Back in early August I had the fantastic opportunity to go to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City for the first time and check out the new shoes that are coming out late winter/early spring. Below are the trail shoes I had the opportunity to see at the show. Of note, Outdoor Retailer tends to attract more trail/outdoor oriented shoe brands, and not all running shoe companies were present. Notably, Nike, ASICS, and Mizuno were not present so I don’t have any info on their 2016 releases.
Also of note, I choose to segment the trail market into what I call, for simplicity’s sake, “trail” shoes and “mountain” shoes. Trail shoes are those designed for smoother, well marked trails, dirt roads and tend to have less lug depth. Mountain shoes are designed for the more technical terrain that is usually, though not always, found in the mountains, though any very technical or steep trail can demand similar requirements from a shoe. What I list below are those shoes that I (not necessarily the manufactures) deem as the trail offerings I saw at this years Outdoor Retailer. A subsequent post will preview the mountain shoes.
adidas Supernova Riot Boost – weight 12.6 oz men, 10.2 women, drop: 10mm, available: February 2016, Price $130.
Given the quality of adidas’ newly Boosted trail lineup launched this summer, I’m pretty excited about the potential this shoe has as a unique all around trail option. The lugs are shallower (5mm) than both the Raven (6.5 mm) and Response Trail (8mm), and it has a very unique upper design that is similar to the XT Boost, but looks a little thicker and more protective. Not sure this will be that great in the summer, but could be very nice in poor conditions. The outsole is also notable in that it uses what Continental calls their Gator Skin process which allows them to mold the outsole at a minimum thickness of 1 mm instead of 3 mm so they can reduce weight. A puncture resistant layer between the outsole and Boost midsole is added to protect the foot and midsole.
Altra Olympus 2.0 – weight 10.8 oz men, zero drop, price $149
I haven’t run in any of the Olympus models to date, but I know many runners (especially in the ultra scene) that love them for long races. They’re zero drop, wide and cushy. The 2.0 gets the welcome addition of Vibram MegaGrip rubber and a complete overhaul on the midsole and upper as well. I was told the toe spring/taper was tweaked a bit to be more gradual. Interested to see how it runs compared to the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3, which is probably its closet competitor.
Altra Superior 2.0
The Superior 2.0 gets an upper update and a pretty minimal one at that. The biggest change is that Altra fixed the sizing issue from the original 2.0 where they ran 1/2 to a full size small. Other than that, it’s the Superior 2.0. I’ve recently run in a pair of 2.0s and liked them overall. As with most Altras, they run a tad heavy to me, but the Superior is one of the first Altra shoes to be secure enough for me in the upper, and I’m interested in having some zero drop options in the rotation.
Brooks Cascadia 11 – weight: 11.8 oz men; 10.1 oz women, drop: 10mm, available 01/01/16, price: $120
The Cascadia is one of those classic models that’s been around quite some time, relatively unchanged and….I’ve never run in a pair. I do have a pair of Cascadia 10s that I just need to get out on a run with. Updates are subtle in the upper and that’s a good thing if you like the Cascadia series. A very popular shoe on the trails that should handle the gamut.
Dynafit Feline Ultra – weight 12 oz men, 10.2 women, drop: 8mm, available March 2016 , price $139.95
The Feline Ultra is an update to the Panterra and looks to mainly update the rubber to Vibram MegaGrip and streamline the upper design, which will be a good thing. I’ve run in the Panterra a bit and while it isn’t a horrible shoe by any means, the upper was pretty stiff and the shoe overall is quite stiff. Some improvements in those categories could help with what is otherwise a shoe that is designed with great materials.
Hoka One One
Hoka Challenger ATR 2 – weight 9.5 oz men, drop: 5mm, available 1/1/2016, price $130.00
I’ve run just a few times in the Challenger ATR, and while it is still a bit soft for my tastes, I can see the appeal and I know many runners that love them. The ATR 2 is an upper update that adds more security and durability in the overlays, and might help with what is generally a somewhat sloppy fit in my opinion for a shoe with that much stack/cushion. The Challenger was definitely a hit this year for Hoka, and some refinement will only help.
La Sportiva Helios 2.0 – weight 8.35 oz men, 6.45 oz women, stack: 19mm heel/15mm toe, available 4/1/16 price $125.00
The Helios series, which birthed out of the midsole/outsole platform of the Vertical K, is one that I’ve not had much luck with from both a fit and function standpoint. From the fit side of things, the Helios and Helios SR just fit small all the way around. Normally not a huge issue for most folks as you can size up, but I’m a 47.5 in La Sportiva and that is the largest they make. The thing is all the other models of Sportivas fit just fine. I was told that the Helios 2.0 fits a little more true to size which would be great if true.
From the function standpoint, I’m just not sold on the Morpho Dynamic midsole/outsole design (the “waves”), especially for technical trail. The midsole ride quality is not good enough to justify the shoes as a trail racer, yet the protection is lacking for true technical terrain, mostly due to the fact that there is just too much exposed EVA on them. Well the Helios 2.0 doesn’t change the platform, but adds endurance (AT) rubber and their “cushion platform” insert. A new upper gives me hope that the fit might be a bit better. All in all, if you like the Helios or Helios SR (which stays in the line), the Helios 2.0 is a little more differentiated from the SR while still retaining the qualities the platform is known for.
La Sportiva Akasha – weight 11.35 oz men, 9.80 oz women, stack: 26mm heel/20mm toe, available 4/1/2016, price $140.00
The Akasha is an interesting entry from La Sportiva. Mainly being that it is a much more cushioned option than they typically offer, and yet it tries to retain the technical profile of most of Sportiva’s offerings. Cushioning and technical performance are usually not things that go hand in hand, but having seen the Akasha in person, I’m definitely holding out hope that they can pull it off. It looks like a nice and comfortable upper and quality injected EVA. The outsole looks great, which Sportiva usually excels at (their rubber compounds are fantastic), so overall a shoe to watch this next season.
Montrail Fluid Flex FKT – weight 9.2 oz men, 7.7 oz women, drop: 4mm, available 2/1/2016 , price $110.00
I tried a few runs in the original Fluid Flex, and tried on the Fluid Flex 2 – I really was not into either. The foam was too soft and unstable to me, and the uppers didn’t hold the foot well. I recently received a pair of the Fluid Flex ST from Montrail for review (coming soon), and have been pleasantly surprised with the changes they’ve made. First, they added a co-molded EVA rock plate in the forefoot and completely changed the ride for the better with their Fluid Guide midsole. This allows them to put denser foam in the midfoot (on both medial and lateral sides) in a gradual way, and it works great with the ST providing more structure, sharper edging and stability to the platform while still allowing for a cushioned experience. The FKT retains the rock plate and fluid guide of the ST, but gets a slick new seamless upper that may just perfect the shoe into one of the best lightweight trail offerings around. Excited to give this one a try come February!
Montrail Caldorado – weight 11.0 oz men, 9.1 oz women, drop: 8mm, available 2/1/2016, price $120.00
The Caldorado is a new entry for Montrail in addition to the Trans Alps (more on that one below). Montrail is attempting to get back to its roots with a full featured and functionally focused trail lineup. The Caldorado is on a completely new platform, but if it runs like a more robust Fluid Flex ST then I’m definitely interested. I like the look of the full coverage outsole and seamless upper, but the drop and weight might be just a bit higher than my personal preference (especially considering the Trans Alps is the same drop and not that much heavier). A 10 oz, 6mm drop Caldorado would have really been the sweet spot I think, but regardless it looks like a solid entry that should compete well with the likes of the Pearl Izumi trail lineup and shoes like the Nike Wildhorse 3, but potentially with a little more precision via a narrower midsole profile (which I like).
Montrail Trans Alps – weight 12.5 oz men, 10.9 oz women, drop: 8mm , available 2/1/2016, price $130.00
The Trans Alps is another new offering for Montrail, and it looks to aim at rough trail and mountain conditions. My one concern with this is that the profile may be a bit too wide and high for this application, but you can’t always tell just looking at a shoe. Midsole densities and geometry can play a role, as can the fit, so I’ll reserve judgement on it. Otherwise, it looks like a nice, no frills offering that should give it some versatility. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against some other similar shoes like the La Sportiva Akasha and Scarpa Proton.
New Balance Leadville MT1210v3 – weight 10.35 oz men, 8.75 oz women, drop: 8mm, available January 2016, price $124.95
The Leadville (1210) is one of those shoes that should run better than it does. I’ve run in v1 and just couldn’t get into it for some reason. It’s light, the upper is smooth and the outsole design is decent enough. Unfortunately, to me the ride quality is just not what I look for in a trail shoe. It is quite soft and unstable on uneven terrain, and also doesn’t run that great on smoother trails. The last as well is based on the PL last, but with more volume to supposedly accommodate late ultra marathon foot swelling. In the end it just makes the shoe seem not as secure on 95% of your other runs. The good news (if you like the 1210) and bad news (if you don’t) is that, while it is a full redesign, the general concept and geometries of the shoe are retained. The outsole looks arguably better, but without a different fit and midsole design, I’m not sure it will make much difference to me.
New Balance MT10v4– weight 7.2 oz men, 5.8 oz women, drop: 4mm, available April 2016, price $114.95
Now here is a NB trail shoe that I’m pretty excited about! A full refresh for the MT10 in v4. It adds 3mm more cushion than v3, it’s still on the NL-1 (Minimus) last, has full outsole coverage, and an Acteva midsole (maybe I’m the only one, but glad it’s not RevLite). This basically puts the shoe in a very similar profile to the MT110v1 and I for one am glad to see a more minimal option being offered by NB when many companies aren’t even putting out a trail shoe lighter than 9 oz. Really excited to run these for shorter outings, and they should perform well on technical terrain given what I know about the specs and fit. Good job NB!
The North Face
North Face Ultra Endurance – weight 11.0 oz men, drop: 8mm, price $125.00
The Ultra Endurance looks to be a nice new offering from North Face. The Ultra MT took me by surprise this year (review forthcoming) with its Vibram Megagrip outsole and rockplate on a low profile mountain shoe (something not typically done…I don’t know why because it is great!). The Ultra Endurance looks to take some of the design direction of the MT and give it a little more cushion and protection with a more trail friendly outsole design that is still Vibram Megagrip. Overall a nice looking shoe that will expand The North Face’s somewhat lacking shoe offerings.
Saucony Peregrine 6 – weight 9.4 oz men, 8.5 oz women, Stack: 21.5mm Heel, 17.5mm FF, available 1/1/2016 , price $120.00
The Saucony Peregrine is a shoe that I’ve had mixed feelings about int he past. I ran in versions 1 and 2 and liked the protective ride on a 4mm drop profile, but the last is pointy and the shoe was really stiff. To be fair, I did try on the Peregrine 5 and it seemed to be a better fit and more flexible as well, although I didin’t run in it. The Peregrine 6 gets a new PWRTRAC outsole, which should soften the ride a bit, and the design will definitely enhance flexibility. It also features an Everun insert in the heel (a topsole material that goes between the midsole and footbed) – it will be interesting to see what it contributes to the ride. It has a rock plate in both the heel and forefoot, and probably the softest looking upper of the whole Peregrine series. This all adds up to create some potential for a great shoe. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra – weight 7.8 oz men, stack: 18mm Heel/14mm FF, price $180.00
The S-Lab Sense is an iconic shoe in the trail world, popularized by Salomon and their marquee athlete Kilian Jornet. In its 5th iteration the Sense continues to see only minor tweaks. For version 5 the main updates are a modified outsole geometry that sees some lugs being removed which results in a 20 g weight savings and a much more minimal mesh upper. The rest of the midsole, pro-feel film rock protection, and upper design stays the same as version 4. These changes might be small but I think will bring the Sense back to its roots a bit (a good thing…the 8.5oz version 4 was just too heavy for the type of shoe it is). I’m hoping to get a chance to run in a pair this spring so I can let you know how it feels!
Salomon Sense Pro 2 – weight 9.3 oz men, stack: 23mm Heel/17mm FF, price $130.00
The Sense Pro was a great addition to Salomon’s lineup. It hit a sweet spot with many runners as it offered the feel of the Sense series, refinement of an S-Lab shoe, yet more protection and a lower price point. The Sense Pro 2 is a full update top to bottom and looks to provide some nice improvements. A new, softer midsole should be welcome (Sense Pro ran stiff and firm) for most and a new more well-rounded outsole should really make the Sense Pro 2 a nice middle of the road option. Excited to give these a try come spring.
Scarpa Proton – weight 12.2 oz men, 10.4 oz women, drop: 10mm, available Late Winter
The Scarpa Proton is a part of a new series of offerings by Scarpa that look to be much more refined, and also offer a nice variation of drops and feature sets. The Neutron and Atom I’ll feature in my mountain shoe preview, but the Proton, being higher stack and bulk, fits in my trail preview since I think higher weight and bulk tend to degrade a shoe’s performance in the mountains. The shoe may surprise me though. The upper looks simple but comfortable, and the outsole design is simple and looks versatile. Rock plate, Vibram rubber and mountain design philosophy. Excited to see how the whole lineup will run.
Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3– weight 11.4 oz men, 9.2 oz women, 4mm drop (30mm H/26mm FF midsole heights), available January 2016, price $120
The Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3 could be a real sleeper hit. While the GOrun Ultra and Ultra 2 have had a following, to me the shoe wasn’t that refined, and the non-rubber outsole was an issue in a trail shoe of its design. The Ultra 3 is taking on the likes of Hoka One One with what could be a much better shoe in the end (I know the last will be better). The midsole is Skechers’ new 5 Gen material, which I’ve run in and really like. It also has some actual rubber coverage, a unique drainage system, and a new soft and relatively seamless upper design. I’m personally pretty excited about it, even though I normally don’t prefer so much cushion. The Gen 5 is that good and the design is flexible enough.
That’s it for the trail roundup, stay tuned for the mountain shoes in a future post!