Friday, December 31, 2021

Sam Winebaum's & RoadTrailRun 2021 Year in Review

 Article by Sam Winebaum. Editor

As I complete my 49 year of running I am grateful to still move along just fast enough, maybe, to be worthy of all the great innovations in running shoes and gear we saw this year.


 I say maybe as I have discovered in the new age of  race carbon shoes that those designed more specifically for fore to mid foot striking ain’t for me at longer distances with my heel striking and no knee lift, not a function of age always been that way just getting worse! 


An indication, and of note, is that the gear is getting increasingly specialized for racing and here at RoadTrailRun we need to continue to compare, provide varied perspectives of pace, age, distance to our readers.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 Multi Tester Review: Flytefoam Blast + Powered Plush, Stable Daily Cruiser. 11 Comparisons

Article by Dominique Winebaum, Sam Winebaum, Sally Reiley, and Jeff Beck 

ASICS GEl-Nimbus 24 ($160)

Introduction


Sam: The Nimbus is ASICS stalwart heavy duty neutral road trainer with a classic 10mm drop geometry for men and 13mm for women.   My last Nimbus was the 19 and while a great shoe for dealing with Plantar’s at the time other options from ASICS (Nimbus Lite, Cumulus, Novablast, and even Fuji Lite 2 and Trabuco Max trail shoes taken to road) were lighter, more agile, more fun, and equally if not more cushioned than the lumbering Nimbus.  And not to speak of other “modernized” classic daily trainers. 


With the 24 ASICS maintains the model’s classic 26mm heel / 16 forefoot men’s midsole stack height, 10mm drop and yet bigger drop women’s 28mm heel /15mm forefoot 13mm drop geometry. Both are for sure high drop with a full heel stack cushion that I measure at a max cushion grade 34mm total for the men’s.


Yet identical geometry to prior Nimbus aside, the 24 is a significant update as the Nimbus gets a new dual density Flytefoam Blast + midsole with its softer layer even softer and lighter by 15% and bouncier by 12% than the Novablast’s, a narrower platform higher stack speedy trainer. It is thrilling that Blast and Blast + no less comes to a more accessible daily trainer.


Everything is intended to stay stable and in control, for a neutral shoe, as the Blast + is firmer on the medial side. 

We also now get a more centrally embedded and gender specific design plastic Trusstic plate. And the gender specific features continue with softer Blast + in the women’s and front and back 3D Space Construction of gait adapting midsole pillars while the men’s only has the technology at the heel. 


Significantly the Nimbus 24 drops a very solid 0.6 oz / 17g to a very respectable 10.3 oz / in a US men’s 9 for what is a lot of shoe. It is now weight competitive with shoes such as the identical stack and drop Nike Zoom Vomero 16 and almost the same weight as its Cumulus 23 stablemate with 3mm less stack front and back of older Flytefoam. Cumulus will get the weight reducing Blast + treatment later in 2022. 


Needless to say, all of these updates, plus a clearly superb engineered mesh upper with some knit-like stretch had me intrigued to see how they would run and if the Nimbus cloud naming was now related to the actual ride of the shoe!

Jeff Valliere's 2021 Year in Review: 34 Trail (and Road) Run Shoes from 17 Brands Tested & Reviewed in Brief!

 Article by Jeff Valliere


Wow, what a great year for trail shoes in 2021!  Having reviewed a wide variety of trail shoes this year, of all different types from many brands (34 shoes total from 17 brands), I have found it very difficult to narrow my selection down to a favorite, or even narrow down a favorite for each category.  Shoe technology has just improved so much that it is really hard to find disappointment in any of them, though some may have their limitations.  I will try my best however to convey what I found to be the most exciting, fun and useful shoes of 2021 and describe how I have used each one (or not) going forward. 


With just a few days to go in 2021, by year end, I will have run just over 1,600 miles (almost all trail except for 2 virtual road races totalling 15 miles and occasionally some approach road miles) and more than 540,000 vertical feet on a wide variety of trails in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California.  From 14,000 foot peaks, high alpine traverses, steep and rugged off trail exploring/adventuring, technical scrambling, buttery singletrack through Redwoods and Saguaro cactus, snow, ice and mud, I have covered just about all surfaces imaginable.


I tried to narrow down categories, but found it easier to just go through each shoe and describe pros/cons, best use case and rave where appropriate, plus give some thoughts and reflections in hindsight with more long term use under my belt with each shoe.  I rated each with a very simplistic overall scale of 1 - 5. Shoes are covered in alphabetical order by brand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

adidas adiSTAR Review. 9 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Beck

adidas adiSTAR ($130)


Introduction


The Adistar is a brand new shoe with a throwback name, adidas has used Adistar for a number of different shoes in the past - but none of them are anything like the current iteration. Landing squarely at the intersection of an updated adidas Supernova Glide Boost (RTR Review), with a lifestyle aesthetic and vibe, and drawing cushioning inspiration from the big boys of running like the Hoka Bondi, the Adistar is a truly unique shoe. But does unique mean new, interesting, and awesome, or is it a polite way of saying don’t bother? Almost all the former, but for some runners, there’s a bit of the latter as well. Read on and I’ll explain.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Video Reviews & Comparisons: ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24, Hoka Kawana & Nike Zoom Vomero 16. A/B Test Runs

Article and Video by Sam Winebaum

In the video I do A/B test runs to compare the fit and ride of the Nike Zoom Vomero 16, ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24, and Hoka Kawana. All three are heavier duty neutral trainers with significantly different personalities and uses.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Odlo Winter 2021-2022 Reviews: AXALP collection, Zeroweight Ceramiwarm, Chill-Tec for heat and super light Merino 130

Article by Dominique Winebaum, Adam Glueck, and Sam Winebaum

Introduction

We are huge fans of Swiss Norwegian brand Odlo, the masters of the base layer (and more) and for all seasons. In the article we test and review pieces from their new AXALP collection, Zeroweight Ceramiwarm, Chill-Tec for heat and super light Merino 130.

Review: LEOMO 5 Sensor Run Form Analysis System

 Article by Cheng Chen


LEOMO 5 Sensor Run Form Analysis System Review


Introduction


In more ways than not, I am a traditionalist. I tend to shun away from the latest technological eye candy promising to revolutionize performance. However, when a product has proven clear advantages, I’ll adopt it without a second thought. This was my mindset when I first heard of LEOMO; and, thus far, I’m beyond the verge of wholehearted adoption.


LEOMO is a 5-sensor motion analysis toolkit meant to help the runner detect and ultimately improve on form deficiencies. Here, I specifically mean toolkit because the approach is not like traditional sensors that an athlete might buy (to own). Instead, this is sold as a service where the sensors are sent to you whereby you then return it upon completion of an analytical workout.


This approach will allow LEOMO to eventually maintain an accessible price point of around $100 for each analysis as opposed to the significantly higher cost of physically owning the full suite of devices. Across time, runners can perform multiple instances of analysis, tracking and improving their form based on snapshots of progress.

The entire package is efficiently packed into a single container with easy to ship-back instructions.


Presently during the initial roll-out phase, LEOMO is being offered for $449-799 as a purchase of its entire suite of sensors. While the runner is the ultimate end-user, current customers tend to be more running coaches, clubs, labs, and professionals who seek to invest in and directly own this platform. I received LEOMO, ran the tests, and returned the unit. Read on to see what I discovered.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Test de la Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%: vers 16km/h et au delà! (French)

Article par Jeremy Marie

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% FK (200€)

Test RTR (anglais): ICI

Sommaire de tous les tests RTR: ICI


Introduction

Disponibles depuis un peu plus d’un an maintenant, les Tempo Next ne sont pour autant pas moins intéressantes aujourd’hui et restent encore au catalogue Nike comme le pendant “entrainement” des Alphafly, dont elles partagent la conception avec deux pods Air Zoom à l’avant, une plaque (composite ici, plus flexible) et la fameuse mousse Zoom X, épaulée ici par une partie en React Foam au talon. L’idée est d’apporter du confort et de la réactivité à l’avant du pied avec la combinaison des deux inserts Zoom Air et de la mousse Zoom X et de l’amorti et surtout de la durabilité au talon.

Le pari est-il réussi? La Tempo Next pourra t-elle devenir une excellente compagne d'entraînement, moins exigeante que ses grandes sœurs?


Pour:

  • Le chaussant - un véritable chausson!

  • La réactivité et la sensation de propulsion…explosive

  • Le style

  • La semelle est durable


Contre:

  • Exige pas mal d’engagement pour en tirer le meilleur

  • Peu agréable à faible allure

  • Bruyante!

  • Surveiller la durabilité de la partie en Zoom X…


Statistiques

Poids officiel: H: (US9/EU42.5) 260g  F: (US8/EU39): 233g

Poids de l’exemplaire testé: H (US10.5 EU44.5): 280g 

Epaisseur: 36mm-46mm mesuré

Prix: 200€

Monday, December 20, 2021

Quick Strides 27: Renee & Shannon top trail podiums in New Balance RC Elite 1 and ASICS Fuji Lite 2. Jeremy runs a night trail race in France. InsideTracker Results for Sam, Mini Reviews Tracksmith Nor’Easter and Gore Wear Drive Jackets and Odlo. Superfeet Me3D insoles and More!

Article by Renee Krusemark, Shannon Payne, Jeremy Marie and Sam Winebaum


Renee & Shannon top trail podiums in RC Elite 1 and Fuji Lite 2. Jeremy runs a night trail race in France. Sam tests Tracksmith Nor’Easter and Gore Wear Drive Jackets. Superfeet Me3D insoles and More!

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 and GEL-Nimbus Lite 3 Initial Video Reviews and Comparisons

Videos by Sam Winebaum

GEL-Nimbus 24 ($150) GEL-Nimbus Lite 3 ($160)

The GEL-Nimbus 24 releasing in January gets a Flytefoam Blast+ midsole said to be 15% lighter, 15% softer, and 12% softer leading to a significant drop in weight to 10. 2 oz / 289g US men's 9 with multiple gender specific features. 

The lighter by about an ounce GEL-Nimbus Lite 3, with just about the same stack height and releasing in February, yet more sustainable with at least 50% of the upper from recycled content and a midsole formed with organically derived materials while getting a few tenths of an ounce lighter.

Full multi tester reviews soon.

Watch the GEL-Nimbus 24 Initial Video Review


Watch the GEL-Nimbus Lite 3 Initial Video Review


Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Kurzbericht: Salomon Gore Tex Infinium Windstopper Jacket & Tights

Artikel von Nils Scharff

Link zu allen RTR-Testberichten: HIER

Salomon Gore Tex Infinium Windstopper Jacket (160€)

Stärken: Warm, bequem, Einschubtaschen liegen eng am Körper an

Features: Gore Tex Infinium Windstopper; Active Fit; weiche, gebürstete Innenseite; reflektierende Details

Am besten geeignet für: Straßenlauf

Testbericht: Saucony RUNSHIELD - Ride 14 und Endorphin Speed 2 sind bereit für den Winter (German)

Artikel von Marcel Krebs und Nils Scharff

Link zu allen RTR-Testberichten: HIER

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 RUNSHIELD (190 €)


Saucony Ride 14 RUNSHIELD (150 €)

Einleitung

Nils: Heute machen Marcel und ich Mal etwas besonderes und schreiben über Schuhe, die wir eigentlich schon einmal getestet haben. Um genau zu sein handelt es sich um den Saucony Ride 14 - einen vielseitigen Daily-Trainer - sowie um den Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 - einen Uptempo-Trainer, der vielleicht der beliebteste Schuh des letzten Jahres ist. Doch was ist nun das besondere an diesen beiden Schuhen? Warum schauen wir sie uns erneut an? Die Antwort lautet, dass Saucony beide Schuhe für den Winter fit gemacht hat. Die hier getesteten Paare sind sog. RUNSHIELD Versionen. D.h. dass sie zum einen ein wetterfestes Obermaterial und zum anderen ein griffigeres Sohlengummi verpasst bekommen haben. Ob das alles ist und wie sich das auf das Laufgefühl am Fuß auswirkt, lassen wir euch im Folgenden wissen.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Hoka Tecton X First Run Impressions Video : The Next Generation of Trail-Super Light, Super Cushioned, Dual Carbon Plated Propulsion

Video by Sam Winebaum

Hoka Tecton X ($200)

The Tecton X ($200) releasing in May brings super light weight, dual carbon plates and springy supercritical foam to trail in Hoka's new pinnacle long racer and trainer.  It has a single layer dense jacquard mesh upper and a Vibram Litebase MegaGrip outsole.


Stats

8.65 oz / 244g  US men’s 8.5 

Stack Height: 33mm heel x 29 mm forefoot, 4mm drop


For comparison...

EVO Speedgoat

9.06 oz / 257 g (US men's 8.5)

Stack Height: 32mm heel, 28 mm forefoot, 4mm drop.

I took them out for a first run on my test loop and bring you some first impressions. Much more testing to come in the next few months for our multi tester review.


Watch the Tecton X First Run Impressions


Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

2021 RTR Best of Running Awards: Multiple Categories, Best Overall, Brand of the Year, Surprises, Apparel, Tech, and Accessories 
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RTR's Top Road & Trail Run Shoe Introductions for 2022 from The Running Event 
34 Run Shoes for Road & Trail HERE
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Thursday, December 16, 2021

RoadTrailRun's Best of Trail Running 2021: Multiple Categories, Best Overall, Brand of the Year, Surprises, Apparel, Tech, and Accessories

 Article by RoadTrailRun Team

15 RoadTrailRun contributors in the US and Europe ran thousands of miles (or kilometers) in dozens of trail shoes each.  Collectively the entire RTR team wrote approximately 60 trail shoe review articles and 155 road shoe review articles as well as dozens of apparel, accessories and electronics articles in multiple languages including English, Spanish, German, French, Danish, and Polish.


We surveyed the team via an online form where the respondents could not see others’ answers. 


So which trail running shoes came out on top in each of several categories, what was the top shoe overall, top brands, what were our favorite apparel, tech, and accessories, and what were the big surprises of 2021?  Please read on to find out.



Contributors run on varied terrains and at all kinds of paces and distances with several winning or placing in 2021 trail and ultra races while others run at more moderate paces and distances. Many if not most also run the roads.


Not every contributor ran in every shoe and for some models below we had more brand provided samples than for others while some shoes were personal purchases. 


Reviews of all the shoes in the survey can be found at our index page HERE. Our reviews are also linked at the mention of each shoe,


 

What is your favorite daily cruiser Trail Shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Topo Athletic MT-4. Nimble and breathable. Great for everyday trail stuff.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the Nike Pegasus Trail 3. The shoe runs lighter than its weight and provides enough comfort for long distances or recovery runs without bogging down the legs.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Salomon Pulsar. Despite the difficulty of putting the shoe on, I cannot say anything bad about this shoe. Easy runs are a joy thanks to the combination of extreme low weight and the comfort and bounce of the Energy Surge midsole.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC:  This is a precise, lightweight, and grippy trail shoe. I love the precision of the upper and although it isn’t as grippy in mud as the Supertrac, it holds up super well on rocky terrain in the mountains.  I like that it’s lightweight and fun, but can hold up on more technical terrain.  

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5. Great traction on any terrain, soft and responsive.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 - If you just want to buy one trail shoe for your quiver you can't go wrong with the Ultraventure 2. Sure, there's no bouncy super foam, but besides that I can't think of any downside. It has a protective, predictable ride - can be run on roads as well as on technical trails. The Vibram outsole offers great traction and durability and the upper shines with the natural shaped toebox but a dependable midfoot- and heel lockdown. Topo thought of every detail and delivered a great all around shoe in a surprisingly light package.

Shannon Payne (California)

Hoka Challenger ATR 6. It's still a Hoka with ample cushioning and protection, but it's trimmed down enough to still feel nimble and quick.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

This is tough, as it is a toss up between the Topo MTN Racer 2, the Brooks Cascadia 16 and the Scarpa Spin Infinity.  All 3 shoes are remarkably comfortable, well cushioned, well protected, stable, have great traction and can go just about anywhere, at any speed.  They are all super durable, with great longevity.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270. Another year has gone by but the G 270 remains my favorite all-around trail shoe of all time. I find it is comfortable and performant for most surfaces and run types. Despite having over 300 miles on my pair, I did a recent mountain run tempo workout (7 miles with 2k feet vert) in it and still loved it. I also did a few meandering flatter mixed terrain runs in it and enjoyed it. The fit and security is superb. The ride is smooth, peppy when I want to go fast, and consistent at slower paces.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. I love how light and responsive it is. It suits my frequent terrain selections as a fast road-to-trail shoe to take on both recovery runs or PR attempts.

Dom Layfield (California)

Topo Terraventure 3.  Unobtrusively excellent, I was initially a little underwhelmed by the TV3.  The feel was reminiscent of a favorite shoe of 2020, the Topo Runventure 3, but everything was a bit more substantial, which I wasn't sure I wanted.  But the Terraventure grew on me, and I find myself reaching for it for daily runs.  Everything is just right: roomy toe box, excellent midfoot retention, fantastic traction, handsome in an understated way.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra - A tank of a shoe that utilizes a carbon composite plate to cruise at easy paces.  NOTE - I had to massively carve up the ankle/heel collar with a utility knife to make this shoe runnable.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. Very comfortable, bouncy midsole, awesome grip and comfortable like a road shoe.

Honorable mention: Salomon Ultra Glide. Also very bouncy, comfortable and with a versatile outsole.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks Cascadia 16. DNA Loft v2, incredible fit upper (with a big toebox), I found myself going back to my bright yellow Cascadia's like a dog to the water bowl. This is one of those shoes that I have zero complaints about, and zero suggestions on how to improve it.

Sam Winebaum

Speedland SL-PDX. A friendly flexible plated all arounder with a comfortable highly adjustable BOA upper, PEBA midsole with removable Carbitex plate and decently gripping Michelin outsole is a joy to cruise in on any kind of trail terrain.



No decisive winners here but Topo Athletic with 3 models each with one vote showed well in the trail cruiser category.


 

What is your Favorite Technical Trail Shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

The Topo MTN Racer 2 gets me through the rocks feeling like a mountain goat.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

Tough category this year! So many great choices, including the Scarpa Spin 2.0, Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, ASICS Fuji Lite 2, the Topo MTN Racer 2, the VJ Spark, and even the Skechers Razor TRL. I can't pick just one!

Jeremy Marie (France)

Scott Supertrac RC 2. Versatile traction, secure foothold, durable upper, stable, the right amount of firmness to handle technical terrain, while keeping ground feel. It is on this last aspect that it wins against the Salomon Cross/Pro which is a great technical terrain shoe.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Inov-8 TerraUltra G270:  This is technically a 2020 shoe, but I just picked up a pair this year.  It has fantastic grip, it’s low, stable, and responsive over the rocks.

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Topo MTN Racer 2, This shoe is fast and stable on technical terrain and it grips any surface.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Brooks Cascadia 16 - The Cascadia is built like a tank but runs surprisingly precise and agile at the same time. It has one of the best outsoles I tested this year and just gives me confidence to tackle everything a trail could possibly throw at me.

Shannon Payne (California)

Hoka Torrent 2  It's light and nimble but still affords great cushion and protection.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Speedland SL:PDX - with the removeable dynamically flexible carbon plate, that is split in the front with a tuning fork sort of look for articulated flex, substantial Pebax midsole, deep aggressive lugs and secure custom-like dual Boa upper, the Speedland is ideally suited for technical mountain trails.  While not the lightest, the weight is very acceptable for all the protection, speed and performance that it offers.  


Runner up and perhaps a touch better for technical trails and off trail is the La Sportiva Cyklon, with a touch better grippier outsole, built in high top gaiter and a more protective upper, though not quite as quick or responsive.


Honorable mention, but splitting hairs and depending on when you ask me, could be the front runner is the Scott Supertrac RC 2, which performs fantastically on technical terrain with very good traction, impeccably secure upper, low stable feel, and with very good protection and cushion underfoot.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

VJ Ultra. The foothold and traction are both top notch and it has enough stack to provide protection without feeling high off the ground or unstable. I can run fast on uneven, steep terrain and not feel limited by the shoe's performance. 

John Tribbia (Colorado)

La Sportiva Akasha II. This shoe is awesome for really long days on both technical and cruisy terrain. And it is comfortable, stable, and much more cushioned than others in the La Sportiva lineup. Coming in 2022. Reviewed this year.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

VJ Spark - The most secure upper of any shoe I have, with the perfect toebox.  Not a pure trail runner, but security and top of class grip makes for very fast and agile technical running.  Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra may end up eventually taking the crown in this category though.. 

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Scarpa Spin 2.0. Excellent fit, Fantastic grip, low drop, good foot protection and a very competitive weight.

Honorable mention. Inov-8 TerraUltra G270 (my trail shoe of last year); while a 2020 model, it’s still one of my favorite shoes for technical terrain in my rotation. Excellent grip and fit for a wide forefoot like mine and even a little bouncy on flat terrain.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Skechers Performance Razor TRL. Lightweight and nimble, the Razor TRL wins this one for me by default due to all of the other trail shoes I reviewed this year being much heavier duty. The Goodyear outsole has plenty of grip, though I'd love for the toebox to be just 1-2mm wider.

Sam Winebaum

When I go "technical" it is usually at hike pace in the White Mountains of NH and the giant Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 plowed through and gripped everything with its unusual Adapter Flex mid foot decoupling contouring to the many boulders on those trails and with near bottomless graphene powered cushion and traction. And while quite heavy it performs well on smoother terrain and even road.


Not far behind and when more technical running is in the mix the VJ Ultra was a top performer for me on more technical terrain as was the Scarpa Spin 2.0



No shoe other than the Topo MTN Racer 2 with 2 nods garnered more than one top vote each with brands such as VJ, Inov-8 and Scott in the tech terrain mix..


 

What is your Favorite Easy day trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Hoka Speedgoat 4 EVO. Great cushion and good protection from all manner of rocks.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

For slower efforts, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Trail 3. For easy days mixed with faster paces (especially on more technical terrain), the ASICS Fuji Lite 2, which is a shoe that works well for easy or technical terrain.

Jeremy Marie (France)

The Salomon S/Lab Pulsar. Protective enough for easy days, a smooth roll thanks to the rocker profile...I just feel like I'm rolling on the ground using this shoe. Everything feels so easy.

A very different animal that I enjoyed for easy runs is the Saucony Xodus 11. Runs lighter than it looks (and then it actually weighs), protective, great traction, and still flexible.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Saucony Xodus 11:  This shoe is a somewhat traditional trail shoe, but it feels really good for a wide variety of trails at slower paces. The traction and rock plate are very protective and the beaded TPU foam gives some response when you want it.

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail V2. Lots of cushion and rock protection, Grips very well on wet rocks and versatile to go from asphalt to trails.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Nike Terra Kiger 7 - The new Kiger is not the stripped down racing shoe anymore that it has been. It gained midsole stack and weight but also a lot of comfort. It still has poor traction in wet conditions but rides soft and comfortable on dry roads. It's a great easy day shoe but also is able to pick it up when needed.

Shannon Payne (California)

Back to the Challenger ATR 6  It's still a Hoka with ample cushioning and protection, but it's trimmed down enough to still feel nimble and quick.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Nike Pegasus Trail 3 - gobs of plush cushion, a relaxed, but secure enough fit and a nice casual sporty look to them, they are a joy to wear for easy days on the trail, long hikes or just around town.


In a near tie is the Salomon Sense Ride 4 - I wear these almost every day when I need a shoe that easily slips on, when I need to quickly get out the door for a walk, errands or easy runs and tighten quickly on the fly.  Fit is very easy and relaxed, yet a quick cinch of the quick laces dials them into very secure for just about any trail.  Protection, cushion and smooth ride are top notch.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

Puma Voyage Nitro GTX. I didn’t have a shoe that came to mind initially for this category, but recently as the weather has been around freezing, I have been picking the Voyage Nitro GTX for easy runs. It is very protected, smooth, has excellent traction, and turns over nicely making it easy to go for a jog in the woods.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

Skechers Performance GO Run Razor TRL. As someone who enjoys a light and responsive trail shoe that doubles as an excellent road-to-trail shoe, the Razor TRL is my go-to option. Fun and bouncy for easy and fast days

Dom Layfield (California)

For easy/recovery runs when I want a lot of cushion, the Hoka Challenger ATR 6 fits the bill nicely.   A well-rounded, plush, go-anywhere (and fine looking!) shoe, my only real critique is that Hoka narrowed the forefoot slightly compared to ATR 5.  Happily the ATR 6 is also available in wide.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

VJ Ultra - My early leader for trail shoe of the year, but outsole durability and narrow toebox issues materialized to knock it down a few spots. Still love it and fun for any type of run on any terrain. 

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Salomon Ultra Glide. Bouncy with an awesome Energy Surge midsole, wide base, enough room in the toe box for the foot to splay and very comfortable.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks Cascadia 16. See above, it's a versatile shoe for nearly all terrains that leaves nothing to be desired.

Sam Winebaum

Salomon Ultra Glide. With a more mellow (softer) midsole foam that is also energetic,  the Ultraglide is my pick for non technical trails such as in Utah and with some road in the mix. For more technical or if I don't want to over focus on obstacles Scarpa Spin Infinity. 


No decisive winner here but the Salomon Ultraglide, Hoka Challenger ATR and Pegasus Trail 3 each get 2 nods for Easy Days with all others a single vote.


 

What is your Favorite short and fast trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Hoka Torrent 2. Fast and furious.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

For soft surfaces with a high amount of incline/decline, the VJ Spark. The shoe is relatively light and nimble with just the right amount of cushion. For easier terrain, the Skechers Razor TRL. 

Jeremy Marie (France)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar! If the terrain is not too muddy or technical. I have a hard time finding more positives to write on this shoe. If the terrain is more technical, or muddy, I'll lean towards the Scott Supertrac RC2 for the gain in traction and protection...But the running experience is nowhere near to the Pulsar's.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar:  Calling the Pulsar revolutionary would be an understatement. Out of all of my shoes, even the road super shoes, the Pulsar is the lightest.  It would be easy to assume that it would have no cushion or energy, but thanks to the Energy Surge cushioning, it’s incredibly responsive and hits far above its weight in cushion.  I’d even consider this for a track 3K or road mile over an Endorphin Pro or Metaspeed Sky.  It also has an incredibly comfortable yet supportive Matryx upper that is my favorite on any trail shoe, and a minimal outsole that while clearly optimized for weight, and works well for trail running.  This is a super shoe for the trails, and it’s a blast to run in.

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Topo MTN Racer 2, This shoe likes to go fast on the trails and has great traction on fast down hills and up hills. Even on technical terrains you can go fast.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

ASICS Fuji Lite 2 - The Fuji is a no nonsense trail runner with everything you need and nothing you don't. Great traction, an energetic ride, low weight and even great road-to-trail abilities.

Shannon Payne (California)

I would waver here between the Hoka Torrent 2, Nike Terra Kiger 7, or ASICS Fuji Lite 2. All quick and nimble, without sacrificing grip and protection.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

VJ Spark for really short and fast, on the most technical terrain where I need the most extreme level of traction, highest level of security, stability and agility.  They are light, responsive and so quick, with just enough protection to get you through the roughest trails or off trails for an hour or two.


VJ Ultra for all of the above, but when a little more cushion and protection is needed under foot.  While it is called the Ultra, I see this ideal for 2-3 hours of very fast running in technical terrain.


Hoka Zinal- for less technical trails, the Zinal is my top performing shoe, as it is light, responsive, has relatively good traction for the lower lugs, good cushion, ventilation, low to ground feel, yet well cushioned and protected.


Scott Supertrac RC 2 - relatively light, responsive, secure and excellent grip, the Supertrac is ideally suited to fast running on technical trails.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

VJ Spark. For short (I’m thinking 15 km and below), technical, twisty trails the VJ Spark is super locked in and quick. It has a glove-like fit that is a bit uncomfortable for me at longer distances (could possibly half size up) but provides excellent security on uneven terrain. Combined with VJ’s incredibly grippy butyl rubber outsole and light weight, the Spark is fast and doesn’t get in the way.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. I'm in love with this shoe for reasons stated in the daily cruiser section. I will add that it works for my slightly narrow foot.

Dom Layfield (California)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar.   Trail shoes have been neglected in terms of innovation and evolution compared to road shoes.   My focus has always been on shoes that I can race in.  With the goal of shaving precious grams, I've often pressed lightweight road shoes into use for racing on trail when conditions permit.  (I ran Western States in downsized Hoka Clayton 2's; Rio del Lago in Hoka Mach; TNF50 San Francisco in Altra Torin; many local trail races in Altra One)  In review after review, I've complained about the apparent disregard of weight by shoe manufacturers.  If it means I can go faster on race day, I'm more than willing to accept compromises on fit, grip, cushioning and durability in a shoe. The Salomon Pulsar has many imperfections (it is shaped nothing like my foot, for example), but it is lighter, by far, than any other shoe -- road or trail -- that I've ever tested.  And when I say, "by far", I'm talking by a huge margin.  This shoe is 75% of the weight of its closest competitors.  One can only marvel at its Godly purity of purpose.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra - A late year pickup that just blew my mind - fantastic upper, and a ride that's hard to hold back.  I WILL race in these next year anywhere within the 13.1M to 50M range.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar. It’s very light, very bouncy and even though it comes on a narrow base, the awesome Matryx upper also works on a side forefoot like mine very, very well.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Craft CTM Ultra. Lightweight and fast, the CTM Ultra is a quick shoe. Maybe not great for technical stuff, but for me a fast trail is a pretty buffed out one, and the CTM Ultra makes buffed trails fly by.

Sam Winebaum

Scarpa Spin 2.0 only a few runs before I had to return it but its combination of agility, great upper, plenty of cushion at light weight and outstanding traction had me smiling on more technical terrain reminding me of the Inov-8 Terra Ultra G270 but with a welcome higher drop. 


For those smoother western trails the Hoka Zinal and also as I often mix road and trail in Utah the Terrex Speed Ultra.


When I could really wind it up the incredibly light Salomon S/Lab Pulsar was fantastic but more limited in utility for me. 


 

S/Lab Pulsar gets 4.3 votes.  Fuji Lite 2 gets 2.3. VJ Spark gets 1.75 in Fast and Light..


 

What is your Favorite race day trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Topo MTN Racer 2,. Comfy, nimble  and can go long.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

My only trail race with trail shoes this year (20 miler) was with the Asics Fuji Lite 2, which works well for any pace on a variety of surfaces. I elected to race a 30 miler on horse trails in the NB RC Elite 1, which in hindsight was probably not the best choice.

Jeremy Marie (France)

You guessed it...Salomon S/Lab Pulsar for up to 45-50kms race. Pure fun, efficiency, inherently fast and easy to run.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar:  For the same reason, it’s light, comfortable, more cushioned then it has any right to be, and is super fun to run in

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Topo MTN Racer 2,, This shoe works on everything. It's responsive, has great traction, and a very comfortable lockdowned upper. Actually,  it was my 100k Race Day shoe!!!

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Salomon Ultra Glide - The UG is not a racing shoe per se but has been my weapon of choice for the one trail race that I attended this year. It's energetic, it's comfortable, it's relatively light and therefore ticked all the boxes that I was looking for that day.

Shannon Payne (California)

This year I would say that goes to the Asics Fuji Lite 2, which I used in all of my uphill trail races this year.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Hoka Zinal  for shorter, less technical races.


VJ Spark. for shorter and super tech. It would be ideal for Mt. Marathon in Alsaka!


VJ Ultra for short to mid distance technical races.


Hoka Mafate Speed 3 or Salomon Ultra Glide for longer distance races, as they both run much lighter than their weight, are well cushioned, responsive, comfortable and well protected underfoot.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

VJ Ultra. No question here for me, this is the best technical trail racing shoe I have tested. I wore it for five trail races this season ranging from 6 miles to 32 miles on a variety of challenging terrain and thought it had the perfect balance of enough cushion but not mushy or disconnected, medium flexibility and protection, and 10/10 security and traction. I didn't feel in any way limited by my shoe choice. Despite loving the performance of the shoe, I had significant issues with discomfort in the toebox, feeling like my toes were crushing together from the midsole collapsing and pushing my toes into each other, leading to blisters. Despite this, I think the shoe is so performant that it is still my favorite and I will race it again, using a more dense sockliner to reduce flexibility.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar for shorter (30K max) and dry terrain. I love this shoe because it is the ultimate ascender and descender, has a lot of energy and feels nimble on-foot. 


For muddy and races with insecure footing, I would lean toward the VJ Spark. It absolutely devours anything loose or slippery, giving me confidence in the worst elements. 

Dom Layfield (California)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar for short races, Hoka Zinal for longer distances.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar - I would have to think long and hard about reasons NOT to race in the Pulsar. Extreme technicality or extreme length/distance.. otherwise go Pulsar!

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar For the reasons listed above.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks Cascadia 16. If the race was ultra length, I'd likely opt for the G300, but the Cascadia has been my go-to trail shoe for just about everything this year, so if I was going to pin a bib on dirt this year, the Cascadia would have been the shoe on my foot.

Sam Winebaum

For races between up to the half marathon distance (don't race further these days) on up to moderately technical terrain  I would reach for the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra. It has a great combination of superb any terrain Continental rubber, front flexibility yet with dense and firm Lightstrike protection, friendly rear Boost, and totally secure very light Celermesh upper, the best upper of any 2021 trail shoe for me. And much like its near departed cousin, the adios Boost the mid foot Torsion followed up front by flexibility all at a decently light weight also make it a tremendous road and door to trail shoe. While named "Ultra" I think its low slung platform will be most suitable for  more "elite" ultra runners.


For more technical terrain Scarpa Spin 2.0


Not much question the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar was the top Race choice and particularly so for our faster racers.


 

What is your Favorite long-distance trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Topo MTN Racer 2. I stay nimble late in a long run. Other shoes get sloppy for me.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

Again, so many good choices. The Scarpa Spin 2.0, adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, ASICS Fuji Lite 2, and the Skechers Razor TRL would all be good choices for up to a 50k race for me.

Jeremy Marie (France)

I'll choose the Asics Trabuco Max because its cons are the ones that bother me the least...My maximum trail running distance has been quite reasonable this year. No ultras, hence no long outings so I might have a different view as some others reviewers that actually ran ultras in '21. It's a difficult call for me, and more so that I haven't really enjoyed an "ultra shoe" more than another this year. I'm really looking forward for 2022 as I've seen some great shoes from the RTR previews from "The Running Event".

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Saucony Xodus 11: The Xodus 11 is a durable heavy duty trail shoe with a comfortable upper featuring Saucony’s beaded TPU Powerrun + foam.  This foam gave better energy return on longer runs than other similarly heavy trail shoes.  They held up for long runs in the mountains and although I wouldn’t rank it as technically competent as the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3, it’s more cushioned without the stability and weight compromises of the Endorphin Trail or Puma Voyage Nitro

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail V2, The cushion is perfect to go the distance, traction is excellent and it is very protective on any trail.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Salomon Ultra Glide - Long distance is a term that you guys maybe define differently than myself. This year I ran my first 50k and the UG treated me really well. Especially the last 10k I was able to pick it up again thanks to the reversed chamber geometry and a great riding midsole material. But keep in mind that some of our readers reported the midsole to bottom out - that might be an issue if you want to run 100k / miles in it.

Shannon Payne (California)

Hoka Challenger ATR 6.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Brooks Caldera 5 - the Caldera 5 is incredibly well cushioned, comfortable, light feeling and reasonably responsive, it is a joy to run in for any length of time.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

The North Face Flight Vectiv. The more I ran in the Flight Vectiv, the more I enjoyed it. At first, I didn't really like the fit and performance. But once I dialed in the lacing, I began to use the shoe for all of my trail excursions. The seamless Matryx knit is snug, soft, and causes no irritation. Add to that the light weight and phenomenal all-around traction, and the Flight Vectiv is a shoe that nearly has it all

Dom Layfield (California)

Hoka Zinal   For everyday training, I have tons of good options.  And to be honest, without the exceptional demands imposed by racing, pretty much anything will do.   But on race day, I'm looking for something special.   The Hoka Zinal is a fantastic shoe that (like the Salomon Pulsar) feels like it was designed to race.  Sure, there are compromises in terms of grip and durability, but these are minor.  In particular the forefoot cushioning is beautifully balanced.  There is enough protection to allow one to run over rough terrain without worrying too much about avoiding sharp rocks, while at the same time providing decent ground feel and excellent stability.   The upper is comfortable, with enough stretch to fit a range of foot shapes but still provide a solid foothold.   However, the big news is weight: at 257 g per shoe (9.1 oz) in size US M10, the Zinal is about 60 g (2.1 oz) per shoe lighter than Speedgoat 4.  Last weekend I wore the Zinal at the Ray Miller 50-mile in California, and loved every minute.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

Asics GEL-Trabuco 9 - As I started to realize the importance of stability over the course of very long ultras, I began to gravitate towards firmer cushion, and more protection. The Trabuco 9 has those attributes, while maintaining great flexibility and a great toebox.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. For the reasons listed above.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G300 Max. I have three serious complaints about this one. 1. The name, it is awkward. 2. The sizing. I'm a 10.5, but 11.5 in the G300. 3. The laces are way too long. First time I've ever had to use a septuple knot. Other than that, it's incredible. The Graphene-infused rubber is sticky and durable, and the midsole offers protection that doesn't need a rock plate. Also, despite being pretty thick, it's not at all stiff to run in, almost certainly from the gap in the midfoot that allows extra flex. While it is heavy, it's also a beast, and much like car magazines not knocking the Ford F350 for being heavy, there's the right tool for the job - and if the job is spending all day on the trail, this is that tool.

Sam Winebaum

Scarpa Spin Infinity combines great traction, plenty of cushion and protection  with enough get up and go to keep longer runs exciting.  


Honorable mentions to the Saucony Endorphin Trail for its bottomless cushion and protection for long slower paced efforts (and hikes) and when it gets smoother and faster its excellent Speed Roll rocker and the super stable deeply cushioned Caldera 5




Reflecting the wide differences in our testers' paces, terrains and definition of what they prefer for Long Distances no shoe garnered more than one top vote although 3 different ASICS trail shoes each garnered one vote.


 

What is your Favorite Door to Trail trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Topo MT-4. Good on any surface.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 midsole and outsole are comfortable enough for some pavement before hitting the trails. The same can be said for the Pegasus Trail 3.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar! The Energy Surge midsole is equally at home on the road as on the trails, and so is the well-known Contagrip outsole.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Skechers Razor TRL:  Featuring Skechers’ energetic HyperBurst foam, it is more stable than the Pulsar and slightly more cushioned.  It feels good on the road without the firm harshness trail shoes usually have, and is good on trails as long as they are dry.  

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Topo MT-4, Very versatile shoe to go from asphalt to the trails. It is soft and stable with good traction for the trails, yet a comfortable shoe on the roads.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Salomon Ultra Glide - The UG rides better on the roads than most of the road shoes I've put on my feet this year. The only caveat here is that running on roads reduces the short lifespan of the outsole even more when you run on roads with the shoe.

Shannon Payne (California)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 given its versatile outsole that is neither too aggressive for easy surfaces, nor too tame for more technical trails.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Brooks Caldera 5 - with low profile lugs and deep cushion, the Caldera 5 cruises easily on the pavement and can handle most trails once the pavement ends.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

Brooks Revel 5. It is a road shoe, but the trail sections I run most from my home in Portland, Maine, US are short and separated by road and my runs are usually evenly split between road and trail. While the trails are of varying levels of technicality from packed stone dust to root-filled singletrack, the technical parts are short enough that the Revel can handle it. The midsole and outsole are firm and substantial enough to provide some stability and adequate traction on all terrain and the ride is straightforward and performant.

Honorable Mention: Puma Voyage Nitro GTX. When conditions are wetter and cold, this shoe has been my pick for road to trail. It is heavy but the ride and outsole are very smooth on road and it runs surprisingly quickly.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. Sorry for the redundancy, but I use this shoe for everything - gravel, technical, road, steep, mellow, and so on...

Dom Layfield (California)

Skechers GOrun Razor TRL is very light, amply cushioned and delightfully springy.  Oh, that midsole foam!  The outsole is not super grippy (or durable, alas), but it feels efficient on pavement and flies like the wind on smooth trails.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

Asics Fuji Lite 2- Asics is back in the game. A fun and energetic ride with a more flexible flavor of Asics Grip for all surfaces.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Salomon Ultra Glide. For the reasons listed above. In addition, it performs on concrete very well which makes it an excellent choice for door to trail runs.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks Cascadia 16. The outsole works perfectly fine on the road, and even better on the dirt.

Sam Winebaum

Asics Fuji Lite 2. Trail worthy grip under a relatively low stack lively midsole, the  Lite 2 is incredibly versatile and fun to run leaning more dirt road and smooth paths than technical due to its upper for me.

The ASICS Fuji Lite 2 led the pack in door to trail with 5 nods while the Salomon UltraGlide had 3.


 

What is your absolute favorite trail shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Topo MTN Racer 2.  Just works for me.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

So many choices! For price versus uses and performance, the Asics Fuji Lite 2 is the winner. Several honorable mentions to Scarpa Spin 2.0, Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, and the Skechers Razor TRL. While I still enjoy the Hoka Torrent 2 and the Inov-8 TerraUltra G270, the newer 2021 trail shoes made an impact with quality trail shoes that are versatile and relatively light weight.

Jeremy Marie (France)

It's not a very hard call here. I've been completely blown away by the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar  The sock-like Matryx upper, the foothold, the cushioning, the smoothness it has, how it goes with the foot roll and gives that little bit of forward pushing energy...All at a mere 200g for a US10.5. It's just an incredible shoe that, I feel, does not get enough spotlight on it, compared to the former iconic S/Lab Sense..But it's a much better shoe.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar, there’s nothing like it or even close

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Topo MTN Racer 2., This shoe can do it all on any trail you want to run or Trail race. Well Done Topo!!!

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Topo Ultraventure 2 - I'm a bit puzzled by this choice but any of my other picks above has one or the other weak spot and the Ultraventure just doesn't. It's a reliable workhorse which does everything right. Well done Topo!

Shannon Payne (California)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 for being the most versatile in terms of the outsole, and being just enough shoe to be usable for everything from training runs to races.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Speedland SL:PDX - The Speedland may not be my favorite in any given category (well, except in the technical trail category), it scores very very high in all categories and is a jack of all trades sort of shoe.  I appreciate the flexibility to remove or add carbon plates as necessary depending on terrain/preference, traction is excellent, protection and cushion are very good, it runs lighter than its weight, is responsive and agile.  The upper is a work of art, so soft and comfortable, yet very secure and durable simultaneously.  The dual BOA system is amazingly effective and the dual direction tightening/loosening is quite convenient for micro adjustments on the go.  This is perhaps the most innovative shoe I have reviewed/seen and I expect a lot more great things to come from Speedland and those companies who learn from their innovations.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

Saucony Switchback 2. I wore it every day until this fall (when I needed something warmer). I am on my second pair. I wore it most often for walking with my dog, but also for trail running, road running, hiking, and mountain biking (not ideal, but usable). It is comfortable and versatile. The level of cushion, protection, and lug height is all done well—mid-range for all stats but minimal-leaning. The BOA closure for everyday wear saves a lot of time.

John Tribbia (Colorado)

You guessed it...Asics Fuji Lite 2!

Dom Layfield (California)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar.   The shocking, vaporous, improbable weight of this barely-there shoe eclipses everything else.   

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar - The game changer - 6.5 ounces - WTF?!  Had to re-think all of my notions about trail shoes and trail racing.  How much protection do you really need, when you can just be a bit more careful in those sections and blast the rest in a 6.5 oz (!!!) rocket ?

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. Besides very technical terrain, the Fuji Lite 2 works under almost every condition very, very well. It is light and bouncy on concrete as it is on dirt roads. The grip of the outsole is outstanding and with a fit like a road shoe it is also very comfortable on longer distances up to marathon distance for sure. 


Honorable mention: Salomon S/Lab Pulsar  While much more limited in use cases, the Pulsar is just an awesome racing flat for less technical type trails. I am really looking forward to the upcoming soft ground version and the whole Pulsar lineup Salomon just announced for 2022!

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Tie between Brooks Cascadia 16 and Inov-8 Ultra Trailfly G300 Max. These are two of the best trail shoes I've ever worn, so to have them show up in the same year (and realistically within a few weeks of each other) 2021 has been an embarrassment of riches in the big trail shoe department. They both excel at everything (except for really fast trail miles, but let's be honest, that's never been my forte anyway) with the Inov-8 being a little more cushioned and the Cascadia being a little more versatile. The result is a 1-2 punch of amazing trail shoes, with virtually zero complaints about either.

Sam Winebaum

For most shorter runs (and most of my trail runs are 10 miles or less) on more moderate terrain and especially if there is fast climbing, smoother straight ahead, fast cruising and even road in the mix, the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra takes my overall prize. It's combination of agile fast any terrain ride, great outsole and best of 2021 upper make it incredibly versatile. 


For longer efforts on more technical terrain the Scarpa Spin Infinity.   


For long days on technical terrain at slow paces and hiking the Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300.


To go crazy short and fast  Salomon S/Lab Pulsar

There was not much doubt that the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar  won over many of our contributors’ hearts and feet with its ultra lightweight and dynamic ride but in a surprise the Asics Fuji Lite 2 did too, tying the Pulsar each with 4 top votes with the Topo MTN Racer 2 receiving 2 top nods In the overall single shoe of the year pick by each contributor.

Looking at it in another way as our contributors run on such a wide variety of terrains, at different paces and for different distances,  if one tabulates the mentions of each shoe (and including dividing for ties) across all the categories,  the individual results are largely confirmed with the S/Lab Pulsar just edging out the ASICS Fuji Lite 2 with 15.3 mentions to the Fuji Lite’s 13.5 mentions. The Topo MTN Racer 2 garnered 7.5 mentions for third.


 

What is your Overall Shoe of the Year? Includes Road and Trail.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

The New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel 2. The cost versus usage is great for a shoe that is cushioned, comfortable, and good for a variety of paces and distances.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar!

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar (trail), ASICS Metaspeed Sky (road)

Dom Layfield (California)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V2

Shannon Payne (California)

Hoka Rincon 3

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

A tie between the Cascadia 16, Topo Mountain Racer 2 and the Speedland SL:PDX.  The VJ Ultra may have taken the crown, if not for the outsole durability issues.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics Fuji Lite 2. While being an excellent trail shoe, you can easily also use it on concrete if you have to decide to take only one pair of running shoes on holidays for example. Its lots of fun to run it, offers awesome grip and comfort at a very competitive price point!

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks Aurora-BL. Far from perfect, but one of the most fun and unique shoes ever made.

Sam Winebaum

Puma Liberate Nitro: In a world of wildly expensive and high stacked plated shoes, the road Liberate has no plate but incorporates Puma’ s supercritical Nitro foam in a super light flexible package at a mere 6.5 oz with plenty of training worthy outsole rubber and cushion It is a joy to run fast and can daily train as well. All for a mere $110. 


Honorable Mentions Trail:

The innovations packed Speedland SL: PDX, the incredibly light Pulsar, the versatile adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, Scarpa’s Spin Infinity and Spin 2.0


 

What is your favorite apparel of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart (Texas)

Tracksmith. Reggie lined half tights rule. Strata shorts are terrific. Unfortunately their sizing has gotten weird in tops for me. The Janji packable waterproof jacket is pretty excellent too. 

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

We all know Tracksmith is hard to beat in terms of comfort (that cost though . . . ugh). I wore the Adidas Terrex Core Agravic Trail Pro shorts for a road half marathon and my 30 mile trail race. I can fit my iPhone 12 in the waist line mesh pocket and enough gels for a 50K.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Compressport Seamless pants. A late buy, but these are great. The cut and fit is perfect, loose on the thighs, more fitted on the calves, light, warm, breathable.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Odlo Zeroweight Pro Warm Reflect Jacket:  This jacket is extremely comfortable, and features a ton of reflectivity for those dark and cold runs.  It’s warmer than a shell and more breathable than a highly insulated jacket, and feels great for running, cycling, hiking, and XC skiing. 

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Tracksmith, very high quality materials and the retro designs look so clean and classy.

Nils Scharff (Germany)

Asics Fujitrail Jacket (German) - This windbreaker is hands down the best running jacket I've ever worn. Great fit and design, amazing hood, light, packable, water repellent and first and foremost amazingly breathable. The only downside is the prize of 170€.


Asics Fujitrail Shorts (German) - I usually don't like dual layer shorts, but the Fujitrail Shorts really got me over that stereotype I had in mind. It's made out of a very light and breathable fabric and sits safe and comfy (no shafing!). But it's best feature are the pockets - stretchy ones for gels, gloves etc. on both sides and a close to the body (no wobbling) phone pocket in the back.


adidas Saturday Warm Running Tight - Strange name, great piece! I've never had tights that fitted this well. It's again a no-nonsense product with just the right amount of features: comfortable fabric, lower leg zippers, big reflective details and a nice pocket on the right thigh which is able to hold my phone safely.

Shannon Payne (California)

All things Rabbit! Their fit, their material used, and their quality and longevity all make for unbeatable running-specific apparel in my opinion.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Odlo Zeroweight Dual Dry Running Jacket - I carry this on a high percentage of runs in the summer as a just in case it rains jacket, as it is super light, protects from wind and short lived downpours, while fitting in just about any run short or vest pocket.

Jacob Brady (Maine)

Tracksmith Harrier Tee and Long Sleeve. Performant, comfortable, simple cool to cold weather top. The merino blend dries quickly, doesn't hold odor, and only needs occasional washing. In the fall, winter, and spring in Maine I wear it as a layer on nearly every run. 

Honorable mention for below freezing weather is the Patagonia Nano Air. This jacket gets me out the door in any conditions and breathes well so it doesn’t feel restrictive. Especially for easy or long runs in frigid winter temps, this is my most-used top.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

ODLO - picked up a bunch of base layers for cold weather - never seem to get cold or overheat. Very versatile across temperature ranges. 

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics Fujitrail Jacket. A very versatile, comfortable and light jacket for lots of use cases. It very quickly became my go-to jacket in the last couple of months. 

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

TASC Performance Carollton t-shirts continue to be my go-to/no-brainer shirt. They breathe well when it's warm (with zero chafing) and they also act as a great base layer when things get chilly, I'm constantly impressed.

Sam Winebaum

A mix here. 

Cool and Cold Weather: 

Tracksmith Off Roads Short Sleeve (merino/tencel) as never chilled, incredibly fast drying, and stink proof. Not far behind Hoka’s stretch woven merino short sleeve. Gorewear Ultimate 2-1 Shorts for cool weather due to length and liner and for 5L plus vest carrying capacity and great in any season as they are fine in warm weather too. 

Brooks Carbonite Long Sleeve: high visibility in any light condition, breathable and comfortable even in warm conditions

Any Odlo base layer and new Axalp Ceramiwarm Miidlayer with 2 pockets, silicone pack patches and stretchy breathable fit. Tracksmith Reggie Tight with liner.  Odlo Zeroweight Warm Run Pant:  Windproof front, very light, articulated knees, huge range of temperature and conditions utility.  


Warm Weather: 

Craft Pro Hypervent Tee and Singlet . I reached for these two more than many others this past summer.

adidas Terrex Pro Trail short for carrying capacity and shorter than “usual” in a somewhat shorter than the usual trail short length. 


Jackets:

adidas Terrex Pro Trail Jacket: totally waterproof and ultralight. 

Tracksmith NDO Jacket:  breathable, merino warm, northeast weather proof.


Hats: 

Mission Vented Cap, Buff beanie and Buff UV multi functions of all types and materials.. 


Socks: 

Darn Tough Ultralight, ON socks, CEP Ultralight sleeves and compression merino hiking socks.



 

What is your favorite accessory of 2021 and why? (Packs, lights, poles, recovery and injury aids, etc)

Peter Stuart (Texas)

UltrAspire 3.0 water bottle. Easy to carry, wide mouth, good pocket.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

My Salomon Active Skin Set 8 pack is finally about to wear out after about 18 months of hard use. The pack is light and comfortable, and I use it just to carry my phone even when I don't need hydration.

Jeremy Marie (France)

I've spent the year pack-less, poles-less and relied on my existing accessory. And the one that never fault me is my Stoots headlight, even after several months being left in a drawer.

Handbuilt in France, effective operation, huge battery life and oe of the most efficient run light  I've seen - and experienced once again during the SainteLyon night trail. This is quality stuff and the kind of purchase you won’t regret.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

Hyperice Hypervolt Pro:  This massage gun is extremely powerful and features several interchangeable heads that allow you to target muscles in different ways.  In a year with less easy access to physical therapy, this was a great way to do some preventative maintenance on sore muscles.  

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Naked HC Vest and Naked Running Belt. Very Light weight, Comfortable, Zero Bounce and can carry a lot of stuff.

Shannon Payne (California)

LMNT Hydration. Salted Watermelon and Salted Citrus specifically. Great for the salty sweaters among us.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Salomon Sense Pro 10 - this vest is super light, fits and feels like clothing and is so versatile, good for carrying a phone and car key, up to a full day in the mountains, it is worth every penny.

Mike Postaski (Idaho)

UltrAspire Basham vest - A lightweight vest great for warm weather or racing.  Few small pockets in front and water bottle in the lower back feels more balanced when running fast.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

TheraGun Pro. It is my go to solution when muscles are sore or stiff. The TheraGun offers enough power to loosen even very hardened muscles if you “enjoy” such kind of deep tissue massage. It also offers different attachments for different areas of the body and different use cases. For example, the very soft one is invaluable for sore calves. The attachments also work with the TheraGun Mini which is a perfect travel companion. 


Honorable mention: Salomon Adv. Skin 5. It already was my favorite pack of 2020 and still remains my go to pack for almost every use case. Positioning of the pockets and even more important of the bottles is very well thought through.

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Calf Pro stretcher. I crowdfunded this a while ago, and when it finally showed up it was worth the wait (and the weight - this thing is beefy). There are a number of calf stretching devices on the market, but the Calf Pro is the only one that really leverages the stretch. No way to cheat this one, it brings the heat.

Sam Winebaum

Salomon Sense Pro 10L Vest. Reworked multitude of well placed front and side pockets and a big zip rear pocket dramatically extend the utility of this race vest with no real weight or breathability penalty as now I can carry outer layers and other stuff at the rear when needed.


When I need more capacity or for travel the Camelbak Octane 25L from 2020 is still my goto with intriguing up to 40L Deckers Lab pack in the hunt.




 

What is your favorite tech of 2021 and why?

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

For shoe tech, I enjoyed insoles this year that used TPU beads. Last year's Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 had a TPU beaded insole and this year's Craft CTM Ultra (and Carbon Ultra) both used similar insoles. I have been using these insoles in other shoes and notice a benefit.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Stryd Power Meter pod. Even if I'm still getting used to it, building landmarks on power values, I can feel that it's an incredible tool.First as a foot pod, ensuring perfect pace - something that is far from ideal using GPS watches - and no matter the brand, Suunto, Polar, Garmin Coros - they all have issues depending on the terrain, turns, building around, trees coverage.

Then, there's the power aspect of it. Clearly something that demands time to be properly used, and a great effort to change paradigm: going from a pace-based training (or maybe an HR-based one) to a power based training - just like on bikes.

I've been using a power meter on my bike for quite a long time now, so I may be more inclined to make the switch for running - but it's not that easy.

Anyway, for more and more tempo or interval workouts, I'm looking at the power value and try to get it right.

I'm still not convinced of the values on the trails  on slopes, I feel like the wattage is low regarding the effort. but even with this caveat, the Stryd power meter can really help you focus your training and staying in the right zones, independently from external situation (wind, slight slopes...)

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

Coros Pace 2, for everything it offers for the price is a great watch choice.

Shannon Payne (California)

Hypervolt massage guns. They pay for themselves in terms of reduced trips to your sports massage therapist :)

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Suunto S9 Peak - it was great to see Suunto lose the weight/bulk of their previous models and jam so much functionality, battery life and accuracy into such a small, light, comfortable and elegant package.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Silva Free Runner H: A powerful and still very light headlamp with different batteries depending of the length of your runs. Adaptive lightening makes it an excellent choice even on more demanding trails. Nonetheless, in very technical terrain you should aim for something with more lumen like the Silva Exceed series.

Honorable mention: Petzl Bindi. While not a 2021 product, it became my go-to headline this year for easy trails and dark parks in the city as it is even much more lighter and a perfect backup for the Silva Free

Honorable mention: Still Garmin Fenix 6 Pro; it is still the best watch for navigating routes and also offers very good options to plan my training in advance; can’t wait for the 7!

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Kogalla RA Adventure Light...yet again. It brings so much light and is so easy to work with (standard USB cable means you can use any battery source you'd like) it single-handedly makes night time running effectively day time running. And that's awesome.

Sam Winebaum

COROS Vertix 2: A big GPS watch that finally licks the wrist heart rate inconsistency “problem” of high readings confused by cadence when blood flow is low via a wide comfortable strap and likely of course tweaks to the algorithms.  And by far the longest battery life I have ever seen. 28 days with about 1 hour of running each day worth!  It is great to literally never worry about charging.  More features than I will ever use but the basics of GPS, wrist heart rate consistency, and battery life are all top of the game.


Komoot mapping, used by Suunto and Polar but also a standalone app. The easiest and best way to lay out a route with almost 100% of trails I have tested against indicated.  Where available on the watch even turn indications.


Multiple ways to skin a plate. In particular Carbitex with its DFX (dynamically flexing) pace  and terrain adapting plate in the Scott Carbon RC and Speedland SL:PDX and an AFX asymmetrically flexing plate coming in the Saucony Endorphin Edge. Flex in one direction,  rigid in the others demonstrates a plate doesn’t have a totally rigid carbon element. 


I purchased the Ray-Ban Stories Wayfarer sunglasses with built-in dual cameras, mics, and speakers and it has proved most useful for RTR “reporting” on the go, hands free and with  voice commands to activate all functions. 




 

What is your favorite Brand of 2021 and why? Includes Road.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

My love for the New Balance Rebel v2 knows no bounds and forces me to choose New Balance. Hey, New Balance, when is the trail version going to be released?

Jeremy Marie (France)

Puma, for their great line of shoes, affordable, well-built, comprehensive line covering every need, which is quite a comeback - they seem to be fond of come-backs.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

New Balance, the RC Elite 2 and Rebel 2 might the best two shoe training racing combo I’ve ever seen

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

New Balance, Came strong this 2021 updating their models, making them better, especially road shoes.

Shannon Payne (California)

Rabbit

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Brooks Trail - I think they have a very well rounded lineup of shoes and love the direction they are going.  Every Brooks I ran are so comfortable, effective for their given purpose and each year their advancements are a pleasant surprise.

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

Asics, as they made a big comeback in the area of super racers (Metaspeed Sky) but also put out the probably most versatile trail shoe on the market in 2021 (Fuji Lite 2)

Honorable mention: Salomon & Saucony established at high level combined with very promising lineups for 2022!

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Brooks. They got better at the basics, and they showed that they weren't afraid to get a little crazy. The Glycerin 19 followed their blueprint of the last five years, but somehow made it *that* much better. Then came the Cascadia 16, with DNA Loft v2, and it showed up with a really nice toebox and incredible midsole/outsole combination, effectively making a ho-hum trail shoe that checked a lot of boxes (and didn't inspire much joy) into a truly wonderful shoe. Then they brought out the Aurora-BL, which still feels like a fever dream of a shoe, while it is pricy and awkward looking, it's also one of the most fun rides ever created, showing what DNA Loft v3 can do. Beyond the individual shoes they created, more importantly Brooks showed that they aren't afraid to take risks, and let's be real, they've been one of the most risk averse companies of the last few years. In one year Brooks went from the most predictable of the big names to one with the most edge, and based on the glimpses we've seen of 2022, this is the new Brooks. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sam Winebaum

In trail Scarpa clearly surprised me with their superb Spin 2.0 and Spin Infinity and as such are my trail brand of the year..


Puma: Out of “nowhere” in performance running, they emerged with a complete line of road shoes from a flat to several trainers to a racer that won Bronze at the Olympics. Nitro supercritical foam, light weights, solid fun rides in every model including emerging in trail with the excellent Voyage Nitro.


Honorable Mentions: 

New Balance for their friendly RC Elite 2 racer and super fun Rebel v2 captured the trend for softer bouncier shoes brilliantly.


Adidas in similar fashion to cross town rival Puma “re emerged” with a complete line of well thought out performance road shoes from trainers to racers all with incredible Celermesh uppers and that includes the best of 2021 trail Celermesh upper on the Terrex Speed Ultra 


Saucony perfected its popular Endorphin line with effective upper updates.


Brooks' strength remained in trail and excellent budget road trainers (Revel and Trace) for me yet in terms of sales their “traditional” road trainers continue to lead. The Aurora-BL clearly shows that they are not standing still. 


ASICS struck hard in racing with their Metaspeed Sky and Edge and delighted with their Fuji Lite 2 for trail and road to trail..


Nike focused on racing with Next % 2, still clearly the volume selling super shoe for good reason, the wildly different Alphafly and in a nod to training of the more easy going variety with the Vomero 16. 




 

What are your biggest surprise(s) of 2021 and why? Includes Road

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)

The lightweight trail shoes this year were a surprise. I'm a fan of using road shoes for trail when possible, but that's not always a great idea depending on distance and surface. Several brands released trail shoes that were relatively lightweight AND good for distances past 20 miles. Keep those coming, please.

Jeremy Marie (France)

Craft CTM. I was caught off-guard by Craft shoe offerings. And it's probably the shoe I used more in 2021.

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire)

The Salomon S/Lab Pulsar.  I’ve never seen a trail shoe like this before, it’s revolutionary and incredibly exciting and sets the bar very high for what trail racing shoes can be.  Hopefully more exciting foams come to the true trail market.  

Beto Hughes (Mexico)

My biggest surprise are Topo Athletic’s road and trail shoes   They are innovating without sacrificing comfort and their new Model Magnifly 4 is my favorite 0mm drop shoe.

Jeff Valliere (Colorado)

Speedland SL:PDX - the innovation is off the charts and in my opinion, made the biggest splash in 2021

Marcel Krebs (Germany)

The comeback of Puma into the running scene. The Nitro lineup was very promising – especially the Liberate! 

Jeff Beck (Colorado)

Puma. Absolutely incredible turnaround they've made, considering a year ago they really weren't thought of as a running shoe company. I ran in four different Pumas, and while I have some notes on improving a few of them, I'm willing to kick back and see what happens next year and the years coming - easily the company most on the rise.

Dom Layfield (California)

The Salomon Pulsar blew me away.  Lighter than anything on the planet. Not a shoe for everyone, not for all distances, not for all conditions, but still remarkably versatile.  I absolutely loved its single-minded focus and refusal to compromise.  In a stroke, Salomon have opened up a whole new category of serious race shoes.

Sam Winebaum

The innovation surprises of 2021 were actually in trail and not so much road with modular dynamically flexing carbon plated Speedland SL:PDX and the incredibly light (lighter than just about any road shoe) S/Lab Pulsar trail racer from Salomon


Lightweight trail shoes that are fully capable and fun to run such as the Pulsar, Spin 2.0, Fuji Lite 2, Hoka Zinal, and Skechers Razor Trail while in the more max cushion and heavier categories challengers to the Speedgoat and Xodus such as the Spin Infinity, Endorphin Trail, Speedland, and Inov-8 TrailFly with innovative combinations of geometry, foams, and even plates.


For road, clearly the strong re-emergence of Puma. 

After about a decade of stagnation and Boost adidas came on strong with a full new performance line for  road.  


Craft, more well known for sportswear emerged as a footwear brand with strong and unique offerings in the CTM Ultra shoes and Race Rebel.


Somehow brands continued to innovate often remotely with many more shoes featuring super critical foams and do their best to deliver in a pandemic with incredible shoes to come in 2022.


2021 RTR Best of Road Running Awards: Multiple Categories, Best Overall, Brand of the Year, Surprises, Apparel, Tech, and Accessories HERE

RTR's Top Road & Trail Run Shoe Introductions for 2022 from The Running Event 
34 Run Shoes for Road & Trail HERE
Some tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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