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The 2014 Trail Test


There’s more clutter in the trail running market than in your OCD uncle’s shoelace, whiffle ball, and newspaper “museum.” This will help with the former.

By Olivia Dwyer | Photographs by Dave Cox

Our reconfigured test categories help you find your next off-road shoe. The new buyer’s guide works for heel strikers, midfoot strikers, or those who run on the balls of their feet. There’s a shoe for minimalist fans, mid-stability supporters, or max cushion addicts. We broke the options into three user-friendly groupings: Town to Trail shoes for asphalt, bike paths, and light trail; Hike/Run shoes, which excel at the hiking part, but also work for running short distances when the mood or terrain allows; and Mountain Running—our full off-road trail shoes for gaining and losing big vertical on moderate to rough trail.

A dozen testers—men and women aged 24 to 50-plus—ran in upwards of 10 pairs of shoes each over the course of three months. Every run included plenty of ascending and descending on dirt and rock, but also quick sprints through town on concrete paths, and slow scrambles on pure hiking terrain. Where do you run?

Women’s Ultimate Set-Up | Men’s Ultimate Set-Up | What We Ran

Town to Trail

Lightweight, functional shoes for runs out the back door and up the pavement to the dirt.

The Winner: Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail M2

Salomon X-Scream

The North Face Ultra Smooth

Scott Trail Rocket

Merrell All Out Fuse


Mountain Running

Speed through the alpine with shoes purpose-built for vertical relief, burly obstacles, and ultra-long routes.

The Winner: La Sportiva Bushido

Mammut MTR 201 Pro Low

Patagonia Tsali 3.0

Hoka One One Rapa Nui 2 / Kailua (women’s)

Altra The Olympus

Newton BOCO AT

Vasque Ultra SST

Dynafit Pantera



Look here for durable, versatile shoes that split the difference between thoroughbred trail runners and traditional hiking boots.

The Winner: Scarpa Ignite

Montrail Bajada

Oboz Helium

Columbia Conspiracy Razor OutDry

Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh (women’s)

Hi-Tec Figaro / Apollo


From the Early Summer 2014 issue.

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