Best New Trail Running Shoes from the 2015 Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Each August, shoes companies debut many of their next year’s trail running models at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, Utah. While these are are dubbed “spring/summer” releases, almost all hit retailer shelves during the following “winter/spring.” Below are some of our favorite models from this year’s summer OR. You should be able to get your feet in them and onto the trails in the coming months!

If you’re interested in a particular brand or model, you can jump ahead to the following models. (Full paragraph previews are bolded in the list.)

New Balance Vazee Summit ($100 – April 1, 2016)
The New Balance Vazee Summit is the closest NB has yet gotten to a trail version of its beloved (at least by me) 1400 road shoe. To start, the Vazee Summit uses the 1400’s performance last, so the shoe has a narrow, locked-down feeling. The Summit also includes the 1400’s 10.5 mm of heel-to-toe drop and a similar amount of midsole (actually 1 mm less), but with a change from the lighter RevLite midsole compound to more durable Acteva Lite. The biggest and most-visible difference between the 1400 and the Vazee Summit is the latter’s 4.5 mm lugs in a full-coverage outsole. Not surprisingly, there’s also a 1 mm rockplate in the forefoot. The one-piece upper includes a thin mesh with wide application of a thin film overlay. Weights are in the low-to-mid 9-ounce range for U.S. men’s 9s.

New Balance Vazee Summit

The New Balance Vazee Summit.

Also from New Balance:

  • New Balance Minimus 10v4 Trail ($115 – April 1, 2016) — The 7.2 oz, 4mm drop Minimus Trail receives a major update with the incorporation of Revlite midsole material, a switch from a gusseted to a burrito tongue, and a softer, more open forefoot. Oh, and the outsole-delamination problem should be resolved.
New Balance Minimus 10

The New Balance Minimus 10.

SCOTT Kinabalu RC ($130 – January 2016)

Not long ago, SCOTT introduced a trail-racing shoe in the Trail Rocket. That push has evolved into the SCOTT Kinabalu RC with input from Joe Gray. The Kinabalu RC weighs in at 8.3 ounces (235 grams) with a new seamless upper with a little more lateral support in the midsole. There’s a small rockplate in the forefoot.

SCOTT Kinabalu RC

The SCOTT Kinabalu RC.

Also from SCOTT:

  • SCOTT T2 Kinabalu 3.0 ($140 – January 2016) — 9.9-ounce (280-gram) update to the Kinabalu line with increased upper durability and dust protection.
  • SCOTT Kinabalu Supertrac ($145 – January 2016) — 2 mm lower to the ground than the Kinabalu 3.0. More midfoot flexibility for increased “dynamic stability.” Extremely lugged outsole.
  • SCOTT Kinabalu Enduro ($150 – January 2016) — Moderately lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole with many flex grooves to allow for underfoot adaptation to the ground. One-piece upper with extensive molded overlays.
SCOTT Kinabalu 3.0

The SCOTT Kinabalu 3.0.

La Sportiva Akasha ($140 – February 1, 2016)

The La Sportiva Akasha is built for comfort. It’ll be the most-cushioned shoe in La Sportiva’s line, have a wide, stable heel, and a wide toe box. It should also be quite protective with a significant rubber toe cap, gusseted tongue, and overlasted upper. This may have you thinking of an overbuilt, overly heavy shoe, but that’s not the case with the 11.35-ounce Akasha, which includes a decoupled heel and considerable thought in the “path of balance” midsole/outsole package.

La Sportiva Akasha

The La Sportiva Akasha.

Also from La Sportiva:

  • La Sportiva Helios 2.0 ($125 – February 1, 2016) — La Sportiva has updated the Helios to help the upper better compliment the foot. They’ve added medial and lateral cutouts over the ball of the foot to make the shoe more flexible, removed the heel counter for better feel, and added a new air mesh for better breathability. Also added is a speed lace.
La Sportiva Helios 2.0

The La Sportiva Helios 2.0.

Altra Olympus 2.0 ($150 – December 2015)

The Altra Olympus is the brand’s maximum-cushioning trail shoe. While some loved the previous versions, there was a glaring issue: traction. Well, with the Altra Olympus 2.0, the company looks to have solved that issue by adding toothier lugs (from an average of 2.5 mm deep to 4.5 mm) as well as Vibram Megagrip. They also removed a layer of mesh from the upper to make it more breathable… which also helped in making the shoe an ounce lighter with it now weighing in at 11 ounces (311 grams).

Altra Olympus 2.0

The Altra Olympus 2.0.

Also from Altra:

  • Altra Superior 2.0 Update ($110 – January 2016) — Altra has made an incremental upper update with height added to the toe box as well as a lengthening of the men’s shoes by about a half size. The midfoot and forefoot uppers receive some internal reinforcement to lessen mesh blowouts.

Salomon Wings Pro 2 ($140 – February 2016)

With the evolving marketplace, Salomon’s line of XT Wings shoes increasingly became seen as hiking shoes. Next spring, the Salomon Wings Pro 2 look to transform the non-S-Lab Wings line back into trail running shoes. The biggest change here is the removal of the entire plastic “chassis” ahead of the heel. That and other tweaks should give a more natural feel including allowing some moderate pronation. The Wings Pro 2 also picks up ProFeel Film for rock protection. They’ve got a 10 mm drop and weigh in at 11.8 ounces (335 grams).

Salomon Wings Pro 2

The Salomon Wings Pro 2.

Also from Salomon:

  • Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra ($180 – February 2016) — With the fifth edition, Salomon takes the Sense Ultra back toward its roots with a much-airier mesh in the upper. It’ll let in a bit more dust, but it’ll also be cooler and breathe better, which is more in line with its original target race, the Western States 100.
Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra

The Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 ($130 – January 1, 2016)

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR created a bit of a stir upon release. It was Hoka’s lightest-weight and most-affordable trail shoe. For next year, they’ve tweaked the upper to make it hardier/more trail worthy. Specifically, the toe bumper is beefed up, the mesh closed up, and TPU overlays as well as an external heel counter added.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2.

Also from Hoka One One:

  • Hoka One One Stinson 3 ATR ($160 – January 1, 2016) — An all-around more-comfortable upper with improved heel counter, nicer tongue, and overlay updates.
  • Hoka One One Carbon Rocket ($180 – April 1, 2016) — [Update: Just prior to publication that this shoe will not be publicly available, although it should be available to some Hoka-sponsored athletes, so you may see it around.] Okay, so it’s a road shoe, but tons of folks wear Hoka road shoes on the trails. What’s noteworthy here is that the Carbon Rocket weighs only 6.3 ounces (178 grams) and has a carbon plate that should add rock protection in addition to spring. With a lower stack height (19/20mm for men and 18/19 for women), the 1 mm drop might start to come into play.
Hoka One One Carbon Rocket

The Hoka One One Carbon Rocket.

Saucony Peregrine 6 ($120 – January 1, 2016)

Not messing (too much) with a good thing seems to be Saucony’s take with the Peregrine. For the Saucony Peregrine 6, the company’s added a bit more ground contact for a better ride and swapped in its Everun midsole, included 3 mm of cushioning above the strobel (that cardboard bit below the insole) in the heel for a softer ride. This version will weigh in at 9.4 ounces and maintain a 4 mm drop.

Saucony Peregrine 6

The Saucony Peregrine 6.

Brooks Cascadia 11 ($120 – December 1, 2015)

The Brooks Cascadia 11 is largely the Cascadia 10 with improvements to minimize the upper-tearing issues found in its predecessor. More specifically, Brooks generally improved durability in the forefoot and added of a mesh layer over the medial midfoot support webbing to prevent debris from getting between the webbing and underlying mesh.

Brooks Cascadia 11

The Brooks Cascadia 11.

Montrail Trans Alps ($130 – February 1, 2016)

If a style of running shoe has been neglected since, well, as long as I’ve been publishing iRunFar, it’s been the shitkicker trail running shoe in the vein of the old Montrail Hardrock. Well, the Montrail Trans Alps looks like a pretty solid shitkicker of the shoe. It’s got 6 mm lugs, a full-foot rockplate, a substantial guidance system engineered from blended-softness midsole foam, a real toe bumper, significant overlays on the upper, and a gusseted tongue. Sure, it weighs 12.5 ounces and that sounds like a lot with today’s options, but it’s a lot lighter than what this sort of shoe weighed five or six years ago.

Montrail Trans Alps

The Montrail Trans Alps.

Also from Montrail:

  • Montrail Caldorado ($120 – February 1, 2016) — An 11.0-ounce (313 g), 8 mm drop shoe that looks a lot like the Bajada with Montrail’s multi-softness FluidGuide midsole technology added in.
  • Montrail FluidFlex F.K.T. ($120 – February 1, 2016) — The existing Fluid ST with a new upper, notably with a lower ankle collar with a little more padding.
Montrail Caldorado

The Montrail Caldorado.

The North Face Ultra Endurance ($125 – January 25, 2016)

Whereas the recently introduced TNF Ultra MT is a specialized “top-of-the-mountain” shoe, the The North Face Ultra Endurance brings some of those features to all-around, everyday trail running. First, the Ultra Endurance brings over the awesome grippiness of the Ultra MT’s Vibram Megagrip outsole, but lowers the 5 mm lug height to a more multipurpose 3 mm. The shoe’s footprint also appears to take a less-tapered, more-traditional shape for everyday comfort. There’s also a bit more length in a given size shoe in the Ultra Endurance than the Ultra MT. As you’d expect, there’s also TNF’s cradle, an ESS forefoot rockplate, and a breathable mesh with ultrasuede and TPU overlays on the upper.

The North Face Ultra Endurance

The North Face Ultra Endurance.

Mammut MTR 201-II Boa Low ($129 – Spring 2016)

Finally, a running shoe with two-directional BOA lacing–not only do you dial the knob to tighten the laces, but you can incrementally loosen the laces by turning the dial in the opposite direction. The Mammut MTR 201-II Boa Low is based on an upgraded version of the MTR 201, which has a 6-mm drop. It’ll weigh in at 10.7 ounces (305 grams).

Mammut MTR 201 II Boa Low

The Mammut MTR 201-II Boa Low.

Also from Mammut:

  • Mammut MTR 201-II Max Low ($119 – Spring 2016) — A more-cushioned version of the baseline MTR 201-2 with a 22-mm heel stack height, quicklace, and well-lugged sole.

Dynafit Feline Vertical Pro ($159 – February 2016)

The Dynafit Feline Vertical Pro looks like a pretty badass shoes. It’s an 8.8-ounce (250 gram) shoe that’s heavily lugged with Vibram Megagrip. It also features a carbon plate running through the forefoot and midfoot for protection and quick rebound as well as a quicklace system. It’s got 4 mm of drop and a racing fit. Looks like it’ll be a fun ride.

Dynafit Vertical Pro

The Dynafit Feline Vertical Pro.

Also from Dynafit:

  • Dynafit Feline Vertical ($129 – February 2016) — The same as the Feline Vertical Pro, but with a plastic rather than carbon rockplate.

ECCO Terratrail ($130 – January 2016)

The ECCO Terratrail is an interesting mix. The top 80% of the upper is an ultra-airy mesh with minimal overlays, while the lower 20% is heavily reinforced. There also the full-coverage outsole with a sticky rubber compound and a fully interlocking lug pattern that should enhance comfort on smooth trails and road, but slightly detract from the 3 mm depth of the lugs. It’ll weigh in at 10.93 ounces (310 grams).

ECCO Terratrail

The ECCO Terratrail.

Call for Comments

  • Which shoes are you most excited to check out?
  • Fire away with any spec questions you might have on these models!

There are 31 comments

  1. @davidhenry114

    Great preview Bryon. Didn't realize the Vazee Summit will be Acteva instead of RevLite which will be better for it's intended use…still think there is a little too much lug on it being that it is on the 1400 platform and 10mm offset; either should be lugged and 4-6mm drop or less lug and 10, but oh well :).

    Lastly, you've got all the info right on the Dynafit Feline Vertical/Pro, but have the Salewa Lite and Ultra Train in the pictures. Both the Salewa's and Dynafits look good, but different shoes.

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      I agree with you that I'd like a little less lug on the Vazee Summit. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Revlite midsole, but I'm used to the 1400's Revlite on trails. Still, the Acteva will provide better durability in an everyday trail shoe.

      Thanks for the Salewa/Dynafit catch. I've taken out the photos for now and will see what I can find. (So many shoes!)

      1. fschuetz

        Cant see any pics of the Salewa/Dynafit shoes but Dynafit is actually owned by Salewa. Maybe its the same shoe with different branding? They recently also have licensed some Skimo Boots with a Dynafit logo that are also sold from the brand that makes them.

        1. Valle

          They’re not. Quite different shoes. The Salewas for instance have a Michelin outsole. The Dynafit Feline Vertical have a Vibram Megagrip outsole. I’m currently using the Feline Vertical, the standard ones not the PRO, and they’re absolutely fantastic. Light, fast, super precise, and with an outstanding grip on wet surfaces, especially rocks, which was missing on the previous Feline SL version. Also, the name Vertical is kind of misnomer since I found these shoes quite polyvalent, excelling in different terrains, not necessarily only on vertical ascents as the name and Dynafit suggest. They remind me a little bit of the first NB110 version, but with a huge improvement!

      2. TomCaughlan

        So, I'm seeing some conflicting info on Revlite versus Acteva in the midsole. Running Warehouse is stating that Revlite will be used:

        Can NB confirm or deny this? I'm guessing that Bryon is correct, however I'm wondering if there were any last minute changes prior to production? I love Revlite and I hope that its being used.

        1. erikdube

          Tom, the 2016 Q2 catalog where the Vazee Summit is listed shows "a REVlite midsole and Rock Stop plate offer a lightweight and protective ride". The samples we saw were REVlite as well. We didn't hear about a different material being used in previous samples.

            1. AdamLawrence

              I would guess RevLite, just because NB seems married to that stuff for both the Vazee line and it's RC stuff, both of which this shoe partakes of. RW also has the stack at a pretty substantial 19/29…a good thing, imo, but pretty different than just slapping an outsole and rockplate on the low 1400…although the 1400v4 looks like it may have added a bit of stack too.

            2. Bryon of iRunFar

              Last Thursday I confirmed with the Product Developer (or some similar title) that the Vazee Summit will be made with Acteva Lite, although the name of that compound may be changing. Definitely, not the RevLite found in the 1400s.

  2. @mightbeanybody

    Well that's a lot of heavy, clunky shoes.My pair of shoes I use for running trails and ultra weigh the same as the lightest single one of those, 3.6 ounces each. The shoes I wore on my ultra this year weighed just 3 ounces each. And as you are likely to ask, no, they are not designated as 'trail shoes' but I had little trouble on my latest 12 mile muddy trail run. I ran once in 'proper' trail shoes and the so-called toe protector gave me a black toenail. No more shoes with 'toe protectors' for me and no more damaged toenails. Mind you, my big toes make holes in the top of the shoes, but that's far better than losing toenails. Happy feet.

  3. another_william

    Thanks a lot for the shoe update, Bryon.

    I was hoping for a Fresh Foam Zante trail version, but I guess that was just a rumor after all.

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      Well, the Vazee Summit take the place of the MT110. It's no more different from the MT110v2 than the v2 was from the original MT110. So, the name MT110 is gone for now, but this is the next in that lineage.

      1. gtorgun

        Also, by popular demand, New Balance re-released the predecessor to the MT110 earlier this year – the MT101. As long as New Balance continues to support this shoe, I have little need for anything else.

  4. @koreykonga

    I put quite a few miles in the Vazee Summit this summer and out of all the trail shoes I tested/raced in, those were easily my favorite. I can't wait for them to hit the shelves. Stoke levels are off the charts for those bad boys!

    Side note: also pretty impressed with the Montrail FF FKT. Super cushy ride.

  5. @koreykonga

    I put quite a few miles in the Vazee Summit this summer and out of all the trail shoes I tested/raced in,those were easily my favorite. I can't wait for them to hit the shelves. Stoke levels are off the charts for those bad boys!

  6. @streetshark

    I'm excited to hear that Altra is updating the Superior 2.0. I had a mesh blowout during a race. I've since replaced them with the MT1210v2 Leadville's and Merrell All Out Peak's. Both are great shoes, but missing the zero drop and lightweight of the Superiors.

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