Sunday, September 25, 2022

Naked T/r Trail Racing Shoe Multi Tester Review: A Laceless, Flexible Carbon, Fast, Super Stable and Secure Rocket! 14 Comparisons

Article by Jeremy Marie, Mike Postaski, John Tribbia, and Sam Winebaum

Naked T/r Trail Racing Shoe ($180)


Sam: Wild and different with old school shoe race “flat” or trail more minimal vibes, yet with carbon and no laces in the mix, the Naked T/r makes a distinct statement that is for sure different in a world of max cushion softer shoes with ultra focus. 

The Naked T/r Trail Race Shoe is a laceless, low slung, carbon plated and aptly named.. trail racing shoe. Naked is known for their precise fitting (many many sizes for each) run belts, vests and carry apparel and here they stay true to their company’s DNA with their first trail running shoe eliminating lacing with a design similar to soccer boots, and in fact their designer was involved in the design of such boots for Puma and others. 

Underfoot, we first have no sockliner with, as in Salomon Pulsar, but a stitched in combination lasting board non-slip foot surface which is called Linerloc. 

Below that we have a dense EVA with a flexible carbon plate embedded in the midsole with a low slung 26mm heel / 21 forefoot stack height. 

Finally, the outsole is a Vibram Megagrip compound in a LiteBase design with 3.5mm lugs. The lugs feature Vibram’s new Traction Lug tech, very small molded in nubs on the rear racing surfaces said to increase effective traction by providing more gripping contact areas.

The Naked T/f weighs about 9 oz / 255g  in a US9 with a full stack height of 26mm heel, 21 mm forefoot so a relatively low stack height and competitive weight given the full coverage outsole and stout upper construction.

I was fortunate enough to wear test two versions on the way to the production version reviewed here. The first had a rear foot hold that was clearly not secure enough. The second completely resolved that issue and then some but made the shoe hard to pull on. The production version retains the new rear hold and most significantly makes the carbon plate far more flexible which on the surface should make the shoe climb better, be more stable and also make it flow more smoothly. 

On to our multi tester review here to discover how they performed.


  • Jeremy/Sam/John: Incredible grip no matter the surface

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: Adequate toebox room, yet well held 

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: Foothold is second to none, especially at the heel

  • Sam/Mike P: Explosive firmer rebound and  flexible carbon spring off the front of the shoe regardless of terrain or grade

  • Sam/Jeremy/Mike P: Incredibly stable front to back even with a carbon plate in the mix

  • Sam: Remarkable rock protection for such as low stack shoe

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: Fast, nimble, precise shoe ideal for technical running

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P: Debris and dust protection

  • Jeremy: Conforming upper….if your feet fit

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: The carbon plate does not make the shoe too firm nor totally annihilates its flexibility, unlike most carbon shoes, even trail focused ones.

  • Mike P/ Sam(TBD): Mostly closed mesh upper will be useful in snow and colder conditions

  • John: puts runners in a low center of gravity, which is ideal for downhill running
  • Sam:Elegant, simple, and functional design


  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: Can be very difficult to put on, never forget the shoe horn and don’t dream about changing socks mid race or getting them on in a hurry!.

  • Jeremy/Sam/Mike P/John: quite firm cushioning (but not harsh) better suited for short to mid distance on technical terrain
  • Jeremy: The fit is a hit or miss, no user-adjustability.

  • Jeremy/Mike P: Breathability is really bad

  • Jeremy: Midfoot fit is really snug for meand can easily lead to discomfort.

  • Sam/Mike P: Central “tongue” area is overly snug/rigid in forward flex and tends to fold potentially causing irritation.
  • John: Debris and dust protection is good, until it isn’t. If you get just one pebble in the shoe, you’re left with a choice: deal with it or struggle to get the shoes back on after removing

Tester Profiles can be found at the end of the article


Weight: men's 9 oz  / 255g (US9)   

  Samples: men’s 10.05 oz  /  285g US10.5 (EU 44.5), 9.1 oz / 258g US0, 8.8 oz / 249 g US8 (equivalent to US8.5)

Stack Height: men’s 26 mm heel / 21mm forefoot 

$180. Available now from Naked HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeremy: This is a disruptive design for sure! The Naked T/r doesn’t really look like any other trail running shoe. At first glance, one might think it’s built like the North Face Ultra MT Winter or the Salomon XA Alpine, but those two ones rely on a conventional shoe hidden behind an external protective gaiter, and are full bred winter running shoes. 

The Naked T/r does not serve the same purpose: it’s a technical trail running shoe built around a laceless upper and a semi-gaiter design. The white and black color scheme stands out of the crowd, especially with this bootie design.

 The white upper is made of a very thin one layer TPU bonded ripstop nylon, soft and pliable but not stretchy at all, and feels a bit plasticy at first. 

Many thin underlays structuring the TU film are visible, forming a grid pattern, as well as larger ones over the medial side clearly bringing support and even more structure on the most stressed places of the midfoot area. 

The upper has some tiny holes over the toes and on the external and medial sides, in order to improve breathability and water drainage. We’ll see later in the review that Naked could have gone further with this idea. 

A light protective toe bumper  finishes the front part of the shoe ensuring a welcome protection for this dedicated technical trail running shoe. 

Heading now to the black parts of the shoe, namely the « tongue » (or the upper part covering the instep) and the rear of the shoe. Those are the parts where Naked clearly has put a big focus in order to ensure an efficient foothold without any user adjustability. 

Instead of a conventional tongue, the Naked T/r places a large piece of somewhat stretchy material, almost feeling neoprene or rubber like. This is one of the key places where the shoe can accommodate different foot shapes. It is quite thick, with some perforations in order to give some breathability to this area. The collar is made of a softer mesh forming a knitted cuff that ensures a gentle contact with the foot and minimizes debris entrance.  A front loop helps pull the shoe on. 

There’s a rigid heel counter with a noticeably rounded shape that works great, at least for me. 

The upper third part is pliable and stretches gently to conform to Achilles shape. 

The non-conventional design continues inside the shoe: there’s no traditional sockliner, but a non-slip « LinerLoc » material stitched on the midsole (reminiscent of the Slab Pulsar of the future NNormal Kjerag). Some weight loss acheived here, and a design trick that aims at minimizing foot movement inside the shoe. 

Two generous padded inserts are placed around the Achilles. Covered in a shark-skin fashion material, they don’t really ease putting the shoe on, but do an excellent job of holding the heel. 

The first time you try to put shoes on is quite something. The very adjusted collar and the grippy pillows around the Achilles makes this a difficult task. Naked has included a useful shoe horn with the T/r, but I’ve managed to do without it. Thanks to the loop at the front, a sufficient grip around the collar and a stretchy material, I found the T/r not much more difficult to put on than a Slab Pulsar. 

And the fit is astonishingly good for a shoe without any adjustability. Heel and midfoot hold are perfect . Not tight by any means, the fit is just perfectly adjusted thanks to the right amount of stretch in the materials used. The right materials used at the right places actually. The toe box has a welcome rounded shape and more room than you might expect from a such a technical trails oriented shoe. 

The only place where I found some discomfort at first was around the arch, where the upper meets the midsole. It’s something that almost disappeared after 30´ running, where I began to remove my foot and just let it sit again in the shoe. I’ve suffered this in the first two runs with the Naked T/r,  wearing  midweight socks. On the third run with identical socks  the discomfort was gone. 

All those design elements, thoughtful design, material choices result in a firm holding, not constrictive fit that proved to be very efficient from my first two hours outing full of ups & downs hill repeats. Clearly not a long distance, accommodating comfy fit, the T/r is designed as a race day, technical trail shoe and in that respect it clearly achieves that goal.

Mike P: Jeremy does a great job outlining all of the upper’s features, so I’ll hone in on my personal fit and impressions - because obviously, with no laces, everything is dependent on your own personal fit. When I first unboxed them, the premium nature of the shoe, materials, and even packaging was evident. There were small cue cards highlighting each unique feature of the shoe - and some of them are truly unique.

Honestly, I just have to say it - I thought there was no way this shoe could possibly work. I am especially finicky with my shoe security and lacing - constantly experimenting with laces, lacing techniques, swapping quick laces and standard laces back and forth, etc.

 I could hardly fathom not having any ability to adjust the fit at all. When first pulling them on (with shoe horn of course) - the snug fit all around fit is evident, but I was pleasantly surprised to feel a quite a broad forefoot area. I would have guessed that the shoe would have had to really squeeze the foot for a secure hold, but that’s not the case. Furthermore, I noticed that the heel cup area did feel a bit loose, almost as if there was a bit of extra volume all around my heel bone. This would definitely need to be tested on the run.

[Those two “pods” of padding in the heel area (with sharkskin type material) really help keeping the heel locked down. Linerloc non-slip footbed also works very well]

As far as sizing - you really need to measure and follow their chart, as their sizes don’t correspond to anything else. I measured 265cm with socks to the end of my longest toe - which corresponds to US 8.5 on their chart. There was some question as to whether or not that size includes any additional space in front of the toes. I passed that measurement along, and was sent a US 9.0 test pair. That size works perfectly for me - I’ve got about ¾ thumb’s width in front of the toes, which is about as low as I would go for a trail shoe. The fit is perfect upfront - as mentioned earlier, spacious across the forefoot, narrowing up front, but not uncomfortably so. A half size down would definitely be too tight up front, and I think a half size up would likely be too loose in the midfoot/heel.

[Well shaped up front - wide enough across the forefoot, narrowing up front for security, yet not too much - no pinky toe pressure is felt at all]

Sam: The guys have described the upper and fit well. As I mentioned in the introduction I tested two prototypes on the way to the production version reviewed here. The first had far less rubbery neoprene support and very poor rear hold, now a key key strength of the Naked T/r as that material now extends much higher around the ankle.  I literally told them the first version was a high performance casual Blundstone like boot!, so easy to slip on.

The production version and last proto are very hard to get on. With the shoe horn it takes me at least 5 minutes each to get them on. This sounds and is a bit of a negative and may depend on your foot shape as I have a high instep.

Once on my pair, as with Mike’s a half size up from what Naked’s measurements would have called for in US sizing and a half size down from my normal fit very well. I do note a bit more than a thumb’s width up front but on the run it has not been an issue at all.

The fit is sublime in terms of hold and security with plenty of well held toe box room. The laceless design and stout materials around the collars along with the low slung underfoot platform deliver the most stable and secure rear of a trail shoe I can recall yet one that is not overly blocky in feel either. 

The front black tongue area did give me irritation at the folds shown above during my first run. Nothing major but noticed for sure. By the second run, noticed but no issues. I think the materials stretched enough but I would like to see a bit more give in this area or maybe less material.

The guys have commented on the lack of breathability or discomfort but yes socks got damp mainly I think as the upper absorbs no moisture! I had no issues in relatively warm conditions and can’t wait to take them out in winter wet and slop.

John: visually, this is a sleek and unique looking shoe. It certainly brings a futuristic appeal that reminds me of when Marty McFly travels to the year 2015 in “Back to the Future Part II” and puts on a pair of self lacing Nike shoes. 

At first glance, you might see the Naked T/r innovation as solving the problem of shoe laces, but to the keen observer the T/r also features a unique Vibram sole design, a knit cuff that keeps out debris, a curved carbon forefoot plate, Achilles pads for fit security, and a bonded (not sewn) TPU upper. 

Moreover, the fit and feel of the shoe are just as impressive as its aesthetics. While I wouldn’t classify the T/r fit to be accommodating, once you get the shoe on it isn’t constricting and provides the needed play in the forefoot for comfortable running. I would say the T/r best fits medium to narrow feet. More than anything, I noticed that the Naked T/r is low to the ground, provides a stable platform for technical running, and is complemented by a fairly active midsole that seems to bring energy to each footstep. 


Jeremy: Given all the tech deployed in the upper, the midsole can sound a bit lame with its “standard” EVA foam. But as a technical trail shoe, the foam is not as important as for shoes for more tame trails. Naked has gone with a midsole leaning on the softer side of EVA foam, which is a very nice idea: it complements the carbon plate located in the middle of the midsole well, and for the absence of a sockliner that often brings some « first contact comfort ». This results in a slightly firm midsole but oen that is not harsh at all, with a decent cushioning considering by today's standard  the low stack height of 26mm heel / 21 mm forefoot, 

The most striking part of the midsole is the flexibility of the shoe despite the carbon plate. Flexing the shoe, you could even doubt that there’s a plate. This is far from a rigid plated shoe.

The plate brings a lot of pep to the run, a very energetic toe off that is particularly felt going uphill. The plate flexes and gives a nice propulsive feeling when pushing during « high-cadence, little steps » kind of uphill running. 

On the flats, it’s not as efficient as a more do-it-all shoe like the Pulsar Pro but still runs very well. 

Even bombing downhill, the cushioning always felt right to me, not too much so that I can feel the ground,  it not taxing at all. The flexible plate does a really good job in not annihilating ground feel, and conforms well to ensure that the outsole gets the maximum contact.

Mike P:  I agree with Jeremy in general, although I don’t feel that the softness of the EVA itself is evident. The ride overall feels firm, especially with the plate in the mix, but not harsh. It’s really an acceptable and agreeable level of firmness for short to mid distance and  fast technical running. I wouldn’t consider it for longer distances due to the firmness, and for the same reason, slower runs wouldn’t be the ideal usage either. These shoes are really made for fast running and racing. 

[It’s a good looking shoe]

I’m 100% in agreement about the flexibility of the shoe despite the carbon plate. The ride does feel super snappy, especially at speed when you’re running up on your forefeet - but is not stiff at all. I don’t quite feel the same lateral stability as with the Tecton X for example, but any lateral instability is negated by the fact that you’d really be running fast in these, and ground contact time would be limited. In my runs, I noticed no inherent lateral instability. In fact, the very secure fit really lets you be quite nimble in technical terrain, offsetting any issues with instability.

Sam: Again the guys have described the midsole well. As the shoe evolved two key changes occurred: slightly softer foam and a far more flexible carbon plate. The combination dramatically improved the feel for me as well as increased the range of runs I would take them on.  This is not as firm and harsh (even with the plate) a feel as for example Salomon’s older Energy Cell+ or Saucony’s PWRRUN in say the Peregrine 12. It is not as soft (or bouncy) as the foam in the Saucony Endorphin Edge or Salomon’s Energy Surge and with a 5mm drop and a plate (while flexible) that I think is a good thing as at any pace I found them easy to flow along. 

The cushioning plate combination is just right for faster running on just about any trail except for me the most technical.  There is more than adequate cushion, superb rock protection and agility. Maybe not as agile as the plateless firmer Salomon Sense Pro 4 but more forgiving with much more spring and almost as much flex.

John: Firm, not harsh, is definitely a great way to summarize how the midsole feels on the Naked T/r. Sam’s compares it to Salomon’s Energy Cell+ and Saucony’s PWRRUN midsoles and these comparisons are pure bullseye. 

In fact, I feel like the midsole has subtle hints of Salomon’s Optivibe midsole. The EVA midsole + carbon plate does a wonderful job dampening shock and vibration on fast downhills, hard rock and short sections of pavement, all within an incredibly minimal package.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a plush shoe and I don’t think I would go long distances in rolling terrain where cushion is needed, but I’m amazed at how well the Naked T/r feels underfoot. The spring and flex in the shoe, even with a carbon plate, provide nice response, stability, and predictability. 


Jeremy: The outsole is made from Vibram Megagrip compound on the Lite Base platform with medium height lugs in a shape reminiscent of SLab Cross: not quite the usual chevrons, but with a more rounded shape. 

Lugs have differentiated heights between the front, 4mm, and the heel, 5mm, with the midfoot lugs a bit recessed at 2mm.

This is clearly a “do-it-all” lugs pattern aiming at being efficient on many grounds, save for the most muddy ones.

There’s really nothing wrong to say about the well-known Vibram MegaGrip compound: it grips on everything, dry or wet, and is incredibly confidence inspiring.

Despite the carbon plate, the sole of the T/R Naked stays a bit flexible which allows for a greater contact surface on hard ground, resulting in an even more secure grip on fast downhills.

The only gripe, which is common with Vibram outsoles, is that the compound is a bit firm and can lead to a bit of discomfort at first, especially with a carbon plate and a midsole leaning on the thinner side of the spectrum. 

Considering the kind of terrain on which the Naked T/r will find the most use, it’s not a real issue: technical terrain does not need softness nor cushy ride. These first impressions disappeared after 30kms, be it the midsole that softened a bit or the outsole, it’s difficult to say. 

Mike P: The outsole is exceptional for the shoe’s usage profile. We have Vibram Megagrip/Litebase, with a dense array of “Traction Lugs”, as seen in Hoka’s Speedgoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4. The outsole provides enough traction in most technical terrain which you would be taking at higher speeds. Any need for deeper traction, and you’d likely be trading off some speed anyway, so I’d reiterate that the outsole is well paired for this shoe. With the array of lugs being quite dense, less speed is sacrificed to lug flex or excessive friction. This is a great outsole, especially for dry, rocky, technical terrain.

I didn’t notice any exceptional firmness attributable to the outsole itself. The shoe is firm overall, so a softer outsole would not necessarily have been a better match. Perhaps a bit of wear-in could smooth out some of the lug edges, but I wouldn’t expect any dramatic difference in feel or performance.

Sam: An all purpose midsole designed to perform on multiple trail and even road surfaces.  My testing was on dry Western US trails with often sand over firm single track and up down and all around the grip was impeccable.

I think in large part this is due to the patented Vibram Traction Lugs, the small molded in nubs which increase the gripping contact surfaces significantly.

The outsole even performed well of loose quite deep small gravel and sand mix over firm road base type surfaces, a challenge for any trail shoe.

John: My first run in the T/r was on the roads. I did a couple of hill sprints to experience the energy return and I wanted to determine how well the outsole could crossover from road to trail.  I was pleasantly surprised how efficient the outsole felt on smoother, hard, non-technical terrain. 

Notwithstanding, the T/r feels best in cruisy dry dirt single track, techy and rocky terrain, scree, and even off-trail and scrambling. As Sam mentions, all-around grip is terrific and the outsole sticks to most anything in warm temperatures and dry conditions. I have yet to get sloppy in them, but it seems like they could transition to that kind of terrain without issue.


Jeremy: The first thing that comes to mind when running in the Naked T/r  is its stability. This is not something you can experience during a static examination of a shoe, but it was really striking during the first run I had with the Naked T/r.  The combination of lowish stack height, EVA foam, plate and incredible foot hold result in a very stable ride no matter the terrain. The more I ran with it, the more confidence I gained. You can work on précision foot landing on uneven rocks, downhills, uphills amongst rocks and roots, the T/r will deliver a very secure ride, completely connected to the ground. 

Yet, it’s protective enough to avoid painful contact with sharp rocks and not get too taxing on the legs for 2-3 hour runs. 

Even on the flats, the shoe felt nice, even if not totally at home. The plate makes for a nice propulsive ride, just as if the shoe were in a hurry to get to the next rocky trail!


Traction on rocks is second to none. The Vibram outsole brings a level of confidence that allows one to focus only on foot landings without fearing any slippage and when on fast downhills this sense of confidence and security is  a relief!

On my longest run, I feared that the upper would feel a bit constrictive due to foot swelling, but it stretched well and kept the same firm comfort it had at the beginning. I did not suffer hot spots on the instep, something my colleagues have encountered. 

There’s one clear improvement possible on the shoe: breathability. I’ve teased this in the intro but here’s the fact: the shoe drains water well, but not sweat and humidity….it’s not quite there. It’s clearly visible on the upper here the sock sticks to the TPU layer: 

The good news is that it did not create any issue nor blisters, and my feet did not feel hot. I think it’s a result of the incredible foot retention thanks to the LinerLoc liner and heel pillows. It’s just…you’ll end up with wet feet. On a 2-3 hours run, I think it’s not an issue at all. It might become one if you were to run longer, but it’s not really a shoe made for the long haul

Naked could have improved this by drilling many more holes in the upper, without compromising durability or foothold.

Mike P:  Overall, I’d say “snappy” is the right word to describe the ride. Other carbon plated shoes may give a more explosive feeling (I’m thinking of the Endorphin Edge with its PWWRUN PB + plate), but the Naked T/r does trade off some bounciness in exchange for ground feel. This makes choosing between those two plated shoes for example - dependent on terrain. I feel way more comfortable running faster in technical terrain in the Naked T/r. But the Endorphin Edge is a faster ride in more flat and moderate conditions.

The one big issue I had towards the end of my first run - was irritation at the top-front of my feet, just about where the ankle flexes forward. For me, and my foot, the rubberized upper material folded over at that point, and started to rub the very top of my foot - pretty much in the exact spot where the lace knot would be on a typical pair of shoes. I’ve experienced some lace bite in this area with other shoes, but never to the point of rubbing a raw blister. I actually had to shelve them for a week and stop testing as I had a 100 miler the following week, and needed to let the raw spots heal as much as possible. 

[I circled the area in red where I got blisters at the top of my feet. I also outlined in yellow where I feel the rubber material could perhaps be lowered to eliminate that fold area. Or perhaps introduce a different, stretchy material in that area?]

I understand the need for a tight wrapping fit in the absence of laces, but I do think something could be done to eliminate that fold as it’s an obvious flex point for the foot. In the meantime, I stuck a couple of felt tongue pads on the inside of that area (found on Amazon) and it completely resolved the issue for me. Aside from the pure friction issue, perhaps those pads filling in some additional volume also helped prevent that area from folding over.

[These small stick-on inserts (white felt) completely resolved the issue for me]

The other aspect which I mentioned in the fit section was the heel fit. I have to say that it was no issue at all. The feeling is quite unique, as it still feels like I have extra space around my heel, but with those side sharkskin pads, as well as the general non-slip fit of the shoe, the heel does not slip at all. It takes a bit of getting used to, the feeling that is - of feeling like the heel is loose, but at the same time having no slippage at all. But on the run, once accustomed, that feeling tends to just fade away.

I also absolutely agree with Jeremy about the breathability issue of the shoe. The entire upper is essentially a soft plasticky, rubbery type of material. The only escape routes for moisture are two small sets of tiny holes on the sides of the shoe, and one above the toes. There’s also some perforations in the top “tongue” area of the shoe, but they don’t seem to aid much in ventilation. I typically never comment on shoes feeling warm in my reviews (aside from Gore-tex), as it’s never an issue for me. But the Naked T/r definitely runs warm. After each of my runs, my feet were noticeably clammier, and my socks were excessively damp, given the temperature and duration of my test runs. These are definitely not shoes for hot and humid days. I’ll have to see if they help with warmth in colder temperatures, or if the moisture held in makes my feet even colder?

Sam: In a trail shoe world of ever softer, ever bouncier, and ever higher stack heights, the low slung flexible plated T/r is right up my alley. It flows very smoothly at even slower paces, something I struggled with the softer also low drop Endoprhin Edge for example, having difficulty getting past the midfoot on steeper climbs. On the downhills with my less than confident heel striking I never felt the shoe was over rigid or tippy. And for sure the rear stability is the best I can ever recall without over “blocking” the heel and reducing agility.

Here the super secure stable rear of the shoe, relatively firm midsole, and flexible plate had me moving smoothly through my gait and then up front clearly propelled (yet with great stability and protection) by the plate in the mix. The S/Lab Pulsar SG might be a faster shoe for me but due to its narrower platform, softer bouncier foam and my old man less than confident stride I actually would take the Naked T/r on more technical terrain and further reserving the SG for softer ground, smoother trails and even roads over the T/r.

I took them for a “fast” spin on Park City smoother single tracks with pointy rocks in the mix as well as road base bike trails. I average 10 min miles for 6.6 miles at 2100 meters elevation with 180 meters of climbing and came away with a Strava segment PR for a big uphill and 2nd and 3d best for me on the rolling single track and road base segments respectively demonstrating their versatility.

There is plenty enough cushion that I wouldn’t hesitate to race a trail half marathon in them. 

John: I couldn’t agree with Sam more. The T/r offers a stable and comfortable ride that works for slow and fast paces. I absolutely love this shoe for uphills – on the ascent, the T/r is nimble and agile, especially when dodging technical obstacles. It has a great (and not stiff) energy return that feels active at a variety of paces and cadences. 

On the downhills, the T/r is even better - my foot is close to the shoe and ground at all times, providing a low center of gravity yet also feels wide enough to prevent ankle rolls or lateral wobbliness. The cushion from the EVA midsole is subtly soft enough and provides the right amount of protection for any piercing terrain. Put another way, the ride is anything but harsh.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeremy: The T/r was a surprise. I did not expect Naked to come out with a shoe, but was sure that if they do so, it would be something special, considering the rest of their offering. And they clearly delivered with the T/r. The uncommon design works really great for me, the promises of great foothold, snappy feeling and tremendous grip are all kept and even exceed my expectations, especially on the run ability of the shoe on more easy trails. I’ve used them a lot while going back to the trails during September, gaining back confidence on downhills and they were an incredible tool for this. The elephant in the room is the cost of the Naked T/r that will put it out of reach for many people. It’s almost a no hold barred concept shoe with everything Naked Innovation designers wanted to put in, not considering the final price. 

Jeremy’s score: 9.58

RIDE   9.5    FIT 10 VALUE  8   STYLE 9.5 Traction 10 Rock Protection 9.5

Smiles score: 😊😊😊😊😊

Mike P:  I would consider these as something of a “concept” shoe. The big issue (Price - with a capital P) is surely prohibitive. But I will say that the Naked T/r absolutely changed my preconceived notions about whether a trail shoe without laces could work. Isn’t that the main point of any “concept” in the end? 

I’d say the question is not totally answered, as it remains to be seen if the few necessary refinements would be workable without laces. Fixing that issue with the upper at the top of the foot seems like it could be fixed without compromising foot hold (obviously the main factor in the absence of laces). But the breathability issue may be a stickier wicket - I’m sure they went with such a non-stretchy rubbery material in order to minimize the amount of stretch from a traditional upper material. Would it be possible to make them more breathable without introducing unwanted stretch? Perhaps to some degree, but I’m no materials expert. Overall, this is a highly surprising shoe from Naked - one which greatly exceeded my initial expectations. They’re definitely staying in rotation for me and I will strongly consider them for certain racing conditions.

*** Note - Being that I view the Naked T/r as somewhat of a concept shoe, in my comps below, I’ll refrain from redundantly mentioning the price issue ***

Mike P’s Score:  8.73 / 10

Ride: 9.5 - Agile, fast, and fun! No sacrifices made without laces

Fit: 8 - Very surprisingly amazing foothold without laces, but that fold at the top of the foot could surely be an issue for some.

Value: 6 - Obviously the biggest detriment is the shoe’s extreme high price, which drags down my overall score. For reference, if I hypothetically substituted an 8 for value into our scoring table, my total score would increase to 8.93

Style: 10 - The shoes look super sleek and fast. I’ve actually gotten compliments on trail.

Traction: 9.5 - Great at high speeds in technical terrain

Rock Protection: 9.5 - Well protective for as far/long as you would likely take these

Smiles 😊😊😊😊😊

Sam: A ground breaking shoe for sure. Elegant in its simplicity and laceless design Naked has successfully broken the mold in upper design. Yes I for sure and seriously  wish they were easier to pull on and the “tongue” had a bit more give (for me and for more feet) but once on and running the rear hold and security combined with more than adequate front room with great hold is second to none in trail uppers designed for shorter distances.

The ride is energetic, nimble and fast with the flexible carbon plate delivering clear spring while never being harsh or in the way as pace slows, on uphills or just when tired.  The foam while not bouncy soft is just right for the platform and intended purposes. OK maybe a touch softer would be nice to yet further extend the shoe’s range.

Value is tricky here at $290.. One must realize Naked is a small company who can’t place the large orders of the giants and the materials and construction are top notch for this superbly designed and executed “concept car”. And road carbon super shoes are close to the pricing here noting that a “super foam” unless it delivered lighter weight for the same feel with a touch more bounce might really not be appropriate for the purposes here. Yet, if you are looking for a fast racing and training shoe for multiple terrains and up to moderate distances, and that not every trail run or race is ultra distance this thoroughbred truly delivers speed, stable security, and fun. 

Sam’s Score: 9.48 /10

Ride: 9.6 amazing shorter distances , touch softer without losing stability would extend range

Fit: 9.5 once on foot total security and hold, tongue modifications and easier to pull on please

Value: 8.5: versatile, fast but pricey

Style: 9.3: makes a statement, clean and simple

Traction 9.8; superb and not in the way

Rock Protection: 9.6 very very solid for a low stack shoe.

 😊😊😊😊 1/2

John: The Naked T/r is a shoe that is very stable, responsive, relatively light, agile, predictable, secure yet accommodating fit in the forefoot, protective underfoot, outstanding traction and with great dampening due to the EVA midsole and carbon plate. I think this shoe would hold up in any race situation under half marathon distance and is especially equipped to handle just about any terrain. I think it would especially excel on technical trails where traction, foothold, agility, protection and predictability are needed. Need to earn some Strava crowns? The Naked T/r can certainly help!

John’s Score: 9.6 / 10

Ride: 9.5 (really fun and engaging shoe with stable and smooth ride)

Fit: 9.5 (secure fit with a little additional forefoot room)

Value: 9 (I can’t imagine very long distances or high mileage out of this shoe)

Style: 10 (I love the futuristic and sleek style) 

Traction: 10 (high performing)

Rock Protection: 10 (low profile shoe with great protection underfoot)

Smiles:  😊😊😊😊 ½

12 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: A very close comparison. Almost identical in weight and stack height the Sense Pro 4 has a firmer midsole and slightly more aggressive outsole making it more suitable for softer ground and technical. While plateless it has a harsher firmer ride with a similar flex with less spring than the T/r. Its upper is more conventional with less front room. It is for me a considerably less versatile shoe reserved mainly for short technical runs.

John:  The Sense Pro 4 is one of my all-time favorite shoes, but I find the Naked T/r to be a relatively close match in how it handles varied terrain. Moreover, both have amazing ability to descend steep technical trails aggressively. Still, I like the Sense Pro 4 because it has a better fit/upper, better midsole, better traction, more stability and better protection. I don’t imagine a time where I would choose the Naked T/r over the Pro 4, but if I didn’t own Pro 4s I would always choose the T/r.

Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): These shoes are in obvious different classes. The Tecton for me is a 100M/24H shoe, whereas the Naked is reserved for short/fast outings. I might consider them for longer race situations, but I’d have to mentally prepare myself for some foot pounding. Tecton X feels smooth, responsive, and stable. Naked T/r feels snappy, agile, and fast. The dual plates of the Tecton X are hardly felt underfoot, but the firmness of the Naked midsole/plate is noticeable immediately.

Inov-8 Terraultra G270 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): The Naked has a firmer ride with its carbon plate and firmer EVA foam. G270 feels softer and bouncier, but it can also tend to feel a bit thin after you get some miles in them, especially under the forefoot. The Naked feels more protective to me so I’d say it’s a toss-up as to how far you could take each shoe. Outsole durability and traction I’d say is similar in dry terrain, Inov-8 has an edge when softer and in mud. Both shoes are very agile and great for quick moves and dancing in technical terrain. The Inov-8 has a well fitting and secure upper, but surprisingly to me, the Naked upper feels just as good, if not better. Over time the G270’s zero drop has become more noticeable to me - I’m finding it a bit stressful on my lower legs these days, so something to consider. For me the Naked 5mm drop is more trail-suitable.

Sam: Agree with Mike. The Inov 8 is more agile, better gripping but its zero drop is noticed.

Scarpa Spin 2.0 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Spin 2.0 is an agile quick shoe with more forgiving cushion from its PEBA EVA blend foam. Its hardened foam rock plate provides some propulsion but not at the level of the Naked’s. Its upper is equally as secure but lower volume up front. At $159 it is a better value in short and quick trail shoe but doesn’t have the fast excitement or fit of the Naked.

John: Both are light and perform well on a mix of terrain. I would choose the T/r for shorter technical runs. Spin 2.0 is beneficial for longer days on technical terrain where protection and weight will help ensure your feet + body can endure the longer effort. Moreover, the Spin 2.0 outsole is much stickier on rock surfaces and would be a good option for light scrambling.


Scott SuperTrac RC2 (RTR Review)

Jeremy: A very close feeling shoe under the foot, with a snappy, stable and predictable ride, the Scott RC2 was one of my favorite shoes of the last year. The Naked T/r might be more tricky to fit, but if it works for your foot shape…it’s just everything the Scott shoe was, but pushed further. More stable, better traction, incomparable foothold, more snappy ride, more confidence inspiring. You might lose a bit of cushion underfoot but it’s negligible.

Salomon SLab Pulsar (RTR Review)

Jeremy: Actually they’re very different shoes. The Pulsar relies on its incredibly bouncy and energetic foam to deliver a soft easy rolling ride on more mellow trails, even doubling as an efficient road racer, with limited heel stability and foot hold that would suffer on technical terrain. The Naked T/r is actually a very good complement to the Pulsar for the most demanding terrain, providing a ride almost as « smile delivering » on technical trails than the Pulsar is on easy ones. 

Mike P (9.5):  For reference, I’d say this is the closest comp in terms of fit and sizing (for me Salomon US 9.5 = Naked US 9.0). Both shoes have exceptional, sock-like fit and security. The Pulsar for me fits better, but I think that’s to be expected with laces available for adjustment. Both shoes feel equally nimble and fast, with a slight edge to the Pulsar due to its truly feathery weight. 

The Pulsar feels a touch more cushioned, but the Naked T/r feels a bit more protective and stable - with a wider forefoot and less unstable heel. I’d lean Pulsar for anything up to moderate(+) terrain. The Naked would have a slight edge in truly technical stuff due to protection and stability. I find the Pulsar’s knit collar much more functional than Naked’s. It wraps snugly around the ankle, whereas the Naked’s collar/gaiter has some gaps when moving, so it’s not entirely functional as a full gaiter.

John: The Naked T/r is broader, more forgiving, and has a more stable platform compared to the SLab Pulsar. The T/r is a strong uphill shoe and an absolute beast on the downhills. The Pulsar is lighter, more energetic and precise, and better dedicated for race day where there’s more runnable terrain.

Salomon SLab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)

Sam: For me a close comparison. Considerably lighter with an equally secure if not as comfortable upper the SG has softer more energetic foam, a propulsive rock plate and sits on a narrower platform with in comparison to the T/r  less heel stability and security if still decent. Less versatile than the Naked,  it is a faster yet shoe that favors a forward strike more than the Naked does and for me more moderate trail terrain and even road. 

The older S/Lab Sense SG is also comparable in having as the Naked does a firmer midsole and firmer yet sitting on a narrower platform. Very fast and for me quite comparatively punishing the Sense SG is a better shoe for me for very short races/runs on technical terrain and on snow.

John: I found the Naked T/r to be much more stable whereas the Pulsar SG is lighter, bouncier, and more plush in the forefoot. Both seem to devour gnarly terrain. If the course was just up and down (like the Imogene Pass Run or Kendall Mountain), my choice is the Naked T/r, but if there is flatter terrain where you need some pick up my choice is the Pulsar SG.

Peregrine 12 (RTR Review)

John: The Naked T/r has a much more sock-like fit and and a form fitting upper, while the Saucony's upper provides more play and its midlsoe has more midsole cushion. If I am going fast and short in more technical terrain, I’ll go with the T/r’s, but I will put the Peregrines on for anything else.

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT (RTR Review)

Jeremy: More protective and more versatile the Scarpa shoe also aims at more technical grounds, as does the Naked T/r. 50g heavier per shoe, the Scarpa,  despite its qualities, cannot really match the Naked for nimbleness and fun on technical trails. It will be more efficient on rolling paths thanks to the clever implementation of its carbon plate and the very efficient foams combination. A bit more versatile, easier to fit, with a comparable grip, the Scarpa can also hold up to longer outings than the Naked. It will be more versatile, less efficient, and less fun. 

Mike P (10 ⅓): The Scarpa plate is much less flexible and therefore can feel tippy at times. But the Kima, although also a firm ride, is much more protective. Scarpa’s plate provides more of a traditional, efficient lever effect, where the Naked plate is highly flexible and seems to give more “snap” and agility. I struggle to find usage for my Kima’s after testing, but perhaps I don’t have enough access to extended amounts of truly alpine terrain. I’ll likely end up using the Naked T/r a lot more for some racing as well as speedwork and fast running on trails. The Scarpa upper has a notably different fit- wide across the forefoot, but long and tapered up front, and very shallow. The Naked T/r actually has a much better and comfortable fit for me.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro (RTR Review)

Jeremy: Different shoes, different goals,but I happened to test the two at the same time…the Pulsar is the safe bet. Easier fiting, more cushioned, nice grip if not as good as the T/r’s , it can be both a training shoe and a racing one, and can handle many types of  terrain, from mellow trails where its Energy Surge foam and Blade will swallow miles with ease, to technical ones where the efficient foot hold and stability will bring confidence. The Naked T/r is a much more dedicated tool in comparison.

Saucony Endorphin Edge (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): An instructive comp, to see how carbon plates are implemented differently and for different scenarios in trail shoes. Both shoes are nearly the same weight, but the Edge has a huge 36/30mm stack in comparison to the Naked’s 26/21. Notice the similar drops - as that seems to be the upper limit in terms of carbon plated trail shoes. Tecton X comes in at 4mm, but that shoe rides more cruisy than these. The Edge plate sits somewhere between that of the Kima and the Naked T/r - and is not as flexy as the T/r, not as rigid as the Kima, but strong enough to provide an explosive impulse in combination with the super light PWWRRUN PB midsole. The Edge is more at home in moderate and rolling terrain, where the explosive plate impulse can be maximized. In technical and/or steep terrain where agile running is more necessary, the Edge’s propulsive “edge” is nullified, and the Naked T/r shines. The Naked T/r feels firmer underfoot, while the Edge feels more stiff. I would lean Edge over longer distances based on sheer amount of foam underfoot.

Sam: I struggled on the same Park City trails in the Edge when tired where the Naked flew along with ease even when I tired. The Edge is considerably more cushioned in stack and in softness but in combination with its stiffer plate and similar low drop when I slowed I struggled, sort of left high and dry both on uphills and downhills whereas the Naked flowed along smoothly. Back on the heels spells trouble in the Edge while the firmer lower stack Naked while not as forgivingly cushioned for sure flowed along smooth as can be up or down, slow or fast.

Speedland SL:PDX (RTR Review)

Sam: Considerably heavier at about 10.5 oz and more expensive at $375, the Speedland is another concept car shoe featuring a far more complex yet effectively secure and way more adjustable BOA dialed in upper. Underfoot the complexity continues with an insert PEBA midsole with a removable somewhat flexible carbon plate. Finally the Michelin outsole is stitched on to the Dyneema super rugged upper. It leans longer distances than the T/r with a somewhat softer more mellow ride. These two state of the art trail runners are quite a contrast in design highly complex and many moving parts Speedland, laceless more simple (and elegant) Naked. While one might argue the Speedland is more versatile distance and fit wise, the flexible carbon, laceless, Vibram shod Naked is a faster more fun shoe with superior stability and propulsion.

VJ Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.5): Make note of the size difference between the shoes as the brands are on opposite ends of the spectrum. VJ runs small, and Naked runs large. The Ultra 2 introduced a rock plate in V2, which greatly improved the shoe and seemed to add a bit more speed to its ride in runnable terrain. The Ultra 2 has a higher stack and noticeably more cushion underfoot, although it’s not a true high stack shoe. VJ’s EVA foam is a softer variety, and the shoe is overall better suited for longer distances. The Naked is more agile when running faster in technical terrain, with its more flexible carbon plate. This is a shocker for me, but the Naked upper fits better and feels more secure (once I added that foam insert).

VJ XTRM 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.5): WIth no carbon plate, but instead a full length rock protection plate, the XTRM is oriented towards really technical, and even “extreme” terrain, such as off trail, scrambling and OCR. The VJ feels similarly flexible as the Naked, also feeling somewhat quick at times with its rock plate. 

But the Naked is a bit lighter, and runs a bit lighter with a snappier, quicker ride. VJ has a clear win in the traction and grip department - it’s truly a beast in loose and off trail terrain. That’s no knock on the Naked outsole though, they’re just designed for different scenarios. I like both shoes and would pick based on terrain.

The Naked T/r is available now from Naked HERE

Tester Profiles

Jeremy MARIE, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km. He has an un-official marathon PR of 2h54 (solo)  and 10K PR of 36’25.

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he is lucky, 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, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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