Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 Multi Tester Review: A Most Useful Daily Trainer

Article by Derek Li, Renee Krusemark, and Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 ($130)


Sam: The Fresh Foam 880 is a model which traditionally was reserved for the shoe walls of specialty run shops and was not available online beyond New Balance’s site. With the pandemic came a totally remodeled 880, the v10 featuried a Fresh Foam X midsole, Hypoknit upper and new outsole geometry. And online sales beyond New Balance’s site. 

What remained was a 10mm drop neutral do it all daily trainer and thus it stood as a distinct choice within the New Balance line of daily trainers as the flexible neutral alternative to the also completely remodeled 1080v10 a rocker based 0.5 oz lighter  4mm drop trainer with a price tag $20 higher than the 880.

The 880v11 gets a slightly softer, and for slightly more comfortable Jacquard knit upper in place of Hypoknit, a reduction in its heel clip size and a more streamlined higher and slightly less plush achilles and heel collar. 

The result is a 0.5 oz lighter shoe putting it a mere 0.15 oz heavier than the 1080v11 at 9.7 oz / 275g. And as with prior 880, it will be available in wide. I really like the 880v10, my first of this model, and wished for a slightly more comfortable upper,  weight under 10 oz. New Balance delivered on both! A slightly softer ride was also something to be wished for. Read on to see  if that made the upgrade as well!


Derek: How I ended up reviewing this shoe was down to pure luck. I had my name down for 1080v11, and 880 showed up instead. Now the 880 isn’t a shoe most people think about or even recommend to their friends. I actually thought it was a stability shoe like the 860, until I did a little more research. To clarify, the 880 sits squarely in the neutral category. Have there already been 11 versions of this shoe? Isn’t the 890 the neutral daily trainer of the NB line? Aesthetically, it doesn’t quite have the alluring curves of the 1080, the racy looks of the 890, or even the elegance of a Beacon. Don’t let that put you off. How does it perform? Read on to find out!

Renee: I ran the 880v10 in 2020 and gave it a good, but not great, review rating for RTR. Then, after the review, I found myself continuing to run my 20+milers in them and decided to add it to my “Best of” list of 2020. I didn’t love the 880v10, but something about the shoe worked really well for me on my country road long runs. I was not thrilled about the hard plastic heel cup or the weight of the 880v10, both changed, so testing the 880v11 was welcome. 


Approx. Weight: men's 9.7 oz / 275g (US9)  /  women's 8.57 oz / 243g (US8)


men’s  9.45 oz / 268g (US8.5)   281g / 9.91oz  (US9.5)

women's 8.57 oz / 243g (US8)

880v10 Weight 10.25 oz / 290 g US9. 

Measured stack (Derek) 32mm heel, 22mm forefoot. Offset: 10mm

Available in Wide

Available March 2021. $130



A more traditional geometry flexible, 10 mm drop  trainer with totally up to date construction.

Solid locked down fit front to back.

0.5 oz drop in weight is noticed. No longer heel heavy and slow to transition.

Notably smooth transitions to toe off

Lively but not overdone increased bounce, slightly softer with plenty of stable softer feeling response.

Derek: Nice forefoot bounce, good vibration dampening, comfortable secure fit. 

Renee: slight reduction in weight from the previous version, more refined and breathable upper, reduced heel cup plastic


Derek: Heel counter a bit too firm but not uncomfortable

Sam: Forefoot a bit thin feeling and overly flexible for long runs

Renee: still a bit heavy as compared to other daily trainers, elf heel is not my favorite

Tester Profiles

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48years and has a very dated 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.

Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has 2020 PR’s of 1:35:44 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon

Puma Deviate Nitro Initial Video Review, Shoe Details and Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

Puma Deviate Nitro ($160)

Update: Read our full in-depth review here

I take the Deviate Nitro for a run and share my impressions and all the details. Highly cushioned with a bouncy softer Nitro Foam midsole. 

It has a 32mm heel / 24 mm forefoot stack. Up front we have a carbon composite plate while at the rear there is a neat stabilizing TPU plate. 

At about 9.1 oz / 257g in a US 9 and with its stable yet soft ride it runs more long and daily train max cushion trainer than racer and that is OK as many carbon plated shoes are not ideal for day to day training and my sense it the Deviate will be a solid all around trainer. 

Releases March 2021. $160. Full Multi Tester Review soon.

Watch the Video Review (7:53)

Products reviewed were provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
Road Running Shoes HERE
Trail Running Shoes HERE
RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Hope Wilkes Favorite Run Racing and Training Shoes of 2020

 Article by Hope Wilkes

What a year. In the wake of everything 2020 has wrought, many people are hurting. I recognize that it's a privilege to get to test new running shoes and nitpick differences in shoes that cost sometimes hundreds of dollars. This hobby is important in my life and brings me a lot of joy so I'm grateful to be able to share that with you. It's my hope that RTR's reviews, interviews, and more were a welcome distraction when you needed a break and helped you make informed purchasing decisions.

Without further ado, let's take a look at my favorite road racing and training models of 2020.


1. Atreyu Base Model (RTR review)

Plated shoes are great and all, but have you experienced the pure joy that comes from feeling truly connected to the road as you run? The Base Model distills a running shoe down to its essence: a simple, relaxed-fit upper atop a midsole that also serves as an outsole. The ride is smooth and snappy. Runners are rewarded for a midfoot or forefoot strike. Atreyu's innovative subscription model and a la carte pricing is more than fair for a model that delivers this level of durability, comfort, and style. This is easily my most-run shoe of 2020 and it's holding up beautifully. If I were pressed to nitpick, I'd point out that the grippy material on the tongue and heel is not quick to dry. Sweaty summer runs in the Atreyu had me leaving them out for a couple of days to ensure they were fully dry before running in them again. Also, the grip is solid in wet conditions, but not world-beating. After nearly taking a tumble when slipping on a muddy sidewalk, I would advise choosing a different shoe for snowy or icy roads.

2. Saucony Ride 13 (RTR review)

Saucony killed it this year. I did some training in the more race-tuned Speed which is a stellar shoe, but for training purposes I was even more wowed by the more traditional Ride 13. Both could work well for marathon duty. This shoe has no business being so unassuming and yet also so thoroughly outstanding. I usually gravitate towards lightweight trainers for most runs, but I found myself reaching for the Ride 13 long after I'd finished up the review. The Ride 13 can go fast! I love how responsive and resilient the midsole is. Grip is reassuringly solid and the no-fuss upper adds comfort and support. I have no serious complaints -- this shoe even passes muster in terms of reflective trim (my most common gripe). The Ride 13 is practically flawless and should work well for runners of all shapes and sizes except those in need of intense stability features. 

3. Skechers Performance Max Road 4+ (RTR review) 

The look of many Skechers Performance models doesn't fit my personal style. Sometimes I get kind of riled up about it because I think it holds the brand back from being taken seriously by more runners. These shoes don't get any style points from me, but they are stunning in every other respect. Feeling kind of tweaky after a long run? The Max Road 4+ is your perfect recovery shoe that will keep your legs from feeling leaden. Want to go fast and stomp through puddles in heavy rain? Max Road 4+ is your wet weather friend that is tall enough to keep the bottoms of your feet dry. Want to go for 20 miles or more? That's right, pick the Max Road 4+. I'd recommend this shoe for every run or workout you'd consider doing on roads. It disappears on my feet and runs like a lightweight trainer, not a max cush shoe. The Hyperburst midsole is light and bouncy without being aggressively springy. A slight complaint: durability of the Goodyear outsole is disappointing when compared with other name brand rubber compounds (I'm especially thinking of Continental outsoles made famous by Adidas), but is adequate. My pair is plenty runnable even with some of the heel rubber worn away from late-run shuffling. After some problems with the Max Road 4, Skechers Performance listened and made thoughtful updates. Keep an eye out for more great work from this company -- they’re serious.

Racing Flats

1. Saucony Endorphin Speed (RTR review)

I love both the Speed and the Pro, but this slightly more wallet-friendly model edged out its carbon-plated cousin because it boasts a Goldilocks level of springiness. The Pro has me bounding a bit too high for my comfort when I have the pedal to the metal while the Speed is just right. For me, top-down lace pressure is a big concern over long efforts, so I appreciate the more traditional tongue of the Speed over the hyper-thin tongue of the Pro. Likewise, I enjoy being able to do semi-regular training in my intended race shoe and the Speed's outsole is better equipped to handle training mileage, but I still would put its max life at <200 miles for all but the lightest, most efficient runners. Both shoes are great and runners who are braver or blessed with more perfect form than I am may prefer the Pro. I suspect that the difference for most people would be like the difference between the top speed of a NASCAR vehicle vs. an Indycar or F1 car -- both are wicked fast, but one is maybe 15% faster than the other. If you're below the local elite level, I suggest saving a few bucks and snagging the shoe you can wear more often over the one that's perhaps strictly speaking the fastest. The biggest downsides for me of the Speed are the lack of reflective trim (races happen in low light too!), the limited durability of the outsole (Nike's Next% wears like iron, so don't tell me it can't be done), and the sketchy grip on wet roads.

2. ASICS Metaracer (RTR review)

My first 10/10 review on RTR. I was bowled over by the comfort, style, and performance of this low-slung, carbon-plated stunner. While the Metaracer follows the carbon plate trend, the ASICS team innovated a new silhouette that didn't crib from max cushioned, max height racers already on the market (although its profile looks a lot like souped up version of the New Balance Zante). Of the elite shoes currently available, this is the one that feels most like a true racing flat. While it might not deliver enough protection to go 26.2 in total comfort for all runners, I think it will work well for everyone for distances up to a half marathon. The snazzy hydrophobic upper fits like a glove and seems to really stay dry. Outsole durability is excellent, but the main attraction here is the smooth, snappy turnover. I've never run in a racer that was this comfortable even at easy day paces. Well worth the hype!

3. Skechers Performance GoRun Razor Elite (RTR review)

Back in October I raced a virtual marathon in this shoe, meaning I was probably the first person to take this model a full 26.2 miles. On a rainy morning I put the Razor elite through its paces on a punishingly hilly course. Feedback from the plate kept me up on my forefoot even when I was tired. The overall lightweight of the shoe kept fatigue to an absolute minimum. Despite the soft cushioning, I never felt like I was "running through" the shoe or like it was bottoming out. Fans of the Razor 3 and Razor 3+ will love this model which lets the Hyperburst midsole shine while adding the right tech to keep things feeling snappy. I did a lot of training and my final three long runs in the shoe, so I have a lot of miles on them -- durability is plenty respectable. My only complaints are about the upper: the blue dye bled all over my socks on multiple runs (wear dark socks if you sweat a lot or expect wet weather!) and there's no reflective trim.

Some shoe geeks might have questioned the absence of the splashy Adidas racer that's been setting records and Nike's latest offerings. My answer is simple: I haven't tried everything! One of the great things about RTR is that we have a sizable team to provide coverage of all the new releases we can get our hands on. I encourage you to check out Best of the Year lists from my fellow reviewers.

Hope’s Bio:

Current Age Group: 30-39

Height: 5'4"

Weight: 135

Weekly mileage: ~50 when peaking for a marathon, otherwise 30-40

Favorite distance: marathon 

Hope is a lifelong resident of Northern Virginia. No stranger to hills and humidity, this mid-packer is most at home on tough courses that might make other runners stay in bed. Hope has dabbled in ultras, including three 50-mile finishes, but has turned her attention to the marathon, working hard to improve upon her 2017 PR of 3:47:40. Already passionate about sneakers when she picked up running in 2008, it was inevitable that she’d become a running shoe geek. Hope is pursuing her MBA at Virginia Tech and works full-time as a program manager. In her free time she geeks out about other things: cooking, reading, weightlifting, Magic: the Gathering, and her tabby cat, Indy.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX Multi Tester Review: 100% Pure Hiker, 100% Pure Hoka!

Article by Dominique Winebaum, Jeff Beck, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka ONE ONE Kaha Low GTX ($200)


Sam: Hoka has in the last couple of years expanded their Sky hiking collection with the Kaha trekking boot (RTR Review).Toa light hiker (RTR Review), the Hopara water and hiking sandal (RTR Review) and the radical TenNine Hike GTX ( (RTR Review). Slotted in the Sky collection along with their trail runners, the Kaha Low GTX is unmistakably a dedicated hiking shoe and not a rebadged trail runner.  Yet it shares many trademark attributes with its run cousins such as massive cushion well beyond any other hiking boot or shoe and Hoka’s MetaRocker. Will some run in it? Maybe, but we will stick to walking and hiking in our test here.

It has a super supportive Nubuck leather upper with Gore-Tex Leaf waterproof breathable bootie and a stout abrasion resistant toe bumper over a massively and densely cushioned and protective midsole and is shod with a Vibram MegaGrip outsole with 5mm lugs.

It is also 100% a Hoka as that midsole is a dual layer construction similar to road shoes with a softer plush EVA underfoot and a big layer of rubberized foam below that. Note though this is not run shoe or even trail shoe soft foam. For purpose it is denser and firmer.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Nils Scharff 2020 Run Favorites for Road and Trail

 Article by Nils Scharff

2020 has been a crazy year for all of us. For me it has been even crazier from a running shoe perspective as I joined RTR this spring. 20 pairs of shoes and 23 articles later I already feel like I’ve done shoe reviews for years even if I‘m quite a newbie compared to most of the awesome crew here at RTR. Getting the chance to review all these awesome shoes and to share my opinions with the running community is like if a dream becomes true.  Therefore I not only want to wrap up the year with this article but also to say thank you to Sam and the family for the very warm welcome and all the effort they are taking! 

Sam Winebaum's 2020 Run Year in Review & Favorites for Road and Trail

 Article by Sam Winebaum

2020 was an unusual and trying year with much tragedy and uncertainty worldwide. Runners saw most races canceled and often ran solo away from run pals and raced virtual and solo as well. Yet running was a solace, a way to breathe and get outside and away from it all more than ever.   

We went to Park City in early March for a few weeks and stayed through...early July. 

It was a great place to stay away from people and get in lots of running, hiking, and gear testing in magnificent surroundings and for the first time continuously through the end of winter into full summer.

According to Strava,  I ran just shy of 1550 miles as I write this, a bit less than usual as no marathons to prepare for. I accumulated 94K feet of vertical on the run on both road and trail. I also hiked abou 130 miles hiking in Utah and in New Hampshire as I joined Dominique on many of her last of 48 4000 footers and on several beautiful hikes in Utah in the high Unitas where we tested trail runners, hiking boots, and gear. 

I nordic skied another 70 miles or so both classic and skate. 

Racing well...none of annual usuals but I did run two virtual 10K road races, a virtual half and a virtual trail half in Park City, Utah. 

ASICS World Ekiden 10K leg

4 teams from RTR for a total of 24 Contributors participated

There are few days left in 2020 but it looks like I won’t get to my annual goal of a half sub 1:40. That’s OK. Somehow, and as always, I like to say "Run For Run and Race to Win”, a saying from my college running days. I mean a real race, real competition, not so much winning at my age but sometimes an age group podium. don’t need racing and race goals to enjoy running or to stay motivated but I sure love to compete against others and I missed it this year. Solo time trials are just not the same.

Run companies went virtual with offices closed yet somehow were able to get a magnificent crop of new and innovative models first into our hands to test and review and then out to the rest of the running public. Trade shows that RTR often attends were canceled with virtual presentations, the new way to see and hear about the latest.

Our test team of 20 plus of all abilities, ages, and run interests, worldwide on 5 continents from the US to Europe to Mexico, Africa, Asia,and Australia reviewed in English, German, Danish and Spanish most often in multi tester review format.  Collectively they ran very close to 50,000 miles / 80,000 kilometers of trails and roads.

The team wrote 275 articles covering road shoes, trail shoes, and Apparel/Tech/Gear with many also covered on our growing YouTube channel.

I lost track of how many running shoes I tested this year. Likely well over 100 different models plus all kinds of other gear.  Some stood out in a year of fantastic innovation and fierce competition and one like no other I can recall. Here are my 2020 Favorites!


Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review) 

A daily trainer should provide sufficient cushion, stability, and response to handle most every kind of run from fast to slow with a focus on the middle miles of training (for me around 9:00- 9:30 minute mile pace) and not the extremes. I had 3 shoes in contention: Nike women’s Pegasus 37, New Balance FuelCell TC and Saucony Ride 13

After taking all of them for back to back runs on the same day, it was clear the Ride 13 was my favorite Not for being the fastest or even most exciting of the three, but for being the most versatile, consistent and protective. Flexible and well cushioned, it has a special responsive feel from its thick front bars of rubber over a flexible platform for some get up and go when you want to and its upper while not the lightest has a superb lockdown. Durability, always a consideration in daily trainers is excellent.


Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

At barely 8 oz, a weight not usually associated with "recovery" shoes, the Mach 4 has a unique combination of soft bouncy cushion, and plenty of it, stability, decent flexibility plus an effective new rocker to easily toe off even at slow paces and even some inherent stability from its broad platform. Every run, every pace is welcome here and it is especially pleasing to have a light light shoe to do those easy miles in. It can of course also be a daily trainer.

A strong honorable mention goes to the Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review). 

It has massive amounts of denser responsive cushion and lively forward roll to toe off from a stiff profile, so unlike flexy Mach 4’s. While not a stability shoe, it is exceptionally stable at the rear due to its clever extended medial side heel cup. Out slow and easy, out fast and long it doesn’t care and just rolls you along smoothly and evenly.


Nike Tempo Next % (RTR Review) is.. truly bionic. 

Massively cushioned, very stable from upper to midsole with an incredible zonally knit  Flyknit upper they are super fast and rock solid. No sense of the road here, no shock, no mushy softness either but lots of noise from the outsole. The giant front Zoom Air Pods have a distinct snappy pneumatic rebound and as you go forward off and compress the pods they tip you into the soft forefoot and off you go. Not only a great tempo long run option but many should consider it  for long racing as they tone down the softness of Alphafly and should keep you tracking better late in a race. Yes there is some weight at 8.9 oz / 252g but there is also an effective giant stack of 46mm heel / 36mm forefoot all super well controlled and tracking fast and forward. It clearly can also serve as a daily trainer for faster runners.

A strong honorable mention must go to the New Balance RC Elite (RTR Review) which is much lighter than Tempo Next % but still has a substantial, well cushioned, bouncy FuelCell midsole. Its ride is more traditional in feel with its carbon plate not noticedl. The lightest of the super shoes (but for the Next %, not a shoe I would train in much), it is also of course a great racer.


The elegant, super well fitting snappy ASICS Metaracer (RTR Review) goes to a max 10K for me (two virtual 10K races in them). I say it is the run shoe James Bond would rock!

The adios Pro (RTR Review) is clearly also a fine option in this category for me as is the Skechers Speed Elite (RTR Review) 


adidas Adios Pro (RTR Review

Not many real races this year at all, just a virtual half (adios Pro) and three virtual 10K (two in Metaracer and one in Alphafly). Clearly if I lined up for a half or below the adios Pro would be on my feet and maybe for a marathon too although the Alphafly intrigues me with its soft bouncy ride, maybe too soft and bouncy for late miles?  

The adios Pro is the first racer of the new era that I find truly “different” in ride from the original Vaporfly which is my all time favorite race shoe, and still is, at least until I can really race the adios Pro!

The 5 Energy Rods up front in the Adios Pro deliver a more exciting dynamic and natural feel and a faster one than any other contender and there were many. Just delightful. The upper is perfect in its super ventilated comfortable and secure fit. The super thin exotic outsole is durable and blends well with the soft enough Lightstrike Pro midsole.


Adios Pro, hands down the biggest smiles of the year shoe for me.  I am old. I am not that fast anymore (or never was) but there is something special in lacing up these beauties, winding them up, and activating the Energy Rods. The upper is magnificent, the midsole just right in balancing cushion and stability, and the super thin outsole groundbreaking in its feel and grip, durability, and light weight. 

In the training category the Mach 4 is clearly the winner and biggest smiles shoe for me.


The adios Pro was clearly my biggest surprise of the year coming from a company which only a month or two before released the quite frankly very conventional and rough riding carbon adizero Pro then to suddenly emerge with the most innovative long racer since the original Vaporfly and one that delighted slow old me and set world records. Quite a range of paces there…



ASICS Trabuco Max (RTR Review

The Max is very well cushioned, stable enough for all but very technical trails at speed and has a superb multi purpose outsole. The plateless Guidesole rolls you along without overdoing it with a lively rockered ride that has all the rock protection one could wish for without a plate in the way or over firming things. As most of my trail runs include at least some road or hard smooth dirt the Max has been an ideal companion.  


Didn't think I was going to choose the Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review) for any award as it has a relatively dull dense ride on smoother terrain but on technical taken at my slow cautious paces and for longer distances, especially, its superb upper hold and all that dense cushion has it leading the pack.

The far, far lighter Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 ( RTR Review) gets  honorable mention. Its agility, more than adequate cushion and outstanding grip were a highlight on many hikes in the White Mountains on highly technical terrain.

And for winter conditions and wet, the high top zip upper adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro (RTR Review) with its ski boot like midfoot wrap with BOA  closure is fantastic. 

The  Boost and EVA midsole has plenty of cushion and a lively flexible front to  go with a protected ride on both trail and road with plenty of all purpose traction from its Continental rubber outsole. It is not light!  But runs way lighter than its weight,


Sam: Brooks Caldera 4  (RTR Review). 

Plenty of cushion on a broad platform. Roomy, decently light and with a pleasant rocker they are easy to move along and secure and stable enough that you don’t have to focus on every step as you amble easy does it on just about any terrain.


Inov-8 Terraultra G270 ( RTR Review) 

Oh but it may depend. I raced a virtual trail half on a smoother Utah single track in the Salomon Sense Pro 4 whose grip and firm and protective ride and very secure upper stood out but that was before I had the Inov 8 TerraUltra  G270 or the Brooks Catamount. I took all three on some of the same trails on my 5 mile or so test loops in both Utah and New Hampshire where the Inov-8 ended up fastest pretty much across the board overall in both places but not by much. I was clearly faster in the Inov-8 on the more technical NH trails than in the Catamount with the Catamount shining on smooth non technical downhills and uphills in Utah. The Sense Pro 4 shone brightest where the terrain was roughest and most technical but the ride was a bit firm and rough, comparatively to the Inov-8.  So the winner for me is the Inov-8 as it proved most versatile.


Sam: If long and rough Saucony Xodus 10  (RTR Review) if up to a half Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 on most all terrain, If half up to 20 miles on smooth hard pack Brooks Catamount (RTR Review), if highly technical and shorter up to a half Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)


Nothing in the field quite like the Saucony Xodus 10 (RTR Review) for max cushion for long runs on any terrain as it delivers tons of cushion, stability and bounce, all leading to a lively any surface ride from the most technical of trails to even serving as a superb recovery oriented road ride. The aggressive outsole plays nice on any surface with outstanding grip and there is all the protection one could ever dream of. Yes, it is heavy but the weight isn't that noticed. 

Yet, I was amazed how fresh my legs were after long day hikes in the White Mountains on highly technical terrain in the Terraultra G 270, the best performing most agile and grippy shoe there of any I tested this summer, including even several boots. 


Sam: The upcoming early 2021 ASICS Trabuco Max (RTR Review) checks all the boxes for me as a door to trail shoe. 

Plenty of forgiving non mushy cushion, a rockered plateless geometry that rolls along very smoothly and is stable on all but the more technical terrain with no harshness and an aggressive (more so than most door to trail options)  outsole that leans trail and while noisy delivers response on the road and isn't in the way, all topped with a comfortable upper.

Honorable mention must go to the Brandblack Tarantula (RTR Review) with its broad on the ground stable supercritical midsole, super durable Vibram XS Trek outsole, and comfortable upper. 

More door to smooth trail oriented it is a shoe I didn't think about taking off after runs for the rest of the day as it transitions to everyday use with style and comfort, not always the case with trail shoes.


No question the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 (RTR Review) is my trail shoe of the year.

At barely 9.1 oz /  257 g with its grip everything Graphene outsole, a TPU/EVA blend midsole, and even an innovative TPU beaded footbed this zero drop shoe punches all the boxes magnificently with a lively fun ride, great upper security, breathability and water draining delivering, literally, any terrain versatility and superb traction.

Don't fret the zero drop too much as it is not really noticed, it’s more like running ma 4mm shoe for me. I put it through a huge range of uses including technical hiking in the White Mountains, where there was more than enough protection and tons of agility as well all kinds of fast and mostly shorter runs on all kinds of terrain and even on roads. It is a joy to run and sets a new and high bar in trail running shoes.

Favorite apparel of 2020 

Odlo set the bar very high this year in summer and winter base layers with in summer's heat their Blackcomb Pro T shirt with its Cermicool, anti stink, and superb wicking and fast drying technologies. 

In winter, their Blackcomb Long Sleeve Baselayer with Mask and hood has been outstanding and that is even before we get to their Zeroweight jackets including the incredible light fully waterproof DualDry. (RTR Reviews in our 2020 Gift Guide).

Yet, my single Favorite 2020 apparel  piece is the Tracksmith Running Off Roads Crew. (RTR Review).   

This stylish looser fitting near but not quite sweatshirt can be worn for every cooler weather workout and as it dries so quickly and looks  good for the rest of the day I basically didn’t take it off  and this for several days. Super versatile. The blending of Merino and Polypropylene to deliver insulation, wicking, warmth, breathability and stink resistance is genius.  

Honorable mentions:

Ultimate Direction Ventro Jacket (RTR Review Gift Guide) I have never run in puffy jacket but discovered the Ventro is highly highly breathable and temperature regulating. An insulated warm jacket truly designed for high output activities.

Salomon Sense Pro Shorts, Tank and S/Lab Short Tight For about the last 10 years I have always raced in Salomon kit. The new Sense Tank has 37.5 tech and is as wicking soft and comfortable as any warm weather gear I have ever used. Even Kilian races in the Sense Tank and not an S/Lab version. The shorts have quite large stretch pockets front and back that blend in to the rest of the short and hold phone and soft flask securely. Under, I alway race in the lightly compressive, not overly long, never chafing dual thigh pockets Short Tight. And best of all Salomon apparel lasts seemingly forever. My 10 year old S/Lab short is almost still like new.

Favorite Accessory of 2020  (Packs, lights, poles, etc)

No question the Camelbak Octane 25L (RTR Review), the most versatile pack I have ever tested. 

This larger capacity vest/pack blends the best of a race vest (many front side and rear pockets) with the rear well organized capacity of a day pack. Run, hike, travel, commute/computer bag it si one pack to do it all and it even comes with a fine 2L bladder and all for a very reasonable $145.


Three GPS watches stand out all for different reasons: 

The Coros Pace 2 (RTR Review) 

It is its lightest yet GPS sports watch at sub 30 g weight, is full featured for any kind of training, has ultra worthy battery life and superb accuracy, all for the low low  price of $200. 

The ultra comfortable, stylish, long battery life and complete training and recovery system delivered by the  Polar Vantage V2 (RTR Review) is my “daily driver” watch.

It has always been on one of my two wrists since I received it to test.

The Suunto 7 (RTR Review) is the first “platform” watch that I have tested that also delivers on being a real sports smartwatch. 

It’s new microfiber band makes it the most comfortable sports watch I have ever worn and with the  band is commendably light at 47g for such a big display watch.  It has a superb high res screen about 2x the resolution of the usual for dedicated sports watches  (yes it does have less than average battery life), to show beautiful maps with easy routing via the app This makes it not only a run watch but an adventure watch (keep those adventures to a day trip though)  Somehow in a Wear OS or Apple platform watch we have decently complete and easy to configure and customize (and sure to improve) run data fields.


Clearly for me the shoe tech of the year were the two key elements in the adidas adios Pro: Energy Rods for a more natural feeling dynamic ride working with your toes instead of the toes driven down and directed by a plate and the thin seemingly wear proof outsole which clearly is a ground breaking approach to outsole compounds. 

In the foam wars FuelCell has a implemented in the TC and especially the flavor in the very light RC Elite delivered a wonderfully pleasant new option to compete with Zoom X and Hyper Burst.

Nike’s use of giant Zoom Air Pods worked well in the Tempo Next and Alphafly which were clearly designed around them but not so well in the “over pumped up”  men’s Pegasus 37, a more conventional shoe.

Arriving soon the Craft CTM Carbon Ultra (RTR Initial Review) a mixed smoother surfaces ultra racer and all around versatile trainer for the first time incorporates a thin carbon plate with some flex leading to an incredible smooth roll and the most distinct "spring" in any carbon plated shoe I have tested.


The adios Pro and Inov-8 G 270. Both brands were known for something else, "firm" kind of dated rides and tech and both shocked with groundbreaking innovative new models that a joy to run and fast.

Hoka’s Sky collection of hikers and Deckers’ Lab more street sneaker oriented shoes  with their heel outrigger super broad Hubble geometry. Radical and now in toned down form the approach is starting to appear in run shoes such as the Mach 4 and Clifton Edge. Concept car stuff.

Yet of all the Sky shoes the Kaha Low GTX (RTR review soon) was the most impressive with by far the most stable highly cushioned platform of any shoe I have ever hiked in, topped by an incredibly stout nubuck leather upper. 

I can’t recall a boot this stable. Hiker, outdoor work shoe, stand all day on concrete shoe it doesn’t have bright cheery looks as its Sky stablemates do and is all business.


adidas adizero adios Pro and Inov-8  Terraultra G 270. Both shoes surprised.. and delighted! Fast, comfortable, groundbreaking.


Saucony came out in 2020 with not only the all new Endorphin line but updates to literally every single model road and trail during during the year. 

They simplified midsoles using 3 types of midsole foams across all shoes road and trail. They also refined and yes simplified all uppers and beautifully so. And they did away with confusing ISO naming going to simple numbering for models and got rid of ISO too. ISO was an often awkward approach to fit for me.

Saucony replaced ISO across the board with FormFit which starts at the midsole and works its way through the footbed and upper, to deliver excellent “forming” of the foot to the platform. 

Every Saucony proved excellent in my testing, not super flash but just carefully considered improvements of real benefit. Special notes for me in 2020 were Endorphin Shift, the Ride 13 and Xodus 10, all more trainers than racers because as the year went on other options I preferred for racing emerged.. And special kudos to the Saucony team (and all brands o locked out of their offices and access to test samples to send) for pulling this all off in such a challenging year and for publicly revealing all of their 2020 line in December 2019 at the Running Event and then delivering in such a challenging year.

Honorable mentions:

New Balance delivered a wide variety of ride experiences based on FuelCell and improved Fresh Foam X with special note the FuelCell in the TC and RC.

Nike continued to "shock" with the Alphafly and Tempo Next pushing boundaries in new and interesting directions but went to far with their mainstay men's Peg 37 for me by somehow overemphasizing gender "preferences" in ride feel leaving the superb softer lighter and smoother women's Peg ride for smaller men's feet. 

adidas was a one trick pony with their adios Pro but suspect not for long in road as they are on a roll with the lessons learned. Their Terrex division delivered a fantastic Boost and BOA based winter and rough conditions shoe in the Terrex Agravic Tech Pro 

ASICS which had a lot to remodel, delighted with the elegant Metaracer, the Novablast and Dynablast, improved on Evoride and Glideride, and in a late in 2020 a surprise for 2021, a superb trail shoe in the Trabuco Max.

Brooks came out in relatively rapid succession with 2 versions of their Hyperion Elite marathon racer while staying the course, pretty much, with their road line stalwarts. Brooks really shone most brightly in trail with their all arounder the Caldera 4 and a new fast and light shoe the Catamount with the same foam as the second Hyperion and Tempo and in superb $100 shoes: the Revel and new Divide trail runner, a price category most welcome in this challenging year for so many. 

Skechers continued to push the envelope with lighter and lighter shoes based on Hyperburst with plates in the mix and generally lower stacks than the marathon super shoes with the Speed Elite fantastic for shorter fast efforts.

Inov-8 long a trail shoe specialist, known for firm, agile and snug rough terrain shoes struck gold for me (and our team as it was the team’s shoe of  the year as well as mine) with a seeming, by looks and basic stats alone, “ minor update” to the Terraultra G 260, the G 270. From its exciting to run and protective re formulated bouncier midsole, innovative springy footbed, outstanding light and secure upper and of course Graphene Grip outsole it was an easy pick for my trail shoe of the year in a very crowded field of great shoes.

Here is to a brighter 2021! Thank you very much for reading, watching, and following RoadTrailRun on all our channels in 2020

What were your 2020 Favorites? 

The products reviewed were mostly provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
Road Running Shoes HERE
Trail Running Shoes HERE
RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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