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Salomon Speedcross 5
Weight: 11.6 oZ (M 9), 9.9 oz (W 7)
Rock plate: Yes
Fit: Runs long
The Speedcross 5 has a few significant feature changes that set it apart from the 4 (which is on sale here). The base has been widened (not the last, so it still has a narrow fit), the lugs are bigger and the upper has a vacuum seal. The wider base and larger lugs offer more stability and the upper protects from the elements, making this a great springtime shoe.
Additionally, the lugs are wide so mud and rocks don’t get stuck. While potentially less ideal for beginner runners due to the classically stiff Salomon midsole and the aggressive drop, this is an assertive, durable technical mountain runner. The Speedcross runs long; consider ordering a half size down.
Tester-monial: “The Speedcross 5 is one of my favorite trail shoes that can manage varied terrain and conditions. The lugs provide great traction in the mud but don’t get clogged up. The stiffness has just the right balance to be versatile.” —Shane Anderson, Austin, Texas
“I like to go trail running and be prepared for the unexpected so this hydration vest is perfect,” says World Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy of Salt Lake City, Utah. “Not only does it have a great women’s-specific fit, it has tons pockets to safely carry all of my snacks, extra jacket, water, bear spray and GoPro for the best adventures out there.”
A quick and easy-to-use cinching system lets you adjust this vest on the fly, and external straps can hold trekking poles on the go. A front burrito pocket can hold flasks and a phone, while narrower front pockets lock small treats and snacks in place.
Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody
Patagonia’s versatile base-layer provides next to skin comfort and versatile performance in fickle spring weather. The merino wool is silky soft and has a cozy loft to it for a sweater-like feel. This layer performs great on its own, or under a heartier shell for extra protection on particularly blustery days.
The single-kit construction is comfy and chafe-free for long days or speedy intervals. 18.5-micron-gauge yarn provides solid loft without excess weight that regulates temperature exceptionally well even on sunny but cold but somehow also windy spring days in the mountains. Extra elastic in the cuffs and hem hold the garment in place when you’re really hustling.
My favorite feature is the high collar and hood that’s constructed like a performance Balaklava. The weightless knit means the hood doesn’t bounce or pull the sweater when you’re not wearing it and is barely noticeable at all. When the wind packs a punch, the fitted hood goes well over chill ears and cinches around the chin for a comfortable fit even when running. The anatomical shaping provides a precision fit and makes the hood a welcome addition rather than dead-weight.
This hoody is almost half made of recycled materials, giving it a huge sustainability boost. Even after many washes and wears, the Capilene Air Hoody holds its shape thanks to the seamless 3D construction that cuts back on less-durable seams.For windy days, a shell fits great over the hoody’s slim construction. While this apparel is warm and cozy on the move, it doesn’t cut down on wind, so if you’re sensitive to a chilly breeze, throw on a shell.
This hoody is an essential do-everything layer for spring runs and adventures when the weather is fickle. Its versatility and durability make it a shoulder-season staple in this gear tester’s wardrobe.
Geared specifically for the ultrarunner and endurance athlete, the Suunto 9 Baro is the newest, smartest addition to an already impressive family that raises the standard of sport watches. Rugged and sleek, this watch caters to hardcore endurance and mountain athletes.
- Intelligent battery modes
- GPS Navigation
- Over 80 Sport Modes
- Estimated Wrist HR
- 100 M Water Resistant
- Weather Functions
The standout feature of this watch has got to be the battery life. In training mode with GPS, the watch can last 25, 50 or 120 hours in 1-, 60- and 120-second intervals respectively. Standard for Suunto, users always had the ability to adjust and extend battery life by tweaking how often their GPS pings, but stretching that number to 120 hours while also sporting the capability to track intervals for 25 hours at 1 second, Suunto reimagines GPS tracking during 100-mile races or long, mountain outings.
Complimenting the innovative battery efficiency, FusedTrack uses motion sensors to connect breadcrumb GPS points to provide more accurate tracking of your distance, route and speed. It is automatically activated when your watch is in Ultra or Endurance battery mode when intervals are on the lengthier side and battery life is of utmost importance and you don’t want to sacrifice activity accuracy. In the case that your watch temporarily loses GPS signal, the 9’s FusedTrack feature will continue to show accurate speed readings with the help of the calibrated accelerometer.
Intuitive, customizable, and fit with a highly responsive touch screen, Suunto made sure to cover all its bases and ensure that the aesthetics lined up with its high-end performance. It offers 80 sport modes, adjustable intervals, eight watch face configurations, and a user-friendly touch screen interface. Weighing in at 81 grams with a width 50 mm, this watch is as big and burly as they come, without the dilemma of feeling like it. I find the silicone strap to be very comfortable and accommodating, and the sapphire crystal display easy to read and virtually indestructible in mountain-running scenarios.
Supported by the new Suunto App, iOs and Android, this watch sports Bluetooth connect ability as well as the ability to show alerts and texts received on your phone onto your display.
My most recent—and longest—outing with this watch was on an ascent of the Cathedral Traverse in Grand Teton National Park. Knowing that the route was going to take at least 24 hours, but less than 120, I opted to use the Endurance 50-hour, 60-second interval setting. I immediately took notice to the durability and comfortability while moving through the 4th class bits on Teewinot but will admit I found myself accidentally pausing the watch when pulling a few scramble-y climbing moves when my wrist bent backwards—I subsequently found that you can lock the screen so that doesn’t happen by pressing and holding the lower right button.
Moving on, I couldn’t help but keep my eye on the battery life as a force of habit, just waiting for it to be drained, only to see that as the sun was setting, when we found ourselves just below Mount Owen, that my battery was still over 70 percent. We had climbed over 7,500 feet, covered several miles and the watch tracked waypoints literally every minute of it for 10 hours.
For the duration of the Traverse, I almost always had the watch set to the altimeter screen, since mile splits were not of our concern, reveling in the accuracy of the barometric pressure coupled with GPS. I synced to my phone as soon as we got back to the car to check out the watch’s accuracy and overall was very impressed. As expected, while climbing between steep mountains, I lost GPS signal quite often, and that affected how the data transferred onto the map interface of the app.
The FusedTrack certainly did its job well, but understandably couldn’t put all the pieces together when we were on the North Ridge of the Grand. It excelled in measuring most of the route when running and scrambling was the medium – which is exactly what most of the Traverse is.
Weight: 10.5 oz (M 9), 8.8 oz (W 7)
Rock plate: Yes
Fit: Runs at least a half size small
Featuring significant updates to the original Bushido, including a more comfortable heel cup and 4mm of EVA cushioning added to the midsole, the Bushido II (men’s version here) is sticky, responsive and comfortable.
Earning mega points for breathability, durability and overall runability, the Bushido II fits the bill if you can only grab one pair for your next adventure. On the narrower side, it might not be suited for more than 50 miles due to foot swelling, yet the upper is comfortable and the newly padded tongue limits pressure from the laces.
The proprietary FriXion XT V-Groove2 outsole is tacky and will perform on hardpack, scree and everything in between. As with the original Bushido, the outsole wraps partway up the midsole to protect while mountain goating and banking. This shoe runs small; our reviewers needed to size up at least a half size.
Tester-monial: “If someone were to tell me I was being sent to a trail-running desert island and I could only take one shoe with me, it would be the Bushido II. It has everything a trail shoe should: rock protection, great tread, breathability, cushion for medium to long runs and it’s lightweight.”
—Zachary Woodward, Denver, Colorado
$299 / $349*
*with heart-rate monitor
The Ambit3 Run has all the navigational features—route tracking, return to start, setting and navigating to way points—for a wilderness running adventure. Other capabilities (some of which require the heart-rate monitor) include estimating post-exertion recovery time and testing recovery progress, activity tracking and running-performance analysis.
But we were most impressed by the performance of the core running functions. In particular, the real-time pace sensor was highly accurate and, of the watches we tested, the most responsive to rapid accelerations and decelerations on ups, downs and flats alike—important for trail runs on ever-changing terrain as well as tempo workouts and track sessions.
Get it if: You train on roads, 14ers and everything in between.
Lone Peak 4.0
Weight: 10.2 oz (M), 8.7 Oz (W)
Drop: 0 MM
Rock Plate: yes
There are a couple key changes to the Altra Lone Peak 4.0 from its predecessors that give it a place at the table. A new built-in, skeletal rock plate offers more protection, and the outsole is even more sturdy and tacky, elevating the comfortable cruiser to a more advanced trail shoe—this thing can mountain goat with ease.
Testers reported the shoes as effective on a variety of trails from wet grass to steep climbs, with comfort decreasing as surfaces harden (hardpack and pavement).
The mesh upper is incredibly breathable and secure with thin overlays acting as scaffolding. Some of the overlays have been moved, as they were rubbing on toes. The tongue is gusseted halfway with elastic for adjustability and security. And, of course, the wide toebox allows those toes to spread out and get comfortable. Don’t forget to check out the waterproof yet breathable version, the Lone Peak 4 RSM. Like the standard Lone Peak, low and mid-height versions are available.
Fit: True to size
Best For: Moderate to aggressive terrain and racing distances from 5K to 50M
Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6
Weight: 9.3 oz
Drop: 4 mm
In the flash color scheme we received, these babies looked almost too sporty and clean to take on our local red-dirt trails to test out. But we did. With an overall foot-hugging and low-profile-forefoot fit and relatively small drop, the Terra Kiger offers great trail feel and agility. A relatively firm midsole and cushioned heel, though, provide adequate stability and protection.
The moderately aggressive outsole lugs in the forefoot and heel areas gripped well on a variety of surfaces, and the forefoot offers plenty of forefoot splay. If you’re looking for a fast-and-light yet stable shoe, the Terra Kiger 6 is worth a look.
Fit: True to size, up to medium-width feet.
Best For: Versatile shoe for most trail conditions and distances up to a marathon.
This vest fits snug like a second skin, so it won’t’ rub, bounce or chafe on the go. Two ultralight bottles with straws make it easy to sip on the run, and a large zippered back pocket makes it easy to stash layers or grab snacks mid-run. This vest is ultra-adjustable and super comfortable, no matter the distance.