Trail Tested: High Performance Trail Running Shoes
Published on 07/19/2013
My father was part of expanding the U.S. Interstate Highway system back in the day. With the recent spate of high-performance trail shoes, it’s a shame not every road is packed with dirt or sketchy gravel. It's no secret: the rockiest climbs are rewarded with epic views.
HOKA ONE ONE STINSON EVO
HOKA ONE ONE STINSON EVO widens the landing zone on every stride without encasing feet in a block of heavy nylon. Testers found their toes flowing into this model, thanks in part to a locking lace system for positive alignment. Hoka One One came to the U.S. from Europe with a style closer to Ronald McDonald’s oversize footwear, yet has won the hearts of distance runners from coast to coast. Active Junky grabbed the shockingly light STINSON EVO for early season sessions on mixed trails and terrain outside of Denver, Colorado. Goofy as the name sounds, the Hubble Zero Gravity Technology lets Evo bounce back from impact without losing stability. The biggest challenge was on pinched trails where rocks squeezed the wider sole and forced alternate foot placement.
INOV-8 ROCLITE 295
Narrower’s no problem for INOV-8 ROCLITE 295. This grey and lime trail shoe snaked through tight turns to climb with confidence. Roclite’s super breathable upper paired with a toothy outsole proved to be well-matched with hotter weather (up to 115 degrees) including recent rock climbing approaches to Tom’s Thumb north of Phoenix, Arizona. The Fascia Band on Roclite put traction front and rear while flexing enough in the midfoot to retain nimble handling. Insoles on this model were some of the best Active Junky has encountered in the entire running category as narrow laces tied easy and fast. A nearly 270-degree wrapped rand and toe bumper armored 295 against the elements.
ECCO’s ULTRA TRAIL
Protection is paramount with ECCO’s ULTRA TRAIL. From the color way name, BLACK/BLACK/DARK SHADOW, comes a sense of running in foreboding, difficult places. Ultra steps up with the fit and construction Active Junky’s come to associate with this European brand. Of note on this model is the outsole. While not as aggressive as some we’ve tested, it negotiates mixed surfaces without ever snagging stones or mud. Much like a coated fry pan, Ultra gets things cooking and leaves the sticking behind. In addition, Ecco’s Natural Motion build transfers energy consistently for competent ascents and descents. No matter which pair takes the mountain for individual runners,
NOW TRAIL BARS
NOW TRAIL BARS from Phil Keoghan (host of the Amazing Race) fill the tank. One of the most legit gluten-free bars Active Junky’s tasted and tested, NOW is where today’s trail chewing fanatic should turn for sustainable energy delivery. All natural and dairy free is good. Manuka honey from New Zealand and plenty of chia seeds are great. The peanut and almond version got spread around and even non-runners were ready to take the hill after smiling through a 1.43oz bar. Some trees nuts and soy mean NOW isn’t everyone’s ideal bar so vigilance around ingredients is advised.
HOKA ONE ONE STINSON EVO for the long haul, plush ride. INOV-8 ROCLITE 295 for speed and agility. ECCO ULTRA TRAIL for durable, easy-care comfort. NOW TRAIL BARS for anytime the blacktop ends -- and Interstates are left far behind.
Image via NatGeo