Best Trail Running Shoes of Outdoor Retailer Summer 2013

It’s the beginning of another August and that means it’s time for our roundup of the best new shoes of this summer’s Outdoor Retailer show, where companies highlighted their spring/summer 2014 offerings, which will generally debut in the first two months of next year. For the most part, this year’s show was full of incremental rather than revolutionary change.

Click on any of the following featured shoes to jump down to our preview of the model. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on this list, try searching this page as we provide abbreviated previews on a number of other models. We’ve also published a Facebook album with additional angles and models.

Hoka One One Conquest ($170 – January 1, 2014)

The Hoka One One Conquest is going to be one of those shoes that we have to run in before forming an opinion. Why? Because it looks ridiculous, BUT so did the original Hoka concept and it’s worked out well. So what’s going on with the Conquest? Two main things – Rmat and a truss system.

Rmat is a new midsole material proprietary to Deckers, Hoka’s new parent company. It’s an injectable natural rubber with high weight-to-resiliency properties resulting in greater midsole durabilty and an even more silent ride. The Rmat layer is overlaid with Hoka’s proprietary EVA to maintain the Hoka feel underfoot.

Unlike the traditional use of a truss in footwear, the Conquest’s truss isn’t there to add support. Rather, the truss is there to allow decoupling in the rear of the shoe upon heel strike. The truss and a deep foot frame in the heel make the Conquest look like it rides higher off the ground than it really does. The shoe incorporates water drainage ports.

Hoka One One Conquest

Other updates from Hoka:

Rapa Nui 2 ($130 – January 1, 2014) – While the original Rapa Nui was never released in the US, the Rapa Nui 2 will make it over to the States in a limited release late this year before a full launch at the start of next year. The shoe has been updated with a no-sew upper that provides a more streamlined fit.

Bondi B 3 ($150 – January 1, 2014) – The third version of the Bondi B will keep the same midsole/outsole while the upper switches to a seam-free interior to the upper that’s more flexible, more breathable, and subject to high QA standards. The tongue will be thinner and lighter, while the midfoot has been snugged up a bit.

In addition, aside from the Kailua, all Hoka’s women’s models will switch to a women’s last with January 1 releases.

New Balance 110 v2 (Price TBD – July 2014)

Next year’s revision to the New Balance 110, the 110 v2, will offer a lot more underfoot and dumb down the 110 to the basics. There’ll be a full rockplate. There’ll be a full-coverage rubber outsole that’s a durable, sticky rubber. The upper won’t offer so many easy-tear perforations. The last will switch from the Minimus last to a 4-mm-drop version of NB’s PL last. It’s a last that allows for an insert. The midsole will be switched from Acteva Lite EVA to RevLite.

All of these changes make the shoe sound completely unrelated to the first version of the 110, but, from a wholistic perspective, it’s still a light, 4 mm drop, nimble trail running shoe.

New Balance 110 V2

Other additions and updates from New Balance:

00 v2 Trail ($109 – March 2014) – A radical departure from the original Minimus Zero Trail with a 7 mm lugged outsole based on the UK’s RX Terrain fell-running outsole. There’s a more significant toe rand and a synth suede-infused upper that’s reminiscent of the RX Terrain’s design. The Minimus last is again out with the PL4 last being tweaked down to zero drop. The rock plate’s extended into the midfoot. The result is a more protective, more trail-worthy shoe in a heavier (8.8-ounce) package.

007 (no, seriously) ($99 – April 2014) – A training shoe brought outdoors for bootcamps and mud runs. It’s got a gusseted tongue.

Patagonia EVERlong ($110 – November 15, 2013)

Patagonia Footwear made a radical leap when it released the minimalist EVERmore this year and it overshot what most of Patagonia’s own runners were looking for. With the forthcoming Patagonia EVERlong, 100-mile specialist Jeff Browning spearheaded development of a light, simple shoe that would excel where he does – very long runs in the mountains. Browning started with the idea that many runners toward the front of ultras these days are wearing road-racing shoes, showing that light shoes that run well are key, so you can bet that the EVERlong runs well on road stretches and hardpack trails. When things get technical, there’s a real midfoot wrap (but not over the lower metarsals) and a strategically placed toe bumper where you actually kick things – the front of your big and second toes. Padded heel pods help enhance foot lock down.

The EVERlong does have “minimalist features” such as a straight design in the arch and big toe as well as a 4 mm drop. Likewise, there’s no traditional heel counter. However, while the arch is straighter, it’s also not scooped out.

Patagonia EVERlong

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG ($160 – February 1, 2014)

Next year, Salomon is kicking another $20 off its pinnacle shoe line, the S-Lab Sense. Just as exciting is the introduction of a Softground version of the Sense in the Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG. Otherwise, the Sense remains the Sense. The only other notable update across both models is the addition of a finer outer mesh on the upper, thereby reducing the migration of grit through the upper.

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG

Another update from Salomon:

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra ($160 – February 1, 2014) – Essentially the blend of the S-Lab Sense 2 and Sense Ultra with a higher-durometer midsole than the original Sense, a compromised amount of lugged outsole area, and the Profeel film extending through the midfoot. As suggested above, the S-Lab Sense drops from $180 to $160 next year and features a less permeable (for dirt, not air) mesh upper.

La Sportiva Bushido ($125 – Late February/Early March 2014)

La Sportiva claims the Bushido is a racing/performance shoe, but I see many of iRunFar’s readers making the La Sportiva Bushido an everyday shoe that they might also where on race day. The 6-mm drop shoe swings back from the 4-mm drop of the Vertical K and weighs in at a now middle-of-the-road 9.8 ounces (278 grams). The primary story in the Bushido is the “STB Control” feature that moves the stabilization shank from underfoot to the sides of the shoe to allow for better underfoot feel. It’s got a rockplate, an airy mesh upper, and mix of Sportiva’s Friction Green and Friction Blue outsole rubbers with the stickier rubber in the middle of the outsole.

La Sportiva Bushido

Altra Olympus ($130 – January 2014)

Altra’s message has always been cushioned zero drop. With the Altra Olympus, the company keeps the zero drop and adds even more cushion to a trail shoe a la Torin on the road side. Altra tested various midsole thicknesses and found that runners didn’t notice any difference in cushioning above the thickness they used in this shoe. The Olympus has a less aggressive outsole than the Lone Peak and features some exposed EVA for added traction on wet rock. This shoe is built on more of a stability last… it allows for neutral running, but compensates so the thick EVA doesn’t enhance medial collapse 150 miles into usage. There’s also a firm layer under the sock liner. The toe offers a steep taper for a pretty aggressive toe off. The Olympus’s last has more volume in the big and small toes and is a bit straighter overall. Although not shown in the photo, the production model will include a gaiter trap to go along with a gusseted tongue.

Altra Olympus

Other additions and updates from Altra:

Altra Superior 1.5 ($105 – January 2014) –  Like the Lone Peak last year, the Superior sees significant upper revisions on an unchanged underfoot package in the Altra Superior 1.5. The new version has an enhanced metatarsal wrap, a much tougher upper material, and the Lone Peak’s gaiter trap.

Altra Instinct/Intuition Everyday ($130 – January 2014) – Slick looking, cushioned, zero-drop casual shoes. Perfect for zero-drop fanatics as well as folks like me who like to casually wear low-drop shoes.

The North Face Ultra Trail ($110 – January 25, 2014)

The North Face Ultra Trail seemingly continues down the path blazed by the recently released Hayasa 2, in that it’s a low-riding, breathable trail runner with a decent run feel. The shoe includes TNF’s recently introduced Cradle Guide support system and extends the brand’s FlashDry technology throughout the entire upper for the first time to go along with a lightweight, breathable upper. The Vibram outsole consists of a tight array of tiny lugs that provide a great deal of ground contact and supplement cushioning. The 8.7 ounce (245 g) 8 mm drop shoe has 8 and 16 mm of midsole height in the forefoot and heel, respectively.

The North Face Ultra Trail

Another addition from The North Face:

The North Face Ultra Smooth ($110 – January 25, 2014) – Essentially the Ultra Trail for the road and smooth trails. The outsole and Vibram ground-contact EVA aim to provide a smoother ride for this 9.3 ounce (263 g) shoe.

Vasque Ultra SST (née Shapeshifter Ultra) ($170 – March 15, 2014)

The Vasque Ultra SST (née Shapeshifter Ultra) aims to conform to your foot and the terrain both through materials and geometry. Underfoot, there’s a slightly cupped midsole topped with 4 mm of foam rather than a strobel board and a traditional insole. The midsole material is used extensively in the structural elements of the shoe, including the toe rand, the heel counter, and even the metatarsal wrap up to the eyelets. The upper is a pull-on fit with a BOA lacing system. As for ground conformity, the extensive midsole in the shoe’s 22/28 mm stack heights (6 mm drop) enhances ground conformity along the same line as Hokas and La Sportiva’s Morphodynamic shoes, while the Shapeshifter’s individual pillars allow for more mechanical deformation. Like Hoka’s Conquest, this is one for which judgment will have to be left to the trails.

Vasque Shapeshifter Ultra

ASICS Fuji Racer 3 ($110 – November 1, 2013)

The 8.7 ounce ASICS Fuji Racer 3 features entirely new midsole/outsole tooling and a brand new upper in a 6 mm drop shoe. ASICS added ground contact to the outsole, spaced out the lugs for better mud shedding, and closed in the underfoot drainage holes. The Fuji Racer 3 retains its water-drainage feature by creating underfoot channels (that correspond to forefoot flex grooves) that drain out of the side of the midsoles.

ASICS Fuji Racer 3

Saucony Peregrine 4 ($110 – January 1, 2014)

From the looks of things, Saucony is making the Peregrine a franchise shoe. What else can you say when the Saucony Peregrine is the fourth generation of a yet-to-be-completely-revamped shoe. In that way, it reminds me of the Cascadia of the past half decade. In 2014, the Peregrine will get another millimeter of lug depth to go along with a more aggressive outsole pattern. On the other hand, the shoe’s rockplate has been thinned, which should lead to a more flexible forefoot. The midsole material goes from Progrid to Powergrid, while the upper sees a thinning of the Flexfilm overlays as the material continues to replace additional traditional overlays. The toe box should be more roomy thanks to a new upper pattern and the Flexfilm updates. The Peregrine remains a 4 mm drop shoe that will sit at 9.4 ounces.

Saucony Peregrine 4

SCARPA TRU ($109 – February 2014)

Following on the surprise success of the Spark, the SCARPA TRU is a trail racing shoe built with SCARPA’s concept of “mountain minimalism” – lightening things up, but still offering adequate protection and support – in mind. The result, a 8.5 ounce, mountain-worthy trail racing shoe.The TRU has a 6 mm drop and a very breathable upper.

SCARPA TRU

Other additions from SCARPA:

SCARPA Ignite ($125 – February 2014) – Where the TRU brackets the Spark on the lighter side, the Ignite does so on the upper end. It’s a new take on a traditional trail runner that comes in at 10.2 ounces with a 8 mm drop (10/18 mm midsole heights) and a rock plate as well as a real outsole (4.5 mm lug depth).

SCARPA Ion ($120 – February 2014) – This appears to be a slightly more protective version of the Spark, with a 1.2 EVA rockplate rather than the Spark’s fabric rock protection. It’ll weigh 10.3 ounces.

Merrell AllOut Collection ($110-120 – February 2014)

Merrell’s AllOut collection is a good example of the pendulum swinging back to the center on drop. Neither Merrell nor the other companies that saw huge booms with 0 to 4 mm drop shoes are dropping those models, but they’re realizing that some consumers want and/or need more drop. Hence, the addition of the 6 mm AllOut collection. The Merrell AllOut Rush ($120) appears to be a traditional trail shoe at 10 ounces with 5 mm of lug depth… it’s just got a 6 mm drop. The Merrell AllOut Fuse is a 8 ounce, door-to-trail shoe with 2.5 mm lugs.

Merrell AllOut Rush

Brooks Cascadia 9 ($120 – February 1, 2014)

The eighth update to the classic Brooks Cascadia focuses on the upper with less sewing there. New flat laces reduce pressure points. Count on this one as a “don’t mess with a good thing” update. The latest version weighs in at 11.7 ounces for a US men’s 9.

Brooks Cascadia 9

Dynafit Pantera ($125 – Feb 15, 2014)

In talking with Henry Guzman of Boulder Running Company, who played a large part in the development of the Dynafit Pantera, the shoe fills the hole still empty from the departure of the Montrail Hardrock and is a shoe made for the “other 80%.” It’s a solid, protective, well-lugged shoe (that looks even luggier than it is) that’s snug in the midfoot and open in the toebox. The 8-mm drop Pantera weighs in at 12 ounces (340 grams).

Dynafit Pantera

Vibram Vybrid (Concept Stage)

Vibram’s currently test marketing a 14-mm-stack-height FiveFinger model, the Vibram Vybrid, at a Boston-area store. It’s currently in the concept stage, but worth noting in the context of other developments at this year’s summer OR show.

Other updates from Vibram:

Bikila EVO ($120 – February 2014) – The Bikila’s sole is increased from 7 to 8.5 mm and there’s a new antimicrobial upper.

Montrail

While Montrail is introducing two new models next spring – the FluidFlex II ($90 – February 1, 2014) and FluidFeel II ($110 – February 1, 2014) – both are incremental tweaks to their predecessors. The FluidFlex II seems to be an update to the fit of the upper as well as providing additional medial structure. The biggest update on the FluidFeel II is aesthetic; however, the upper is now more breathable.

Montrail FluidFlex II

While the Bajada remains the Bajada, it may have seen the most meaningful changes in the Montrail line with Fluid Foam being added and the upper mesh being improved to reduce blowout issues.

Rogue Racer fans… stock up this season, the finale for this model.

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (190)

  • NB killing off the 110?

    Stupid stupid stupid.

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  • Wow. These shoes are getting ugly! What's up with all the crazy clown colors. I hope they make the Brooks Cascadia 9 in a different color scheme. What are these companies thinking?

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    • They're thinking, "most the market is demanding flashy bright colors". And it's that simple, the majority of runners are buying brighter colors now, you my friend are now in the minority.

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    • I strongly agree. It is rare to see so many ungly shoes in the same season. I like bright colours, but the combinations i see above, are failures, to say the least.

      you shoe companies for saving me money !!!

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    • Yeah, let's hope for really muddy trails!

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    • Generally, companies are making at least two men's and two women's colorways for each trail model. I tend to take the picture of the brighter of the colorways.

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      • Looks like we went from 1988 (gaudy but cool) to 1990 (just plain gaudy). Lets bring back floral split and big wraparound Oakleys just to match.

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    • If after a single summer's trail run the color scheme still shows something's wrong. Besides, nothing wrong with horrid colors when there's no one around to see me.

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  • Personally, I hate such bright colors, and the way the shoes industry went, both for road shoes, and now for trails shoes, is the ugliest and surely makes me not even come look at new designs. I thought we should be blending in with nature, not yell out against it?

    On another note, was it just an accident, a pick of iRunfar, or a general trend, that 90% of the shoes shown here, by different companies, are all gone "Hoka" platform style? I am not a minimalist by any means, and Hoka does seem to be popular, but all companies suddenly doing same thing? Even Merrell, the well-known low profile? Brooks and Altra, and Sportiva? Asics and New Balance, by naked eye, are the only ones that could still be considered "what it was"...

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    • NB is making both a Hoka style road shoe and trail shoe. Just the market following trends, purchases in the minimalist block are dropping and shoes in the maximumalist category are growing.

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      • I missed the NB Hoka style road and trail shoes, but Brooks definitely launched a thick-midsoled road shoe with the Transcend.

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    • I didn't explicitly call it out, but there was definitely a bit of a trend of adding shoe models with more midsole ... from Vibram to Vasque.

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    • why can't they just make them brown! i'm serious about this. i don't need to be neon while getting dirty in the woods.

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  • Finally my dream shoe. The Vibram Five Finger Toe Shoes with a 5-foot Stack Height! I will be 11 feet tall but with good procioception! 2014 is the year I dominate, folks....

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  • Wow! I literally can't afford any of these. This really is becoming a rich mans sport and getting super ridiculous. I remember a few years ago I was complaining on this site when we started to see a couple pairs of shoes creeping to the 100 dollar range. Now 100 bucks is considered "cheap". Glad the 110's are on sale for 30 bucks each at my local NB outlet store. I would rather spend my paycheck taking care of my wife and kids than blowing it all on a pair of over priced flashy sneakers.

    Good review though. You are just trying to let us know what is out there and I thank you for that. It just frustrates the hell out of me when I see the prices.

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    • The prices are definitely frustrating! But I am told, this is America, a market-driven society, we buy - they sell. Sad.

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    • Just wait until the next season and buy these then. I buy great shoes 1 season out of style for 50 bucks or so. I just received my Mix Master 2's for 35 dollars.

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      • Spot on Marc! I have been running in the previous model Mixmasters and Grits.

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    • And hopefully the "real" 110s will stay in stock and continue to sell at $30 for at least another 12-18 months. July 2014 -- a full year away -- for release of the "v2"?! Gimme a break!

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      • Shoe companys lousy trick to get us all to stock up on the old ones !

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        • That must be it! Because I don't remember last time I bought "this year's new model":)

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    • I've been stocking up on minimus trail and mt110 myself. Hopefully that money is going to ultra runners sponsorship, but I doubt it.

      Anyone priced the full s-lab salomon kit(shorts, shirt, jacket, shoes, pack, compression sleeves...)? Big money! I did find some Salomon shorts on-sale shorts though, they are really good.

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    • If you think these are expensive, you would faint if you walked into a running store in the Nordics. The shoes are about twice the price here, often more. When I go to the US, I go nuts in the sports stores, buying everything in sight :)

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  • MT110v2 is not appealing... Will have to stock the current MT110 even if 2013 color scheme (grey/green) is quite ugly !

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  • Do you happen to have an image of the upper part of Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG? If you have catalog or references on specifications of the shoes, that would be great, too! :-)

    Just wanted to see what improvements they've done or taken away or changed...

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  • Seems like minimal shoes are done and the big shoe companys move on. Now they found their cash cow in fancy colors and Hokalike platforms.

    Glad good old Inov-8 is still around - or so I hope.....

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    • Good thing about Inov-8 is their core design philosophy is about low stack, low drop, full outsole shoes and now they have a lot more options on their natural last. I'll be running in Inov-8s for the majority of my running for quite a while by the looks of these trends...did not know the new 110v2 and 00v2 were on the PL last now...definitely a turn off.

      Bryon, why no Inov-8 preview again this year...they are Skyrunning sponsors and definitely a player in the trail running market...gotta be someone who will sit down with iRunfar from Inov-8?

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      • David,
        Inov-8's only significant launch/update for this show was the introduction of a triathlon line. I certainly met with them, as I always do. :-)

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        • Sounds good. I had heard from a source at the show that they were doing an update on the upper of the Trailroc (much need) and so thought that might be something of note...did you see anything of that nature, will the new upper be randed or just new overlays? Fingers crossed for a randed Trailroc 245 :).

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      • Agreed. The NB PL last is not a good look. It's too wide in the heels for me.

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    • I thought Inov8 turned into a Crossfit company. It seems like every gym rat in SoCal is rocking them now. They still make running shoes? jk

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  • Very interested in the hoka conquest and the vasque shapeshifter. Does anyone know if the shapeshifter provides a good cushion like the hokas?

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  • What about Scott shoes? I have running in them for awhile now and they are great. Any new updates from them?

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    • SCOTT wasn't at the show. The Kinabalu 2 and a trail version of the Race Rocker are quite appealing. I'd have written about the trail Race Rocker, but there are still major decisions being made about the shoe.

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      • (WARNING: Blatent sponsor plug): Held a prototype of the Race Rocker trail last month...they're trying to keep it around the 7oz range (Mens) and the drop in the 4mm-6mm range (of course that feels lower with eRide "rocker" shape).

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        • Sage,

          If SCOTT needs the opinion of a non-elite let me know and I will drive up from Golden to pick up a pair. :-)

          That shoe sounds like it might be right up my alley.

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  • Yep, lots of ugliness coming next year...but that Scarpa looks cool.

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  • does anyone know the drop on the new Cascadia 9 ?

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    • The underfoot package is unchanged, so the drop remains 10 mm.

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  • Any idea why New Balance seems to have walked away from the Minimus last/fit? I loved almost all of the minimus line, and most people I talked felt the same way. Are they going forward with any of the current minimus shoes? Will there be new shoes that fit like the old minimus stuff?

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    • NB needs to bring back the 790s. In my humble opinion that was the best trail shoe ever.

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  • I love the ugly, bright colors. They're getting closer and closer to matching the mentality of ultra runners. :)

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  • Well, I too am a little put off by the overdone colors and designs to the uppers. I guess it's all relative. My MT110's were kinda weird when I first got them, huh?

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  • The move to a more Hoka-like stack height is not all that surprising, even if I'm not all that enthused by it. I am however surprised by the shift back to higher heel-toe drop, and dismayed by NBs shift away from the minimus last.

    Inov-8 has the right idea with it's TrailRoc series (quality issues aside): design a shoe with a natural last, and offer it in 3 different levels of protection/drops.

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    • Love my 245s

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  • Look for some new offerings from Skechers as well (yes, seriously!). GO Trail and GO Run Bionic Trail are two pretty incredible trail shoes at a pretty honest price point. I've been working with Skechers for over a year doing some serious wear testing of many prototypes. These guys, Skechers Performance Division, are serious about developing some quality running shoes. While they're new to the game I think they've done a pretty good job. Give them a chance! Also, be looking for the GO Run Ultra that is like a scaled down, less clownish Hoka. It's far more flexible, better traction and very light. Very excited about this shoe; wore them at this year's Hardrock 100. Should be available by the end of the year. I'm working on my final shoe review now. You can see a preview on my blogsite: http://youngrenepics.blogspot.com/

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    • In my experience, the GObionic Trail has some real durability issues.

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      • True enough and their working on it, however, at a price point significantly lower than a lot of trail shoes these days it's a fair tradeoff.

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  • Did anyone get any pics of the Altra Superior 1.5?

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    • Would love to get a peek at those as well. We want pics!

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      • I know they posted pics of the Instinct Casual to their (Altras) Instagram page but I haven't seen the Superior 1.5s anywhere.

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  • Who cares what color the shoes are? After a couple of runs all of my shoes look pretty similar: brownish.

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    • That's what I was thinking, too :)

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  • Thank you, Bryon, for a great preview...

    Who can keep up with all of these shoes?

    And is anyone making a trail-friendly version of the NB RC 1400/1600? Or do I just keep using them.

    :)

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    • Forget the 1400/1600, Dean... I'm hoping that New Balance jumps straight to a 4-ounce RC5000 Trail. ;-)

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