Best Trail Running Shoes of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012

Following up on yesterday’s article on the best trail running gear we saw at this winter’s Outdoor Retailer show, here’s a sneak peak at the best trail running shoes we saw there.

[If you want to read up just-released or soon-to-be released shoes, check out our article on the best trail running shoes of summer 2011’s OR.]

From the Ultimate-Ultrarunning-Race-Shoe dept.

Salomon S-Lab Sense (May/June 2012 – $200)
While we fully previewed the Salomon S-Lab Sense back in December, this was the Sense’s OR show debut so it deserves mention. At 6.5 ounces and sporting a 4 mm drop, this is the consumer version of what Kilian Jornet raced in last year. Aside from being designed to be lightweight and extremely breathable, the shoe’s Endofit system provides a remarkably comfortable fit. I’ve yet to wear the shoe sockless, but that’s what Salomon was aiming for with Endofit.

Salomon S-Lab Sense

The Salomon S-Lab Sense

New Balance Minimus Amp (MT1010) (July 2012 – $105)
We’ve also previewed the New Balance Minimus Amp/MT1010, but as this shoe was still hush-hush at last year’s summer OR, it’s ripe for inclusion here. The MT1010 will be the kind of shoe that many a minimalist shoe fan could wear everyday as well as when running a technical 100 miler. At 7.7 ounces, it’s the same weight as the newly released MT110, but with an outsole package and upper that seem a bit more robust. Those attributes are likely to make the MT1010 a good option for those who find the MT110 to have an awesome feel for the first five or ten miles, but might not be able to handle that little shoe in, literally, the longer run.

New Balance Minimus Amp MT1010

The New Balance Minimus Amp (MT1010)

Saucony Kinvara TR (July 2012 – $100)
Saucony’s Kinvara road running shoe has quite the following among the minimalist crowd. Saucony originally ported the Kinvara idea to the trails with the Peregrine line. Now, the company is coming out with the Kinvara TR (8.5 ounces) in another attempt to replicate the road-based Kinvara’s fit and feel. To start with that effort, the Kinvara TR shares its road kin’s 4 mm drop with stack heights of 12.5 mm (toe) and 16.5 mm (heel). The upper is a light mesh with a protective toe wrap. Underfoot, there’s a full rockplate that extends through the midfoot and an outsole featuring multidirectional lugs made from sticky rubber. In other words, this is a trail shoe. One feature that caught my eye was the pair of Hydramax pods located in the heel’s interior that were included for heel lockdown.

Saucony Kinvara TR

The Saucony Kinvara TR

From the I’ve-Run-Up-Green-Mt-With-2-Feet-of-Fresh dept.

New Balance MT110 Winter (October 2012 – $120)
Ok, now for something new! This autumn, New Balance will release a winter version of its hit shoe, the MT110. What does that mean? Essentially, the Winter MT110 is a waterproof MT110 with an integrated gaiter. (To the best of my knowledge, the gaiter itself is not water resistant.) Other than not having to put on a gaiter before heading out to traipse through knee deep powder, the main advantage of this setup is that the upper of the underlying MT110 could be lightened. Otherwise, you’re getting the same awesomeness of the MT110. If you look closely, you can already find lots of pics of Anton Krupicka running the Front Range (and southern California) in the MT110 Winter.

New Balance MT110 Winter

The New Balance MT110 Winter

Salomon Snowcross CS (Fall 2012 – $200)
Salomon is also getting into the integrated-gaiter winter running shoe niche with its forthcoming Snowcross CS. In the Snowcross, the waterproof membrane is only selectively placed on the main portion of Snowcross’s upper, specifically on the front and top. The thinking behind this is to prevent moisture from melting snow from entering the shoe from where the snow likely to be sitting while allowing the rest of the shoe to breath much better. The Snowcross is largely based on the Speedcross 3, although the upper does include some of the advanced materials and construction methods used in Salomon’s S-Lab line.

Salomon Snowcross CS

The Salomon Snowcross CS

From the Brits-Make-Play-on-American-Soil dept.

Inov-8 Trailroc 255, 245, 235 (July 2012 – $120)
This summer, Inov-8 debuts an entirely new line of trail shoes, the Trailroc series. Whereas Inov-8’s lineage comes from boggy British fell running, the Trailroc line is specifically designed for more hardpacked trails here in the US. Generally, the Trailrocs have a lightweight mesh upper sitting on an outsole with numerous (~75 for a moderately sized shoe) medium height lugs located consistently from heel to toe. The outsole uses three different rubber compounds that puts Inov-8s more durable Endurance rubber in higher use areas and its more grippy Soft Sticky rubber in areas where performance need not play second fiddle to durability.

Inov-8 Trailroc 235 245 255

The Inov-8 Trailroc 235, 245, and 255

The Trailroc line has three models that correspond with each model’s weight: 255, 245, 235. As you go toward the light models, the upper becomes more minimal while both the stack height and drop lower. The 255 has stack heights of 10 and 16 mm (6 mm drop), the 245 has heights of 8 and 11 mm (3 mm drop), and the 235 is 6 mm at both the forefoot and heel (zero drop). The 255 and 245 both have Inov-8’s Meta-Shank articulated rockplate. The Trailroc 235 lacks a rockplate.

Inov-8 Trailroc 235

The Inov-8 Trailroc 235

From the In-Another-Life dept.

New Balance RC 5000 (June 2012 – $125)
Even a trail runner can drool over the well-manifested concept of a 3.2 ounce track racing flat. From the beautiful upper to the less dense “RC” racing compound REVlite midsole, this is the sort of shoe that moves the entire field forward. Give me two hours with the New Balance design team and the budget for a proto and I’d have once sweet-as-heck, sub-five-ounce shoe for Leadville.

New Balance RC 5000

The New Balance RC 5000

New Balance RC 1400 ($100)
Ok, this shoe is already on the market, but I’ll admit to only having seen it in passing… it is a road shoe, after all. That said, the RC1400 is the conceptual favorite for my Leadville shoe this summer. For me, a ~7 ounce, 10mm drop, cushioned shoe sounds just about perfect for a highly runnable 100. I’ve still got to see if it works for me during long runs and on non-technical trails, but I’ve got no indication that it won’t.

New Balance RC 1400

The New Balance RC 1400 (Note: the upper and outsole are from two different colorways)

Call for Comments

  •  Alright, which of these shoes are you lusting after and how do you plan to use them?

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