Saturday, September 30, 2023

Craft Pure Trail Multi Tester Review: 9 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Vaillere, and Mike Postaski

Craft Pure Trail ($170)


The Craft Pure Trail by its name alone makes a statement. Previous Craft have been more hybrid road trail in characteristics with a trail worthy outsole, plenty of cushion but shaky uppers and narrow higher not particularly stable platforms when taken on more technical terrain.

With the Pure Trail, Craft clearly focuses on trail, no question about it. We have a 36mm heel / 30mm forefoot full stack height of Cr supercritical foam, so somewhat lower than their Endurance Trail, a somewhat flexible rock/propulsion plate and with at the ground a multi directional lugged outsole with 4mm lugs. 

The platform is notably broad at 95mm heel/ 80mm midfoot /110mm forefoot among the broadest of any ultra focused shoe (see comparisons). 

The upper is a very thin non stretch one piece TPU mesh with an unpadded tongue and no tongue gusset. All the overlays are equally pliable. 

With its broad platform, dense supercritical foam midsole, stout full coverage outsole, light, unstructured and airy upper, I wondered where the Pure Trail would shine brightest. 

After 40 miles of running and hiking please read on to find out what I discovered.


Pure fun: energetic midsole on a broad and stable at the ground platform: Sam/Jeff

Dense  supercritical foam with plenty of deep cushion, rebound but also stability: Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Very fast on smoother surface lower angle.trails: flats, climbs, descents: Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Runs far lighter than weight Sam/Jeff

Clear plate propulsion with plenty of climbing flex in the mix on more gradual grades: Sam

Solid flexible rock protection, conforms to terrain: Sam/Jeff

Light on the foot, secure enough, highly breathable easy draining upper: Sam/Jeff

Fair price for a state of the art supercritical foam plated (if not carbon) shoe at $170: Sam/Jeff


Upper is quite minimal and broad at the mid foot, favoring broader feet : Sam/Mike P

Plate is springy stiff/ long flexing with not much far front flex; steeps on the run are a bit awkward while hike/walk is fine: Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Not an ideal tech terrain shoe: Sam/Jeff/Mike P

Shoe weight at 10.8 oz  / 306g (US9): Sam/Jeff

Still way to much upper material Mike P

Runs a bit short at true to size: Mike P

Drop feels steeper (higher than spec 6mm) Mike P


Approx. Weight: men's 10.8 oz  / 306g (US9)  

 Samples: men’s  10.58 oz  / 300g US8.5, 10.9 oz  / 308g US9.5

Stack Height: men’s 36mm heel / 30mm forefoot ( 6mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  35 mm heel / 29 mm forefoot  ( 6mm drop spec) 

Platform width: 95mm heel/ 80mm midfoot /110mm forefoot

$170.  Available now along with other Craft styles at our partner REI HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

The upper is made of a very thin and pliable TPU mesh that is non stretch. I was nervous about hold.  Trying them on the first time I was relieved they were not easy to pull on. Always a good sign with such uppers.

The heel counter is essentially external with support provided by TPU overlays. It is pliable with more rigidity provided by the light orange overlays which are doubled over the somewhat darker ones. 

The achilles and ankle collars are well padded and comfortable.

The midfoot construction is about as minimal as I can recall in a trail shoe just the TPU mesh and un-padded tongue with overlays. 

Yet at 80mm midfoot platform width there is plenty of underfoot support. I struggled a bit with midfoot hold my first few runs and as shown below have to lace so that the lace throat ends up narrow. 

This tells me the midfoot fit favors a broad midfoot. After getting them thoroughly wet on a long hike while twice fording streams the fit “tightened” and snugged up even after they had dried,  While not the ideal tech terrain midfoot hold it for sure is near ideal for more mellow terrain and swelling feet as I found out on a 14 mile trail run.

The toe box is equally unstructured with only a pliable overlay toe bumper which is more extensive over the big toe. There is plenty of toe box room here although I do find them a bit short at my true size when I go to thick socks to try to fill some of the volume. The front hold is surprisingly good and better for me than in the also very unstructured broad Nike Ultrafly Trail’s.

Upper Bottom Line: 

True to size, focused on long hours on trail, comfort/breathability/ draining more than highly technical terrain hold, it is a distinct improvement over prior Craft uppers which were notorious for their shaky holds. This helped by the notably broader +20-25mm midfoot platform compared to the Craft Endurance Trail.  

Dense enough to keep dust out it is clearly an upper designed for well built Western US single track trails, gravel roads, hot and wet conditions more than alpine terrain. Interesting, as the underfoot platform is up to any terrain in terms of its protection and energy return. So a balance and some compromises were taken here, mostly solid although I do wish for a gusset to the tongue. Not every shoe is good for every terrain.

Jeff V:   As Sam mentions, Craft has struggled a bit with trail uppers, so I keep hoping for a jump in upper performance.  The Nordic Speed 2 (RTR Review) was an exception, offering pretty good foothold in technical terrain, but with a dense midsole and somewhat heavy build, the Nordic Speed 2 is far different than the other Craft shoes we have reviewed with their soft, light, bouncy midsoles.  

The Pure Trail is impressive out of the box, reasonably light feeling with a substantial midsole and lugs, paired with what could easily be the most minimally thin upper I have ever seen on a trail shoe.  The colorway is bright and bold, yet classy.  

I found the fit to be true to size overall, but note that the shoe is slightly voluminous and I have to choke up on the laces to get a good snug fit. Simultaneously, the Pure Trail is a bit of work to get into as the upper is non stretch, you don’t just slide these on for a dog walk or trip to the mailbox. 

The heel is secure and well held, as is the midfoot and there is reasonably ample room in the forefoot.  

For my narrow foot, it helps for me to wear a midweight sock to help take up that volume, which is welcome and near perfect for non technical terrain. With ”trail” in the name and big lugs, one presumes that the Pure Trail are intended for trails (and in my mind, I think all trails or at least most trails given the lugs), but the upper is a bit of a limitation here.  

While the upper is adequate and even excellent on smoother trails, dirt roads and can get by on moderately moderate trails, my feet move around enough in them to feel shaky and not secure when the going gets technical.  Also, when the trail gets technical, the upper is so so thin, that it offers no protection if you happen to bump a rock (which for me happened several times on my first run, going uphill in technical terrain and had my foot roll enough in the shoe that I got a little banged up.  

Don’t be deterred though, this upper is amazing if you keep things non technical, it is just important to understand its limitations up front.

Mike P:  I’ve had some serious problems with Craft uppers in the past - specifically with the CTM Ultra 3 and the Endurance Trail.  Both had massive amounts of upper material - so much that when choking up the laces fully, I still could not get a secure fit. I liked elements of both shoes, especially the midsole foams, but they were very much held back by the poor-fitting uppers.

The Pure Trail does a little bit better here, but for me, only a little bit. There’s still too much upper material for my foot - which I consider to be of average volume. I’ve never had this issue with any other brand except Craft. You can see a comparison of the lace throat below vs. the Brooks Divide. Again, there’s just too much upper material, and cinching down the laces brings both sides of the upper over the top of my foot to the point where they’re essentially touching.

I only say that it’s a bit better than previous Craft shoes since I do have a good foothold when they’re fully cinched. If you read my CTM Ultra 3 review, I actually had to punch out wider-spaced eyelets. But this amount of upper material just doesn’t hold my foot well. It feels like I’m not getting good lateral hold since the material is just wrapping fully around the sides of my foot.

[I do have an average volume foot - most shoes fit me similarly to the Brooks Divide 3 (left). Both shoes are US 9.5]

My foot also sits pretty deep inside the shoe, and the ankle collars hit relatively high on the sides of my ankle. This is bothersome, but didn’t cause issues on the run as the collars are pliable. There’s also a lot of volume in the heel cup area - a bit much for me, but it is not an issue once laced up and on the run.  Size-wise they feel a bit short at true to size US 9.5. So, despite the too-voluminous upper, I have to wear very thin socks due to the length. This is similar to the Craft shoes that I’ve tested before - too much upper material/volume, a little bit short.


The midsole is Craft’s new supercritical Cr foam. Craft does not hesitate to match different midsole compounds and construction to tasks, no one foam for everything for them.  We do not have details of its composition, durometer or density.

Cr foam has the clear energy return of supercritical foams, is very leg friendly over many hours on any terrain, is stable (helped by the broad platform) and so far at 40 miles appears resilient and durable. It has developed none of the characteristic creasing of many “lighter” foams as shown below. 

The foam is not as soft and squishy as say Salomon’s Energy Foam, nor is it as dense and firmer as Saucony’s PWRRUN or Brooks DNA Flash. It resembles a firmer less bouncy Puma Nitro. 

There is plenty of stable energetic rebound here. About as fine an all around trail shoe foam as I can recall. 

But there is more to the midsole than just the foam as we have a broad  95mm heel/ 80mm midfoot /110mm forefoot underfoot platform. The combination of heel midfoot platform dimensions is the broadest of any shoe in our comparisons we have measured except the Salomon Max Glide TR which equals it at the rear and midfoot and is broader yet upfront at 122mm . 

This broad platform goes a long way to making the minimal upper work and makes the underfoot very stable with lots of forgiving very leg friendly cushion but also makes them a bit less agile than competitors and with an occasional tendency to kick my opposing ankle.

Last we have a very substantial rock/propulsion plate (seen above) covering the entire forefoot back to the rear point of the purple triangle above. 

From Craft: 

"The plate is a thin TPU blend. It is engineered with interlocking lateral and medial cut aways that provide great flexibility while maintaining protection. The plate also engages with the bottom unit to activate the Cr Foam, and the even pressure supports the lug pattern for optimized traction "

This extensive plastic plate has a long fairly stiff flex. Rock protection is superb in combination with the midsole and outsole. The plate is clearly highly propulsive on moderate grades as I got some gradual uphill and rolling segment Strava PR’s and by a lot.

That said on steeper uphill grades, the forefoot lacks a distinct forward climb flex point at run paces (as most Salomon for example have) requiring quite a bit of power to really work well there. As is often the case for me with this type of plate, at hiking fast walk paces it worked very well. I think the plate’s effectiveness could be improved with a secondary forward flex point and overall with more flexiblity. 

Jeff V:  Sam’s description is spot on and I agree with him on all points.  The Cr foam is very light feeling, highly energetic, firm enough to not feel mushy and give great performance, while being soft and forgiving enough for long long miles of comfort and support.  

So far it seems to be very durable with no degradation after around 40 miles of hard running.  The platform width, as Sam highlights, is key here for this shoe to offer enough stability for moderately technical terrain, as otherwise, I think they would be prohibitively tippy with the less than secure upper.  I never once found the width to be overly bulky or cumbersome on the trail as I might a Hoka Stinson for example, or sometimes the Brooks Caldera 6.  

As Sam pointed out, the plate is an asset when moving fast on rolling terrain and moderate gradients, but on steep uphills, I did not find it to be an asset.  The plate does offer fantastic protection underfoot, but is of minimal benefit, given my reticence to run these hard in terrain where underfoot protection is really necessary (rocky, rooty, technical terrain).

Mike P: As Sam mentions, it’s quite interesting that Craft has so many varying midsole compounds. They’re definitely not afraid to experiment. The Cr foam of the Pure Trail feels like the most suitable foam for trail running out of the other Craft shoes' midsoles I’ve tested. It has a responsiveness, not quite on par with the CTM Ultra 3, and not quite as soft as the Endurance Trail. It falls somewhere in the middle which seems to work best for mixed trail use.

Of note is the extremely wide platform under both the forefoot and heel of the shoe. For me, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the Brooks Caldera - just a massive amount of ground contact area underfoot.  For me, this tips into the “too much underfoot” territory. I tend to favor a narrower platform, especially under the heel area.

[Look how wide the Pure Trail platform is]

The uber-wide platform does provide stability, but leaves the shoe lacking in the agility department. The volume of foam, plus the rock plate (exposed in pink) soaks up rockiness underfoot, but I do feel the shoe works best when going straight ahead, and avoiding too many twists and turns.


The outsole is Craft’s Contact rubber. The 4mm lugs are multi directional withbroad contact surfaces. While I have not been on wet rock here in Utah as of yet, traction has been excellent on all manner of loose sand, gravel and loose rock of all kinds. On smoother surfaces the outsole is not in the way or over present in feel due to the broad contact surfaces. The small holes through to the midsole help with flex.

Wear is minimal at 40 miles, including half of the distance on loose sharp rock.

A touch of scuffing and no lugs chipped or damaged. All and all an excellent outsole.

Jeff V:  The outsole is excellent, providing great traction on all of the terrain that I have run, with reasonably deep and chunky directional 4mm lugs.  While I appreciate the substantial outsole, I have found that they are a bit overkill given the limitations of the upper, but it is nice to have if needed.  Durability is proving to be above average so far with hardly any noticeable wear after 40 or so rough miles.  Like Sam, I have not had the opportunity to run in wet conditions, so will report back when I get that opportunity.

Mike P: Not much to add here. I’ve had extreme dry and sandy end of summer conditions here, and the lugs do grip and hold well in the loose stuff. Despite the rock plate, the shoe does seem to contour better than expected, so I’ve felt pretty stable on larger rocks and some off camber surfaces.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Craft has done a lot right here with the Pure Trail. It is clearly more ‘trail” focused than their earlier hybrid offerinsg. It shares with them given its new supercritical foam, a super pleasing and forgiving ride. No matter what I have done, short and fast, long hike, or long runs my legs were remarkably fresh during and the next day.

It is not an ideal big mountain shoe due largely to its upper and secondarily its broad platform and somewhat overdone and not as steep run climb friendly rock protection plate as I would like. 

What it is is an incredible forgiving and energetic riding shoe with its supercritical Cr foam just right in energy return, stability, and protection.  Despite being on the heavy side, and I am a bit puzzled where the weight comes from, it runs way lighter than its weight (credit midsole). It is a very fast shoe for me on more gradual grade smoother built trails commonly found in the Western US and doubles as an excellent hiker. Thus on the right terrain it should be an excellent ultra choice. 

The upper could use a more midfoot structure and support to take it to more technical terrain but is incredibly comfortable in fit and breathability with the outsole near perfection for multiple surfaces. 

At $170 it is a very solid value for an all supercritical foam trail shoe. It is super fun to run no matter the distance or pace on its preferred terrain.

Trail Scoring Rubric

Sam’s Score: 9.34/10

Ride (30%): 9.6 only thing holding back ride is the front stiffness for steeper climbs on the run and agility due to broadness of platform

Fit (30%): 9 comfortable and generally good but more midfoot structure would take them to more tech terrain.

Value (10%): 9.2 solid for a state of the art supercritical foam shoe

Style (5%): 9.5 cheery and bright but not overdone

Traction (15%): 9.5 excellent

Protect (10%): 9.3 plenty of plate and foam protection but plate could use more front flex.


Mike P: It’s really a shame about the Pure Trail upper. Again, there are elements of this shoe that I really like, namely the Cr foam and its underfoot feel, but the poor-fitting upper makes it really hard for me to run in this shoe regularly and fully push it. It has a very smooth ride, feels responsive, and with the wide forefoot base, hits the right balance of feel and protection.

The rear of the shoe feels a bit overdone to me. There’s just so much foam under the heel - and with the super wide platform, the rear of the shoe feels a bit clunky to me. Perhaps for heavier runners, or pure heel strikers this could be a better fit. But as a lighter runner, and with a midfoot strike - the shoe feels out of balance to me - with much more under the heel than is needed. Aside from a revamped upper, I’d love to see a more streamlined heel area. 

The Pure Trail feels like a straight-ahead charger for me. While not a speed shoe, you can get cruising pretty good, and feel confident plowing through gravelly or slightly rocky terrain.  I really didn’t test the shoe in technical terrain though - and again, that’s due to the upper. With little structure, and poor fit, I just can’t be comfortable in them and it would feel too risky.

Mike P’s Score:  7.95 / 10

Ride: 8.5 - Cr foam works well on the trail , nicely smooth and stable

Fit: 6.5 - Craft’s poor upper strikes again

Value: 7 - Value could be better if the shoe works for your foot

Style: 10 - One of the best looking trail shoes

Traction: 9 - Lots of rubber, solid lugs and pattern

Rock Protection: 9 - Foam, rock plate, & lots of rubber protects well

Smiles 😊😊😊

Jeff V:  Sam sums the Pure Trail very well. I love almost everything about this shoe, from it’s fun, fast and energetic ride, to it’s lighter (despite the weight) feel, its all day comfort Cr midsole that is both softly compliant and firm enough to be supportive, the protection underfoot, great traction and the thin, breathable, comfortable upper.  

It is a great shoe for running or hiking any distance/duration on less technical to moderately technical trails. In a perfect world, I would like to see this shoe drop an ounce or so and have a more secure, supportive and protective upper for use on a wider range of trails as well as a bit more forward flex.  As it stands now, the Pure Trail is limited to less technical trails (and limited use with caution on up to moderately technical trails), which isn’t a bad thing if you know this ahead of time and that is your intended use.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.2/10

Ride: 9.5, Fit: 8.5, Value: 9, Style: 9.5, Traction: 9.5, Rock Protection: 9.5


9 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 

Pure Trail

Approx. Weight: men's 10.8 oz  / 306g (US9) 

Stack Height: men’s 36mm heel / 30mm forefoot ( 6mm drop spec) 

Platform:  95mm heel/ 80mm midfoot /110mm forefoot


Salomon S/Lab Genesis   $200 (RTR Review)

Approx. Weight: men's 9.25 oz  / 262g (US9)  

Stack Height: 30 mm heel (spec and measured) / 22 mm forefoot, 8mm drop

Platform: 85mm heel/ 60mm midfoot /105mm forefoot 

Sam: Salomon current elite ultra shoe is lower stack and considerably lighter. It is more flexible with somewhat less rock protection and cushion than the Craft. It is softer, a bit bouncier but not as quickly energetic but has a more secure Matryx upper.  The more expensive Salomon is a more versatile shoe. Both true to size.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam, and will just reiterate how much more capable the Genesis is on a wide variety of trails and for technical terrain running, while the Pure Trail is more protective/cushioned underfoot and faster on less technical terrain and longer distances.

Mike P (9.5): The Genesis has the perfect fitting upper for a trail/ultra shoe. That upper makes a big difference providing confidence in all terrain. I also find the Genesis much more balanced and therefore versatile on all types of terrain. The Genesis is one of, if not the best trail shoe out right now.

Salomon S/Lab Ultra Francois $240 (RTR Review)

Weight 10.3 oz / 292g  US9

Stack Height: men’s 37 mm heel (measured) / 29 mm forefoot ( 8mm drop) 

Platform: 90mm heel/ 72mm midfoot /110mm forefoot

Sam: The S/Lab Ultra has thicker and denser front protection, a stiffer yet fiberglass plate and is less nimble than Craft but more solidly planted overall. The Salomon has a more secure and lower volume upper. It is a better choice than the Craft on more technical terrain at long distances with the Craft shining brighter on smoother terrain and more gradual grades. The Craft is a considerably better value and more fun if your trails are not super technical. Both true to size

Salomon Glide Max TR  $160 (RTR Review)

Approx. Weight: men's 9.75 oz  / 276g (US9)

Stack Height: men’s 38 mm heel / 32 mm forefoot ( 6 mm drop spec)

Platform: 95mm heel/ 80 mm midfoot /122 mm forefoot

Sam: Very similar broad platform shoes with a very deep cushion and big stack heights. The Craft foam is more energetic and its outsole more versatile and with better traction. The Salomon is considerably lighter (by about 28g) but the run feel is similar. Similar fits with the Salomon a touch more secure at midfoot. For both shoes intended less tech trail uses, the Craft is my pick.

Jeff V:  Sam gives a good comparison, but I will add that the Salomon is much softer, less supportive, with less protection underfoot, but has a more secure upper.  While the Salomon upper is more relaxed than most shoes and has a comparably relaxed fit, the Pure Trail is not nearly as secure as the Salomon.


Salomon Ultra Glide 2 (RTR Review)

Approx. Weight: men's 10.15 oz / 289g (US9)  

Stack Height: men’s 30 mm heel / 22 mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec)


Sam: The Salomon has a dense, quite warm if more supportive upper. While lighter, I find UG less energetic and more ponderous than the Craft with the Salomon more suitable for tech terrain.

Mike P (9.5): I like the Craft Cr foam and the ride of the Pure Trail much better than the Salomon. The UG feels like it relies too much on the rounded-out rocker, and it also has a much narrower platform than the Pure Trail. While I do typically like a narrower platform, it doesn’t work for me with the UG. The UG feels almost too narrow - especially under the forefoot relative to its stack height. The UG2 has a bit more taper in the toe box as well, but they do offer a wide version. I’d pick the Pure Trail as a better cruiser shoe.

Craft Endurance Trail $160 (RTR Review)

10.15 oz  / 287g (US9) 

40mm heel (measured) / 31mm forefoot (9 mm drop spec) 

Platform:  90mm heel / 55mm midfoot / 110mm forefoot

Sam: One might call the Endurance Trail the Pure Trail’s predecessor. It is higher stack yet with an equally energetic and bouncier different TPE foam. It has a super narrow midfoot platform and a shakier upper than the Pure.It was essentially Craft’s excellent more road focused Pro Endur with a beefier outsole.  For trail, the Pure clearly replaces it with a more secure upper, better traction and a lower more stable platform.

Jeff V:  Sam nails it.  The Endurance Trail has an amazingly energetic, soft and bouncy midsole, feeling so light and fast, but they are so narrow, tall and with a loose upper, they are really tippy on anything beyond smooth trails/dirt roads.

Mike P (10.0):  I had a half size up in the Endur Trail, and the upper was extremely poor in fit. I went TTS in the Pure Trail, and while the upper fits a bit better, it’s now a bit short for me. I like the foams in both shoes, but I’d probably give the nod to the Cr Foam of the Pure Trail. But on the other hand, I prefer the narrower platform of the Endur Trail over the super-wide Pure Trail. Hard to pick one shoe over the other. Both uppers fall short.

Hoka Tecton X 2 $225 (RTR Review)

Weight: 9 oz / 255g

Stack Height: (estimated) men’s 33 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot (5 mm drop)

Platform: 90mm heel / 80mm midfoot / 117mm forefoot

Sam: Considerably lighter by 1.8 oz / 51g with dual carbon plates, the Tecton X is somewhat lower stacked, not quite as cushioned but more agile and quick even if a bit too springy in feel (from its carbon plates) for my tastes. The Craft is smoother riding with its foam more energetic. The Hoka upper is more supportive for sure, if not voluminous for wider feet. As a  package and to note $45 more, the Tecton is a more terrain versatile racer while the Craft is a more pleasant all arounder for smoother terrain.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam on all points.

Mike P (9.5): The Tecton X 2’s 5mm drop feels much more balanced than the Pure Trail’s 6mm. The Pure Trail just feels more steep, perhaps due to the large volume of foam under the heel. So even though the Tecton also features a very wide platform, I find them much more comfortable to run, even in technical terrain, since they’re more balanced, and of course the upper fits so much better. Clear win for another one of the best trail shoes out right now - Tecton X 2.

Nike Zoom X Ultrafly Trail $250 (RTR Review)

10 oz  / 284g (US9)

38.5 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot ( 8.5 mm drop spec)

Platform: 90 mm heel/ 65mm midfoot/ 115mm

Sam: Craft’s Cr foam, if one could take the Ultrafly’s rigid carbon plate out of the mix, is similar to Nike’s Zoom X and is a touch firmer, with the Craft lower in stack height and more protective on trail. The Nike is close to 1 oz lighter in weight and that is felt  They both have very similar minimal uppers with the Craft having a better front and midfoot  lock down.  The big difference here is that the Nike has a full carbon plate and is a rigid shoe while the Craft has more flex to its plastic plate. Both focus on smoother fast trails and moderate grades with the Craft a little easier to drive as things get steeper and pace slows. With an $80 price differential the Craft is clearly a better value for a shoe intended for similar smoother more rolling terrain.

Jeff V:  I agree with Sam on all points, except for the uppers, where I find the Nike to be more secure and also the Nike to be a bit more competent in technical terrain because of that.  But that said, just barely, as while I find the Nike to be exceptionally comfortable and great for long days, they are a bit clumsy in technical terrain due to the stiff carbon plate, weight and width, and is just not as agile or even all that fast, and not nearly as fast or responsive as the Pure Trail.

Mike P (9.5): The Ultrafly upper has lots of volume, but mainly in the forefoot area. You can still get a solid midfoot hold and you don’t have to super-cinch the laces. The Craft upper has too much material throughout. I find the Ultrafly to be both very soft underfoot, and at the same time very rigid given the plate. They really do propel you forward efficiently, but like Jeff, I find them a bit hazardous in technical terrain. Perhaps the Pure Trail would be more versatile - if the fit works for you.

Brooks Catamount 2 $170 (RTR Review)

9.7 oz  / 275g (US9)

30 mm heel / 24mm forefoot

Platform: 90 mm heel/ 75 mm midfoot/ 110mm

Sam: The Cat 2 has a supercritical foam midsole that is somewhat firmer in feel as we have a considerably lower stack height than the Craft even as the platform widths are close to the same. It too has a plastic propulsion protection plate that is in my view more refined as it has some front climb flex which the Craft lacks, while to the rear being also yet more underfoot stable as it is lower to ground. The Brooks upper is considerably more supportive and worthy of any trail type if warmer and less accommodating. The Craft has a more pleasant ride and overall feel while the considerably lighter Cat is a quicker more agile shoe. Priced the same, it depends on what you are seeking. For long distance comfort on more moderate trails the Craft, for speed and shorter distances the Brooks on any terrain.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam on all points.

Mike P (10.0): One of my favs, Cat 2 is firmer, more flexible up front, lower to the ground, and feels faster. The Craft is softer and cruisier. I’d say the Cat 2 would be a better pick for lighter, faster runners, but heavier,and heel-striking runners may be more comfortable in the Pure Trail. Really depends on fit though. 

New Balance SC Trail $200  (RTR Review)

Approx. Weight 9.1 oz / 258g  US9

Stack Height: 31 mm heel /21 mm forefoot ( 10mm drop spec) 

Platform: 85 mm heel/ 70mm midfoot/ 115mm forefoot

Sam: The SC Trail has a very springy more rigid full carbon plate with in the mix New Balance’s Energy Arc. Its supercritical FuelCell foam is actually softer/less dense but the stack height is lower overall and especially upfront at 21mm vs. 30mm for the Craft and with carbon in the mix so the NB has a more harsh front ride. The SC has a more supportive lower volume and denser upper. Clearly the SC Trail is a more aggressive shorter distance race focused shoe while the Craft is more ultra and training focused. 

Jeff V: Agreed with Sam again.

Hoka Speedgoat 5 $155 (RTR Review)

Weight: men's 9.75 oz  / 276g (US9)

33mm heel / 29mm forefoot (5mm drop?

Platform: 90mm heel / 80mm midfoot / 115mm forefoot

Jeff V:  If Craft could hone in their upper and make it secure for technical trails, I think the Pure Trail would be a worthy competitor to the SG.  The Pure Trail’s midsole is a bit more firm and responsive, though I think the SG has a more versatile, grippy, proven durable outsole.  Pure Trail is perhaps the better choice for longer distances on smoother terrain, whereas the SG excels in versatility and is competent on any terrain including more technical terrain.

The Craft Pure Trail is available now at our partners below


Craft Footwear including Pure Trail
Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Tester Profiles

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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 100+ mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. From 2022-23 Mike has won the Standhope 100M, IMTUF 100M, and Scout Mountain 100M trail ultras. He also set a CR of 123.74M at the Pulse Endurance Runs 24H and completed the Boise Trails Challenge on foot in 3 days 13 hours, besting the previous record by 7 hours. 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 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was 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 gets very very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

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Anonymous said...

Very thankful. And how about GS TAM (without plate) I think it is very match at the foam type , stack height and weight.

pizza tower said...

Is this the newest design of this year, while I play pizza tower I need a light and sturdy shoe design.