Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Skechers Performance GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPER Review: High Performance and Lots of Substance at a Super Light Weight!

Article by Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, Jeff Beck, Jacob Brady, Hannah and Sam Winebaum

Skechers Performance GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPER ($125)
Sam: The GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPER highlights Skechers’ continued push towards ever lighter high performance shoes focused on annual introductions of new lighter higher performance midsole materials. In 2019 we see Hyper Burst, an EVA expanded with supercritical CO2 to create a resilient consistent and springy material. Not just content introducing road racing and training shoes with Hyper Skechers introduces the TRL which arrives  as a 8 oz / 227 g trail racing shoe with a Hyper Burst foam heel and forefoot UltraFlight cushioning unit. Few trail shoes come in as light with the Salomon S/Lab Sense and Arc'Teryx Norman SL coming to mind and compared below.

The TRL also features:
  • an H shaped injected nylon front rock protection and propulsion/ rocker plate which also provides torsional rigidity,
  • a single layer monofilament mesh upper with “burrito” wrap tongue along with cord wrapping  all around the heel to the laces to lock the rear foot to the platform.  
  • And the news continues with a Goodyear rubber outsole. 
I was fortunate to be able to wear test this model through multiple versions on the way to production. As with all Skechers I have tested, the initial upper materials, midsole and outsole geometries remained constant with changes to the upper, outsole rubber, and H plate materials. The key elements with TRL were perfecting the rear hold of the upper and the feel of the plate. 

The question we try to answer in our testing and review is how capable, protective, and cushioned is such a light shoe and what had to give if anything. Spoiler alert not much!

Dom/Sam/Jeff B/Jacob: 
Impressively light
Rock-solid midfoot hold
Excellent stability
Sam/Jeff B.: 
Nylon injected plate provides a great combination of  rocker type propulsion and protection
Very stable and decently cushioned for very light weight
Jeff:  Light, responsive, agile, secure upper, excellent cushion, protection, traction
Jacob: Comfortable and locked-in fit

DomBuilt around peculiar last.  Not shaped like my feet, at least
Dom:  Unforgiving ride
Dom/Jacob:  Mediocre grip in wet
Dom:  Lugs starting to tear off only ~20 miles in.  (Maybe due to defective early production?)
Jeff:  Laces, durability
Jacob: Lack of protection below the arch
Jacob: Plastic plate in forefoot can cut up your ankles if you kick across to other foot.

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.
Jeff  V runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 
Jeff B s the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39 both he is working to demolish with help from his coach Dave Ames as he trains for his first 50 mile race in December 2019.

Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He runs every day and averages 50 miles per week. Jacob recently ran a  PR 2:51 marathon and completed his first ultra, a 50km trail race
Hannah road and trail runs in Salt Lake City and Park City, UT. She recently raced her first ultra, the 40 mile high altitude Grand Traverse between Crested Butte and Aspen, CO in under 9 hours. When she isn't working as an occupational therapist, or running, she ski mountaineers, nordic skis, and fly fishes hike in high alpine lakes.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

 Official  Weight:: men's 8 oz  / 227 g (US9) unisex sizing
 Samples: 7.83 oz / 222 g  US men’s 8.5, 8.6 oz / 244 g  US men’s 10,
9.2 oz / 262 g US Men’s 11. 9.7 oz / 274g US Men’s 12 
Official stack height: 19/23 mm (midsole, outsole, and sockliner), 4mm drop
Available: 10/20/19

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  Before I put the shoe on, before I even weighed it, I could tell the Speed Trail Hyper was impressively light.  Not many trail shoes clock in under 9 ounces. Hooray for fast, light shoes! Light, and flexible, these feel ready to race.  They also look race-ready, too. While others may disagree, I love the eye-catching striped colorway. These shoes can be recognized from 100 feet away!
Dom:  My enthusiasm waned a little when I put the shoe on.  The shape was very different to the shape of my foot. Something about the forefoot last feels awkward.  However, once I started running, I quickly forgot all about the shape of the shoe: the upper is soft enough that they conform well to your feet.  On the other hand, I was keenly aware that this shoe doesn’t have a lot of cushion underfoot. Thankfully, the stiff (red) plate sandwiched under the forefoot blunts rock penetration, but there’s not a lot of midsole and the ride is very firm.
Jeff:  I have run in several pairs of Skechers trail running shoes in the past, with the most recent being the Go Run Max Trail 5 Ultra.  The Max Trail 5 Ultra was compelling to me in that the midsole felt really responsive, light and fast, but I felt very limited by the upper, in that it did not hold my foot down well enough for steep downhills, cornering or technical terrain.  I have been somewhat skeptical of Skechers trail shoes as a result of this and previous experiences, but the Go Run Speed TRL Hyper has completely recalibrated my opinion and erased any preconceived notions. This is an incredibly fast, light, secure and competent trail running/race shoe!  Out of the box I am struck by the light weight, interesting heel counter/straps and retro 80’s throwback colorway, reminiscent of La Vie Claire cycling team livery. As soon as I put these on, I was confident they were going to be a hit!

Sam: Love the many colored look here. Super sharp, maybe to colorful out of the box, but after a few dusty runs the white muted to a more subtle shade with a touch of dirt gray, a super serious all business look.
My test pair was a half size up from my normal 8.5. With medium light socks the fit and hold were perfect but a touch long, as expected. I could go either way on the size but do think given the non stretch upper they fit a touch small. With thin socks I would go true to size as after all this is a go fast shoe not a slow going comfort slipper type of shoe!
Jeff B: I would agree with elements of all three of my colleagues. Dom nailed it, the shape is odd, and very noticeable when you first slip the shoe on, but that goes away once the running starts. Also, they may be love-it-or-hate-it aesthetically, but I love them. No confusing these shoes for literally anything else, and even the more muted blue/white colorway looks great. Jeff’s assessment of the previous Skechers Performance trial shoe is absolutely spot on, great midsole/outsole with a sketchy (see what I did there) upper. And Sam is right about sizing, my pair is a half-size up, and I’m thankful for that. At first I was concerned the toebox would be limiting, but with a half-size extra space the toebox is perfectly fine, and the shoe still keeps a lock on the foot really well. This shoe has a LOT going on, but they really nailed it on all fronts.

Jacob: The striped colorway looks awesome; fun but not too flashy. The fit is true to size for me; heel and midfoot fit is perfect—foot-conforming and locked-in but not too snug. The toe box is a bit open which is increases comfort but doesn’t inspire confidence on rough terrain. The non-intrusive upper coupled with the very light weight makes for an exciting start.

Dom:  Lots of cool stuff to talk about here.  Firstly the primary fabric is a single-layer super tough monofilament mesh that should withstand a ton of abuse.  It’s nicely breathable, while finely-woven enough that it keeps out dust. In the midfoot, the shoe has a second, internal reinforcing layer connecting the laces to the sole.  In a stroke, Skechers have fixed the biggest single problem with their previous trail shoes: that the midfoot was way too stretchy. That made for a very comfy shoe, but one that also would twist and slide around your foot under load.  The new Speed Trail Hyper has rock-solid midfoot hold. Hoorah!
Dom:  Other noteworthy aspects of the upper are the burrito-type construction, which I liked.  
There’s also the cord that loops around the heel and connects to the laces.  This looks super cool and is a really pleasing piece of design, but it just doesn’t seem to accomplish anything useful as far as I can tell.  
Heel hold is excellent, but I attribute this mostly to the nicely-executed heel counter and collar.  In fact, I went for a run with the laces of one shoe missing the heel loop, and while I could feel a slight difference, the shoe worked almost as well without it.
The heel shape, stiffness, and height is excellent, and the shoe runs almost as well with the heel loop disconnected.  Heel hold is only slightly compromised.
Dom: The sockliner is glued in, and smoothly integrated into the bottom of the shoe.
Dom: When wet, they dry very fast indeed, with the exception of the elasticated material around the heel.
Jeff:  The upper is a step above any previous Skechers brand shoe I have worn, with a continuously uninterrupted closed nylon material that, without any visible overlays. It does a remarkable job securing the foot to the shoe.  The material is just a step above paper thin, but so far is surprisingly durable and secure, with no stretch or hot spots. While the closed mesh does a great job keeping out dirt/dust and some moisture, I figured it would be a bit warm on hot days, but have not found that to be the case at all.

Fit is true to size and the fit is low volume and race like without feeling overly snug or confining. 
The tongue is integrated and burrito style originating on the medial side with a comfortable and secure wrap.  I find it easy to lace up, but then came to realize that I did not smooth the tongue out and have to do over with some probing and finessing to eliminate any creasing.  I do find that the tongue is thin enough that if I am not careful, I experience a bit of lace bite.
Lacing is secure, but I find that I am often having to re-thread the top laces through eyelets and I am not a big fan of the thick, puffy tubular lace (though this is a very minor nitpick).
The heel collar is thin and flexible, with a unique leather (pleather) strap with woven nylon laces that secure via the top lace eyelet, adding security.  Heel hold and stability are excellent and feels almost custom.

The toe box is low volume and has little give or stretch, but I never feel confined, just a very welcome snug secure feel with no discomfort or hot spots.

I have run all types of terrain in the Go Run Speed Trail Hyper and am impressed at how well and how comfortably this upper holds my foot down, no matter how steep or fast of a downhill I am running, rock hopping, cornering or sidehilling, I have complete confidence.
Sam:  One heck of a fine upper here. It checks all the boxes for an effective trail (or road) shoe upper: breathable and light but also quite surprisingly sealed from debris thanks to its tight weave and the stretch collar integrated to the burrito wrap, great heel hold locked to the lacing by the straps and cords, a mid foot wrap via the burrito tongue solidly wraps the medial side from midsole all the way across the foot and is bonded to the medial sides of the upper, so a one sided bootie and supportive medial underlay all in one, very clever. 
The burrito tongue then wraps to the lateral side but is not attached to the sides of the upper or the midsole. There is a lateral midfoot underlay seen as the darker blue above. It has a comfortable secure toe box with more than decent volume and width understanding the fast trail running purpose,

I like a secure heel hold tied into lacing and the cord system seems to provide a continuous band of connection of rear of foot to lace up to the rest of the upper. I have not run with laces out of their loops as Dom has to see if the cords actually do anything in that mix but suspect they must.

Jeff B: Not to simply join the bandwagon, but I’m a big fan of this upper too. The design reminds me of the Brooks Green Silence from the early 2010s, and it holds the foot in all the right places. It’s lightweight and super breathable (and almost translucent, look at the picture taken inside of the shoe at all of the light coming through), but doesn’t sacrifice foothold for all of that. 

As I mentioned above, if you want a super locked down race shoe or have narrow feet, go true to size, if you want a little more room or have a wider foot, go a half-size up without worry.

I didn’t run without the top loop laced, but I did dabble in lace tightening, and I’d swear that I can feel added pressure all the way around the foot when I crank down the laces. Whether or not that matters is up for debate, even with laces tied loosely or normally my foot wasn’t going anywhere. I’d agree with Jeff, I’m not loving the tube-shaped laces, but they never came undone during a run, so complaining about them is kind of like bickering about color.

I’ve been rooting for Skechers Performance to knock it out of the park for a few years, and it feels like they’ve gotten close a number of times, just to have the upper ruin a great shoe. Not this time. This upper is exactly what it needs to be, and I hope the design team is proud of what they’ve made - because they’ve done very well.

Jacob: The upper is thin, sleek, lightweight, and uniquely designed. Aside from the toe bumper, the upper is free of overlays and the somewhat rigid mesh is thin enough to be transparent. The tongue is burrito-style which cleans up the upper visually as the only opening in the fabric is the unattached side of the tongue.

The heel is wrapped by an interesting “cage” of soft, semi-rigid material with a cord running through it which is pulled tight by the laces. I haven’t seen anything like this before and was reasonably skeptical but it works really well. Heel and midfoot lock for such a free-feeling and unstructured upper is unexpectedly great—effectively no foot-movement on any terrain. The forefoot/toebox is a bit loose for me which feels poor on rough terrain but it doesn’t feel too insecure, just weak compared to the midfoot and heel hold. This isn’t a shoe that shines on rough terrain anyway and it is not an issue on smoother surfaces.

Though too thin to provide protection to anything hitting the upper mesh, such as a rogue stick, the upper overall is exceptional as it is comfortable, lightweight, breathable, and secure.

Dom:  Forefoot stack is approximately 15 mm.  (Measured with calipers.) Of that, about 6 mm is outsole (including lugs), and 3 mm of footbed.  That leaves about 6 mm of midsole, of which the majority seems to be occupied by the red plate (which is about 5 mm thick at the side, but possibly thinner underfoot).   There’s really very little squish underneath the forefoot, and the ride reminded me of the Brooks Mazama. These things are a matter of personal taste, but the forefoot was a little too firm for me.  If you are used to running in XC spikes, these may feel somewhat similar.  

Dom:  On the subject of the red plate -- setting aside the issue of whether it is for rock protection or propulsion -- I found the protective effect to be useful, but wanted it to extend forward further (see Sam’s markup of its approximate location below).  Rock strikes were well protected to the rear of the forefoot, but protection stops abruptly further forward, and I occasionally winced in discomfort when my foot landed on the wrong spot. I would have liked the plate to extend another half inch or so (roughly to the first row of yellow lugs) for more reliable coverage. 
Dom:  The midsole under the midfoot and heel is Skechers space-age “Hyper Burst” foam, which is very light and bouncy.  For road shoes, particularly those focussed on racing, this material has enticing properties. However, I remain skeptical about its off-road relevance.  I didn’t dislike it here, and I certainly appreciate the lightness, but I’m not sure that bounciness is useful on trail. The forefoot midsole is a different, yellow, “UltraFlight” foam, previously seen in the Max Trail 5 Ultra (RTR Review).    
Jeff:  As great as the upper may be, the midsole is the secret sauce here.  Firm, yet well cushioned, stiff, but not board like, though enough flex to read the terrain without having to be too careful or to rock dance.  As soon as I tried on the Go Run Speed Trail Hyper, I knew that this shoe was designed to go fast and you can feel the response just walking around the house.  On the trail, they are super snappy and responsive on the uphills and simply propel you forward on the downhills and flats without hesitation.

Jeff: While I find the cushioning to be a bit slim for ultra distance runs and extended downhills, I think for the weight, I would be hard pressed to think of a better alternative for a front of the pack streamlined race shoe.

Jeff : Though the cushioning is firm and could never be mistaken for plush, I am impressed, even after a fairly spirited 16 mile run in the high mountains over varying, often rocky and rough terrain and some fast downhilling, that I did not feel beat up or fatigued, as I might expect with such a light shoe.
Sam: The white heel is Hyper Burst foam. The front yellow area is the Ultra Flight foam with the red the H shaped plate. 

Skechers combined Hyper Burst foam with more conventional Ultra Flight for good reasons here. The Hyper Burst is light and is supposed to be resilient resisting packing so a good choice for the heel. Made in a unique process wherein an EVA shape (and in fact the shape starts as a dense miniature of the final midsole) is put in a chamber and infused with CO2 in a supercritical state which expands the form creating a myriad of regular durable sidewall bubbles in the EVA. This process gives the rear midsole the characteristic springy and resilient Hyper feel although here the feel is muted by the extensive outsole and the lugs. 

Ultra Flight foam is used up front as Skechers found it was a better match with the plate in the mix to soften the feel of the plate given the low forefoot midsole/ outsole stack of 16mm (not including sockliner per Skechers supplied stats).
Sandwiched between the outsole and midsole is the H shaped injected nylon plate. By  pressing the sole I have approximated its location with the red lines above. I represent it as a line back of mid foot as by pressing I am not able to determine how wide it is towards the middle of the shoe or if the side walls portions of the plate rise or are flat.  Interestingly the plate is clearly somewhat wider and extends further forward at the toes on the medial than lateral sides. The road Hoka Carbon X plate is called out as the opposite extending further forward laterally than medially to prevent re supination,which I suppose could impede big toe area toe off. the Carbon X plate is also more slender in width being fork shaped.  I do not have their relative locations to compare but it appears on the surface anyways that two different approaches in plate design are in play with the TRL plate seeking to provide more trail use big toe protection than the Carbon X. While the TRL is clearly a lower stack I do find its rocker more pronounced than Carbon X’s. And for sure the nylon plate is also more flexible than a carbon plate providing a long flex. As with Dom I do wish the protection extended a bit further forward.

Jeff B: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve hit opposite world. I’m usually the one wanting much more protection on a shoe, and my far more accomplished conspirators say it’s fine, and while Sam and Dom would like more, I thought the protection was great. It’s not going to protect you like a Hoka, but this isn’t trying to be a Hoka. I would agree with the praise, the HyperBurst in the rear of the shoe is outstanding, but then I’ve enjoyed every shoe with HyperBurst (at least their midsole, the issues come from elsewhere). The forefoot is firm, but instead of lamenting that they didn’t give it a higher stack or use HyperBurst in front, I take it that this is exactly what they were going for.
I love the phrase “When you carry around a hammer the whole world looks like a nail” and it’s never so true as in running shoes. By that, I mean that 96 hours ago I ran my first 50K, so everything I’ve been running has been long, slow, and largely non-technical trails. So my immediate response to every run in this shoe was “I wish it was better cushioned with a looser fit” but it isn’t meant for novice ultramarathons. It’s meant to be a fast, firm, medium length shoe, and that’s great. Because it does exactly that as well as any shoe I’ve worn. 

I could probably run a trail half marathon in these and come out all right on the other end, and the red plate is a big part of that. It doesn’t completely dull every rock you land on, so you should plan on being spry on your feet, but I didn’t get completely blown up when I did land hard on a rock. I didn’t feel any propulsion from the plate, just protection, but I think it does a great job of protecting without numbing the feel.

Jacob: The Speed TRL Hyper midsole is composed of two types of foam as well as a plastic plate running from the front of the shoe through the midfoot. The forefoot is on the firm side due to the plate—though not overly hard. The stack height is mid-low and certainly feels low while on the run (likely due to the plate) though still adequately cushioned. 

The heel is much softer due to the light and springy Hyper Burst midsole and lack of the plastic plate. While the weight savings and cushioning are appreciated on all terrain, the fun, bouncy characteristics of the compound are most noticeable when running on smooth hard-pack and the road. 

The Hyper Burst material is very airy and easily compressed and thus does not provide good protection or durability on the exposed portion under the arch where there is no outsole or plastic plate coverage—I felt several root strikes far too prominently in this area. The material in this area on one of my shoes has been gouged as well due to one of these strikes. Though cosmetic, it’s indicative of the style of trail shoe the Speed TRL Hyper is; lightweight and responsive but not at all a long-haul mountain trucker.

One weird issue I’ve had with the Speed TRL Hyper midsole construction is the plastic plate clipping the inside of my ankle very occasionally—a couple times a run at most. The plate on the medial side extends beyond the midsole foam and thus is ready to slice and bruise the opposite ankle on a misstep or careless leg swing. It’s surprisingly painful and I make sure to wear high socks every time I run in the Speed TRL Hyper.

Jeff:  The Goodyear rubber outsole has small, but reasonably aggressive lugs which when combined with a sticky rubber compound provides excellent grip on a wide variety of surfaces, adding greatly to the versatility and competence of this shoe.  Performance is excellent on hard surfaces, including roads, but the sweet spot is buffed out singletrack, fire roads and mildly to moderately technical terrain. For steeper, loose terrain and off trail, I lean toward a shoe with deeper, more aggressive lugs, but was surprised at how well the Speed Trail Hyper held in all but the most loose, high angled chaff.  Grip is excellent on dry rock/slabby rock, but from what little exposure to wet rock I had, I am not confident that they would hold well in rugged terrain, but perhaps would be no problem on less technical trails.

The rate of wear seems to be significantly higher than many shoes I have tested on the same terrain, which is 80% or more rocky and technical, but I suspect the wear rate would be less of an issue on less rocky and rugged terrain.  For this reason alone, I would set these aside as a special occasion race day shoe.
Jeff’s test pair above and below, after 36 miles of mostly rocky, rough terrain, but with some cruiser miles thrown in as well.
Dom:   Overall, the outsole grip was only okay.  It was fine on loose, dry dirt, but mediocre on wet rock.  Moreover, I totally don’t understand why Skechers chose to skip lugs under the critical midfoot area.  The only reason I can think of is so that you can see the red plate through the outsole. And the yellow “lugs” of yellow midsole foam are useless: they are soft, provide no grip, and wear down within a handful of runs.
Why skip lugs under the part of the sole that is most critical for grip
Dom:  I also noticed that a few lugs had partially torn off one shoe after only a couple of runs.  

As other reviewers are not reporting the same issue or to the extent that I am, I’ll chalk it up to a manufacturing hiccup in an early production shoe.  We’ll see if the outsole continues to deteriorate.
Lugs on my sample pair are starting to tear off after only 20-30 miles of use.  
Sam: My pair is below at approximately 35 miles of mostly hard pack dirt and sometimes rocky rooty New England single track trails along with 6 miles of road show very little wear. I tend to heel strike and my pace is slower than my illustrious colleagues. 

Jeff B: There’s a lot to unpack here. First, the rubber quality is top notch. Maybe it’s the car guy bias in me, but I’ve had some great Goodyear tires when my car was more lifestyle and less point A to B, and the quality of this rubber is great. I did find all the missing lugs a little odd, but personally didn’t find a lack of traction at all. I attributed the missing lugs for two reasons - show off the red plate and keep weight down.

All that said, Sam and I are in the same camp, with more than 20 miles on the shoe in various dirt and rock trails (and ~4 miles on roads), the wear on my shoe is minimal. Until this morning’s eight miles you could still see the little circular pattern on nearly every lug, and even after the pattern is still largely visible. So either Dom and Jeff each got a faulty pair, or they both run fast enough to shear or destroy lugs - and I think either option is possible. I didn’t get a chance to test wet traction because it only rains three times per decade in Phoenix, but I thought the dry grip was absolutely fantastic. These have become my short to medium technical trail shoe, and it isn’t even close between the next options (more on that in Comparisons).

Jacob: The outsole is composed of a relatively thin cover of Goodyear rubber with small and shallow triangular lugs throughout. The outsole is full-coverage except for below the arch which turned out to be a larger issue than expected as the Hyper Burst midsole alone provides inadequate protection. 

The Speed TRL Hyper is not well-suited for loose terrain due to the low height of the lugs and is much less rugged than all other trail shoes in my rotation, but again, speed and weight savings are its priority. 

I was hoping the grip of the rubber compound would make up for the small lugs, but was unfortunately let down. Though unremarkable, the grip is fine on packed dirt and good on grass. Wet grip, however, is mediocre-to-poor on all surfaces, most notably on rocks and roots. The Speed TRL Hyper is never going to be my choice for spring conditions in the Northeast United States.

Though the Speed TRL Hyper outsole is often unable to handle the hazards of technical trail running, the benefit of its less substantial outsole is two-fold: weight savings and smoother ride on hard-pack and road.

Dom:  As mentioned above, the forefoot was lacking in cushioning for my taste.  It certainly wasn’t very harsh, but I think a couple more millimeters of midsole under the forefoot would make the ride more forgiving.  

Dom:  The rest of the shoe was surprisingly unremarkable.  Given the low stack height, and excellent midfoot retention, the shoe was super stable and reassuring.  But I didn’t notice the bounciness of the “HyperBurst” foam. (That may be because it’s located in the heel of the shoe, and I land predominantly on my forefoot.)   I wasn’t convinced of the benefit of the elongated red rockplate. I could feel it blunting the penetration of sharp rocks, which would otherwise have been extremely uncomfortable with such a thin sole.  But I was expecting something more like the carbon plates in the Hoka Carbon X or Nike Vaporfly 4%, which are unmissable. I didn’t discern any propulsive effect, although I was very aware of the heavily rockered profile of the shoe, which made rolling forward onto the toes effortless.
Jeff:  The ride of the Speed TRL Hyper is very fast and responsive with a low to the ground feel, but with a surprising amount of cushion and protection for the weight.  I find that they are firm, yet not at all harsh and provide excellent cushioning when running fast on hard surfaced trails, roads and even rocky terrain.
Sam: The Speed TRL has a ride that makes me aware of terrain, is nimble and very stable, and despite being considerably lower to the ground than many trail shoes I run in, is more than adequately cushioned and certainly protective for most of my daily trail runs. I have called the toe off “propulsive” but on reflection I think Dom is right the action is more rocker from the plate than a spring up and forward as say a Vaporfly has. 

As with all shoes with plates, the ride can feel “firm” when for me anyways it is not from a lack of cushion but the simple fact that the plate unlike foam and rubber is in fact firm. A great example, the Hoka Carbon Rocket where many complained of its firm feel yet I found at the same time it had plenty of cushion and my legs were always fresh after runs. Here I think we have some of the same going on. Responsive, snappy, very stable I have yet to have a trail run (and my longest was 12 miles with lots of steep downhill to finish) where I did not have fresh ready-to-go legs the next day. 

The Hyper Burst foam's resilience and spring surely plays a big role although more muted than in Skechers road shoes due to more aggressive outsole here. And I never had the sense as I do in the Razor 3 of the heel being low and bottoming out due to its thin rubber. In many soft cushion shoes and I am often sore, particularly my feet the next day. Not so here. I would add they were also just fine during a road run and as such can be a solid short and fast road trail hybrid option and even track grass intervals shoe.  

Jacob: The Speed TRL Hyper ride is less remarkable that I’d hoped given the hyped-up Hyper Burst midsole and talk about a potential propulsive effect from the positioning of the plastic plate, which I didn’t really notice. However, the ride is smooth, responsive, and has good ground feel without being harsh. It is consistent and adaptable to terrain and leg tiredness, always feeling similar and never a burden to run in. 

The Speed TRL Hyper is enjoyable to run in at all paces on most dry, smooth to moderately smooth terrain. I’m used to a thicker midsole and more snug forefoot fit in a trail shoe so I find I have to be a bit cautious and overly conscious of foot placement when running technical terrain as the grip and protection are not substantial. I also don’t find there to be enough cushioning for steep descents so I have not taken these to the mountains.

Though the Speed TRL Hyper is comparatively inadequate on twisty and rooted New England trail to be much fun compared to other shoes in my trail rotation (Hoka Speedgoat 3, VJ MAXx), the Speed TRL Hyper strives where many trail shoes do not, on trail to road runs. I live in the city of Portland, ME which has a network of many short (0.5-2mi) trail systems broken up by roads. Most of the trails are fairly flat and largely dirt single or double track. The Speed TRL Hyper rides smooth on the road and is lively and perfectly cushioned on the flatter dirt terrain, so they’re a great shoe for leaving directly from my house and linking several of the trail systems.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Hannah: Greetings shoe nerds! This is my first shoe review for RTR so there is much to learn from OG Run Boss, Sam Winebaum, but happy to share my initial impressions of the Skechers TRL Hyper. I am used to running in Hokas on road (Clifton 5) and trail (Speedgoat Mid WP), usually frolicking in the high alpine so this was a totally different feel for me. I took them out for a spin on Park City, UT trails on hero dirt. The shoe felt super light, which would be great for speedy racing on the buffed out trails in PC. Not sure I would take them scrambling in the high Uintas or on the Haute Route though hmmmm. I also like how the shoe fit naturally with my narrow foot. I am prone to blisters and have had no issues with the TRL on my first few runs in the shoe, a huge plus. 

We had just received a much needed rain so the trails were magic, with rocks and roots slippery and this shoe had decent gription. I felt like I was stubbing my toes a lot and had a few ankle rolls, which is not something that happens in my Hokas. I reckon there is a fancy rock protection feature in the forefoot but I really felt all of those small rocks, which doesn’t seem to happen with that Hoka cush. 

To end on a positive note….three ladies commented on how awesome the shoes looked during my run! Bonus points for rad color scheme!

Jeff:  The Go Run Speed Trail Hyper is a giant leap forward for not only Skechers, but for trail running shoes in general.  The level of performance, combined with cushion, protection, traction, stability, security, agility, all in an ~8 oz. package is unheard of, at least nothing comes to my mind that I have tested or been made aware of.  Any of the above attributes could potentially hold their own when compared to almost any 10 or 11 oz. shoe, but to have so many well rounded attributes and performance at such a low weight with the agility and response is a notable advancement.

While I could see running in this shoe as a daily trainer, as it is fast, fun and cushioned/protective enough, I would be more inclined to save it for race day or FKT/PR attempts on just about any terrain short of the steepest, most rugged, loose mountain terrain.

It is nice to see yet another car tire manufacturer in Goodyear jump into the running shoe outsole game and I give a little leeway here since this is a first run model, but would hope to see some future revisions to provide better wet grip and outsole durability, which I currently see as the weakest aspect of this shoe.  A version with deeper lugs would be a nice option as well.

I would love to see more shoe brands drop some weight and add similar responsive midsoles while retaining a certain level of underfoot protection and all around performance/competency..  Of course in this instance, for such low weight, there is a potential durability penalty depending on terrain, where one would have to carefully consider the primary use and purpose of the shoe.  For a speed trail racer on overall moderate terrain, this is your shoe!
Jeff’s Score: 8.7 /10
Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 7.5 (10%)  Style: 8 (5%) Traction: 8 (15%) Rock Protection: 9 (10%)
My primary concern here would be outsole durability and wet traction, also with some room for improvement in regards to the tongue and lacing.

Dom:  I love that the GORUN Speed Trail Hyper is a super-lightweight trail shoe, and I wish more shoe brands would target this niche. I am obsessive about the weight of my race shoes, and the Speed Trail Hyper is the second lightest trail shoe I’ve ever measured.  (Only the Montrail Fluidflex II was lighter.) So for that alone, I have to give Skechers huge props. I have two critiques of the shoe: Firstly, while the addition of a plate in the forefoot allows the shoe to have far more rock protection than its slim forefoot stack would suggest, I also thought this killed the ground feel, leaving the shoe with a strangely soulless ride.  I would prefer less plate and more cushion. Secondly, the outsole grip was merely adequate, and notably disappointing in the wet. Nevertheless, this is still the shoe I would pick for short, technical trail races that require more foothold and grip than a lightweight road shoe can provide. I mention road shoes as I often use road shoes in trail races where I’m willing to compromise on grip, foothold, protection, durability in order to save weight.  For example, I’ve worn Hoka Clayton 2 at Western States, Hoka Mach at Rio Del Lago 100, Altra Torin 3 at TNF 50, Altra One V3 at various shorter races.
Dom’s score: 8.6/10
Ride: Weight 10 (50%) Ride 8 (20%) Fit: 8 (20%) Value: 9 (7%)  Style: 10 (3%) Traction: 7 (10%) Rock Protection: 7 (7%)
Hard to overstate the wow factor of weight here.  I’m prepared to accept a lot of compromises for fast and light!

Jacob: Though much of my review was critical of the technical trail performance of the GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPER, the shoe is very lightweight with a great upper, a locked-in and comfortable fit, and a smooth and consistent ride. It fills a key spot in my rotation as a light trail and road-to-trail shoe. I think the Speed TRL Hyper would shine on the open dirt singletrack in the Western United States as well; hopefully I’ll have a chance to take them out there. I think the Speed TRL Hyper would be enjoyed by anyone looking for a light and responsive shoe with good ground feel for smooth trails.
Jacob’s Score: 8.0
Ride: 8 (30%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 9 (10%)  Style 10 (5%) Traction: 6 (15%) Rock Protection: 6 (10%)

Sam: Skechers had pulled out all the stops to create a very light, very protective and secure  trail speed shoe that is super fun to run. Packed with well executed innovations, these are not pillowy ultra shoes but a trail race machine you can also train in. 

I’ll start with the upper. It is superb in its hold, breathability and comfort. The cord system at the heel really locks down the rear foot, the burrito tongue the midfoot and the simple dense and thin dense but breathable non stretch monofilament mesh front provides plenty of front foot hold without a constraining tight fit. My test pair is half size up from my normal and with medium lighter socks fits perfectly if a touch long, so I do think if you want a touch more room or for winter socks sizing up a half is a good idea, If you are planning a dedicated race shoe, then most regular volume feet should fit true to size. 

The combination of Hyper Burst heel and Ultra Flight foam with the plate in the mix delivers a firmer but in no way harsh ride at a remarkable 8 oz and as such TRL is well suited for fast pace training and shorter distances racing on most terrain, with smoother firm non muddy wet and slippery courses its sweet spot given the Goodyear outsole and its 4mm lugs.  
Sam  9.1 /10
Ride: 9 (30%) Fit:10 (30%) Value: 8 (10%)  Style: 9.5 (5%) Traction: 8 (15%) 9.5 Rock Protection:  (10%)
How to improve.. Well that might be a different shoe with a slightly different purpose.. Add a few millimeters of foam stack front and back to give it a bit more cushion and range. I bet the wizards at Skechers could still make it come in about 9 oz. While I have had no issues to date with the outsole. a less “monolithic” lug design with somewhat larger greater contact surface areas at the forefoot for better grip and wear and to provide a touch more cushion at the forefoot from the rubber over the plate and further forward where the plate ends might be in order. 

Jeff B: My fellow reviewers are all raving about the Go Run Speed Trail Hyper, and I’m right there with them. My biggest gripe is the name, and I’m not kidding. The upper molds to your foot, while still holding the foot incredibly well, and is among the most breathable uppers around. The midsole has enough protection and bounce to make for a fun ride without dulling your feet to the ground. The outsole has superb grip on dry, dusty, and rocky trails. In an email thread Sam had mentioned this felt like the Skechers Performance shoe that nails all the bases without the “but” that plagues a number of their other great, albeit somewhat flawed shoes. The flaws aren’t here, unless you are looking for your next ultra marathon shoe or something with an Altra/Topo toebox. But I can’t knock a shoe down for failing to live up to expectations it doesn’t have. Are you looking for a lightweight trail monster? Because it’s got that in spades.
Jeff B’s Score: 9.4/10 
Ride: 9 Fit: 10 Value: 9 Style: 10 Traction: 9 Rock Protection: 9

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Salomon S/Lab Sense 7  and Sense 7 SG (RTR Review)
7.6 oz / 211 g SG 7.5 oz Sense 7

Jeff:  Both similar in that they are race specific, ultralight shoes.  The Sense 7 upper, in my opinion is superior, with an almost custom like fit and I really like the speedlace and garage for ease and to keep things tidy.  The Sense 7 has a superior outsole, for sure the SG if in loose terrain, but like the Skechers, outsole durability if used in rocky terrain is limited. The midsole of the Skechers however is far superior, much more responsive and protective.  I can easily run 4+ hours in the Skechers, but after ~2 hours in the Sense 7 on technical rocky terrain, I am done.
Sam: I would agree with most of what Jeff says above about the amazingly somewhat lighter still Sense SG but while its upper is fantastic I would lean for the greater comfort and cushion of the TRL for all but the shortest most technical runs on sloppy terrain or snow.

Salomon Sense Pro 3   (RTR Review)
8.9 oz
Jeff:  The Sense Pro 3 has a far superior outsole and upper, is more locked in and durable overall, but is not nearly as fast, responsive, light or stable as the Skechers.  I had serious stability issues with the Sense Pro 3 and stopped running in them after reviewing.
Sam: The Sense Pro 3 outsole is superior on more technical terrain but that is it. A firm harsh ride with a not particularly comfortable upper, if an effective one. In the light and fast category the TRL for the win.

Arc’Teryx Norvan SL  (RTR Review)
6.4 oz / 171 g
Jeff:  The Norvan SL is even lighter, impossibly light.  Overall outsole durability and rock/wet rock traction is better than the Skechers.  I think the Skechers has a more secure, locked down and substantial feeling upper and the midsole is much more responsive, fast, cushioned and protective, where the Norvan SL has a bit of an uninspiring feel.  The Norvan SL, despite the low weight, has reasonable protection all things considered, but still find myself dancing a bit in rock gardens, where the Skechers I am more likely to keep moving fast with less caution.

Tecnica Origin LT  (RTR Review)
10.76 oz / 305g
Jeff:  Origin has one of the best uppers in some time with its custom to the foot molding and has one of the best outsoles for all around traction and durability.  The Origin is quick, lively and responsive, feeling lighter than the quite considerable weight on scale would imply, yet the Skechers is much snappier and dedicated to speed, where Origin is a more competent all mountain shoe.
Sam: Jeff has it just right

Skechers Max Trail 5 Ultra  (RTR Review)
10 oz / 283 g
Jeff:  Max Trail has more cushion underfoot and would be better for longer runs, but is less protective and not as snappy and responsive and only good running straight and flat.  Max Trail has more substantial lugs and is perhaps more durable. The upper of the Max Trail does not have the locked in security of the Speed Trl Hyper and does not provide adequate foothold for technical terrain, fast downhilling or cornering.
Sam: On very smooth flatter hard surface terrain and longer distances the Max Trail all day. It has a wonderfully propulsive fast feel from its plate with lots of cushion and very decent grip. Start winding, climbing and descending fast the TRL.
Dom:  The Speed Trail Hyper is a completely different beast: far lighter, with a much  lower stack (~16/20 mm vs 27/31), a less stretchy upper, and excellent foothold. There was a lot to like about the Max Trail 5 Ultra: it had tons of cushion at a competitive weight, making it a promising candidate for ultradistance events.  I liked the overall shape, the grip of the outsole, and the comfortable upper. The huge flaw of the MT5U was that the upper was so stretchy that it allowed the shoe to slide and rotate, making it scarily unstable when pushed hard. I would love to see Skechers produce a Max Trail 6 with improved midfoot hold.

Jeff B: The first shoe that comes to mind when I think of “fatal flaw”, the MT5U is an absolute joy and terror to run in. A joy if you don’t have to turn, pivot, or ascend/descend any, because the upper does not keep your foot over the shoe. The midsole is the closest thing I’ve found to a trail Vaporfly, but the upper ruins it. I’m with Dom, whenever they make a Max Trail 6 (hopefully with HyperBurst? Please?) I’d love to try it, but the Speed TRL Hyper is a completely different beast. Sam’s recent foray into the Bonneville Salt Flats in the ASICS Glideride would be a great place for the MT5U, while technical runs less than ten miles are the Speed TRL Hyper’s natural habitat. Also, and again, please make a Max Trail 6 Hyper with a great upper. Please. Seriously. Please.

Terra Kiger 5 (RTR Review)
9.5 oz /269g
Jeff:  Both are fast and responsive shoes, but Skechers more so and lighter, more dedicated to racing at top speed.  Kiger however has a more durable and well rounded outsole (though both are lacking tread under mid foot). Both uppers are excellent, with the Skechers being a bit more locked in, secure and precise, particularly at midfoot, where the Kiger has more space in the forefoot.

Dom:  I like a wider forefoot than Jeff, and I preferred the wider toe box of the TK5.  The forefoot feel of the TK5 is right on the money in terms of balancing protection and ground feel.  The Speed Trail forefoot is firmer, and has less ground feel. I almost never like rockplates, and wasn’t sold on the plate in the Speed Trail.   The TK5 has the distinction of being the only shoe I’ve used in which the rockplate didn’t noticeably compromise the ride. The back end of the TK5, on the other hand, is a misfire. STH rear is much better. But the key difference between the two shoes is weight: weightwise, the TK5 is a mid-packer; the Speed Trail Hyper is a flyweight, almost 100 g lighter per pair (1.7 oz per shoe).  So choose TK5 for daily training, and STH for racing.

Sam: Tough choice here. While the TK5 upper is fine, I  prefer the more elegant and lighter and at least as secure TRL upper. Underfoot the Kiger is slightly more forgiving up front but not as snappy and responsive, and as Dom says also heavier by a bunch. The TK5 is more versatile and has somewhat greater range while the TRL is the fast and fun choice. 

Jeff B: I sized up a half size in both shoes to 11. This was the closest shoe I can compare to the Speed TRL Hyper, and there’s a lot of similarities - so let’s focus on the differences. The Skechers is a little lighter, not as well cushioned, better rock plated, with an upper that isn’t as soft. The Nike has better cushioning, the segmented rock plate that leaves your foot playing a scratcher card every time you land (am I going to win? No? Oww), and a more traditional last with a better toebox. Both are truly excellent shoes, though I’d favor the Skechers for more technical running and the Nike for a little longer runs.

Brooks Mazama 2 (RTR Review)
9.3 oz /263 g
Jeff:  The Mazama is quite light and iis equally responsive, with its primary attribute being super fast going uphill.  Mazama fit however is not nearly as dialed in or secure, nor is protection on par with the Speed Trl Hyper. Traction is comparable, as is accelerated tread wear, unfortunately.

Dom:  I’ve not run in the Mazama for quite a while, but my recollection is of a very low, stiff forefoot.  Both the Mazama and Speed Trail Hyper stand out from the crowd as trail shoes that are focused on racing.  Stack heights are nearly identical. Speed Trail Hyper is more forgiving, much lighter, and the clear winner.

Saucony Peregrine ISO (RTR Review)
11.1 oz / 316 g
Jeff B: Peregrine ISO true-to-size 10.5, Speed TRL Hyper half size up to 11. Both shoes have tons of traction and a relatively low stack. The Peregrine has a much more supple upper (say that outloud five times fast), even more traction than the Speed TRL Hyper, and a solid 2 ounces of weight on top of the Skechers. It also has a more traditional upper, that’s fine, while the Speed TRL Hyper has an amazing upper. The Peregrine has a little more rock protection too, but the Speed TRL Hyper has a much more speed oriented ride. If you want a fast ride for a short rocky run, take the Skechers, and considering the weight of the Peregrine, if you want a little more cushioning and a more traditional upper, swing back up and grab the Terra Kiger 5.

The Speed TRL releases Oct 20
Read reviewers' full run bios here
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Jeff Valliere said...


Unknown said...

Thanks for the review! How would you compare this shoe to the Summit Unknown/Vazee Summit?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
A good comparison! Thanks for asking. The Unknown is about 0.85 oz heavier and a 10 mm drop shoe vs 4mm for TRL. I really liked the Unknown, firm and stable with a very nice 4mm outsole It does not have the lively spring or as comfortable or roomy an upper. Jury is still out but suspect its outsole will last longer than TRL's.
Sam, Editor

Tom said...

The TRL’s are one of my favorite trail running/racing shoes to date. I wanted to see if RTR had any insight on changes to the current version that might be in the works for the next version of the show? Thanks for all the great reviews.

Astroyam said...

Very confusing, Jeff V, you rave about the shoe being a giant step forward, then give it 8.7. I think I saw you give high 9s to others.

Astroyam said...

PS I do love these reviews, thanks!!

Jeff Valliere said...

Astroyam, thanks! Yeah, scoring is imperfect, love the shoe, but had to be honest in giving deductions as I did for value (quick wear, so a race day only sort of shoe) and some other minor deductions as appropriate.

citrus said...

Horrible grip on any kind wet surfaces, even for walking, very slippery