Whether fall means good-bye to summer or hello to winter, the trails are rarely as smooth or unpopulated. Active Junky’s laced up (cinched, in one case) three trail running shoes dedicated to pursuing off-pavement bliss.
Few shoes tested in 2015 tackled mixed and marginal conditions as proficiently as the Terrex Boost GTX. First, Active Junky took to the trails of the western U.S. before scrambling Chilean shale. Constructed to capitalize on an energy-return midsole, the shoe carries an armored attitude to both skittering stones and immovable boulders. As such, Terrex prevailed over every obstacle. Quick to shed mud and debris, the Continental rubber sole pattern is nearly straight off MTB tires and ensures positive handling. While GTX makes for a warmer shoe, there’s no denying the model’s worthiness for all-conditions success; speed lacing and a contoured tongue make the miles slip by.
Best For: Challenging conditions, consideration as a fast-packing option
The Runventure is for the skilled, fleet-footed trailhound who prefers flowy trails to technical terrain. Active Junky’s experience with the brand continues to deepen our appreciation for Topo’s sensibilities: agility, innovation and standout graphics. Abrasion resistant uppers pair with no-sew patterns to slide past brush and rocks while a multi-direction outsole excels at off-camber duty. Testers were surprised at the impact resistance and protection of the molded TPU midsole. While not the lightest in the category, Runventure comes in at outstanding value, making it easy to try the brand before winter strikes.
Best For: Agile runners, speed work in moderate conditions
Runners not ready to commit to dedicated trail shoes will appreciate the Highline. Testers rated the shoe high on fit, comfort and lacing while the softer midsole adapted well to crushed rock, wood chips, grass and less consolidated trail beds. The shoe’s rocker and double toe rand let runners accelerate and hold speed on flat and rolling terrain without fear of unplanned impact. Extremely breathable and adaptable to oddly shaped feet, Highline’s mesh upper allows all-day wear in dry conditions. For the money, this model is a newcomer’s best friend that builds passion for the sport without breaking the bank.
Best For: Aspiring trail runners, favorable trail condition