With summer behind us and cross-country season in full swing have you got the right off-road shoes for the coming months?
Brooks – Cascadia 17 – £135.00
The latest edition of Brooks’ best-selling trail shoe is now in its 17th generation and continues to provide a great combination of cushioning, traction and durability on the trails.
Using the same DNA Loft v2 midsole as found on Ghost and Adrenaline GTS road shoes, you are assured of great cushioning.
The segmented bottom aspect of the midsole and multi-piece sole allows it to tackle contours and anything the terrain may throw at it, constantly biting into the ground, while remaining very well cushioned.
The upper is standard Brooks and that means comfortable from the word go with protective overlays that also aid durability. The Cascadia remains a great choice for the trails.
adidas – TERREX Soulstride GTX – £140.00
Being a TERREX trail shoe we can be assured of durable protection and traction, and the Soulstride GTX delivers. For starters, the GORE-TEX upper provides waterproof protection. Okay, while GORE-TEX may not suit everyone (a non-GORE-TEX version is available), I am a big fan of the material. Keeping the rain and wet undergrowth at bay and allowing me to take my favourite trails on wet days makes for a great shoe.
The Repetitor foam midsole is a new material from adidas and while a little firmer than other options, on this trail shoe it suits the terrain well, being stable and relatively responsive.
Adidas Terrex Soulstride GTX
The Continental rubber outsole is now an established favourite of the brand and provides good traction in both wet and dry and on most trail surfaces from gravel and rock to grass and mud. The Soulstride is a versatile and waterproof option this winter.
Salomon – DRX Bliss – £160.00
A new road-going shoe from trail specialists, Salomon, the DRX Bliss, as the name might suggest provides a rather plush road-going experience.
Its large, broad stack of energyFOAM offers a smooth and somewhat responsive ride. It’s not the springy feel of a carbon racer foam, but for longer, steady-paced running it’s a nicely balanced and enjoyable experience.
Whilst not classed specifically as a stability shoe, it does offer a good level of all-around support thanks to its activeCHASSIS design. Looking like wings wrapping the rear of the foot, these pieces provide a generally stable fit to the rear foot.
Salomon DRX Bliss
The upper is an engineered mesh with regular laces (as opposed to Salomon’s usual trail speed lacing system), with a supportive midfoot that adds a little more structure to the fit.
For fans of the brand, it’s a very good road option and should also pick up some new customers wanting to try something new.
Nike – Infinity Run Flyknit 4 – £154.95
A significant redesign from previous versions, the Infinity Run 4 retains a similar over feel but in a more stable package.
The soft ReactX foam now contains more recycled content, but its overall shape increases its performance in terms of stability.
The lateral side of the rearfoot cushioning features a deep, scooped, concave design that compresses quickly on heel strike. This holds the foot supinated slightly and with a more convex medial side of the midsole, as the foot rolls forward and wants to pronate, it is held in a more neutral position.
The thought behind the design is sound and works effectively for those requiring support.
The soft, knitted, stretch mesh upper has a sock-like fit and while some will find it a little unusual, once used to this construction, it’s a very comfortable feel.
Overall, it’s a soft cushioned, relatively lightweight shoe that’s perfect for general easy day miles.
Nike – Wildhorse 8 – £114.95
Offering great value for the money, this feature-packed shoe offers a similar midsole to the more expensive Pegasus model yet provides more stability. The stability comes from the shaped midsole that wraps up around the foot a little, making it perfect for a touch of control on uneven ground.
Great as a road-to-trail option too, the outsole can deal with firmer trails and road as well as softer or wet tracks. The upper mesh feels tough and durable and has reinforced sections around areas of abrasion yet has a soft step-in feel from the word go.
It’s a great value, go anywhere one-stop shoe.
Salomon – Sense Ride 5 – £130.00
Very much a road-to-trail model, this shoe could equally be used occasionally for road runs. The low profile Contragrip outsole has 3.5mm deep lugs but thanks to being evenly spread across the whole width of the shoe they handle firmer surfaces with ease.
The midsole feels a little softer than previous versions as well as being a little more responsive, so it’s a great step up in terms of comfort.
Cradling the foot well, the SensFit upper has a gusseted tongue and features the familiar Quicklace fastening.
Given its features, versatility and build quality, the shoe is one of the best value models around too. It can go anywhere and feel equally at home whilst giving a comfortable and confident ride with it.
Salomon Sense Ride
HOKA – Tecton 2 – £185.00
Retaining the twin, parallel carbon plates, the Tecton 2 is a highly responsive model that manages to offer the benefit of those plates in a very capable trail shoe. By using the twin-plated system the shoe can adapt to the terrain and remain supple enough when running on contours.
The PROFLY-X midsole is extremely light despite its deep stack and helps keep the overall weight of the shoe down to a remarkable 252g; it feels like it’s not there when on the foot!
A new ‘Matryx’ upper uses a mesh that’s highly durable and inherently hydrophobic meaning it can handle any conditions, which combined with a Vibram outsole makes for a shoe that’s light and agile for off-road racing or training.
Hoka Tecton 2
HOKA – Stinson 7 – £170.00
The latest version of what was one of HOKA’s earliest models, the Stinson is now a feature-packed shoe, with maximal levels of cushioning, stability from a new H-Frame and a sole that sees it able to take you anywhere.
Of course, as you increase cushioning stack heights, there can be a tendency to introduce instability. With the Stinson 7, Hoka has included a deep, active foot frame; a dual-density construction to the midsole with a H-shaped design. The edges of the ‘H’ improve lateral stability while being a little firmer, with the softer centre section allowing the foot to sink a little into the cushioning and improve all-around control. It works well and provides a very well-cushioned and stable feel on the trails.
The upper is plush and as welcoming as any Hoka I’ve tried, it really is a great all-round shoe.
HOKA – Crescendo XC – £75.00
With cross-country season underway, this spike is sure to be a popular sight in the coming months.
Visually striking, it’s a traditional cross-country running spike with the added benefit of great cushioning. Even with a good stack of cushioning running the length of the shoe, it remains very light at around 200g and the feel is one of a lightweight road racing shoe with the added benefit of the six spikes and a full-length studded outsole to provide great grip in the mud.
It’s a great fit, great value and sure to be very popular!
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