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9 ounces / 8mm drop / $119
The Dirt: Light, airy and generally unstructured, the Karhu Flow Trail feels almost like a sock masquerading as a shoe, then paired with a rugged outsole. Soft EVA foam in the midsole is engineered to help propel you forward.
A unique, dual-pronged memory foam collar prevents heel slippage on steep ascents—a feature many testers praised. The water-resistant mud guard where the midsole meets the breathable mesh upper helps protect feet from trail debris and creek crossings.
Those tired of the screamingly bright colors that dominate today’s trail-running-shoe market will appreciate the more muted, modest look of the Flow Trail.
Best For: Short to moderate-distance, warm-weather runs on tame terrain.
Traction: The small, T-shaped lugs performed equally well on ascents and descents, on a variety of terrain ranging from smooth singletrack to rocky trails to high desert. The Flow Trail suffered some in mud and on steep, highly technical terrain.
Fit: Fits true to size lengthwise, but with no structural overlays and a stretchy upper, the Flow Trail is exceptionally wide throughout and apt to feel sloppy on narrow-medium width feet.
The Downsides: Lack of structure led many testers to experience a great deal of lateral movement. Says one tester, “I wouldn’t recommend them for high mileage or extremely uneven terrain due to the lack of support and cushioning.”
Tester-Monial: “I was pleasantly surprised. For a nondescript shoe that at first seemed stiff, it surprised me by turning out to be a hands-down winner on road and trail!”
–Alison Gittelman, South Riding, VA
Check out other shoes in our Spring 2013 Shoe Review.