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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may work as a guiding principle for, say, can openers, but not running shoes. Brooks took a popular, high-quality cushioning shoe and went back to the drawing board, producing the new and improved Radius 06. It’s a lighter and more generously padded runner…

Motion-control shoes have a rep for feeling big and clunky, but this agile cruiser defies the stereotype. The key component is the detached heel-strike pad, which moves independently of the rest of the midsole. The design isolates shock absorption from the rest of the shoe and stops mild pronation in…

Road Think classic American sedan: plush interior, soft in the shocks, and ready to cruise. The updated Ghost is a comfort-minded neutral trainer, ready for high-mileage days and moderate paces, though it was too spongy for our speedsters. 8.8 oz. TAGS: neutral, generous cushioning…

Don’t be fooled by the adiStar’s low weight and mesh upper. It’s a solid motion-control shoe for heavier runners or severe overpronators looking to hammer out miles. Adidas recently streamlined its proprietary Ground Control System, resulting in a sleeker, lighter shoe with the same support benefits. It nips overpronation…

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…

STABILITY IN MOTION Ever watch a caterpillar crawl over your knuckles? The weather-resistant, soft-shell Shadow Dragon takes a page from the little bugs: the outsole’s 12 protruding lugs, which gave us a noticeable boost in stability on the small rocks, roots, and other obstacles of Boulder’s Mesa Trail. 11.5 oz;…

This featherweight back hugger stays in place during even the most jarring bob-and-weave trail running. Pack sparingly: There’s space for only energy bars, keys, and a light shell. The spongy back panel is soft but gets sweaty. Two-liter reservoir included. 12 oz; www.kelty.com…

em>Packed Trail In a word: smooth. The Cascadia 4 can handle both big miles and varied terrain, making it an ideal training shoe for trail marathons or ultras. The environmentally sensitive BioMoGo midsole (which, Brooks claims, will break down in a landfill 50 times faster than most…

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…

Size, Price: 70 oz, $21; 105 oz, $22Flow Rate: 1*Funk Fighter?: Antimicrobial treatmentFilterCompatible?: NoValve Shutoff?: YesGotta Love: Saucepan-style handle makes for easy fillingBummer: Second-rate bite valve makes for low flowSplat Test: Survived *Ratings: 1=Average, 3=Excellent…

MAKE TRAINING FEEL LIKE RACING Sometimes you float through your training runs like a butterfly, while other times every step stings like a bee. But since you’re no Muhammad Ali—sorry, you’re a midpack dude prepping for a charity marathon—you’ll like this smooth-riding, ultra-comfy trainer. On both good and bad days,…

A TRAIL SHOE FOR ROADIES Sometimes you drive to the trailhead; other times you just run there. This is your shoe. Built to have the same smooth heel-to-toe transition as ASICS’s road shoes, the lightweight Attack is sufficiently cushioned for gravel roads and packed dirt, yet it still feels responsive…

ROAD-AND-TRAIL HYBRID Good for Packed Trails Take a road trainer and a trail runner, smash them together, and voilà: the Adrenaline ASR 5. Medial posting (a.k.a. denser foam) in the midsole delivers moderate pronation support, a rarity in trail runners, and the slender fit feels nimble…

If cushioning shoes are mattresses, the Cruise is a futon. “It’s firm, but good firm,” said one tester. The Cruise has Pearl Izumi’s trademark seamless upper, fabric eyelets that allow fine-tuning of the laces, and unique cushioning pads under the forefoot and heel that deliver a responsive ride. Best…

When the slope rips out beneath you, your beacon will help friends find you, but how deep you’re buried will likely determine whether you survive. The BCA Float 30 (with an insulated hydration sleeve; shovel and probe pockets; and, new for this year, a diagonal-ski-carry system) deploys a 150-liter…

Why They’re CoolTo keep the mesh uppers on the XA Pro 2 adventure-running shoes from stretching after repeated dunkings, Salomon topped ’em with a polymer exoskeleton this year. » These shoes protected me from sketchy terrain better than tall models: Their ground-hugging profile meant I had less chance of rolling…

ALL-WEATHER, ALL-TERRAIN Finally, a forecast-be-damned trail shoe that doesn’t make your feet feel like they’re in a sauna. The Trail Sensor’s water-resistant, breathable upper—a synthetic fabric with Nano-Tech treatment—kept our feet warm and dry even on sloppy fall runs in Boulder, while the fully gusseted tongue kept out grit and…

MID-MILEAGE WORKHORSE If the true test of a stability shoe is how comfortable it is during your last month of marathon training, then the heavily cushioned Kendari is the champ. “It felt great out of the box,” remarked one tester, “and just as good 100 miles later.” The comfort stems…

Cushioning The light, flexible Fast puts a twist on minimalist speed shoes. Designers placed a block of stiff foam in the front of the heel, with softer foam fore and aft, that encourages runners to land lightly on their midfoot, as opposed to riding their heel. It…

Boing, boing, boing . . . I couldn’t quite hear the springs in this shoe as I bounced down Boulder Creek Path, but I could feel their bounce. Spira sneaks metal springs into the EVA midsoles, and it’s no gimmick. The lively two-inch-diameter coil in the heel puts a noticeable…

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).

CROSSOVER ARTISTTo save weight and increase comfort, Pearl installed a urethane crash pad in the heel-strike zone at the rear of the Float’s midsole, while bolstering the instep with lighter expanded-vinyl-acetate foam. The result is a great compromise between cush and stability, offering even overpronators an excellent all-around ride. Go…

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…

By Stephen Regenold Newton Running is a Boulder, Colo., company known for a line of running shoes that promote midfoot or forefoot striking to dissuade runners from landing on their heels. The shoes are equipped with “actuator lugs,” stout rubber strips that sit beneath the foot’s…

It was about four years ago when I first became curious about the CW-X Pro Tights ($97). I had been training for the Philadelphia Marathon, my IT band was enflamed, and I couldn’t shuffle through a 2-mile warm-up without first swallowing a handful…

By Stephen Regenold We should clear the air of one item right away: The BIOM A shoes from ECCO, a Danish company known for its high-end footwear, cost an astounding $220. The shoes, an esoteric design created in collaboration with a…

By Stephen Regenold They come from Sweden. They are set with gridpatterns of carbide-tip studs. Their job is to conquer the gnarliest terrain arunner may ever see. The Icebug SPIRIT OLX, an aggressive yet fabulouslynimble sports car of a shoe, is among the coolest…

Get in gear with these heavy-duty trail runners and barely-there road shoes.

“In summer, the song sings itself,” William Carlos Williams once wrote. And it's true. It's that rarified time of year when the days are longer, the weather balmier, and the great outdoors begging to be hiked, rafted, and biked.  But if you're like me,…

I'm a big believer in using gear for new purposes (i.e., something for which it wasn't originally intended). With that in mind, I took two pieces of cycling apparel and have been logging my running miles in them for the past few weeks. I must say, they've adapted well. Here's…

After trail racing for fifteen years I've had the opportunity to make plenty of mistakes. But more importantly, I've also…

Karhu’s Strong Fulcrum Ride ($140) seems different out of the box than other road running shoes. Perhaps, it’s the styling with its nod to fashionable casual footwear. The stark white shoe has but a few touches…

San Francisco, CA

By Stephen Regenold Loved to death. That was the case with my first pair of Inov-8 Roclite 285s, a shoe that I destroyed after a year of use and a couple hundred collective miles of trail traveled underfoot. The shoe–lightweight…

The AlterG M300 Anti-Gravity Treadmillreceived the 2010 Medical Design Excellence Award, according to runnersweb.com.

By Stephen Regenold The ProGrid Razor shoes are a high-end winter trail-runner with integrated gaiters and a lightweight Vibram outsole touted to provide “exceptional traction and grip.” An eVent lining adds waterproof protection to the upper for puddles or slushy days on…

How can you tell when it's time to change your trail running shoes? Carlos Mexico City, Mexico

Ask any serious runner about their favorite piece of running gear and they will likely tell you about their super-technical shoes, lightweight polarized sunglasses, or distance/calorie/pace tracking-stopwatch system. And their running shorts? Shorts are probably the last piece of gear runners think about. The funny thing is you spend…

For a runner, is any piece of gear more important than the shoe? Conrad Stoltz doesn’t think so. That’s why the three-time Xterra world champion co-developed and tested the Avia Avi-Stoltz ($114), Avia’s first line of Xterra…

I live in Chicago and would like to keep up my running this winter. Can you recommend good winter running shoes? Zac Chicago, IL

By Stephen Regenold New Balance enlisted top ultra runners Kyle Skaggs andAnton Krupicka for assistance in designing the MT100, a trail-running race shoenew this month. As such, the company touts the shoe as “designed for themost dedicated ultra-trail runners.” After three weeks of…

As a gear editor, and a runner, I see a lot of running products. Some are so-so. Some are awesome. Here are some of my absolute favorites for this season. In no particular order: 1. ASICS Favorite shirt 2. Adidas adizero 3. Garmin 310 XT 4. That one white…

I just got back from a backpacking trip and used my CelBak bladder in the pouch included in my backpack. I liked using this system instead of reaching back for a water bottle, but the bladder is hard to refill when buried in the pack and also takes up pack space. Is there another kind of bladder out there? Maybe a square one that can sit on top my gear, near the top of the pack? This would keep it out of the way and make it easy to access. Joseph Moraga, CA

Forget about your footwear and just enjoy the run.

I plan to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail next year, so I'm gearing up now so that I'll have time to test everything. I'm experienced, have guided, and I'm looking to go superlight. What's the best pair of trail-runners for the AT? Dave New York, NY

Guide to Running Shoes

A few inches of fresh snow doesn’t mean it’s time to hit the treadmill. The lightweight, stride-friendly Atlas Run snowshoes will keep you running through winter ($179; atlassnowshoe.com).   Atlas Run Snowshoe                              …

Sigg‘s aluminum 100 Year Bottle is a modern update of a design from the thirties ($30; mysigg.com). Sigg 100 Year Bottle            …

Whereas most midsoles take a thousand years to decompose, the biodegradable ones in Brooks‘s Trance 8 stability trainer turn into plant food in about 20 ($140; brooksrunning.com).

Half approach shoe, half hiker, SCARPA‘s Zen keeps you confident on any angle of terrain ($120; scarpa.com).

I hike with a hydration bladder, but I have a couple of issues with the system. When hiking with my friends, I quickly run out of water much faster than they do. Plus, it’s very difficult to gauge how much water remains without pulling out the bladder and then reloading it. Also, when my pack is full, it requires a lot of effort to insert the full bladder. Do bladder-style hydration systems exist with a method to gauge how much water remains? Toby Brussels, Belgium

Outside senior editor Sam Moulton reviews the lightest, fastest, and sleekest new products on the market.

How do you feel about trail-runners versus hiking boots for light backpacking and day summits? Also, can you put crampons on trail-runners if you encounter snow? Phong Seattle, Washington

Whether you're an urban fitness junkie or a mountain racer, we've got your feet covered

1. SHELL MontBell's Mistral Parka is a hooded squall shield that vents well enough for sweaty runs and packs down to a softball-size bundle. $110; montbell.com Trail-Running Gear Essentials   2. SUNGLASSES The new VR50 lenses in Oakley's Flak Jackets block blue light to make trail details…

I’m walking the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day this fall and want to buy a small pack for the event. I’ll walk 20 miles a day and will need to carry a few essentials, including water. Got anything in pink? Joy Cottage Grove, Oregon

I desperate to find a pair of good winter runners suited for Canada’s extreme winter conditions. I went out yesterday and wore one pair of heavy wool socks, put plastic bags over them, and stuffed them in my runners. After half an hour they were cold, then they hurt, and then, thankfully, I did not feel them any more. Got any recommendations? Edie Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan

I competing in an ultra trail race (50 miles) in the Golden Gate Headlands area of California in December. Those trails, from what I told, are quite different from the more technical trails up here in the Vancouver area. What do you recommend as a good shoe for the trails down there? Scott Vancouver, British Columbia

I’m an avid hiker and getting back into running, too. I love my Vasque hiking boots, which offer a lot of support, cushioning, and a cradled heel. But none of the running shoes I have tried offer the se fit. Can I run a 5K in hiking boots? Just kidding, sort of. Any suggestions? Matt Downingtown, Pennsylvania

My husband is interested in a hydration pack for dayhikes and bike rides. Which size will best suit his needs? Also, can you recommend one for kids (ages five and eight)? Melody Fircrest, Washington

I’m an avid runner who must contend with about six months of snow, slush, and cold temperatures if I to pursue this sport year-round. Can you suggest a running shoe for winter excursions? Standard running shoes are no match for a Quebec winter. Thomas Westmount, Quebec

Which running shoe do you recommend for a beginning runner? Rachel Shawnee, Kansas

What running shoes would you recommend for a ten-mile competition in which I run through knee-deep mud, waist-high water, and on pavement? Last year, after coming out of the mud and water, I had to run eight miles with wet feet and sand in my shoes. Michael Visalia, California

I stopped running at age 50 because my knees just couldn’t take it anymore. I now walk daily and need a good shoe for fast walking. What is your opinion of Ecco’s Performance shoes? Donna Plano, Texas

I'm considering trading in my hiking boots for trail-running shoes on backpacking trips. Why? I've been backpacking for years with sore, uncomfortable feet. (I'm a bit hard to fit.) Other than the lack of ankle support, is there a downside to going with a good trail shoe rather than a boot for a long backpacking trip? Which trail-runners have the guts for this type of trail work? Tim Indianapolis, Indiana

Go-fast gear for your next adrenaline-fueled run-climb-bike-hike-paddle through the woods

We never knew that the world needed another polycarbonate water bottle until we wrapped a hand around CamelBak’s 750ml splash-, spill-, and shatterproof beauty. The bottle mates ‘Bak’s bite valve with a plastic straw for no-head-tilt hydration. Just try to find an easier way to suck down agua in the…

I'm looking for a hydration pack with two bladders and a toggle switch to let me move back and forth from one to the other while cycling. Is there such a thing? Scott Corvallis, Montana

Where can I find a trail-running shoe that does not look like a space shoe or some exotic bird? I want something that looks at home outdoors while serving the needed function. Doug Pocomoke City, Maryland

I started trail running this winter and absolutely love it. However, as a beginner, I only have my street running shoes, and with the wet weather up here in the Pacific Northwest they're just not making the grade. I was hoping you could recommend some good shoes for cutting through the mud (and we have a lot of it). I don't have to worry about snow, but I slipping all over the place on the trails. Aaron Corvallis, Oregon

What’s better while day-hiking: water or a sports drink? Charles Mt. Holly, NC

IN THE STORE Unless you're purchasing the same model you always have (and even if you are), you're smart to put running shoes through their paces before pulling out your plastic. Runners have very different gaits, and each shoe fits that gait differently. Your best bet is to visit a…

I run five to seven miles five days a week, so I'm looking for a comfortable, durable running shoe, something lightweight and well-cushioned. Price is not much of an object. I have a neutral foot and good mechanics. Michael Jacksonville, North Carolina

What is the best-value hydro pack for day hikes in places like Bryce and/or the Grand Canyon? Ronald Grand Ledge, Michigan

At high altitudes, how do I keep hydrated during those final 18-hour summit attempts (usually at night)? How do the "experts" keep hydrated at 15,000 feet and higher when everything's frozen? R Olathe, Kansas

Should I buy trail runners for winter running, or is it best just to stick with my running shoes? Kingston is, to the best of my knowledge, the slush capital of the world. Scott Kingston, Ontario

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