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K-Swiss Blade-Max Trail
$130, 12 oz, www.kswiss.com
The Dirt. K-Swiss’ debut into the trail-running market, the Blade-Max Trail, is a light, solid performer. Testers praised the shoe’s ride over technical, rocky trails, noting its “top-notch traction” on most types of terrain, while still offering a smooth ride on brief road sections. Plus, a seamless upper provided sock-like comfort, and a gusseted tongue stayed put.
A water-resistant upper worked well in wet conditions, but when daytime temps hit 80 degrees in the humid south, testers complained of hot feet. A dual-density outsole makes for a plush ride and still allows the wearer to feel small trail variations.
Fit. Best fits medium- to high-volume feet. A slightly wide heel cup and forefoot made some testers feel like they were “running out of the shoe,” while wider feet felt secure, noting the shoe’s close-fitting midfoot. Built for a neutral foot-strike, the shoe still seems to encourage pronation and would be best suited for a slight supinator.
Best for. Moderately technical trails and small sections of pavement over almost any distance.
Tester-monial. “The cushioning was excellent over rocks while maintaining enough feel for my feet to adapt to minor variances in the terrain. The Blade-Max Trail is responsive, but tough, a rare combination.” —Christopher Whelchel, Austin, Texas