HOKA Speedgoat 2
Despite the popularity of the original, HOKA has completely revamped the Speedgoat with this latest iteration. A wider forefoot provides much greater stability, and a stacked midsole gives nothing away in terms of responsiveness – but does feel firmer and more stable than in the first version. A Meta-Rocker midsole encourages forward movement even on tired legs and the Vibram Megagrip outsole does exactly what it says on the tin.
The BOA lacing system is the most obvious high-tech inclusion – allowing for lightning quick adjustments on the run – but the mono-sock fit earned the most praise from your tester; hugging your foot like a glove and eliminating hotspots and sore points. The SpEVA midsole provides a run-boosting amount of bounce back and a protective rock plate – though contributing a few grams to the overall weight – provides peace of mind when navigating technical trails.
Salming Trail 5
Salming has followed HOKA’s lead by using Vibram Megagrip in the outsolewhich, coupled with the shoe’s incredibly comfortable wrap-around, mesh upper, makes for a formidable off-road shoe. A ‘Torsion Guidance System’ – keeping the heel to the ball of the foot at a 75° angle – provides optimal rear foot stability and deep grooves towards the front of the outsole ensure the shoe bends with the natural movements of your foot.
Mammut MTR 201-II Max Low
The most noticeable aspect of this shoe is the sizeable 12mm drop, which creates a considerable rolling motion from heel to forefoot. It takes some getting used to, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing – coupled with the EVA and PU foam in the midsole the overall feel is very responsive. Despite the weight, it’s hard not to want to run fast in this shoe. The mesh upper is arguably not the most durable, but does hug the foot nicely, while padding on potential sore spots protects nicely.
inov-8 Trailroc 285
inov-8’s brought its Trailroc series back from the wilderness, and it was well worth the wait. The 285 is a delight to run in, with ground contact feel and overall responsiveness contributing to a shoe that makes even your heavy-footed tester feel light and nimble on his feet. An external heel counter provides a good amount of stability, but the upper is more akin to that of a road shoe – seam-free and breathable – while the sticky rubber outsole provides unparalleled grip.
Salomon Sense Ride
Impressively lighweight and generally difficult to fault, the Sense Ride is the perfect entry-level trail shoe. The Sensifit system cradles the foot and moulded EVA cushioning provides a good amount of energy return. The outsole, meanwhile, is designed with all terrain in mind:
featuring different sizes and shapes of lugs, with softer and grippier Contagrip compounds, for traction over any surface. Jack of all trades can sound a bit derisory, but in this case it’s high praise indeed.