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It’s August, so if you’ve been hitting the trails all summer, you may be wearing through that favorite pair of shoes. Here are three new options to consider, with a little something for everyone: a comfortable, cushioned road/trail hybrid; a beefy, aggressive mountain-running shoe; and a shoe designed to go fast on technical trails.
Treksta Mega Wave
10.5 oz | 6mm drop | $125
The Mega Wave is a cushioned, comfy road-to-trail shoe with several well-thought-out features. The three-layer midsole increases in density the farther it gets from the foot, with springy cushioning atop a firmer, more protective layer that forms the outsole—“a lightweight footwear version of a mattress on top of a box spring,” one tester said. The upper, seamless in the forefoot, has a barely-there feel.
Treksta based its gender-specific trail-shoe last on 3D scans of runners’ feet, and the attention to detail paid off. The toebox is roomy in all the right places, and the sole has good arch support; your feet settle naturally into these shoes. Another nice touch is the network of drainage ports in the midsole, which help creek water to escape.
The outsole—exposed hard foam, with rubber in key impact zones—consists of low, flat lugs. Testers found that this minimal tread lacked the bite for anything soft, technical or loose, but ran well on roads and hardpack trails.
Fit: True to size or a bit long; a half-size down may fit some runners comfortably. The last is well tailored throughout, though some testers had trouble cinching down the laces for a secure enough fit.
Bottom line: A comfortable trainer for runs that transition between pavement and mellower dirt surfaces.
Tester-monial: “You would have no complaints hitting some pavement on the way to your favorite trailhead.”
—Zach Woodward, Denver, CO
Salomon Speedcross 4
10.9 oz | 11mm drop | $130
This mainstay on the rugged end of the trail-shoe spectrum returns with a few tweaks for 2016, including an outsole updated to have more full “chevron” lugs and increased lug surface area for better connection on hard ground. And indeed, the traction, especially in wet conditions, was outstanding; it even held on the “slimy bridges” of North Carolina.
The durable upper is just as burly, with tightly woven mesh that protects from sticks and stones and is fairly water resistant—though, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t breathe or drain that well—and the secure fit aided stability on the technical terrain this shoe is designed for. A few testers complained that the ankle collar felt high and chafed a bit.
Fit: True to size; snug throughout, with a narrow-to-medium-width toebox.
Bottom Line: This won’t be the shoe for every runner, but if you need a protective, amply treaded and cushioned shoe for mountains and mud, look no further.
Tester-monial: “On the ups, no energy is lost by sliding backwards, and running the downs is pure bliss.”
—Brad Williams, Golden, CO
Montrail Rogue FKT
10.1 oz | 10mm drop | $110
Testers raved about the Rogue FKT’s midsole foam—firm, with just the right amount of give—and tacky, aggressive tread. Combined, those two elements allowed for fast, confident running on technical, rock-hopping trails and soft surfaces.
Agility was aided by the shoe’s snug fit—but here, testers had mixed feelings. They appreciated the secure heel pocket and slim toebox on difficult terrain, but in general found the fit too narrow and cramped for comfort, especially in the forefoot.
For a fast-and-light performance trail shoe, some testers felt that a 10-millimeter drop was too high; also, 10.1 ounces puts the Rogue FKT on the heavy side for that category.
Fit: True to size; narrow throughout.
Bottom Line: A shoe for aggressive running on technical terrain.
Tester-monial: “It gave me control I don’t usually feel on the trail—I bounded from rock to rock because I felt so secure.”
—Leah Ballard, Pagosa Springs, CO