The wide toe box is the first thing you notice about the Provision 2.5. Designed to allow your foot to splay out naturally, it also makes the shoe feel reassuringly stable in the forefoot, which is perfect if you naturally run with either a forefoot or midfoot strike.
There aren’t many running shoes that offer this level of forefoot stability and comfort. The heel collar feels plush but not too soft and the flat laces are the first we’ve come across that retain tension when you go to tie them up. All in all, the Provision 2.5 is a truly great road shoe.
Supportive, cushioned and responsive, it’s easy to see why this hugely popular shoe has made it to a 17th edition. The changes in the new model are subtle, with a softer fitting upper reinforced above the big toe and a slightly reconfigured sole only improving what was already an excellent shoe in its class.
Although capable on hard-packed trails, it’s on the road that it excels, with supreme cushioning and a solid toe-off making for a comfortable yet speedy ride.
If you wear the previous edition, you probably won’t be in a rush to upgrade, but the GTS17 is a safe bet when you do.
Achieving a combination of ample underfoot protection and race-ready responsiveness, the BOCO AT II is a titan of a trail shoe. The forefoot lugs really do encourage a forefoot strike, although may take a little getting used to if you’re new to Newtons, while the fit is comfort itself.
With a 3mm heel-to-toe drop, these will be best enjoyed by the fast and efficient off-roader. The lightweight upper is water-resistant, and green colourway is eye-catching. A worthy addition to any serious trail runner’s shoe collection.
The New Balance Vazee Pace v2 is a great option for those looking to balance the nimbleness of a lightweight shoe with the durability and comfort of a beefier alternative. The shoe’s bootie construction fits very snugly – indeed, we suggest you opt for a half size larger than you normally would – but runners with a wider foot need not be put off, as NB offers the shoe in a wider fit.
The tight fit gives the shoes a quick, agile, feel yet the REVlite midsole foam gives more than sufficient protection for those wary of more minimalist designs.
The shoe of choice for many pro trail runners, this shoe is comes into its own on soft ground. Feet remain dry and we’ve felt few shoes with such substantial grip before – particularly one so lightweight. That’s thanks to the 8mm lugs which sink into soft terrain, but also shed mud easily to prevent the shoe from clogging up.
The outsole also consists of two sticky rubber compounds – compared to just the one on the X-Talon 200 and 212 – for much improved durability. If you’re looking for a lightweight multi terrain shoe then this is ideal.
Blurring the line between trail running shoe and alpine boot, the XA brings an innovative cool to the mountain running market. Yes, they’re pricey and a little niche but when you zip open the outer gaiter to reveal an S-Lab Sense Ultra beautifully moulded into the robust waterproof shell, you can’t help but smile.
Even with a slightly firmer than normal S-Lab minimalist fit, a reinforced outer and a super grippy ‘wet traction’ sole, the shoe remains incredibly light considering its “valley floor to mountain top” functionality. Not an everyday gutty but awesome for Kilian-esque adventures and wet wintry trails.
Featuring an ESS forefoot rock plate to keep your toes in tip-top condition, the latest addition to the EM Trail N2 range is ideal for hard-packed trails (although aggressive multi-directional outsole lugs mean it’s also at home on slippier stuff).
And don’t be fooled by the bulky appearance; while the stack height will feel a little unnatural to those of a barefoot bent, at 266g it’s far from cumbersome, and 1:1 energy foam in the midsole makes you feel as if you’re gliding across the ground. All this, with a seamless upper that wraps around your foot.
Think Hoka only makes more-is-more footwear for those running mega mileage? Think again. The Speed Instinct, while maintaining Hoka’s trademark cushioning, is a more stripped-down proposition, weighing just 225g. The result is a more agile and fast-feeling shoe, more suited to PBs than plodding.
The 3mm drop encourages a more natural running style, although the eye-catching colour scheme is likely to prove as divisive as Marmite. Ultimately, though, this is an exciting and unique addition to the Hoka canon.