Trail running races may have been on hold throughout much of 2021 but that didn’t keep people off the trails as many found solace out in nature. It also didn’t stop manufacturers from delivering on some pretty amazing shoes and we tried to put together a nice mix based on running style and preference.
Best High Cushion Trail Running Shoe
Winner – Brooks Caldera 5 – $140
I don’t think anyone would have expected this one, but when it came down to what shoe ran well, had ample cushion and comfort, all heads kept turning to the Brooks Caldera 5. The shoe is incredibly uncomplicated, has a stable base and while the lace stowage could use some work, these things just feel great for miles and with over 39mm of cushion, they eat up the trails. You can read our review for more or visit the Brooks site.
Runner-Up – ASICS Trabuco MAX – $140
ASICS also delivered on the trail side as well and the Trabuco MAX is a fantastic high cushion option. The lace pouch is a touch oversized, but that shouldn’t detract from an incredible ride. GUIDESOLE mixed with FlyteFoam means a comfy and cushioned run. Check out our review or grab a pair from ASICS.
Best Do-it-All Trail Running Shoe
Winner – Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 – $145
Topo Athletic delivered on some amazing trail shoes this year, but the saved the best for the back half. The updated MTN Racer 2 is a fantastic shoe to run in from its three piece midsole that uses their more responsive ZipFoam to its subtle stability elements. The shoe feels very quick and nimble and that Vibram outsole keeps you secure in almost any trail condition. They are simply a pleasure to wear and our only gripe is… we want more colors!! Check out their site for more.
Runner-Up – Altra Lone Peak 5.0 – $130
Altra continues to deliver on their flagship trail platform, the Lone Peak. This update pairs everything great from prior iterations and then adds in things like MaxTrac and their EGO midsole. You can always expect a nice roomy toebox from every Altra shoe and when paired with a highly cushioned collar, you get a shoe that holds you well but never feels claustrophobic regardless of how long you have been moving. Our review has more details or you can visit the Altra site to learn more.
Best Newcomer and Most Innovative Trail Running Shoe
Winner – Speedland SL:PDX – $375
Probably the most unexpected intro to the tail market came right out of our own backyard. Portland based Speedland delivered the ultimate trail running shoe by combining a slew of technologies, customization options, and enhanced fit flexibility. The dual BOA system allows you to da in that upper fit perfectly. A removable carbon plate means they are both race day ready, but also makes them flexible enough for an easy day. The lugs are ready for the nastiest of conditions, but are clippable (with the included snips) to make them even more capable on firmer pack. Check out their site for more details.
Everyone get out and hit the trails and if you want to argue about any of these, then well…. just try and track us down out there in the trees!