Monday, October 17, 2016

Skechers GoTrail - Cushion and Comfort for More Casual Trail Use

Article by Jeff Valliere

Skechers GoTrail
9.4 oz/226 g. Mens Size 9; 7.6 oz/215 g. Women's Size 8
24mm  heel/20mm forefoot
$105, available now

First Impressions:
Light and soft. Upon first putting the GoTrail on my feet, I was quite impressed with how light, well cushioned and comfortable they are.  Slipper like feel gets used often, but these truly feel that way, For a trail shoe, the upper appears to be a bit light on overlays and support, in my opinion, the GoTrail looks a bit more like a road shoe with a luggy outsole.  My only previous experience with Skechers trail shoes were a few years ago, where I tested the GoRun Ultra, which I found to be quite unstable on even moderately technical terrain.  However, despite the less than positive previous experience with the GoRun Ultra, I was eager to see how Skechers has improved their trail shoes over the past few years.

The fit of the mostly seamless H2GO upper is excellent, true to size, with a bit of toe room for some splay and swelling.  Skechers claims the H2GO as water resistant, but I found that it breathes and handles moisture like any other shoe.  The tongue is moderately padded and comfortable, laces are a good thickness, length and tighten effectively on the first try (aside from the need re-adjust on my first steep descent, but that is a separate issue is addressed below).
The toe bumper is flexible and though I did not find out first hand, would ward off minor rock kicks.

Volume is moderate in the midfoot, requiring me to work a bit to snug the laces to adequately wrap my low volume foot.  The heel counter is a good height, with adequate padding and good heel hold.

The GoTrail, with it's 5GEN cushioning, has one of the softer midsoles of any trail shoe that I have tested, which I initially figured could be an issue, but was pleasantly surprised that it offered a very reasonable blend of cushion and performance.  The GoTrail is not the most responsive shoe, but I felt that the rock plate (Dupont Hytrel™ dispersion Plate), combined with the low weight of the shoe made the GoTrail feel reasonably quick/nimble and the ride is notably smooth.  Shock absorption, rock protection and all day comfort are all excellent.


The moderately lugged outsole is one of the better aspects of this shoe, offering excellent grip on the majority of surfaces.  The triangular, directional lugs are well spaced, reasonably deep, durable and the rubber compound grabs very well on dry rock.  Performance in wet conditions is average under most circumstances.

The GoTrail is light, with a great blend of cushion, protection and performance at a very reasonable price.  From my experience, the sweet spot for the GoTrail is non technical, to lightly technical trails, doubletrack and fire roads that are not particularly steep.  The GoTrail also runs quite well on pavement (the lugs are low profile enough to not be a hindrance) and the ample cushion really helps take the edge off.  Ground feel and flexibility are good for a shoe this cushioned and protective. Though I found the upper to fit very well and be quite comfortable, it had a difficult time holding my foot in place on moderate to steep descents, off camber terrain and wavered a bit on technical, rocky terrain.  While descending steep trails, my foot, even after stopping to re-tie the laces tighter, would awkwardly slide far forward in the shoe.  I did not get any blisters, but I did get some hot spots on the soles of my feet after just 2 miles/2,300 vertical feet of descending.

Being a trail shoe, I feel as though that Skechers could greatly improve the GoTrail by creating an upper with more effective overlays and support.  Rumor has it that they are working on this for version 2 of this shoe.

Overall, the GoTrail is a great pick for somebody looking for a well priced, high quality, door to trail training shoe, or shoe for mostly smooth trails with the ability to handle short sections of moderately technical trail.

Score 4.2 out of 5
-.2 for soft midsole
-.5 for upper control/hold issues in technical terrain/steep gradients
-.1 for color choices/looks


GoTrail vs. Hoka Speed Instinct - Both are very light, well cushioned (similar stack/drop), have lower profile lugs, soft, somewhat flexible feel and are both quite versatile.  For day to day training on more casual terrain, I think it is a coin toss, but if looking to race or run technical terrain, I favor the Speed Instinct because of the more secure upper (ironically though, I find the GoTrail to have slightly better traction and protection, it is just limited by the upper in mountainous terrain).

GoTrail vs. Altra Lone Peak 3.0 - Both are light with a soft, well cushioned feel, all day comfort, good traction and protection.  Both struggle a bit in technical terrain and I personally had fit issues with the Lone Peak 3.0.  If not for the fit issues of the Lone Peak, it would probably be my pick, but the GoTrail has a more "normal" universal fit and I appreciated the extra 4mm of cushion in the heel.

The GoTrail was provided free of charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

The GoTrail is available from Running Warehouse
Men's GOTrail here
Women's GOTrail here

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Stewart G. said...

Thanks for your views! I have worn the Ultra 3, the Ultra, Ride 3, and the Ultra3 Climashield for many kilometers, and I struggle with the M strike bump. I struggle to the point that I don't like wearing them any more. Also, the rocker on the Skechers Performance shoe seems to drive my toes down and create blue toes and other abrasions. Did you feel this at all? For comparison I have found a home on the roads in the Clifton, which, while rockered, doesn't jam my toes down, and for trails the Saucony Peregirne 6 which is not cushioned much nor rockered, but is super protective and has a large toe box.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Stuart, thanks for reading. I have not had any issues with the M Strike, nor the rocker in the GoTrail as you describe. How technical are the trails that you run? I wonder if you are also experiencing some of the sliding inside the shoe similar to my experience, but manifesting itself in a different way? Sounds like you are on the right track though with a variety of shoes for different surfaces, always good when we can pick just the right tool for the job.

Stewart G. said...

Well the Ultra 3 trail is the most heavily rockered Skechers shoe that I have used... And no, I was able to find a way to lace the shoe so as to keep my feet in olace. Now... in Quebec we have very technical trails. But for those it's either Speedcross 3 or Peregrine 6. The Peregrine 6s are amazing for their rock plate and overall fit (for me). Just did a 60k with plenty of technical and doubletrack and my feet were happy the whole time. Also tried the Speegoat but they did something weird to my right hamstring and calf (!!!). Yeah I love running shoes.