Best Trail Shoes of Winter OR 2016

As we approach the release of many of summer 2016’s trail shoe releases, it’s time to share our favorite trail-worthy shoes from January’s Outdoor Retailer show.

Here are the models you can read up on below. Click on the model to jump to the preview below. (Shoes in bold have more substantial previews.)”

Montrail Rogue F.K.T. (August 1, 2016 – $110)

I’m not sure quite what it is, but I’m excited about the Montrail Rogue F.K.T. It’s a 10.1 ounce, 10mm-drop shoe built on the longstanding Rogue midsole platform. I’ve loved both versions of Montrail’s Bajada, but the Rogue F.K.T. weighs an ounce less than the Bajada II will being more breathable and being solidly treaded with 4.5mm lugs and an outsole pattern that breaks from the brand’s Gryptonite tiny square lug pattern. While far from overbearing, the Rogue F.K.T. upper is way more structured than the Rogue Fly. The Rogue F.K.T. does include a rockplate.

Montrail Rogue FKT

Montrail Rogue F.K.T.

Also from Montrail:

  • Montrail Trans Alps F.K.T. (August 1, 2016 – $130) — An ounce-and-a-half lighter version of the recently release Trans Alp achieved primarily by stripping down the upper. This version weighs 11.1 ounces in men’s 9.

Montrail Trans Alps FKT

Montrail Trans Alps F.K.T.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct (August 1, 2016 – $130)

Where Hoka’s Speedgoat nails the burly trails of the Wasatch and Hardrock 100s, the Hoka One One Speed Instinct targets slightly milder trails. At men’s 9 weighs in at 8.4 ounces, 1.3 ounces lighter than the Speedgoat. The outsole is reminiscent of Inov-8’s Trailroc platform targeted at hardpacked American trails. It’s also 8-10mm closer to the ground, but retains significant cushioning.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct

Hoka One One Speed Instinct


Also from Hoka One One:

  • Hoka One One Clifton 3 (July 1, 2016 – $130) – It’s a road shoe, but it’s Hoka’s staple model and folks use it on the trails. For this version, Hoka improved the outsole durability with more outsole material around the perimeter of the forefoot. Hoka also broadened the forefoot fit.

Hoka One One Clifton 3

Hoka One One Clifton 3

Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine (August 1, 2016 – $250)

Ok, there are niche products and then there’s Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine. Quite simply, it’s designed for blazing the boundary of trail running and mountaineering. To start, there’s a fully integrated gaiter (with a nice angled side zip) that’s heavily reinforced on its lower extents with a medial ankle guard for added protection. The toe rand is heavily reinforced. The outsole is made from a compound designed to provide wet traction while being laid out in a mountaineering pattern. The shoe is built on the Sense Ultra 5 last with a 6 mm drop. It’s crampon compatible. Despite all of this, it still weighs in at 12.2 ounces (345 grams) for men’s 9.

Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine

Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine

Also from Salomon:

  • Salomon Speedcross 4 (August 1, 2016 – $130)/Speedcross 4 CS (August 1, 2016 – $145) — Salomon’s trail running staple is finally updated, if only with tweaks. The drop goes from 11 to 10mm, the underfoot package is more sculpted in the midfoot, and the chevrons around the outside of the shoe are now complete rather than “cutoff,” adding 22% more surface area.

Salomon Speedcross 4

Salomon Speedcross 4

  • Salomon S-Lab Speedcross (August 1, 2016 – $180) — The replacement to the Fellcross loses some foam padding in the upper and moves to a memory foam in the tongue. Four chevrons at the rear of the forefoot have been reversed to provide traction on aggressive descents. 9.9 ounces (280 g).

Salomon S-Lab Speedcross

Salomon S-Lab Speedcross

  • Salomon Speedtrak (August 1, 2016 – $115) — The Fellraiser with the same fit, better materials, and a new name.

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 (July 1, 2016 – $120)

In my mind, Altra’s Lone Peak is the brand’s iconic model. While the upper has seen major changes over the past few year’s, the outsole lug pattern has seemed permanent. Out on the trails, you could tell in an instant if a runner had previously trod by in Lone Peaks. That’ll change with a significant retooling of the outsole in the Altra Lone Peak 3.0. The midsole remains mostly unchanged, while the upper should offer more midfoot support and well as more medial impact shielding. It’ll weigh in at 9.8 ounces in men’s 9.

Altra Lone Peak 3.0

Altra Lone Peak 3.0

Also from Altra:

  • Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell (July 1, 2016 – $150) and Mid Neoshell (July 1, 2016 – $160) — The new Lone Peak will also be released in a Neoshell version as it was with the 2.0. However, Altra is now adding a mid (i.e., low boot) member to the Lone Peak family that weighs in at a scant 12.3 ounces.

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neoshell

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neoshell

  • Altra Tokala ($90)/Altra Desert Boot (May 2016 – $120) — I wear my Altra Instinct Everydays nearly every day, but these leather shoes are not idea in really hot or wet conditions. So, I’m excited for Altra to release two new casual models, the slip-on canvas Tokala on The One 2.5 platform as well as the lighter-than-the-Everyday leather Desert Boot on the Torin 1.5 platform.

Brooks Mazama (October 1, 2016 – $140)

The Brooks Mazama looks to be a slicker, faster cousin of the famed Cascadia. Weighing in at 9.3 ounces with a 6mm drop, the stats definitely suggest such. So does the forefoot propulsion plate and some front-to-back rigidity (though maintaining torsional flexibility). There are moderate lugs formed from sticky rubber along with what looks to be a pleasantly breathable upper with a lace garage.

Brooks Mazama

Brooks Mazama

Also from Brooks:

  • Brooks PureGrit 5 (June 1, 2016 – $120) — While still maintaining its heritage, the Brooks PureGrit continues to go a bit more mainstream as it looses its “outrigger” and gains a more streamlined upper along with generalist omnidirectional lugs. It’s got a 4mm drop in a 9.9 ounce package.

Brooks PureGrit 5

Brooks PureGrit 5

New Balance Gobi (July 1, 2016 – $95)

If you’re a fan of New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole, keep your eyes open for the New Balance Gobi set to hit the trail in July. It’s built on the Zante v2 midsole with its 6mm drop. The outsole has a moderate lug depth with lots of ground contact, so it should transition well from the trail onto the road. There’s a gusseted tongue, but no rockplate given the generous outsole. It weighs in at 9.5 ounces in a men’s 9.

New Balance Gobi

New Balance Gobi

Also from New Balance:

  • New Balance 910v3 (July 1, 2016 – $110) — This shoe features a tongueless booty construction. They’ve closed up the mesh a bit in the midfoot for more structure. 11.25 ounces and 8mm drop.

New Balance 910v3

New Balance 910v3

Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3 (March 15, 2016 – $120)

In updating to the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3, the company went to a full-rubber outsole for more traction and durability. The shoe has four pores in the rear of the shoe as well as a perforated sockliner for drainage. The heel counter is also better padded in this 10.8-ounce, 4mm-drop shoe.

Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3

Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3

The North Face Ultra MT Winter (July 25, 2016 – $170)

This year The North Face Ultra MT Winter will bring the brand into the fold of those offering trail shoes with integrated gaiters. The uppers will be splash proof in the forefoot and include rear overlays to help keep snowshoes on, quick-pull laces, and a more generous-than-usual heel pull. Under its exterior, the underlying Ultra MT upper has been simplified and lightened given the full exterior shell. Underfoot, the Ultra MT Winter features the Ultra MT’s aggressive lugs, but they’ll be made from Vibram IceTrek for added grip on ice. There’s an 8mm drop.

The North Face Ultra MT Winter

The North Face Ultra MT Winter

Saucony Razor Ice+ (September 1, 2016 – $180)

Continuing on in winter mode, the Saucony Razor Ice+ is another gaiter-equipped winter specialist. The shoe definitely leads with its outsole, which features a mix of brand new Vibram Arctic Grip (great on wet ice) and IceTrek (best on drier ice) compounds for outstanding grip along with a thermochromic outsole patch for a little flare. It’s got a 4mm drop with the Peregrine’s midsole. The gaiter has a super-soft lining and a front zip. The tongue is quite thick (for warmth?) and there’s a speed lace. It weighs in at 11.6 ounces.

Saucony Razor Ice+

Saucony Razor Ice+

Also from Saucony:

  • Saucony Xodus ISO (June 1, 2016 – $130) — Saucony’s Xodus range continues with 5mm shaved off both sides of the heel for a more nimble ride. There’s no rockplate, but the Xodus now features Saucony’s Everun topsole, so it provides additional, closer-to-foot cushioning.

Saucony Xodus ISO

Saucony Xodus ISO

Merrell All Out Crush Shield (July 1, 2016 – $120)

The Merrell All Out Crush Shield builds on the company’s Tough-Mudder friendly All Out Crush’s identical midsole (7mm drop) and outsole. What’s new? The upper. It’s got TPU overlays for mud and water shedding along with a breathable tongue that aims to offer protection from morning dew or occasional mud. It’s got a moderately aggressive outsole and a 7mm drop.

Merrell All Out Crush

Merrell All Out Crush

Call for Comments

Which of these models are you most excited about?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re leaving a comment regarding a product made by a company with which you’re affiliated (employee, ambassador, etc.), please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

There are 29 comments

  1. Tim

    I keep hoping with each new version of the Puregrit that the midfoot midsole magic of the PureGrit 1 will come back. Seems the outsole is back to a more solid piece vs sculpted arch area of recent iterations. Any word if it’s more rocker like (as was PG 1&2 vs 3/4)?

    1. Loubrenner

      I am currently testing the pg5. I don’t have any prior pure grit experience to compare. I don’t find the current model to be “rockered” at all. You are correct about the outsole lacking contour.

  2. Jay

    I did a 50 miler a month ago in the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 3 and it was the first time after a 50 that I didn’t get any niggling injuries despite my worst training block ever.

    Aggressive and sticky tread on a very flexible outsole, wide toebox for my fat feet, 4 mm offset, and tons of cushion. There aren’t many shoes out there that are both flexible and highly cushioned (think Hoka level cushioning).

    1. Barry Young

      Any idea how the fit of these compares to their GoRun models? I’ve been using those for the last few years for road races/speed-work and think they’re great. Mainly because I can often pick them up for dirt cheap.

    2. Camille

      I tested the GoTrails last fall, which was the GoRun Ride with the rubberized sole. It was a really great shoe at under 10 ounces. Unfortunately, Skechers chose to release the Trail Ultra instead, which from talking to stores is not selling very well and is very heavy. I hope Skechers releases the GoTrails to the public cause it’s a better shoe.

      (btw, I’m no longer sponsored by Skechers, as their road shoes didn’t work for me, but I can candidly say that the GoTrails was an excellent shoe that I got a lot of miles out of!)

  3. toe lug

    Nice to see manufacturers creating winter shoes for places that have winters. try as I might, I lack the time to ski up a hill every day due to suffering from a job.

    -How is that Salomon crampon compatible without a heel welt and a flexible (I assume, it’s a running shoe) midsole?
    -If the Saucony winter shoe had more aggressive lugs (the small gaps underfoot are guaranteed to pack with snow, creating a road slick outsole) that are still big enough to drive hobnails through, I would’ve been mighty excited.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I can’t speak to the Salomon crampon compatibility except to think that they tested it.

      As for the Saucony, I’m thinking the Razor Ice+ is intended for, well, ice rather than snow. The key for the outsole working is for it to have actual contact with the ice rather than having hobnails in between the ground and outsole. Having briefly tried the Arctic Grip compound twice this winter, it’s pretty unbelievable how effective it is.

      With regard to hobnails, pretty much any road shoe (with thin outsole) can take short sheet metal screws that are quite effective.

      1. Tim

        Thanks for this article. Does the S Lab XA Alpine have a Speedcross bottom? I never understood why a shoe for winter is not designed with better lugs.
        Also do you know what the drop is in the S Lab Speedcross?

        Thanks!

          1. Adam Campbell

            Tim, I have used the Salomon shoe and love it. It is good/best for a strap on, not step in crampon, although you can use them with step in style crampons despite the lack of heel and toe notch. The reinforced toe makes it much more comfortable across the toe with a crampon than a regular trail runner. The sole is rigid enough to work with a semi-rigid crampon, while still allowing you to run comfortably once off the ice. It also has a much stickier rubber than previous Salomon models, so works really well scrambling on rocks. Obviously it is not a pure mountaineering boot for technical ice climbs where you would want something stiffer, but it is ideal for “alpinrunning” – here is a good explanation about how to use your crampon on a running shoe, except you won’t need the toe foam with this model https://alpinrunning.org/2014/05/16/running-shoes-with-crampons/ – happy exploring and play safe!

            1. Tim

              Thanks for the feedback Adam, one last question what would you give it for a temperature rating and what is the coldest temperature you have worn them in? You can provide Celsius I can do the conversion. Thanks!

            1. Adam Campbell

              Hi Tim, sorry, I just saw this. I used them in temps up to -20C at about 2,700m without (too much) discomfort, but I was moving the whole time

    2. AJ Schirack

      I have the previous years model. The Crampon compatibility is a somewhat vague claim I think. Petzl makes a crampon that will work with most any boot (I could probably get them to work with my shoes if I needed too, might not be comfortable though). I believe I have the VASAK with Leverlock configuration, but I’ll have to check tonight or tomorrow. I can send you a picture as well.

      1. toe lug

        the superior has a wedge toe that rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and even that one is a lot fatter than the first superior. Many liked the lone peak because of its generous fit in a (semi) minimal package, not all of us have skinny euro feet.

  4. Bruce

    hi bryon–thanks for the great writeup! i was actually wondering if you (or anyone else) had tried the new salomon sense pro 2. supposedly a bit softer, for better or worse, and maybe a somewhat different fit? my feet are narrow, so i’m hoping they’re stiil snug as before–size down again?

    thanks,
    bruce

    1. Mike

      I purchased the sense pro 2’s, but haven’t run in them yet. I find that the sizing is the same as the original.

  5. Gzrrnnr

    Many of the trail shoes shown have the heel-toe drop listed. Who cares if you are going up or down rough trails? Your foot is going in all directions. Sounds like more marketing BS to me, and I have been running for 40 years.

    1. Loubrenner

      I don’t work for any shoe companies and I agree with you there is a lot of BS out there, but heel to toe differential is definetly not in that category. You are probably just lucky enough to be able to adapt to different heights without issues. Personally, I could be blind folded and the second I step in a shoe I know the heel to toe difference and if it’s going to cause me back pain. Anything over 5mm and I am in for trouble.

      Traction on the other hand, mostly BS.

      Happy running.

      1. Bryon Powell

        And I’m on the opposite side, put me in anything less than 6 mm (that’s not super sized) for a decent run and I’ll be a hurt puppy the next day. :-)

        Agreed regarding traction. Wore my 10mm drop (my happy place) road flats for all 100 miles of Hardrock last year and will again this year.

  6. Rob Plagmann

    With Cascadias weighing in at close to 12oz, I’m excited to see if the Mazama will end up a go to replacement.

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