New Trail Shoes for Spring-Summer 2021

BOA - Cyklon launch

The to BOA for their support in making this article possible!

In all honesty, having written iRunFar’s new trail shoe roundups for a decade, this is the most exciting round of new trail shoes in many years. In some ways, it’s got the heel of the early 2010s, with numerous shoes that look a little like models that have come before. On the other hand, there are also a bunch of new models and updates to existing models that marry improved materials and manufacturing to make outstanding new trail shoes without necessarily breaking any molds. Whatever your pleasure on the trails, there will surely be a few models among the nearly 50 new trail shoes models noted below (along with a handful of new road shoes) that’ll get you excited. Now, let’s get going!

For more on new trail shoes, check our articles on new trail shoes for fall-winter 2020, spring-summer 2020, fall-winter 2019, and spring-summer 2019.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated with a brand (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) that produces shoes, please share that relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

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

Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra ($160)

The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra looks like a real winner in combining light weight, breathability, and reasonable cushioning together in the same package. Some trail shoes are built around a particular standout feature. The Speed Ultra’s not one of those shoes and that’s fine with this trail runner. The 8.5-oz (240g), 8mm-drop trail shoe rides on a combination Lightstrike/Boost midsole atop modest 2.5mm Continental rubber lugs.

adidas Terrex Speed Ultra

The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra.

Also new from adidas Terrex:

  • Adidas Terrex Speed Pro ($150) – The lean and mean version of the Speed Ultra weighing in at 6.7 oz (190g) with a 4.5mm drop, even more breathability, and lugs upsized to 4mm.
  • Adidas Terrex Two Flow ($110) – A 10.9-oz (310g), 6mm-drop, all-around trail shoe.
adidas Terrex Speed Pro - actual

The adidas Terrex Speed Pro.

adidas Terrex Two Flow

The adidas Terrex Two Flow.

Dynafit Alpine DNA ($160)

The Dynafit Alpine DNA adds a light and fast racing option to Dynafit’s growing trail shoe lineup. This 6mm-drop shoe weighs in at 8.5 oz (240g), and includes a “volume reducer,” which is essentially a second insole to give a snugger fit for folks with lower volume feet. Underfoot, the shoe features a Vibram MegaGrip outsole.

Dynafit Alpine DNA - women's

The Dynafit Alpine DNA.

Also new from Dynafit:

  • Dynafit Alpine ($140) – A 6mm-drop, 9.2-oz (260g) shoe with moderate volume, a no-seam tongue, and Vibram MegaGrip outsole.
Dynafit Alpine

The Dynafit Alpine.

Altra Lone Peak 5 ($130)

The highlight of the 2021 update for the Altra Lone Peak 5 is the switch from a dual-layer EVA/A-Bound midsole to the AltraEGO midsole material, adding cushioning and durability. The integrated Stoneguard was lightened by removing material from the rockplate where protection isn’t needed. However, the overall shoe weight has increased from 10.5 oz (298g) to 11.1 oz (318g). The zero-drop shoe also has a slightly modified outsole design. For more, read our full Altra Lone Peak 5 review that calls the Lone Peak 5 as the best Altra trail shoe yet.

Altra Lone Peak 5

The Altra Lone Peak 5.

Also new from Altra:

  • Altra Superior 5 ($120 – June 1, 2021) – A lighter Stoneguard (like in the Lone Peak 5) and new burrito tongue feature in this 8.8-oz (249g) trail shoe.
  • Altra Timp 3 ($140) – Updated upper with more protection through the midfoot and toe along with additional fit modifications. It weighs in at 11.0 oz (311g).
Altra Superior 5

The Altra Superior 5.

Altra Timp 3

The Altra Timp 3.

Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 ($160)

Somehow the Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 is even lighter than its predecessor, moving down to 6.0 oz (170g) from an already svelte 6.5 oz (185g). Much of the weight reduction likely comes from a switch to the LiteBase version of Vibram MegaGrip that sits beneath the shoe’s 3.5mm lugs. The brand also claims that the shoe’s more comfortable and more durable than the first Norvan SL. One area of targeted improvement is an ankle collar that rides closer to the ankle to reduce the introduction of trail debris into the shoe, while the upper was generally redesigned to minimize friction and increase flexibility made, in part, by a redesigned U-throat/eyelet lacing zone. The durability enhancement comes from a longer lasting midsole material. The 7mm-drop shoe features stack heights of 19/12mm. For more, read our full Arc’teryx SL 2 review.

Arc'teryx Norvan SL 2

The Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2.

La Sportiva Cyklon ($160 – May 15, 2021)

The La Sportiva Cyklon centers around the shoe’s lateral BOA Fit System and its Spyral Tongue EVO system designed for a secure fit with homogenous pressure across the top of your foot. Underfoot, aggressive 7mm lugs made from La Sportiva’s proprietary Frixion XF 2.0 outsole will provide plenty of grip below a moderate thickness, 8mm-drop EVA midsole with medial and lateral stabilizer inserts. Up top, the Cyklon features a “comfort heel” with an integrated pull tab for easily pulling on the 11.6-oz (330g) shoe.

La Sportiva Cyklon

The La Sportiva Cyklon.

Also new from La Sportiva:

  • La Sportiva Karacal ($130) – The Karacal is built for comfort with a high volume fit and plenty of cushion atop 3mm lugs. The 7mm-drop shoe weighs in at 10.2 oz (290g).
La Sportiva Karacal

The La Sportiva Karacal.

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar ($180)

It looks the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar brings lessons learned in Salomon’s ME:sh custom shoe program into a standardized production model. That’s no knock! The S/Lab Pulsar has a highly breathable, sock-like fit upper made from Matryx mesh. While retaining moderate cushioning, this 6mm-drop trail shoe weighs in at an amazing 5.9 oz (170g)!

Salomon S-Lab Pulsar

The Salomon S-Lab Pulsar.

Also new from Salomon:

  • Salomon Sense Ride 4 ($120) – 2021 sees a more breathable, more durable, anti-debris mesh upper and a more secure heel hold for the 10.2-oz (289g), 8mm-drop trail running shoe.
  • Salomon Ultra Glide ($140 – July 2021) – Led by a thick, rockered, ultra-soft Energy Surge midsole; soft, cushy fabrics in the upper; and a road-running last, the Ultra Glide is about comfort. This trail shoe weighs in at 9.1 oz (257g) and sports a 6mm drop.
Salomon Sense Ride 4

The Salomon Sense Ride 4.

Salomon Ultra Glide

The Salomon Ultra Glide.

Hoka One One Zinal ($160 – July 15, 2021/June 15, 2021 Pre-Order)

Okay, so the Hoka One One Zinal doesn’t officially launch until mid-July, but we’re throwing it in as it’s exciting and available for pre-order in mid-June. The Zinal looks like a fully functional trail shoe with 4mm Vibram MegaGrip lugs, a moderate stack height (17/22mm for women; 18/23mm for men), and a fully gusseted tongue with this trail shoe weighing in at a race-worthy 8.5 oz (242g). The Zinal features Hoka’s Profly dual-density midsole with an ultralight foam atop rubberized EVA.

Hoka One One Zinal - women's

The Hoka One One Zinal.

Also new from Hoka One One, a couple road shoes:

  • Clifton 8 ($130 – June 2021) – This softer Clifton weighs in at 8.8 oz (250g), just a hair more than its predecessor, with a new heel pull tab and more rubber coverage underfoot.
  • Mach 4 ($130) – A soft, lightweight foam directly atop a rubberized foam yields a softer, bouncier Mach that weighs in at 8.6 oz (244g).
  • Carbon X 2 ($180) – The X 2 has a refined collar shape, a notched tongue, and reinforcement around the laces and will lose a bit of weight to come in at 8.4 oz (238g) versus 8.7 oz (247g) in the first version of this road shoe.
Hoka One One Clifton 8

The Hoka One One Clifton 8.

Hoka One One Mach 4

The Hoka One One Mach 4.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2

The Hoka One One Carbon X 2.

Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max ($190)

The inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max’s hallmark feature is a generous TPU midsole infused with graphene with the goal of enhanced midsole longevity and energy return. The midsole runs between 19mm and 25mm thick, so it’s more midsole than you’ve ever seen in an inov-8 shoe. Further underfoot, the outsole is made of inov-8’s Graphene-Grip material with 4mm lugs. Up top, you’ll find as generous a fit as inov-8 offers. This trail shoe weighs 12.0 oz (340g) and has a 6mm drop.

Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max

The inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max.

Also new from inov-8:

  • Inov-8 Parkclaw 260 Knit ($145) – A 8mm-drop, 4mm-lug, knit-upper hybrid road/trail shoe that weighs in at 9.2 oz (260g) averaged across its size run.
Inov-8 Parkclaw 260 Knit - women's

The inov-8 Parkclaw 260 Knit.

Craft CTM Ultra Carbon ($250)

The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon is an entry into the new world of well-cushioned, highly rockered, carbon-plated trail running shoes. (The shoe trends toward a road/moderate trail hybrid.) The shoe features Craft’s Vault Foam midsole with a 10mm drop and a total stack height of 40mm. The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon weighs in at 9.2 oz (260g) for a US men’s 8.5 (a half size smaller than most quoted shoe weights).

Craft CTM Ultra Carbon

The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon.

Also new from Craft:

  • Craft CTM Ultra ($160) – A lower priced, slightly lower weight (8.8 oz/250g) version of the CTM Ultra Carbon.
Craft CTM Ultra

The Craft CTM Ultra.

The North Face Flight Vectiv ($200)

Since we could only share broad details about The North Face Flight Vectiv in our previous new trail shoe roundup, we’re including it again here. This is a well-cushioned, highly rockered trail shoe with a carbon fiber plate for propulsion. Further underfoot, it’s got moderate 3.5mm lugs. The Flight Vectiv weights in at 10.1 oz (285g) and, nominally, has a 6mm drop, but that’s somewhat moot on such a rockered shoe.

The North Face Flight VECTIV

The North Face Flight Vectiv.

Also new from The North Face:

The North Face Vectiv Infinite

The North Face Vectiv Infinite.

The North Face Vectiv Enduris

The North Face Vectiv Enduris.

Skechers GORun Razor TRL ($130 – Early May 2021)

This spring, Skechers brings an adaptation of its popular GORun to the trails in the Skechers GORun Razor TRL. The 8.0-oz (227g), 4mm-drop shoe features the company’s Hyper Burst midsole foam (its lightest and most resilient foam) and moderate Goodyear rubber lugs.

Skechers GOrun Razor TRL

The Skechers GOrun Razor TRL.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 ($140)

For the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7, Nike added a large, articulated Zoom Air Bag in the forefoot for increased responsiveness and protection and adjusted the outsole traction for improved grip in muddy conditions. The ankle collar has been updated with a minimal edge design that’s lighter and provides a better fit. An increased amount of open engineered mesh leads to more breathability and better drainage. The bottom eyestay has been adjusted for improved forefoot adjustability. The Nike Kiger 7 goes up in weight from 10.3 oz to 10.9 oz (309g) for US men’s 10 (a full size larger than most weighed models) and maintains its 4.5mm drop (12/16.5mm stack height). For more, reader our full Nike Kiger 7 review.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7

The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7.

Also new from Nike:

  • Nike Wildhorse 7 ($130) – The seventh Wildhorse adds a dynamic fit midfoot lacing system for better midfoot lockdown, increases the amount of open mesh for more breathability and drainability, and adjusts the heel-pull tab to improve ease of entry. The shoe weighs 11.1 oz (328g) for US men’s 10 (a full size larger than most weighed models) and has an 8mm drop (14.5/22.5mm stack height).
Nice Wildhorse 7

The Nice Wildhorse 7.

Brooks Divide 2 ($100)

The Brooks Divide 2 is the company’s go at a hybrid trail shoe that bridges the gap between roads and trails. Updates center around a more structured upper around the heel and midfoot for better lockdown. The shoe maintains its 10.3-oz (292g) weight and 8mm drop.

Brooks Divide 2

The Brooks Divide 2.

Also new from Brooks:

  • Brooks Caldera 5 ($140) – The addition of four lateral and medial midfoot straps and Ghillies to the lacing system gives better lockdown and a more customizable fit. Slightly thicker printed overlays give a bit more structure and protection. This shoe weighs a bit heavier than its predecessor at 10.6 oz (301g) versus 10.0 oz (284g).
Brooks Caldera 5

The Brooks Caldera 5.

Topo Ultraventure 2 ($135)

Topo’s most popular trail shoe gets an upgrade this year in the Topo Ultraventure 2, with a more secure heel and midfoot thanks to a molded foam collar and a new internal belt in the midfoot. The upper sees a more breathable engineered mesh upper with fewer TPU overlays for the 10.4-oz (295g), 5mm-drop shoe.

Topo Ultraventure 2

The Topo Ultraventure 2.

Also new from Topo:

  • Topo Cyclone ($120) – A 5mm-drop, 7.9-oz (224g) road trainer that extends the Zephyr’s line with a lighter, softer option.
  • Topo Fli-Lyte 4 ($115 – June 2021) – This road shoe moves its midsole from EVA to ZipFoam, adds a wider and more stable platform, and upgrades to more outsole coverage with slightly shorter lugs (4-to-3 mm) in a 3mm-drop, 8.3-oz (235g) shoe.
  • Topo MTN Racer 2 ($145 – June 1, 2021) – A 5mm-drop, 10.0-oz (284g) trail shoe updated to fill in some exposed midsole foam, which is now a softer, more resilient ZipFoam. The upper moves to a more breathable material while adding a thin external heel counter and a front D-ring gaiter attachment point.
  • Topo Phantom 2 ($140) – A more cushioned, dual-density-midsole road shoe with an additional 3mm of midsole height, a reduced heel counter, and more outsole coverage with slightly shorter lugs (4-to-3 mm) in a 5mm-drop, 10.3-oz (292g) shoe.
  • Topo Terraventure 3 ($125 – May 2021) – This trail shoe loses more than half an ounce to 10.2 oz (289g), moves from Vibram’s XS Trek to MegaGrip outsole, and moves to two kinds of upper meshes with the rear being more comfortable and the forefoot being more durable.
Topo Cyclone

The Topo Cyclone.

Topo Fli-Lyte 4 - women's

The Topo Fli-Lyte 4.

Topo MTN Racer 2

The Topo MTN Racer 2.

Topo Phantom 2

The Topo Phantom 2.

Topo Terraventure 3

The Topo Terraventure 3.

On Cloudultra ($180)

The On Cloudultra takes the comfort of On Running onto the trails. The 8mm-drop, 10.4-oz (295g) (for a US men’s 8.5) trail shoe is highly cushioned with modest lugging. Aside from On’s characteristic Swiss-cheese midsole, the most defining feature of the Cloudultra might be its FlipRelease tool in the laces, which provides an instant switch from a snug fit to a more relaxed fit and back.

On Cloudultra

The On Cloudultra.

Saucony Peregrine 11 ST ($130)

The Saucony Peregrine 11 ST’s upper receives an update with a more debris-resistant mesh, reinforcing printed overlays, and a mesh debris shield over much of the tongue opening. The grippy trail shoe now weighs in at 11.5 oz (326g).

Saucony Peregrine 11 ST - women's

The Saucony Peregrine 11 ST.

Also new from Saucony:

  • Saucony Peregrine 11/11 GTX ($120 / $150 GTX) – A mesh substitution in the upper adds durability. The two versions weight in at 10.7 oz (310g) and 11.5 oz (326g), respectively. There’s also a Peregrine 11 Wide version.
Saucony Peregrine 11

The Saucony Peregrine 11.

Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX

The Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX.

Merrell Moab Flight ($110)

The Merrell Moab Flight is a lightweight, breathable, all-around trail shoe that weighs in at 8.1 oz (230g) with a 10mm drop. From a sustainability standpoint, the Vibram EcoStep outsole is made from 30% recycled rubber, the upper’s mesh is 70% recycled material, and the laces are 100% recycled material.

Merrell Moab Flight

The Merrell Moab Flight.

Also new from Merrell:

  • Merrell Nova 2/Antora 2 ($110) – In this version 2, the Nova/Antora gets updated upper materials and design. The 8mm-drop Nova 2 weighs in at 9.9 oz (280g).
  • Merrell Trail Glove 6 ($100) – The 7.4 oz (210g) Trail Glove 6 gets both a new outsole and a redesigned upper with better lockdown and abrasion resistance. FYI, it fits about a 1/2 size larger than the Trail Glove 4 did, but similarly to the Trail Glove 5.
  • Merrell Vapor Glove 5 ($80) – A new outsole and a move to a sock-like upper highlight the changes to the Vapor Glove 5. The no-drop shoe weighs in at 4.6 oz (130g).
Merrell Antora 2

The Merrell Antora 2.

Merrell Trail Glove 6

The Merrell Trail Glove 6.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5

The Merrell Vapor Glove 5.

SCARPA Ribelle Run ($140 – June 2021)

The SCARPA Ribelle Run gets featured status here as it appears to represent a category of trail shoe we don’t often see anymore. It’s a true running shoe (as opposed to a light hiker that you could run in) built to be bombproof. It makes me think of the Montrail Hardrock shoe of yore. The Ribelle Run features a rugged upper and a stouter-than-normal connection between the upper and the midsole. It has a well-but-not-overly cushioned midsole with modest lugs of SCARPA’s sticky SuperGum outsole. The ankle collar and tongue are integrated to keep out trail debris. All in all, this seems like a mountain-worthy shoe that still weighs in at a surprisingly reasonable 10.6 oz (300g).

SCARPA Spin Ribelle

The SCARPA Spin Ribelle.

Also new from SCARPA:

  • SCARPA Spin 2.0 ($160 – June 2021) – An even lighter version of SCARPA’s lightest existing trail shoe (8.9 oz/252g), now with a new Pebax Rnew midsole with improved rebound and compression resistance.
  • SCARPA Spin Infinity ($150 – July 2021) – SCARPA’s most cushioned trail shoe to date with a firmer EVA rim for foot stabilization. The 26/22mm stack height yields a 4mm drop for this 10.8-oz (305g) trail shoe.
SCARPA Spin Infinity

The SCARPA Spin Infinity.

SCARPA Spin 2.0

The SCARPA Spin 2.0.

Salewa Ultra Train 3 ($140)

The biggest change found in the Salewa Ultra Train 3 is an entirely new outsole with a switch from Michelin rubber to the brand’s Pomoca rubber. We include this 12.6-oz (357g), 8mm-drop “speed hiking shoe” as an option for those looking for something at the ruggeder end of runnable.

Salewa Ultra Train 3

The Salewa Ultra Train 3.

Columbia Escape Ascent ($140 – May 13, 2021)

The Columbia Escape Ascent brings three new Columbia technologies to the trails. To start, there’s the Adapt Trax outsole compound and tread underfoot. Next, there’s the Navic Fit lacing system to provide extra lockdown over the foot’s navicular bone. Finally, there’s the new Techlite+ midsole that blends energy return and cushioning. The Escape Ascent weighs 10.5 oz (298g) and has an 8mm drop.

Columbia Escape Ascent

The Columbia Escape Ascent.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 ($135)

Various upper modifications make the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 nearly an ounce lighter than its predecessor, with the V6 weighing in at 11.9 oz (337g) for a men’s 9.5. The V6 upper is an engineered mesh strategically infused with TPU for durability and lockdown. The 8mm-drop trail shoe retains the V5’s midsole and outsole in its entirety.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6

The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6.

VJ Sport Ultra ($170)

The VJ Sport Ultra is the brand’s most cushioned shoe to date with a 33/27mm full stack height for a 6mm drop. The shoe’s 4mm lugs are made from VJ’s super sticky butyl rubber, while the upper’s blend of Kevlar and nylon should hold up for plenty of miles. A US men’s 8.5 weights 9.3 oz (265g).

VJ Sport Ultra

The VJ Sport Ultra.

Other Updates

Icebug, Raidlight, and SCOTT have confirmed they do not have any new models of trail shoes launching in the first half of 2021.

We’ve not had a definitive update on first half of 2021 releases from ASICS and Under Armour.

Call for Comments

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand that produces shoes, please share that relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

  • Which new trail shoes for spring-summer 2021 have you most excited?
  • Have any technical questions? Ask away!
  • Know of other trail shoes that came out in the first half of 2021? If so, tell us about them in a comment.

There are 20 comments

  1. WeiDe

    Have been anticipating this post, thanks! I have a question for the Craft Ultra Carbon, that maybe some users can answer / relate to. The shoe smells like my biodegradable garbage, that is out of the box, not after my feet were in ;-) So i need to store it outside my house. You had that same experience? Second question for that shoe: the upper doesn’t offer much to secure the foot, so i slide forward on the downhills. The key problem here is the inlay, with the uneven rubber. My foot is being “massaged” within a few minutes and gets super hot. I often have to stop to walk cause it is unbearable that much friction on the inlay. Tried various socks to no avail. Changed the inlay, but the others i have are more narrow, even less security in the shoe. Any tips or anyone had that? Thanks and enjoy your runs :-)

    1. Gijs Smets

      You just made me go smell my shoes :-) My wife looked at me like I was crazy. The carbon ultras do have a different smell than my other shoes. Kind of like a new car smell (so I think it’s some glue smell?). Hadn’t noticed it before. I guess it’s masked by the surrounding smelly shoes (normal trailshoe stink). I don’t have any problems with lockdown/slippage. Doesn’t removing the original insole take a away a lot of the cushion? It is a thick comfortable insole and I feel those little knobs have something to do with that.

      1. WeiDe

        Mine stopped smelling so strongly after three weeks at the front porch…Yes, the insole is soft and springy, and if i use another one, the shoe feels “flat” and i have to “work harder” in it. However, as i have no real hold in the upper, there is this sliding forward and the knobs rub my bottom feet so much that they get so hot that i need to stop to cool off. Very weird. Pity that, maybe its just me.

  2. Amy

    Living in Jordan, I haven’t had the chance to try on new shoes in the past year+ (very little sold here), and have been stuck buying Nike Trail Pegasus because I know what size to order online (I liked the original Trail Peg 36, but dislike the Trail Peg 2; unfortunately with the Peg 36 I’ve had problems with spines popping the front air pockets). I’m going to be in the US for a small window of time and need to stock up on shoes for the next several months. What would you recommend to someone who likes the fit of the Trail Peg 36 and historically loved Montrails (I like the fit of the Caldorado, but generally most models fit my foot)? Thanks in advance!

  3. Joel

    Nike Kiger 7 ankle and heel area now has a nifty funnel design to encourage rocks to go right into your shoes. Heel and ankle was never a problem before, so might as well make it suck so version 8 can improve!

    1. Daniel

      And the Kiger (and Wildhorse) keep getting more terrible! They used to be fat and light but now they’re they’re fat and ugly! I think they peaked at Version 3.

      1. Caper

        Couldn’t agree more. Add on the horrendous grip on anything but dry rock and they’re a pure stinker. Sprinkle a little water around and they slip and slide. Too bad as the fit is like it was built specifically for my foot type, but the negatives outweigh the positive by along shot.

      2. Adam M Leadbetter

        Wildhorse 3 is one of my favourite shoes of all time. It’s a shame when a model changes so drastically that it’s barely recognisable from what it was. I’m still looking for a suitable replacement for my beloved Brooks Pureflow 4s. Although the Topo FliLyte here have piqued my interest if I can find them at a sensible price east of the Atlantic.

      3. rms

        The Wildhorse peaked at version 4. The flywires in V3 cut into the top of my foot; the V4’s midfoot strap & asymmetric lacing gave amazing lockdown with zero lacing pain (at the time the strap was criticized for the weight gain), and the toebox had just a touch more volume, very appreciated. V5 went backwards in upper design. V6….sigh. I do like the forefoot cushion (best of all versions thus far) and well-shaped toebox. The entire rear 2/3 of the shoe is an unstable heavy mess.

  4. Ben

    So many great shoes in 2021! It’s truly the golden age of shoe tech with options for every use case and foot type.

  5. Jake

    Does anyone else miss the simpler shoe models of the early 2010’s? It seems as companies “want to do more”, but I find myself continually gravitating to simpler models which don’t inhibit mechanics. Also, I remember when a handful of high-profile athletes gave feedback to shoe companies which enhanced their product & the connection to the community – does that still exist? Or has the “everybody is sponsored” model diluted the quality of the product & authentic, genuine connection?

    1. Bryon Powell

      Personally, many of the shoes I’m most excited about in this article are the great new additions in the simpler shoe vein. Stuff like the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra or Dynafit Alpine/Alpine DNA (or the Brooks Catamount from last year). That said, I’m sad to see some simpler shoes getting pared, including the two models I’ve worn the most in each of the last 3, 4, maybe 5 year, the New Balance 1400 and Montrail Bajada III. Still, plenty of great simple shoes out there.

      And, yet, as Ben mentions, there are SO MANY options for folks who like of a specific flavor of shoe. There’s not just the Hoka Mafate for folks who want max cushion. There’s not just the Altra Lone Peak for folks who want zero drop or a large toe box. You could still probably say the same in the minimalist category. Yet, there’s also stuff we couldn’t have imagined in 2011, as well.

      1. Unicorn

        I agree with the sentiment on simpler shoes – just ordered some of the Terrex Speed Ultra to see how it compares to my current favorite, the Scarpa Spin Ultra. After ~10 pair of those I’m hoping that the Terrex might play a similar role but be a titch more responsive/lighter weight. I might give the Dynafit a chance but the previous Dynafit’s have been a bit weird.

        1. Bryon Powell

          Unicorn, I hope you like the Speed Ultra. In my runs to date in ’em, I can say they’re at least different. Haven’t been feeling peppy of late, so can’t say much as to their top end performance yet… but I’m very hopeful!

          1. Unicorn

            Quick thoughts on the Speed Ultra – I like them as a shorter distance/faster shoe vs. Spin Ultra but wouldn’t take them on a highly technical run. They probably top out at ~15 miles for me?

            Positives
            + These feel like they have a decent midsole for the weight class, seems weight savings is mostly in upper. Not listed as dual density but foam feels supportive.
            + Good road-to-trail outsole
            + Tongue works well to lock-in any fore/aft foot movement
            + Pink and teal, back to the ’80s and it’s great

            Negatives
            – Outsole doesn’t have the most traction
            – Light upper and wider fit have my narrow foot moving a bit side-to-side. I would want more lockdown and grip for really technical terrain.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I’ve gotten confirmation of my hunch that the Zinal is not a replacement for the Torrent 2. Both will remain in Hoka’s line up. Here’s what I heard from my contact:

      The Zinal is definitely not a replacement for the Torrent! They’re made for slightly different purposes, so both will remain in the line for the foreseeable future.

      The Zinal ($160) weighs 8.5oz (men’s 9), 4mm drop, really designed to be super responsive, nimble and fast for shorter distance racing. If you want to set a PR on your next trail half marathon or 10k, this one’s for you.

      Meanwhile, the Torrent 2 ($120) is 9.3oz and has a 5mm drop. While it is also designed to be a nimble, streamlined option for the trail, it’s a little more cushioned and soft underfoot, so you can go further and longer with more comfort.

  6. Moogy

    Looks like my new LaS Karacals might be my fave go-to shoe.

    The only ‘issue’ I have with them is that the laces shipped with the shoe are just too short if I want to do the heel lock lacing. I wish that they (LaS) would test this first. Am searching for a lace replacement right now.

  7. rms

    Two runs in the VJ Ultra for me, and they look like keepers. 11.4oz in M13US (about the same as Evo Speedgoat), fairly firm, decently stable, big lugs, snug but adequate room toebox, no complaints to speak of, appears to be a solid shoe.

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