The five best off-road shoes for any terrain this autumn.
Here our resident Running Shoe Guru takes a look at a range of trail shoes suitable for a variety of surfaces.
Saucony – Endorphin Edge – £200.00
Using the PWRRUNPB foam found in the brands road racing shoes and combining it with an outsole to provide excellent traction makes this a great, fast off-road model. Add to that mixture a Carbitex carbon-fibre plate and you suddenly have a high-performance shoe that can go anywhere at speed.
Impressed with the shoe from the word go, it is reminiscent of the recently launched Endorphin Speed 3. Fast, flexible and with a great, energised, almost ‘bouncy’ feel, it makes you want to pick up the pace on any terrain simply to make the most of the ride. You may think a carbon plate wouldn’t work as well on the trail, but this version has been cleverly engineered to allow stiffness when required for propulsion but also adapt to the uneven nature of trails, allowing for good ground feel.
The cushioning comes in at a relatively thick 35mm in the heel with a 6mm drop, so high when compared to many traditional trail models, but the carbon plate helps keep the foot stable and the traction from the 4mm deep lugs adds an extra level of confidence on rough ground.
The fit is great and essentially that of a road shoe but with reinforced overlays to add a little protection and durability in areas prone to abrasion from the trail.
PERECT FOR fast paced off-road racing or training this provides high-tech cushioning and carbon with a rugged sole to tackle any terrain.
HOKA – Mafate Speed 4 – £160.00
Essentially creating the maximal cushioned off-road shoe category, the Mafate broke the mould when it came to cushioning and traction for long distance off-road running. Worn by many of the athletes in the recent UTMB, the shoe employs the brands lightest yet most energised cushioning foam, PROFLY+. Able to soak up impact on those long mountain days the shoe feels as comfortable and welcoming at mile 100 as it does when you first step into it.
The brand’s ever present rocker shape is here in the midsole and helps the high stack of cushioning roll along smoothly. Grip comes courtesy of the Vibram Megagrip outsole with deep, 5mm lugs some of the deepest on off in the selection on these pages.
The upper now uses a single layer jacquard construction. This keeps the weight down a little but also provides a close fit and more breathable environment for the feet. A protective rand around the toe protects from rocks and ensures durability making this a shoe that really can go the distance.
PERFECT FOR those long days on the trails, the Mafate provides endless cushioning with great grip.
- Looking for a road shoe with more cushioning? Check out more models here
Salomon – Speedcross 6 – £130.00
A shoe that helped define the trail running shoe category, the Speedcross has gained many fans over the years thanks to a blend of cushioning and traction. This update stays true to the formula but becomes lighter with increasing the grip.
An updated outsole retains the grip but sheds mud more easily to improve performance in the wet.
The new Energycell+ midsole cushioning is a little lighter than previously and improves the rebound qualities for a smoother and more responsive ride.
The upper keeps the familiar Quicklace system and adds a partially shrouded section to the lace to help keep debris out. The upper itself also keeps grit and debris at bay by using a closely woven fabric that’s reinforced to protect and support the foot and make for hard wearing performance.
PERFECT FOR those wanted a close, dialled-in fit with versatile traction suitable for all types of terrain.
Nike – Wildhorse 7 – £109.95
The React foam midsole used in the Wildhorse manages to provide a great blend of cushioning on firm ground as well as stability on rough terrain. The broad footprint and rear-foot creates stability that holds the heel snugly with a nicely rounded shape that doesn’t feel bulky.
The grip is deep enough to provide good traction on wet muddy tracks but good spacing ensures it sheds any mud easily. Again, the spacing of the outsole studs means you can cover road stretches with ease thanks to the even distribution of contact.
The upper is a breathable mesh with a large, rubberised toe bumper to provide protection and add to the durability.
A soft, extended heel collar sits up a little higher around the ankle to give a very neat fit and keep debris out.
PERFECT FOR those wanting a good value all-rounder than can tackle any route you take it.
ASICS – Fuji Lite 3 – £125.00
The soft engineered mesh construction of the upper in this shoe gives it the feel of a road model and in that, it feels incredibly comfortable. The heel collar is nicely padded and cut a little lower than many off-road models so allows a large range of movement and helps the feet adapt to contours easily. There are rubberised overlays bonded onto the upper in key areas of potential abrasion from the trail, these help with both protection and durability.
The Flytefoam midsole offers good cushioning and again is reminiscent of a road shoe, making this model perfect on firmer tracks and gravel trails. The midsole flares a little at the sole to provide stability, adding a sure-footed feel to the shoe.
As mentioned, the outsole pattern suits gravel paths, forest trails and dirt tracks and provides sufficient traction. On stretches of road the shoe is fine too, proving perfectly comfortable. Softer ground and muddier paths are perhaps not its forte, but this model is more about light trail and comfort.
PERFECT FOR those wanting the feel of a road shoe with a little more durability and versatility for mixed routes.
read about more trail shoes in the latest issue of AW