-like fit for pounding pavement, with a bi-directional tread that gripped even the sloppiest terrain. Though pillowy, it’s still responsive. Faster testers appreciated the smooth transition from heel strike to toe off. The tight mesh…

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,…

Saves Some for Later Last fall, we picked Nike’s amazing LunarGlide+, with its unique Dynamic Support midsole, as our Gear of the Year. Nike built the new LunarEclipse+ on the same platform but opened up the toe box, and took its stability one notch further, bracing the heel with a…

Size, Price: 64 oz, $23; 100 oz, $25Flow Rate: 2*Funk Figher?: Yes, with cleaning tablets, sold separatelyFilter-Compatible?: YesValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Big Bore wide opening: Throw in the ice!Bummer: Rigid valve can be tough on teethSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

BRING ON THE BREEZEYou don’t know ventilation until you’ve experienced the GCS Pro. The uppers are like a screened-in porch—take off the shoe and look straight through it to read your watch, if you wish. But its real worth comes with every stride; on a warm fall day in the…

Gaping openings make for fast, thorough cleaning. 70–100 ounces; deuterusa.com      …

CAN HANDLE HEAVY STRIKING The Elixir is like a Ferrari with all-terrain tires. It combines the barely there mesh upper of a race shoe with the full-foam midsole of a distance trainer. A snug heel cup and soft forefoot flex promote maximum thrust at toe-off, while a thermoplastic spring mechanism…

Mild Stability Which sounds more like your morning ritual: Trying to set a new PR, or trying not to hit snooze again? If it’s the latter, the SyncroPace III is your shoe. Like most of Pearl’s running shoes, it has a remarkably comfortable, seamless upper and a…

Why They’re CoolThese resilient and abrasion-resistant runners feel like breezy track shoes. Thank the wire-mesh box under the arch and instep. Adidas calls it the ClimaCool, a.k.a. the CC, but you can call it an underfoot airshaft that vents and drains. » A flexible plate of TPU saved my feet…

CUSTOM FIT We were on high gimmick alert when testing the Paris Trainers, which use a pneumatic pump to create a custom rear-foot fit. Not all testers felt the benefit (those who did liked the snugness), but we downgraded the alert to low when, even without the pump, the shoe…

This versatile shoe goes from road to trail—and October to April—with ease. Midsole cushion is pillow-like on rocky trails and flexy enough for roads, and the upper breathes well and resists minor weather (but isn’t waterproof). It’s best for narrow-footed mild pronators. 10 oz; brooksrunning.com…

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…

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…

Looking to set a new personal best? The Redemption can help with a less-is-more approach reminiscent of a racing flat. Plus midsole thickness descends dramatically from heel to toe—putting you in a forward-leaning position and encouraging quick leg turnover. The effect? I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Arizona Half Marathon…

Why They’re CoolIf you’ve had double ACL repairs or are minus some meniscus, you could be a candidate for the ultrasupportive 3D Grid Hurricanes. » On a day when my knees verged on mutiny and I detected squawking from strange little muscles that had never made their presence known, I…

SMOOTH OPERATORS Testers loved this shoe’s comfort and smooth heel-to-toe transition. Credit a combination of silicone-based cushioning pads, a stable heel, and a springy midsole compound called MoGo, which we found responsive and highly shock-absorbing. Best for neutral runners to mild pronators. 9.1 oz; brooksrunning.com Bonus: The eco-friendly…

FASTER THAN IT LOOKS “Much livelier than I was expecting” is how one tester described the Manifesto Beater. Sure, this beast features a firm, no-roll heel and rocks-be-damned protection, but it also boasts relatively soft forefoot flexibility, a generously padded tongue, and a responsive fit. “It feels very light given…

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 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)…

Shock Therapy While many shoes are exploring new territory, this one seems to be tending the home fires—an unapologetically traditional, cushy stability shoe that sits high off the ground. But among its megacushioned kind, the Adapt was our favorite. The standard dual-density midsole posting offers overpronators tried-and-true support, and an…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $23Flow Rate: 2*Funk Fighter?: Zip top opening for easy cleaningFilter-Compatible?: Yes, with $4 adapterValve Shutoff?: NoGotta Love: Dump an ice try in the zip topBummer: Pre-hike test of zip seal is criticalSplat Test: Splatted *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

Ever had one of those days when your feet felt so light it’s like they weren’t quite touching the ground? The X-1/C is the next best thing to bottling that feeling. The secret is shaving every possible gram while still retaining the essentials: cushion, traction, and stability. The Encapsulated…

If you train like a mailman—neither rain nor sleet will stop you—reach for these submersibles. The seamless upper is sealed with a Gore-Tex XCR liner and reinforced with a see-through TPU rand, which toughens the shoe without marring its clean look. The masochists among our crew raced up Colorado’s…

HEAVY SUPPORT, LIGHT FEEL Even the best shoes can’t turn a severe overpronator into a neutral strider. But the AdiStar Control makes trompers feel like bounders. Sure, it offers a wide base, rock-solid medial posting, and a beveled, decoupled-heel crash pad that will serve heavier runners or severe overpronators. But…

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…

Why They’re CoolWhy They’re Cool: They’re high-performance, but not so overdesigned that you’re afraid to get them dirty. » Tecnica named these 26-ouncers after their three-part midsole: You get swaths of shock-absorbing rubber for the heel strike, denser EVA to keep you from rolling inward, and a mid-density EVA layer…

ROAD-TO-TRAIL WONDER Admit it: For most of us, the odds of running wilderness trails 100 percent of the time are about the same as the likelihood we’ll win the Leadville 100. Which is why the Wave Ascend 2 received high marks from testers who ran on a mix of trails,…

Tackle the trickiest winter trails with this all-conditions shoe, thanks to a tough toe cap, sticky rubber outsole, and rigid midfoot support. ASICS’s signature gel pockets in the heel minimize pounding, and testers loved the smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off. 11 oz; asics.com Bummer: Check…

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…

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…

Trail Cheetah Training on rocky, technical terrain? This shoe is your superstable running partner. One-pull Kevlar laces lock down tight, securing the cradle around your foot and creating lateral stability and even tension throughout for an agile feel. Cushioning is on the firm side, which we thought was just fine…

Can bike specialist Pearl Izumi really make a top-quality running shoe? In a word, yes. The Pace is the Syncro line’s first lightweight stability shoe, designed for a slightly overpronating woman. The Pace sports a firm thermoplastic polyurethane frame, a cushy TPU heel, and a bouncy, injection-molded EVA midsole.

DELUXE RIDE Cushy, comfy, and extremely breathable, these shoes are like a Mercedes convertible for your feet. The midsole offers good stability and major cushion that, combined with a seamless transition, had me on cruise control during long runs. Best for neutral runners. 10.3 oz; saucony.com Bonus: Moisture-wicking liners…

RIDGE RACER Most of us stick to established trails when we run. For those who don’t, or whose “runs” end atop toothy peaks, may we suggest the Cooper’s Hill? With an extremely pliable forefoot and easy-twisting torsional rigidity, this shoe remains stable even while blasting up steep, scree-covered slopes. “The…

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 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…

If you’re determined not to let icy trails get in the way of your workout, consider the Attla. Its spiked lugs are almost imperceptible, but they dig into hardpack like tractor tread. For even more bite, slip the included carbide-studded rubber “webs” over the toe and heel, between the…

FROZEN GRIP Live in Minnesota, Montana, or Maine? This is the winter training shoe for you. With 16 carbide-tipped spikes protruding from the outsole, these sturdy snowcats provide reliable, no-slip traction on iced-over trails and snowpacked roads. “Amazing,” said one tester, “I’ve never felt so confident going downhill on icy…

This shoe will make a convert of even diehard roadies. With aggressive tread perched on top of road-shoe-like gel cushioning, and a flexibility that allows the smooth heel-to-toe roll that roadies are accustomed to, the Eagle Trail makes for an easy transition to dirt. Already a trail fan? Get…

Trail, road, trail, road: Like other 2006 standouts, this shoe understands your dilemma and solves it with a mix of cushioning, stability, and traction. Sportiva’s climbing-shoe heritage shows in the sticky FriXion AT outsole, and the sharper-than-average heel cut provides good braking on steep descents. Unlike some of the grippiest…

With all due respect to Martha Stewart, this shoe is the ultimate control freak. With close-to-the-ground feel and gravity-defying weight, the Highlander is like a racing flat for trails. Speed fanatics will love the stiff sole, and mud wrestlers will envy the aggressive Gryptonite tread, which shook off glop better…

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…

Why They’re CoolThe treads—made of softer tacky carbon and resembling mini-cleats—behave like knobbies, plowing through gunk instead of caking up, while a perimeter ring of harder carbon-rubber lugs gives good grip. » After a stretch of riverbed mudflats, I sprinted up an embankment, yet didn’t end up falling on my…

DO YOUR RUNS BECOME CLIMBS? La Sportiva’s heritage is in climbing shoes and mountaineering boots, and you can see the alpine influence in nearly every aspect of the Fireblade: the impeccable fit, the sticky rubber outsole, the double-stitched seams on high-wear areas of the upper, the reinforced toe bumper and…

Live in a mild climate? These breathable mesh trail shoes (read: not winterized) are light and nimble, yet the grippy outsole allowed us to run confi-dently on loose terrain and packed dirt. The solid external heel counter adds stability, as does the no-slip fit. The feather-weight cushioning is best…

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…

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…

All-Terrain Rambler With a sticky rubber outsole, the light and flexible Tsali performs best on rolling, rocky trails. We especially loved the lacing system, which provides a snug, arch-supporting fit. And there's more than just a gender-specific last here: To accommodate a women's lighter weight, the Tsali's midsole and a…

Pick up the pace with this fast-forward shoe. Fans of its predecessor will recognize the familiar heel-cushion design, with its embedded thermoplastic, impact-dispersing “waves.” But now there are three waves rather than two, and they’re angled farther forward. The effect: It improves heel-to-toe transition, propelling you into the next…

MOST VERSATILE From a fast 5K to a long, slow jog to a moderate trail run, these shoes do it all. The 2120 has a lighter midsole material than its predecessors, and a solid support system helps both heel and midfoot strikers retain a natural stride while gently correcting overpronation.

ROUGH AND STABLE Meet the grizzly bear of trail runners. The XT Wings are tough, unstoppable in rugged terrain, and, best of all, faster than their heft suggests. A broad heel base and medial pronation support provide stability on both flats and descents, while the pull-cord lacing delivers a snug…

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 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…

Road The DS Trainer was minimalist before minimalist was trendy, and its 15th iteration is still extremely lightweight and has high-speed specs, gentle stability control, an airy upper, and just enough cushion for moderate-length runs. Our team raved about the fit, aided by pressure-free asymmetrical laces: “It feels like it…

This Bond-worthy shoe hides a secret weapon in its midsole: A springy thermoplastic plate—or wave—mechanism runs the length of the shoe, yielding consistent rebound and smooth transition at moderate and fast speeds. I cranked out a marathon-pace tempo run and felt like I was running downhill with the wind at…

Got control issues? The Trail Comp’s upper contours around your foot like a padded spiderweb, hugging it close to the sole for a supersnug fit. Salomon also slimmed down the ankle and tightened the instep to accommodate female feet. All of the above, plus good traction, equaled mad control…

This featherweight will make your last pair of trail runners feel like ankle weights, but its stability let us sprint down Boulder’s ankle-eating Mount Sanitas Trail without limping home. Add grippy, multidirectional lugs and snug ankle collars for grit defense and the Attack makes a good choice for fanatics who…

If you took a razor and cut every gram of fat from a typical trail runner, you’d get the X-1/C. Amazingly, Teva didn’t have to whittle away stability to do it. The trick: The upper’s lacing-and-support system, called Wraptor Lite, pushes your instep toward the center of the shoe while…

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.

Vasque’s lightweight (11.4-ounce) but firm Transistor FS shoes have a low chassis that keeps you in touch with the trail. vasque.com…

Why They’re CoolThey’re anti-gearhead shoes—the sort you’d see on the feet of a humble Kiwi adventure racer with a resting heart rate of 32. They’re hip yet unimposing, functional without being encumbered by newfangled compounds. » Actually, we take that back. Teva uses an abrasion-resistant fabric impregnated with rubber in…

STABILITY ON AND OFF THE TRAIL This shoe is like the SUV—er, make that the all-wheel-drive wagon—that you drive to work on weekdays, then load up with gear and take to the mountains on weekends. The versatility lies in this stable shoe’s adaptive midsole and deep, supportive heel design, which…

Run in any weather? A Gore-Tex XCR liner and Salomon’s aggres-sive Contagrip tread handle the ugliest conditions. One-pull Kevlar laces are hassle-free and secure on wild descents. We loved the snug, fully gusseted tongue and lower heel height of the women’s model. Buying tip: They run almost a full…

“Just right” is not exactly a technical attribute, but that’s what testers kept saying about this shoe after subjecting it to a variety of conditions. It’s simply the most versatile runner of the bunch. The Syncro Pace has sufficient motion-control mechanisms to combat mild pronation, it’s light and flexible enough…

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…

Pavement Pounder The Glide 2 is the Tempur-Pedic bed of the road-running world. Case in point: Soft, moldable foam conforms around your heel and the top of your foot, making this one of the most comfortable runners we've ever stepped into. It's a breezy, mesh neutral trainer with ample cushioning, ready…

This shoe packs in technology like a NASA experiment, delivering the year’s fastest and most comfortable ride. Independent gel units in the rear foot absorb impact by adapting to individual strides; the midsole material, called Solyte, is about half the weight of ASICS’s standard-density EVA; and the new polyester…

SOFT YET NIMBLE These low-profile, highly flexible shoes employ a new midsole compound called eBound that provides great cushion and a lively, responsive feel. The updated last is sleek and stream-lined, and it perfectly cradles narrow feet (even though the slimmest width they come in is B). A great choice…

SPEED DEMON “My initial response after trying these on was ‘Wanna race?’ ” one tester said of the aptly named Streak. With a flyweight construction, socklike fit, and soft yet energetic midsole, it’s basically a racing flat with just enough guts for daily training. The relatively generous heel cushioning and…

A running shoe without foam? Nothing but air here. That’s what the flashy Air Max 360 brings to the table 27 years after Nike first began using air in running shoes. The full-length air cushion and integrated outsole combine to create supple heel-to-toe transitions and a smooth overall ride. Choose…

Like a restaurant with an “Under New Management” sign out front, Etonic deserves a fresh look. After licensing out its running-shoe division for several years, the company has brought the brand back inside and created the ultra-comfy Jepara SC. The midsole’s dual-density EVA cushioning and proprietary rubber results in a…

Trail The Cabrakan is low and responsive and offers good feel for the trail. The flexy forefoot runs smoothly on gravel roads, the aggressive tread stuck to everything, and the water-resistant upper kept our feet reasonably dry in the muck. 9.1 oz. TAGS: all-terrain, moderate stability…

Good for Trails Even when the weather was truly heinous, the Razor helped us get in our runs. Wrapped in a waterproof, highly breathable eVent bootie that extends above the ankle, this unique shoe kept our feet warm and completely dry. The Vibram outsole proved adequate on…

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