Best Trail Running Shoes 2021 | All-Weather Footwear For Flying Down Fells And Hurtling Down Hills - Outdoors Magic

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Trail and Scramble Shoes

Best Trail Running Shoes 2021 | All-Weather Footwear For Flying Down Fells And Hurtling Down Hills

Trail running shoes come with many variations in grip and weight. Here's what to look for and the best options out there

For trail running in the UK, it’s essential to have something on your feet that will help you feel confident enough to take that muddy corner quickly, to skip down a wet, rocky path, climb scree and jump logs. On UK terrain, many trail running shoes fall down. Often they’re not built for the incessant mud or the wet rock, the ice-smooth chalk or highland bog. There are a peculiar set of conditions across this wet northern island, and the shoes need to stand up, as do you. For this reason, we’ve compiled our selection of the best trail running shoes out there for 2021 along with a buyer’s guide to help you make the right shoe choice for your needs. So here goes…

Outsole Grip

The first thing to be looking out for on a trail shoe is the grip. In many cases, particularly in places where it’s muddy and wet, you’ll want as near to football boots as you can find. That being said, if you’re trail running on dry and dusty paths, overly aggressive lugs might be a hindrance.

Another issue can be when the lugs on an outsole are so deep and so close together that they hold onto mud and become clogged. This then affects the amount of traction you’ll get. The trail shoes in this list are made by reputable trail running brands and all of them will be designed to shed mud, though we’d argue that some, most notably Inov-8s options, will be better than others on slippery UK fells.


Some trail shoe outsoles look aggressive but are made of tough rubber, meaning they’re great on muddy paths, but they’ll be like ice skates on wet, steep roads or chalk.

When running, your feet and toes are constantly making tiny adjustments to help your balance. If there’s a hard sole, and one that doesn’t twist torsionally, then the effect of your toes on your balance could be quite negligible. Somehow, the result can be a feeling of instability, making you lose that much-needed confidence.

Compare, for example, your walking boots. Apart from being uncomfortable for running, they’d also feel unstable. Good trail running shoes should allow you to feel the ground and have enough space to let your toes work. Some of the examples here will enable the foot to be very close to the ground meaning the foot can balance well. The negative is that you’ll feel more of the stones and roots.

What Does ‘Stack Height’ Mean On Trail Running Shoes?

It’s easy for trail running brands to throw ‘stack height’ and ‘drop’ numbers at you, without explanation of what they influence, so we’re here to put that straight.

Firstly, stack height represents the thickness of the midsole at both the toe and heel. With the modern-day polarisation between highly cushioned and barefoot running shoes, this number is becoming an increasingly important stat that’ll show how the shoe will likely behave. Put simply, shoes with high stack heights will be more cushioned, but less responsive due to little underfoot feel. Low height shoes will be less cushioned, but will have greater stability and feel underfoot.

The amount of stack height you choose is of course all down to personal preference.

What Does ‘Drop’ Mean On Trail Running Shoes?

The difference in stack height between the heel and toe is what’s known as ‘the drop’. A 0mm drop, for example, would have the heel and the ball at the same level – as you would barefoot. In recent years, ‘barefoot running’, where people run in shoes with a very low stack height, has become extremely popular. The drop can be anything between 12mm and 0mm. Anything below 5mm would be considered a ‘low-drop’ trail running shoe.

“High drop shoes promote a heel strike… while low-mid drop promote a mid-forefoot strike”

The drop of the shoe affects how your foot strikes the ground whilst running. High drop (8 mm+) shoes promote a heel strike (due to the cushioning in the heel), while low-mid drop (- 8mm) promote a mid-forefoot strike.

It’s important to remember that stack height and drop are independent of each other. Depending on your preferred gait, you could find high stack height trail shoes that still have a zero or low heel-to-toe drop.

Do Trail Running Shoes Need To Be Waterproof?

Another factor to consider is whether you want a waterproof membrane. And the answer isn’t that obvious. The waterproof membrane is basically a bootie that sits in the shoe. Yes, it will keep water out, the flaw, however, is there’s one huge hole in the top where you put your feet and once water gets through it, it stays in. Waterproof shoes will serve you well if you’re running on damp ground and aren’t likely to put your foot in anything deeper than your ankle. When that’s likely, you might be better off wearing something that will let water in and then let it straight out.


The Best Trail Running Shoes of 2021

In this test of a surprisingly diverse range of off-road running footwear, we’ve addressed all of the key areas mentioned above and suggested where each pair will be best placed. They’re all great, but in different ways and we’d recommend them for different uses. There are three overriding questions to consider when you’re looking to buy a pair of trail shoes: 1) Where are you most likely to be using them? What kind of terrain is it? 2) Do they fit? Is there room for your toes to wriggle? Do they pull tight? And 3) What is the end use? Are they for mountain marathons or a soggy parkrun?

  • Arc’teryx Norvan LD – Best in Test Trail Running Shoe
  • Altra Timp 1.5
  • Dynafit Feline Up Pro
  • CimAlp Drop Control
  • New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro
  • Salomon XA Elevate Trail Shoe
  • Inov-8 Trailroc G280
  • Inov-8 Terraultra G260
  • Adidas Terrex Two Parley
  • Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 Trail
  • Icebug Acceleritas7 RB9X
  • Inov-8 X-Talon 230
  • Vibram Five Fingers
  • Merrell Choprock Trail
  • Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX
  • Saucony 10 ST


BEST BUY: Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2

Price: £140
Weight: 260g
Best for: Long training runs, orienteering races
Key attributes: Breathable, lightweight, good traction

This is a trail shoe built for long runs, the kind of thing that’s designed for those mountain excursions where you’re taking on a mix of sustained climbs and long, loping descents, over all kinds of terrain and over the course of a few hours as well. It’s a good option for orienteering challenges or longer fell races.

The midsole provides just the right amount of cushioning. Photo: Mike Brindley

The lightweight, minimalist uppers are made from a durable polyester mesh with reinforced sections to add support, structure and a bit of protection around the toes. For comfort, there’s a subtle-ish padding around the ankle cuff and then a lovely tongue that has an elastic gusset on one side to create an almost sock-like wraparound. One final nice touch on the upper is the little stretch pocket at the top of the tongue that you can tuck your laces into to keep them out of the way.

The midsole provides just the right amount of cushioning, particularly underneath the heel, thanks to its blend of EVA foam. Arc’teryx have also included a small rock plate, and while this isn’t very noticeable, we suspect you’d realise the difference if it was taken away.

Underfoot, the outsole has been upgraded to Vibram’s new Litebase technology, which cuts weight without affecting shock absorption or grip. The lugs have a depth of 3.5mm which is about average for a trail shoe. They give good grip on muddy tracks and gravel as well as decent ability on wet rock.

Full Specifications

3.5mm lugs / 9mm drop / 27mm heel, 18mm toe stack height / Vibram LiteBase outsole / EVA/Polyolefin midsole / TPU film and synthetic toecap / Single layer mesh upper / 4mm OrthoLite 3D moulded insert.

Selected for the 2020/21 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –Read our full Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2 review.

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Altra Timp 1.5

Price: £120
Weight: 312g
Best for: Distance trail running, fastpacking
Key attributes: Well-cushioned, good traction, zero drop

A popular shoe among long-distance hikers and runners right now, particularly over in the U.S. The Timp 1.5 is a follow on from the original Timp from Altra, one that’s more cushioned and slightly stickier in terms of grip. It sits between the ultra-cushioned Olympus and their low profile Lone Peak.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

There’s a larger toe box here compared to other running shoes, and this is deliberate. The idea is that it allows space for your feet when they start to swell as you begin to log the miles in. This wider design is also said to let your big toe sit straighter in the shoe, meaning that you’ll be able to fully apply its strength when ‘toeing-off’.

In keeping with Altra’s typical style, it’s a zero drop sole unit meaning that both the heel and toes are the same distance from the ground. This makes their shoes suited to those who prefer a more natural feel when running. Some benefits to a zero drop when compared to ramped shoes, are reduced impact on the knees and less strain on the lower back. It’s a case of each to their own with this kind of thing, but still, if you struggle with injury in those areas and haven’t tried zero drop shoes yet, particularly those by Altra, they’re worth considering.

Full Specifications

5 mm Contour Footbed / FootShape toe box / 29 mm stack height heel to toe / EVA midsole / DuraTread outsole.

Selected for the 2019/20 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –  read our full Altra Timp 1.5 review.

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Dynafit Feline Up Pro

Price: £160
Weight: 230g
Best for: Muddy trails, variable conditions
Key attributes: Lightweight, precise, grippy

This aggressively-soled, yet lightweight trail running shoe has been designed to get you up to the summit as fast as your body and lungs will allow.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

The crucial feature is the aggressive outsole. First you have the sticky rubber compound; a Vibram Megagrip optimised to give as much wet and dry off-road traction as possible. Then you have the deep, arrow-shaped lugs to help claw you up the mountainside, whilst planting you securely on the ground for the downhill. These have also been cleverly designed so that mud will shed rather than clinging on and clogging things up.

The shoe weight overall is 230g (per half pair) and as expected with a shoe of this weight, you’re getting a minimal drop (4mm) to give you that feet-to-ground feeling, but there’s still plenty of protection from roots and rocks thanks to a Carbon Shield in the midsole.

Finally, the upper features a lightweight synthetic mesh which is all pulled together by a quick lacing system which has a sort-of mini gaiter covering it to keep any unwanted dirt and rocks out. To stop the excess lacing from flapping about, all you need to do is tuck it into a little stretchy pocket at the top of the tongue.

Full Specifications

Vibram Megagrip outsole / Vibram Lite Base reduces weight / 4 mm drop / lightweight, protective upper / quick lacing system with stretch fabric lace cover to stash shoelaces.

Selected for the 2019/20 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –  Read our full Dynafit Feline Up Pro review.

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CimAlp 864 Drop Control

Price: £170
Weight: 325g
Best for: Injury-prone runners and hikers
Key attributes: Sturdy, protective, innovative

The clever 864 Drop Control shoe from CimAlp is a progressive, forward-thinking, trail running product that’s all about improving performance and preventing injuries. Coming with three pairs of insoles (8mm, 6mm, 4mm), the 864 Drop Control will help you to evolve your technique and run with a more natural stride. How? Well, the three insoles allow runners to gradually reduce the height of the heel (aka the drop), and work from a heel strike towards landing midfoot. Landing midfoot improves natural damping, and encourages a more efficient, natural, stride, in the long term potentially minimising the risk of stress injuries.

The shoe's stabilising heel cup will help to keep you steady. Photo: Mike Brindley
The progressive soles will help you improve your technique. Photo: Mike Brindley

If you’re new to trail running, this forensic and geeky approach to your technique might set alarm bells ringing. After all, you just want to run, right? The great thing about this shoe though is that it can fix bad habits before they’ve set, and also be of great use to people wanting to evolve and improve how they move through the hills and mountains.

Full Specifications

Vibram Megagrip outsole / Heel cup / stone guard / mesh uppers / seamless inner / Lycra tongue with storage for laces.

Selected for the 2020/21 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –  Read our full CimAlp 864 Drop Control trail shoe review.

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New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5

Price: £120
Weight: 324g
Best for: Muddy trails, variable conditions
Key attributes: Lightweight, precise, grippy

These shoes have got that perfect combination of protection, traction, and comfy cloud-like feel underfoot. The latter can be attributed to the Fresh Foam midsole. Created from a single piece of ultra-cushioned foam, this provides a really plush ride, even on the hardest of trails (or any road sections you hit). The shoe also has synthetic uppers with a toe bumper and a Vibram MegaGrip outsole.

Your feet are well protected in these things. Photo: Mike Brindley
The Fresh Foam midsole softens up the feel of the shoe nicely. Photo: Mike Brindley

The shoes have similar levels of cushioning to many road-biased runners, with the added benefit of increased traction and tougher materials around the toes for technical trail running. There are more lightweight options for the gram counters out there, but for those in search of comfort and stability for long days out on the trail, these are a solid choice.

They also boast very stylish looks. While that may not be top of the list of priorities in a trail shoe, it also makes them a great footwear option for more casual use.

Full Specifications

8mm drop / Fresh Foam midsole / Synthetic upper / Vibram outsole.

Selected for the 2020/21 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5 review.

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Salomon XA Elevate GTX Trail Shoe

Price: £69
Weight: 300g
Best for: Light trails
Key attributes: Grippy, sturdy, high cushioning, great value

Salomon have a proven history of creating some of the finest trail-running shoes out there – just look at the feet of the majority of the lineup during a trail race and you’ll notice a high proportion of them will have that Salomon logo. With these, the XA Elevate, they haven’t dropped the ball.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

Featuring a specially-designed rubber compound on the outsole called Wet Traction Contagrip (a proprietary tech from Salomon), the men’s and women’s XA Elevate, is made for tackling steep trails that involve not just mud but also wet and slippery rocks.

The 5mm trapezoidal lugs help dig and grip into damp ground and are able to shed sticky dirt easily, while there’s a 26mm-thick heel (and a 8mm drop from the heel to toe altogether) meaning there’s a good bit of protection underfoot.

In the midsole there is in fact a double-density compressed EVA foam which has a slight stiffness to it but it’ll still provide enough shock absorption to protect your joints on solid ground. A side reinforcement and mid plate in the chassis as well not only extends the life of the shoe but protects from rocks and roots.

Top that off with Gore-Tex waterproof protection and you’ve got a very decent option for running on light trails that have a bit of moisture on them.

Full Specifications

8mm drop / 17mm midsole / 25mm heel / QuickLace lacing system.

Selected for the 2018/19 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full Salomon XA Elevate review.

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Inov-8 Trailroc G 280

Price: £140
Weight: 280g (per shoe)
Best for: Fell and mountain running
Key attributes: Tough, grippy, precise

This is a shoe for trail, mountain and fell running. More specifically, it’s a shoe for runners venturing onto hard and rocky terrain. If you’re familiar with the trails around Wasdale in the Lake District, particularly the rocky, bouldery and compacted one that leads up Scafell Pike, we’d say this shoe would be right at home there.

The new and crucial ingredient is graphene, a super-strong material that has been incorporated into the sole unit for added durability.

As for the midsole, that features a full length lightweight shank to provide a little bit of rock for energy return and to block out any sharp and hard stuff underfoot.

The upper has a tough, durable and structured feel to it but without making the Trailroc feel heavy or too stiff and constricting. It’s mostly mesh and there’s a hell of a lot of PU lamination across it, along with a protective toe bumper.

Full Specifications

8mm drop / 20mm heel, 12mm toe / Graphene G-Grip outsole / Powerflow+ midsole / 5th gen Meta-Plate shank.

Selected for the 2020/21 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full Inov-8 Trailroc G280 review.

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Inov-8 Terraultra G 260

Price: £140
Weight: 309g
Best for: Fell and mountain running
Key attributes: Durable, grippy, ideal for UK trails

Dubbed the world’s toughest running shoe, the Terraultra G 260 was the first of inov-8’s new G-series of shoes using graphene-enhanced rubber that’s claimed to be 50% stronger, more durable and more elastic than run-of-the-mill rubber.

Minimalist internal padding makes them fast drying without detracting from comfort, a roomy forefoot allows for feet swollen by mega-distances, but these still feel nimble and plant with great trail feel.

Photo: Jon Doran
Photo: Jon Doran

Our tester Jon Doran found they offered a Velcro-like grip on hard to medium-soft surfaces and uncanny tenacity on wet rock in particular. “The first point I’d make is that the Terraultra is designed for long trail runs, very long trail runs over challenging terrain,” says Jon in his on-site review for us. “That doesn’t mean you can’t use it for shorter outings, but that’s not really its purpose in life and it has a number of features designed to work best when you’re churning out big miles.”

Full Specifications

0mm drop / 6mm footbed / 4mm lug depth / ExertoFlow midsole / 9mm heel / 9mm forefoot / graphene grip.

Read our full Inov-8 Terraultra G 260.

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Adidas Terrex TWO Parley

Price: £130
Weight: 300g
Best for: Light trails, everyday wear
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, comfortable fit

This is the result of Adidas’ collaboration with Parley for the Oceans. Parley, in case you’re not familiar with them, pull millions of tonnes of plastic from the oceans every year, recycle it, then hand it over to Adidas to turn that recycled material into things like jackets, t-shirts and shoes – shoes like these.

Aside from the environmental efforts on show here, the Parley Two has a lightweight and very comfortable design, thanks to a foot-hugging knitted upper, a wide toe-box and plenty of underfoot cushioning that incorporates an EVA midsole. The close, sock-like fit takes a little getting used to, but means that debris stays out of the shoe when running light trails. The sole also has a pronounced rocker shape for a smoother ride, and makes use of Continental rubber – the same stuff found in performance car tyres – for improved grip, even in wet conditions.

The lugs aren’t aggressive enough for the gnarliest trails, and the lightweight uppers are supremely breathable but lack any toe protection, so we’d stick to less technical terrain in these shoes. For running light trails, however, as well as for general everyday use, they excel, and gain a firm thumbs-up for their eco-friendly credentials too.

Full Specifications

Sizes 6 to 13.5 / Gore-Tex lined / BOOST midsole / Continental rubber outsole / sock-like construction.

Selected for the Outdoors Magic Green Gear Guide – read our full Adidas Terrex TWO Parley review.

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Nike Pegasus Trail

Price: £115
Weight: 290g
Best for: All-round use, distance training
Key attributes: Grippy, high shock absorption, long distance comfort, handle road sections well

First brought to the road running world in 1983, the Nike Pegasus has been a mainstay within the running community; a go-to training shoe to suit everyone from athletes, to beginners. Hell, Mo Farah even has his own version. What we have here is a version that’s designed specifically for trail running.

The most important iteration of the Pegasus, the one that was worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he broke the marathon world record, featured ‘Zoom’ foam in the midsole, and that tech is featured here in this model, the Zoom Pegasus Trail as well.

You could call this new trail shoe the road car that just got converted for rally driving. There are aggressive lugs and a sticky rubber on the outsole, the stance is wider and again, there’s that Zoom suspension in the midsole. They also have a fairly steep drop of 10mm.

OM staff writer Jordan, who’s been testing them out over the past year said: “These are going to be taking the place as my trail-training shoes over long distances. There are of course lower drop, lighter weight shoes out there (Nike produce the minimal 4mm drop Terra Kiger Trail which looks ideal for this category) that would be suited towards going for that new PB, but in terms of long-distance comfort, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Trail are going to be pretty hard to beat.”

Full Specifications

10mm drop / 3mm opposing lugs / medium forefoot, medium heel, medium toe box / neutral pronation / high arch / Zoom air units in the heel / mesh upper / rubber rand on toe.

Read our full Nike Pegasus Trail review.

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Icebug Acceleritas7 RB9X

Price: £130
Weight: 190g
Best for: Trail running, swimruns, adventure racing
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, lightweight, durable

What we have here is a sustainably-made shoe from one of the world’s most eco-friendly footwear brands. In fact, Icebug were the first shoemakers to become climate-positive. That means they haven’t just offset their total carbon emissions, they’ve actually overcompensated.


The shoes themselves are extremely lightweight, but the uppers are durable enough to offer decent levels of protection on technical terrain. They’re not waterproof, but water pickup is minimal and drainage is excellent, so they don’t get soggy. That makes them a great option not just for trail running, but also for swimruns and adventure racing. The heel cup is soft and comfortable in order to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon. The midsole flexes well and underfoot feel is good thanks to the low profile sole. The aggressive outsole doesn’t clog and grips well in the wet or the dry.

The shoes are narrow fitting – similar to Inov8’s precision fit – so we’d recommend sizing up one full size from your standard street shoe. Other than that, there is little to fault.

Full Specifications

4mm drop / narrow fit / removable molded EVA insole / recycled PET mesh liner / EVA midsole with ESS Rock Shield / TPU mudguard / bluesign approved.

Featured in our Green Gear Guide 2019 – Read our full Icebug Acceleritas7 review.

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Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX

Price: £160
Weight: 235g
Best for: Trail running
Key attributes: Waterproof, lightweight, durable

The all new Norvan SL GTX represents one of the lightest weight waterproof trail running shoes on the market, something you can feel the moment you pick them up.

Hold the Norvan SL to a light and you’ll almost be able to see through the upper. These translucent properties are thanks to the extremely lightweight mesh that’s been used. It not only keeps the weight low, but creates superb ventilation as well. Gore-Tex’s Invisible Fit Technology has been used behind this mesh upper in order to give it a waterproof, yet lightweight seal that removes the need to choose between either picking up a traditional bulky and sweaty waterproof shoe, or going for a lighter weight but non-waterproof minimalist option. They’ve aimed to get rid of that trade-off, that Catch 22, and the result is impressive.

Not only has weight been cut down from the upper materials and waterproof membrane, but Arc’teryx have also worked with Vibram to shave some weight off the sole unit, using their thin ‘LiteBase’ technology in the outsole.

LiteBase sees a reduction of around 40 – 50% in rubber thickness on the base of the outsole in comparison to standard Vibram soles. This, Vibram say, gives you a 25 – 30% decrease in the overall weight. It’s worth noting here that despite this reduction, the lugs, which use the common Megagrip compound, are completely unaffected by this technology, and therefore there’s no loss of traction and durability. Smart stuff.

Overall these are some technical and reliable shoes that will serve any runner well on damp trails.

Full Specifications

3.5mm lugs / 7mm drop / 20mm heel, 13mm toe stack height / Vibram MegaGrip outsole / hydrophobic upper / Gore-tex Invisible Fit Technology.

Selected for the 2019/20 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –Read our full Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX review.

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Merrell Choprock Trail

Price: £100
Weight: 381g
Best for: Trail running, light hiking, swimruns, adventure racing
Key attributes: Excellent drainage, comfortable

This is a trail running (and hiking) shoe designed for those paths that are going to take you across or alongside a few rivers – basically when wet feet are going to be inevitable. That means what you can expect from these is ultra fast drainage and ultra grip along slippery shores.

The upper is made from a mix of gauze-like mesh, webbing, and synthetics with a number of little channels through the insole and base to drain away water. It’s carefully enough designed to be able to prevent most debris from getting in, while to stop stuff entering through that big old hole in the top (where your foot goes in) there’s an elasticated cuff that provides a secure, sock-like wrap.

As well as needing good drainage when you’re running or hiking through water, you’re also going to need protection, because the risk of slipping on wet rocks or stubbing your toe on them is obviously very high. Fortunately, the Choprock has you covered there thanks to its oversized toe bumper plus its grippy sole with a Vibram Megagrip compound and 5mm multi-directional lugs.

Full Specifications

Webbing loops for secure fit / Hyperlock TPU heel counter for security / Hydramorph midsole channels and ports for water evacuation and air ventilation / compression molded EVA midsole / Vibram Megagrip / 5mm lugs.

Selected for the 2019/20 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 –  read our full Merrell Choprock Trail review.

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Vibram Five Fingers

Price: £70
Weight: 136g
Best for: Trail running, light hiking
Key attributes: Innovative, good for barefoot runners, comfortable

Yes, OK, we get it. These shoes are definitely a bit marmite – you either love them, or hate them. While they might look a bit odd, there is a deliberate thought process to them. They’re designed for people who want a more natural run, offering a zero drop, tiny stack height of just 5mm, low cushioning and of course that glove-like fit, all of which combine to give your feet a sensory perception and dexterity akin to running barefoot with the added bonus of skin protection and grip.

Whilst the mid-foot landing running technique may not be for everyone, and it’ll take some time to adapt to, it’s frequently praised by people for improving their running gait, creating a more efficient stride that lowers the impact through the knees and heels compared to that of heavily-cushioned running shoes.

OM editor Will counts himself as a fan. “I’ve walked in them, worked in them, and run on roads and trails in them,” he says in his review on our site. “I even took them on holiday with me for a week as my only pair of shoes. And I’ve really, really enjoyed wearing them.”

“I know they look strange, and they’ve certainly brought a lot of amusement to my friends and colleagues, but running in these feels absolutely brilliant. On trails, that sensory perception adds a whole new dimension, you get such a feel and connection with the ground below you, and generally feel much more agile and nimble.”

Full Specifications

3.7 mm rubber outsole / 2 mm Foam insole / 50:50 wool-synthetic upper.

Selected for the 2019/20 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full Vibram Five fingers review.

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Inov-8 X-Talon 230

Price: £115
Weight: 230g
Best for: Light trails
Key attributes: Grippy, sturdy, high cushioning, great value

This trail running shoe from Cumbria fell running specialists Inov-8 features their Sticky Grip rubber on the outsole which is designed to handle anything from mud to those nasty black and slimy rocks which, in a bad pair of shoes, can send you flying. There are also toothy 8mm studs for good bite on steep ascents and descents as well.

The midsole is of a similarly high standard, with upgraded comfort through the Powerflow+ foam which adds a good deal of shock absorption on hard trails. It also supposedly increases the energy return when compared to most other midsoles.

It’s worth noting that these come with Inov-8’s new width rating of 1 (1 being the tightest, 5 the widest), so the fit is snug and very precise.

Full Specifications

6mm drop / 6mm footbed / 8mm lug depth / PowerFlow+ midsole / 13mm heel – 7mm forefoot.

Selected for the 2018/19 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full Inov-8 X-Talon 230 review.

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Saucony Peregrine 10 ST

Price: £110
Weight: 320g
Best for: Mid-length mountain runs
Key attributes: Protective, grippy

The Saucony Peregrine is back, this time in its 10th iteration. It now has more conventional uppers, made from mesh with PU overlays to add structure and provide a bit of protection, particularly around the toes. The tongue is padded and gusseted to prevent dirt and debris from sneaking in through the laces. The laces themselves are flat, woven through PU reinforced eyelets and they have a little hook at the base for attaching a gaiter.

As is the Saucony style, the toe box has a bit of width to it. Not as much as an Altra shoe, but certainly more than you’d find on most Adidas, Arc’teryx, Inov-8 or Salomon styles. The heel however still keeps a close fit.

Underfoot there’s an ergonomic foam footbed, a plastic flex plate on the forefoot to protect from rocks and roots and then a PWRRUN midsole for a more responsive ride. The cushioning in the midsole comes from a TPU-based bead foam which Saucony claim is formulated to be bouncier, more durable, more flexible and more consistent across different temperatures than EVA foam.

It’s a fairly low stack height: 27mm at the heel and 23cm at the toe. That means a neutral 4mm drop which will allow you to bring your quads and glutes into the equation, something that should help on those bigger ascents.

Full Specifications

4mm drop / PWRTRAC outsole / PWRRUN cushioning / trail-specific FORMFIT design.

Selected for the 2020/21 Outdoors Magic Outdoor 100 – read our full Saucony Peregrine 10 ST review.

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