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Top Trail and Mountain Running Shoes of 2014 – By David Henry

Race Ultra SoleTrail shoes are unfortunately viewed by many as road shoes with a little extra tread slapped on, and usually they run clunky compared to their road counterparts.  While this may be true of many models, and in some ways good trail shoes are similar to good road shoes, in other ways they differ quite a bit.  From my perspective I find that I want the following in a trail shoe compared to a road shoe:

1. More rubber coverage in the outsole and tread designs that are more specific to the terrain the shoe is designed for (which varies much more than what most road shoes will encounter).

2. A firmer midsole and a lower heel to toe offset (for stability on uneven terrain) than a road shoe (these factors can vary depending on the terrain and how long I need to be in the shoe).  For longer outings I like to see a rock plate/shank to add protection from rocks and other pointy objects in addition to abating some foot fatigue when I have to be on my feet for long periods in the mountains.

3. An upper that will not only hold up to some of the extra beating and lateral movement that trails demand, but one that holds the foot very securely on the platform while still allowing enough comfort (tougher to do than you’d think). This is critical for the long outings more typical of trail/mountain races (5-30 hours) as opposed to road running where most runners usually aren’t out running longer than 4-5 hours.

There can be more niche concerns than these, including fabrics used, drainage, outsole thickness and lug depth, midsole density, to use Gore-Tex waterproofing or not, the list goes on…. However, the above three areas are the big ones to me and are essentials in my mind for good, versatile trail shoes.

I’ve broken my trail shoe picks into two categories based on terrain rather than racing or training categories like I did for my top road shoe post (coming tomorrow).  For me, the main variable on the roads is how fast and far you are running, so it made sense to choose racing and training categories. For trail, the terrain dictates the demands on shoes to a greater degree and also impacts the design more than whether it is a training or racing model.

Lets take a look at what I’ve been running in this year and why:

Top Trail Shoes 2014

Top Hardpack Trail Shoes

Nike Terra Kiger 2

The complete package in the Nike Terra Kiger 2.  With an outsole redesign it will really have it nailed. 280 g M13 (impressive weight considering all that is there).

1. Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 2 (review here) – The Kiger 2 really hits the mark for a fast, light trail shoe with just enough cushion and protection to handle trails while still running more like a road shoe.  Other than the outsole (which needs a redesign IMO), I’m really enjoying this shoe for most normal trails.  It will be my go to shoe for trail racing for anything 50k or under and might stretch to 50 miles depending on the type of course. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Inov-8 Race Ultra 190

The inov-8 Race Ultra 290 is built like a tank, but doesn’t run like one.  Notice the full rand on the upper and generally untouched condition of the shoe; this is after 120+ miles, including one 40 mile outing. 375 g M13.

2. inov-8 Race Ultra 290 – The Race Ultra 290 was a surprise to me from inov-8.  Known for their more minimal and aggressively lugged trail offerings, inov-8 stepped out of their comfort zone for the Race Ultra. They put together a really good all-around trail shoe with protection to go the distance while still retaining just enough nimbleness and ground feel to not lose that signature inov-8 feel and control on the trail.  I can see using this shoe a lot this winter and in longer races of 50 miles and up next year. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Inov-8 F-Lite

inov-8 F-lite 232 on the left (now called 192 ; 0mm drop and 6mm midsole height) and F-lite 262 on the right (now called 240 Standard fit; 6mm drop and 7mm FF/13mm H midsole heights).  Simple shoes built on a road racing flat geometry and sold as Crossfit shoes…makes them perfect trail shoes, of course :).  Very comfortable and versatile, albeit more minimal trail options; a version with a rock plate would be awesome! 270 g and 285 g for F-Lite 232 and 262 respectively in M13.

3. inov-8 F-Lite Standard Fit (wider) Series –  I’ve run countless miles in the F-Lite series and while they are sold mainly as crossfit shoes these days, this is a shame!  They are some of the most straightforward trail running shoes on the market with a comfortable fit and enough rubber to provide provide protection for all but the most technical trails.  I’ve used the F-Lite 262 (now 240 Standard Fit), which is the most protective of the F-Lite series, for everything from a trail 10k to a 50 mile ultra.  I also love the F-Lite 232 (now 192) which is their zero drop version.  It is hands-down the best and most versatile pure minimal shoe that still has enough protection for comfortable 15 mile training runs. F-Lites aren’t flashy, nor do they have any big technological bells and whistles, but that is why they work so well.  The sheer simplicity of a comfortable upper, firm and durable EVA midsole, and a full sticky rubber outsole just ends up not letting you down. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Merrell Bare Access Trail

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is the brand’s best attempt so far at a trail shoe.  Great upper design with just the right amount of randing and breathability to provide a secure and durable fit in a lightweight design.  Vibram outsole is good too; just needs a better midsole material and a rock plate. 300 g M13.

– Honorable Mention: Merrell Bare Access Trail – A new addition to Merrell’s lineup this year and they get a lot right with this shoe.  The upper is more comfortable (especially in the Achilles area) than the Bare Access 3, the outsole has a good lug pattern (while still running well on smooth terrain), and the fit is quite good.  Other than a midsole material  that doesn’t feel that snappy (never Merrell’s strong suit IMO) and a lack of sufficient protection for longer runs, the Bare Access Trail is a really nice shoe.  If they make a version 2 with a rock plate, it’d be pretty solid option…the upper needs no change IMO. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Anybody have any other favorites among 2014 Hardpack Trail shoes?

Top Mountain Shoes 2014

Top Mountain, Fell and Off-Trail Shoes

(My favorite category so I couldn’t keep it to 3!)

Inov-8 Mudclaw 265

The inov-8 Mudclaw 265 packs an effective, durable and light design in a mountain shoe.  The only negative was the upper material holding too much water and that is set to be remedied with an update this spring.  Tons of grip and this shoe has taken a beating and keeps on kicking. 335 g M13.

1. inov-8 Mudclaw 265 – The new Mudclaw platform and outsole on the 265 is the best all-out mountain/off trail outsole I’ve tried.  The upper on this version is a little heavy and holds water too much (although this is getting fixed for an updated version this spring), but the fit is good and the traction is unparalleled in my opinion.  It is also sticky enough to perform very well for scrambling on rock.  Such a fun shoe for heading up a peak and back! Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Inov-8 X-Talon

inov-8 X-Talon 212 on the left (6mm drop) and more F-lite inspired X-Talon 190 on the right (3mm drop).  They are both fantastic shoes that feel light on the run despite the lugged outsole.  Perfect for going fast in all mountain conditions. 315 g (for 212) and 270 g (for 190) M13.

2. inov-8 X-Talon Series – The X-Talon series, consisting of the classic 212 (which is now offered in the standard fit in addition to the original precision fit) and the super light and fast 190, has been a mainstay in inov-8’s lineup for years and for good reason.  Both shoes are a blast to run in and provide very secure and confident footing in loose terrain.  They are also light enough that they run decent on regular trails too. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Inov-8 Trailroc

Zero drop inov-8 Trailroc 235 (no rock plate) on the left and 3mm drop Trailroc 245 (with rock plate/shank) on right. The Trailrocs just get it done on all kinds of surfaces, even with some road running thrown in there.  Quite protective for their relatively low stack heights (especially the 245). 300 g (for 235) and 325 g (for 245) M13.

3. inov-8 Trailroc Series – You might be noticing a theme here with inov-8, especially in the mountain category.  They simply offer so many more choices and options for the neutral or minimalist mountain runner that, as long as the fit is good for you, you can’t help but appreciate all the different outsole patterns and purpose-built designs.  The Trailroc series, in particular the Trailroc 245 that was recently given an upper update this last spring, is very versatile with a wide range of applications.  While it runs well on regular trail (and even short road sections), it can handle a fair amount of technicality and even some off-trail without too much trouble.  The huge benefit of a shoe like the 245 is that you get very good rock protection in a low and more minimalist package.  They are like the MT110v1 but beefed up to be able to handle very long runs (I’ve done 50 milers and ran in them for 35 miles of my 100 miler this summer including the last 20 miles of the race) and the outsole holds up to a lot of tough miles.  The recent upper update fixed many of the durability issues that the original version had and is more comfortable and open in the toebox.  Although it’s not the lightest shoe out there, it has yet to let me down and takes quite a beating.  My go-to shoe for very steep and rocky races. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

La sportiva Bushido

The La Sportiva Bushido is stoutly built, yet nimble and protective enough to handle demands of off trail running.  They could simplify the design and material usage a bit, but it still works pretty well as is. 375 g in EU47.5.

4. La Sportiva Bushido  – When I first saw the Bushido I thought it would be too clunky and heavy to be much fun.  I decided to give it a chance a few months back and was very surprised.  I’ve run in La Sportiva C-Lites, Ultra Raptor, X-Country, and Helios before and while they have some good elements, the fit was always a little narrow in the toes, but not secure enough in the midfoot or at the ball of the foot. They also tend to have too much volume over the instep.  Well, the Bushido is on a new last called the Racing Lite Ergo and it is a great fit for me and really makes this shoe shine.  While it is a fairly beefy shoe, it still runs well enough on technical terrain and offers gobs of protection from rocks and the sheer roughness of mountain/off-trail travel. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US).

Salomon Fellcross 3

Slick Salomon design and construction are highlights in this pretty dedicated fell running shoe.  Warm upper is nice in the winter and narrow design works great in mud and snow. 330 g M13.

-Honorable Mention: Salomon Fellcross 3 – I’ve not run as much as I’ve wanted to in the Fellcross 3 mainly because it has been too hot up until recently for the Fellcross’s warmer upper design. This is not a problem for most of the conditions it is designed for (mud, snow, slop). It is the purest fell running shoe that I enjoy running in, and the design really lets the quality materials and top-notch construction of Salomon’s S-Lab line shine.  It has a fell running specific last that works much better for me than the Sense last and has great traction.  I’m looking forward to getting them out much more this winter. Purchasing options: Running Warehouse (US) and Wiggle (UK).

Any mountain running shoes that I missed that you enjoy?

Thanks for reading and I’ll reiterate that these shoes are simply the best that I’ve tried and the ones I pull off the shelf the most when I go train. You may or may not agree with these picks and that’s OK – just take it as my favorites out of the many I’ve tried that reflect my taste for shoe design and function.  Now go out and run!

Disclosure: Purchases made from retailer websites linked in this post provide a small commission to Runblogger. Thanks for your support!

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About David Henry

David Henry is a 31 year old husband and father of 3 young children. He has completed over 23 ultra marathon events as well as many other shorter races. Some of the notable races he has completed include The Pike’s Peak Marathon, Speedgoat 50k, The Rut 50k, Gorge Waterfalls 100k and Bighorn 100. He has raced in diverse environments ranging from Alaska in winter to the Arizona desert. David appreciates well-crafted running shoes and running on any surface and distance. If interested you can follow my running on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/davidjonhenry

Comments

  1. I agree on the F-Lite series. Hands down the most comfortable and simplest running shoes I’ve got and probably the most versatile, too. I’ve got 500+ miles on each of two pairs of 195s and they are still going strong.

    • I have a pair of 195’s that I love for casual wear, need to try running in them.

    • David Henry says:

      Thanks for the comment Will and glad to hear I’m not the only one who loves F-lites for nearly any type of running. I’ve run everything from track workouts to technical mountain trails with them and been happy even with my picky shoe tastes :).

    • The F-Lite 232’s are by far my favourite running shoe, on my 4th pair now! It’s bizarre that such a great alround shoe gets marketed to cross-fit. I have run up to 53miles trail race in my F-Lite 232’s. The only tweak I had to make was to use a 6mm insert rather than the 3mm one to give a bit more cushioning.

      The weights that Inov-8 quote are a bit crazy though, my F-Lite 232’s are as light as my Talon-190’s, and my Trailroc 245’s are 50g’s heavier than both.

      Inov-8’s change of naming to “Standard Fit” is rather confusing, until your post I hadn’t seen any explanation of how it related to the previous Anatomical Last and Natural Last. Seems marketing is taking a while to make it’s mind up.

      • David Henry says:

        Agree that cleaning up their naming would help and the supposed numbers indicating weights are off a bit for sure, especially with trailrocs. Agree that 232 are super great…love that shoe!

  2. Trailroc 245 is my all time favorite shoe! The Trailroc 235 is nice for shorter, faster runs that don’t need a rock plate. I have wide, high volume feet and these both fit perfectly with the insole removed.

    I’d like to try the Race Ultra 290, but wondering if the Trailroc 255 would be a better choice for me since the other Trailrocs fit so well.

    • David Henry says:

      David, I too love the 245…such a versatile shoe and the 235 is super fun as well. I’m not a big fan of the 255 personally. I’ve run through a couple pairs over the last 2 years and while they do hold up well the rounded outsole of the trailroc doesn’t play as well with the higher heel on the 255 and it feel unstable to me on technical terrain.

      The 290 on the other hand runs really well. I just ran them again yesterday and had everything from pavement to smooth trail to steep rocky trail to even a little off trail in the snow and it handled them all quite well. The gaiter attachments are super nice too in the winter to keep snow out. I’d definitely recommend them over the Trailroc 255 since they do everything the 255 does but better and are much better on pavement and dirt roads. Be on the lookout for the Race Ultra 270…4mm drop version; should be coming out in the next month or so. Happy running – David

  3. New Balance MT1210.

  4. Denzil Jennings says:

    Thanks for the write up! I will be working my way up to the ultra distances next year, and I’ve been trying to decide what trail shoe/shoes to go with. I’ve done all of my shorter trail running in the Trailroc 254s, and I love them, but you always wonder if there is something better. Based on your praise it sounds like I might just stick with the 245s. I’m very curious to try the 270s you spoke of in the above comment. I haven’t tried the 290s, but have been deterred because the 8mm drop is more than I’m used to.

    Would you recommend the Trailroc 245 for the 100k distance?

    • David Henry says:

      Yeah if you want to stay 4mm drop or under I think the Race Ultra 270 coming out soon will be the ticket for 100k. Sure, you can run 245s for 100k no problem if you build up to it, but I think the 270 would give a better experience for 100k with just a little more cushion for that long of a race and, unless it is a really technical 100k, the Race Ultra platform is just more forgiving on hard pack surfaces with a more road shoe like geometry and more midsole (10mm FF-14mm Heel as opposed to the 245s 7-10mm)

    • I ran a hilly trail 53mile ultra in my F-Lite 232’s this year without any problems. I exchanged the 3mm insole/footbed for 6mm ones to add a little more protected from rocks.

      The Trailroc 245’s have more protection to start with than the F-Lite’s so would be happy doing a 100k in them. Adding in an extra thicker insole might a way of upping the level of cushioning if you need it.

      When I ran my 95 mile trail ultra I opted for Nike Wildhorse for the extra level of cushioning they provide. Downside is the toe box is too shallow so I ended up with blisters, a black toe nail and loosing a toe nail. If they had a better toe box I wouldn’t have had these problems.

      I’d guess that Race Ultra 270’s would more room than the Wildhorse and more cushioning that the Trailrocs. Another alternative might be to look at the new Roclite’s with the Standard Last.

      • David Henry says:

        Thanks for sharing your experiences. One thing to note, I have the new Roclite 295 and even though inov-8 says it is Standard fit, it is actually the old endurance last and therefore not wider than precision (just more volume)…really disappointing as the actual standard fit on those would have been fantastic.

        • Thanks for the clarification about the Roclite 295 last still being the old “Comfort” Last but not the “Standard” Last.

          I was almost tempted to looking at trying the Roclite again as the sole is better in muddy conditions than the Trailroc’s but the Comfort last is too narrow for me, while the Anatomical -> Natural -> Standard Last fits me like a glove.

  5. Iain+Denby says:

    F-lite 232 is awsome. Agree 100% with your thoughts on F-lites. Pure, no nonsense. I can only get around 200 miles on road with mine though, but happy with that if I pay half price for them.

  6. Iain Denby says:

    They’ve already been dropped and replaced with the 192

    • Thanks for clarification. No more pretty sun burst F-Lite 232’s 🙁

      Are there any differeces between the 232’s and 192’s?

      • David Henry says:

        232 and current 192 are the same (older 192 was precision fit), just a name change since they started calling the precision fit and standard fit f-lites by the same numbers now. 192s are being dropped with no replacement for SS15 though (so by Jan/Feb they will be discontinued). I especially like the all black 192 that are on sale at 6pm here: link to 6pm.com The price goes up and down pretty frequently…I got some for $65 a couple weeks ago which is a really good deal for that shoe I think)

        • Is the 192 as firm as the rest of Inov-8 shoes or softer?

          • David Henry says:

            It is more flexible than say the Trailroc 245 and doesn’t ride as firm to me, but it is actually closer to the ground with a lower midsole height (6mm front and back where as the TR245 is 7mm front, 10mm heel) so giving that, it is no cushy experience :).

  7. David. Does that mean the only F-lite that will be available from SS15 will be the new F-lite 235 for fitness?

    • David Henry says:

      No the 195 (both standard and precision fit) and 240 (S and P) will still be offered, but I have read although not confirmed myself that only the 195 will carry on past AW15 which is a shame. You can see the SS15 catalog here: link to issuu.com

      • Peter Stoneway says:

        Thanks for SS15 catalog. I’m so excited about new Inov-8 packs!!! It seems like my dream comes true. Just can’t decide, which one to pick 🙂

        • David Henry says:

          I know, right!?! Those new packs look fantastic. I have the current Race Ultra Vest and it is awesome…used to use the Ultimate Direction AK vest till I tried the inov-8 one and inov-8 is my favorite hands down. All those extra capacity version and configurations with the same strap/bottle setup in the SS15 is definitely making it hard to choose..probably go with the Race Ultra 10 first, but not entirely sure yet.

  8. Ah OK. What I find slightly odd with Inov-8 is that they market the F-lites at the fitness market, yet they show (via the number of squares) that they’re most suitable for outdoors. It’s for this reason that I tried them for running on roads in the first place.

    • David Henry says:

      Yeah, I think this has to do with the F-lites origins (and you can see this in the first pages in the catalog under their origins section) that when they first release the F-lite 230 back in 2009 it was designed as a mountain racing flat and was marketed this way till around 2011 when the Functional Fitness community started buying more of them than trail runners :). Not much has changed with the F-lites in the mean time so they are really good running shoes still…I have more doubts about the runablity of the new F-lite 235 (it definitely won’t work well on trails but maybe on road) since it is designed much more specifically as a fitness shoe.

  9. I’d be happy enough if it’s just the 195 continuing later next year with a 3mm drop. Looks a bit like there wasn’t a big enough market for their zero drop shoes.
    Thanks for the brochure link. Good to see the Trailrocs still going

  10. Alex Raggers says:

    I have to order via the net. Can anyone tell me how is the sizing of het Terra Kiger 2? Compared to Saucony Kinvara 3 or 5, or Virrata, or Adidas Adios Boost?
    Thanks

    • Alex Raggers says:

      As well as for the inov-8’s please.

      • David Henry says:

        I run all the same size in Kiger 2 as in inov-8 and Adios Boost (I don’t have the saucony shoes). I’d say Kiger 2 is most similar to the adios boost in length, but inov-8s are really close (especially the standard fit inov-8s) although maybe inov-8 runs just a hair shorter…not enough for me to size differently though. Kiger 2 toebox is the shallowest of all of them; this has never been a problem for me, but some have complained about it.

  11. Have tried the Trailroc 245 and 255, both felt very firm. The Merrell Bare Access Trail was a good fit for me but it with limited breathability. It has an internal lining which prevents air getting in the shoe.

    • David Henry says:

      Are you referring to the Bare Access 3…Bare Access Trail doesn’t have an internal liner, but the BA3 does. You are right in regards to the 245 being quite firm. The new Race Ultra 270 from inov-8 should be a little less firm and have good breathability, but being an inov-8 it will still be on the firmer side of the market. You might try the Nike Kiger 2…good and responsive still, but a little more forgiving than inov-8 or Merrell.

      • Based on my worn out first pair of Bare Access Trails that I retired after the uppers tore, the upper appears to be three layers: an outer structural mesh, a thin, gray, open cell foam, and then the black interior liner. The foam middle layer gives the upper a little bit of a puffy look between the welded overlays.

        I am on my second pair of Bare Access Trails (as well as second pair of Bare Access Ultras), my opinion of both of them changed dramatically for the worse. I never really noticed during my first pairs how prominent the arch is on both the Trails and the Ultras – especially the Ultras. Maybe it was because I got them during a break phase of my running and wasn’t doing much mileage until the midsole foam at the arches had broken down. Even with medium high arched feet, my left lateral arch got beat to heck on the second 9 miler of a 2×9 mi day in my new BATs and was sore for half a week. This was after deliberately trying to soften/break down the midsole at the arches by flexing the shoes in half at the arch while pressing down at the pressure points/walking on the arches on exposed roots, etc.

        • David Henry says:

          Hmm. I’ll have to take a closer look at mine. They are the grey upper and I don’t recall any foam or black liner, but I’ll look more closely. I didn’t find them particularly hot though. As far as the arch goes, I completely agree. Very noticeable till the foam breaks down. Pretty typical from Merrell. The lowest arch feel of any of their shoes for me has been the Ascend Glove. Probably my favorite from them so far, just wish it had a touch more cushion similar to the BAT.

  12. Jon Rodgers says:

    David, thanks for all the input. I read the road shoe review as well, a lot of good information. Just wanted to comment on the Inov-8 Trailroc 245’s, they are an awesome shoe but I seem to destroy (holes/tears) the uppers around 6 mos. I race frequently in the middle of PA, very rocky, so I don’t think many shoes would hold up.
    Was wondering if anyone has tried the Altra Superior 2.0? I know it was just released.

    • David Henry says:

      Thanks for your kind words Jon. I too have had some upper issues with the Trailrocs and they usually are toast for me around 300 miles. I figure that is ok given, like you, the terrain I run on is pretty rough on shoes (I’ve blown out other shoes much quicker than the Trailrocs). If you don’t need a ton of lugs, the Nike Kiger 2 uppers have held up super well…great material on them, however, the outsole will surely wear out quicker than the Trailrocs so some trade off there.

      As far as the Superior 2.0, I’ve tried them on and can say the fit is much improved over the previous versions and feels racier for sure. I don’t like the outsole much however, because they cut out a lot of rubber (something they call “inner flex”) and that is surely going to lead to less protection in the long run and I’m still not crazy about their removable rock plate concept. Other than that they seemed ok all around…more cushion than trailroc, but they’ll run softer and not as durable in the outsole/midsole. Not sure if the upper would be much better either…it’s kind of a ripstop type nylon material, but not a lot of overlays on it.

  13. How does the Superior 2.0 feel with the removable rockplate? I think it is like having 2 footbeds and i am also not sure if both will not move when ascending/descending. I was thinking of buying them and glue the rockplate and the footbed to the rest of the shoe. Also, how would you compare the breathability of the Superior 2.0 upper to that of the Trailroc 245? I have tried the trailroc and the open mesh looks quite breathable.

    • David Henry says:

      Like I said above, I haven’t actually run in them (I tried them on but decided to pass on them), but I would assume they would be less secure than just a single foot bed, but don’t know for sure…without the rockplate I think they would lack proper protection for their weight class. Personally I think they compare best protection wise (not cushion wise) to the Trailroc 235 (0mm drop trailroc) and I’d prefer the Trailroc any day over the Superior. If they would have not cut out the sections out of the outsole and embedded the rockplate in the midsole (like the lone peak), I’d have run in them for sure since the fit was much improved.

      As far as the upper breathability, I would guess it would be not as good as regular mesh. Can’t say for sure on these specifically, but other shoes with similar uppers don’t breathe as well as mesh.

  14. Thanks, i have tried the Trailroc 245 and 255, and the Roclite 243, all felt very firm. After wearing them in the house for half an hour i felt too much discomfort in the heel and metatarsal area. I have read many reports that most Inov-8 shoes are too firm.

    • David Henry says:

      Yeah most are pretty firm with the Race Ultra 290 being the least firm of inov-8s offerings (but still quite firm compared to much of the market). They aren’t for everybody for sure and you definitely have to treat them as minimal shoes (maybe except the RU 290) and build up to wearing them.

  15. still seeing f-lite 262 around. any differences from 240 as far as fit/length or otherwise?
    thanks.

  16. Hi,

    Thank you for your detailed observations.

    I have blown out and just loved my innov8 roc-lite 295s. They have been wonderful. I run exclusively off road on fairly rocky trails (only 24+-miles per week). I am interested in moving from a 6 drop to something a little lower, say a 4 that is also a bit lighter. I was curious about the innov8 F-Lite Standard Fit (wider) Series.

    Do they drain water well? The roclites just pump that wet stuff out! Do they have decent shanks to keep the middle of the foot from getting bruised? Are they as low in the back as the roc-lites?

    Thanks for any thoughts. Again, great, technically detailed blog!

    Glenn

    • David Henry says:

      Hi Glenn,

      The Standard fit F-Lites are nice. They are comfortable and do drain well. However they don’t have any shank in them and run more minimally than the Roclite 295 (which has the Meta-Shank in them). Additionally the F-Lite 240 is a 6mm drop just like the 295, Unless you are wanting a shoe for smoother terrain, you might look at the Terraclaw 220. It is a Standard fit like the F-lites but has a little more grip, 4mm drop and the Dynamic Fascia Band shank that offers a little more protection than the F-lites (although maybe just a bit less than the RL 295). Other than that, for mountain use (steep ups and downs as well as off trail), I love the Mudclaw 300…it is probably the best shoe inov-8 makes in my opinion; so good. Thanks for the comment. -David

  17. hi david–i’m thinking again about the f-lite 240 precision (i have the 230) and the trailroc 245. i found the 230 fit well a half size down (slightly longer than the road-x 233, actually). is the 240 significantly more ‘plush’ (ha!… i wouldn’t mind), and do you think it might work a half size down? would trailroc 245 feel a lot firmer? it’s a bit wider fit, right? might it fit ok a half size down?

    hope all is well.

    thanks,
    bruce

    • David Henry says:

      The 245 is wider, but the Standard fit runs shorter than the precision so not sure if sizing down 1/2 size would work length wise. The 240 is just a tiny bit more cushioned since they shifted to injected eva in them, but it is a pretty nuanced difference. 240s should fit similar to 230s so, yes you could probably size down. -David

  18. All Inov-8 shoes are much firmer than other brands.

  19. david– a couple of add’l questions.

    could you compare fluidflex st and terra kiger 2?

    re hoka challenger atr: little experience with hoka, but these seemed not overly mushy and pretty smooth. but i felt weirdly exhausted running in them from the beginning of my run to the end. very strange. any thoughts? do you think it might be more from the stiffness and the adjustment needed to run in them than the softness. not sure it’s really necessary for me to figure out how to deal with hokas…

    thanks again,
    bruce

    • David Henry says:

      Fluidflex ST is pretty nice and inexpensive option. It is probably, just barely, more nimble than the Kiger, but they are pretty similar. The upper on the Kiger 2 is hands down better though and they are pretty protective for how light they are. I prefer the Kiger 2 between those two, but I do like the FFST and think the new Fluid Flex FKT, with a new upper, will be a super nice shoe for next year.

      RE: Hoka, I think the softness is actually a big reason they feel taxing to run in, especially with the eva they use. I’ve since run in some other maximalist shoes like the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3 (coming 1/1/16) that have more responsive midsoles in them with the same height and it doesn’t feel as taxing. That said, I think you have to run with a slower cadence in them than in minimal shoes so as to not fight the compression of the soft midsole…which I’m not sure is a good thing. For cushion, I’d look to adidas. Their boost material is just as plush as any maximalist shoe, but without the higher stack heights and they are way more responsive to me. Hope that helps! – David

      • much thanks! in a somewhat dif. direction, do you have any experience with speedcross vario or s-lab x series?

        not sure why, but i don’t seem to respond that well to boost shoes (or they don’t seem to respond that well to me), aside from adios boost 2. big fan of adiprene. kind of hated energy boost, thought glide 7 would be better but seemed a bit tiring to me, really had hopes for boston but even that one didn’t really work for me–heel was much softer than forefoot and seemed to hold me back. certainly would like to like the shoes, would solve a lot of my conundrums. want to give them another chance but don’t know what else to try–wait for the eventual new version of the boston?? maybe i didn’t give the glide enough time to get used to it. do you know if the 6 is much dif. from the 7?

        thanks again,
        bruce

        • David Henry says:

          I haven’t run in either of the Salomon shoes you mention, although I’d like to try the X-Series at some point.

          Too bad you haven’t had luck with Boost. It took me some adjustment initially, but now I think it is probably the best material out there even though it isn’t always employed in the best way. Not a big fan of the Enegy boost either, hoping different for version 3. I love the Glide 7 (for everything) adios (for road), and Boston 5 (trails…don’t use much on the road).

          Have you looked into the Skechers GOmeb Speed 3? The newest version which comes out 1/1/16 is fantastic with a knit upper and new adiprene-like Gen 5 midsole material. Their new Gen 5 material is probably my next favorite after Boost and adiprene+, but is only going to be in their shoes coming out January forward (their older stuff has their decent Resalyte) -David

          • do you know what other new models will have the gen 5?

          • David Henry says:

            GOrun 4 2016
            GOrun Ride 5
            GOtrail Ultra 3

            I also mistakenly called it Gen 5 when it is actually called 5-Gen…hard to kept everything straight!

        • David Henry says:

          You can see a preview of the Speed 3 2016 here: link to runblogger.com

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