The Montrail Caldorado is a no-nonsense trail shoe built for comfort. Starting with the upper, there is a standard lacing system that does the job of securing your foot perfectly and reliably. Then the upper material is breathable – no revolutionary materials are used here but what seems to be a tried and tested combination from the last two decades of shoe manufacturing. Perhaps most importantly, the midsole offers a good combination of cushioning and rock protection underfoot, without sacrificing forefoot flexibility like a lot of trail shoes. Perfect for those long or easy trail runs.
The US brand 361 is making waves across the pond and it’s easy to see why. The Ortega is a perfect blend of cushioning and lightness. There’s a slight amount of stability along the medial arch – but it’s not noticeable if you don’t want it to be – and despite the cushioning, there’s enough responsiveness here for short and sharp off-road outings. Some runners may find the stiff wrap-around heel counter a bit ungainly, and there’s no real wow factor with this shoe, but it is a highly dependable neutral option for all manner of trails.
At 292g, the Xodus ISO isn’t quite as heavy as it looks. The bulky-looking bottom third of the shoe consists of the internal Everun topsole, which adds a layer of energy-returning cushioning (welcome on rock-solid terrain), specially treated rubber on the outsole for extra traction, and lugs that are shaped to shed mud easily. The upper is made with an internal gusset to keep debris out and Saucony’s trademark ISOFIT construction is comfy as ever. A shoe built for the mud, blood, warts-and-all end of the trail spectrum.
With the upper wrapped round the midsole, the Speedcross 4 does a good job of keeping water at bay, and the upper in general feels strong enough to brush off the rigours of the trail. The shoe provides good grip on soft ground, and although the firm midsole lacks flexibility in the forefoot, that can be a positive or a negative depending on your running style. The narrow toe box is perfect for technical trail, where you can plant your foot with precision. But that’s not to the detriment of stability, with the shoe standing up well to uneven surfaces.