Thursday, May 02, 2024

Ron Hill Reverence Review: for the roughest and muddiest of trails! 4 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Valliere

Ron Hill Reverence (£135, €161.99, US$180.89)

Introduction to the Ron Hill brand:  Who was Ron Hill?  I had never heard the name or of the brand before being approached to review these shoes.  The description sent to us below sums it up best.  I will also note that Ron Hill holds the world record run streak of 19,032 days!

‘Dr Ron Hill MBE founded the brand in September 1970, five months after becoming the first

Briton to win the Boston Marathon in a record time of 2:10:30. His sole purpose: to produce kit

that kept him winning.

Dr Ron gained a PhD in Textile Chemistry, from the University of Manchester and through

alchemy and his art as a runner, began to rethink the fly-by-night running kit of the time. After

winning the Commonwealth Games in 1970 he developed the ‘side-split short’ which famously

become the Freedom Short and the Mesh Vest - both having accompanied him to his greatest

victories on the road.

Half a century ago, Dr Ron’s innovations transformed the world of running clothing, we want to continue this journey with running footwear, allowing runners to run every day in comfort and invest in a product that truly performs how they require it to.

Our running shoes have been designed by runners and assisted by experts in the field of

developing and manufacturing performance trainers. We have also leant on our 50 years of

passion and knowhow, inspired by Dr Ron, and guided by feedback from our test team of

athletes to create our first footwear collection. Everything that has gone into our running shoe

collection has resulted in footwear fit for purpose.’

Introduction to the shoe:  The Reverence is a mountain running/fell shoe designed in the English Lake District to take on the roughest, wettest, muddiest terrain with confidence.  They feature a “True Fit” design to allow for the big toe to splay and give enough room to not feel confined on all day adventures and a Matryx upper to provide very good security, durability and protection.  

The outsole for me is the star of the show, featuring super aggressive 7mm lugs made of Michelin’s OCX3 compound (Outdoor Compound Extreme 3), a sticky rubber that provides superb grip on all surfaces and especially in wet challenging conditions.

Pros:  Traction (7mm lugs and Michelin OCX3 rubber are an amazing combo!), foothold, low to ground stable feel, protection, quality build

Cons: Weight, less than energetic midsole, laces are thin and come untied easily (unless you tie really tight triple knot, then is fine)

Most Comparable Shoes 

Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed (RTR Review)

VJ XTRM 2 (RTR Review)

Saucony Peregrine (RTR Review)

Topo MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review)


Spec Weight: US men's size 9 - 11.3 oz / 320 g

Sample Weight: US men’s size 10 - 12.1 oz / 343 g US 

Stack Height: men’s  28mm heel /  23mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 88mm heel / 87mm midfoot / 115mm forefoot 

£135, €161.99, US$180.89. Available at Ron Hill HERE & at our partner HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

I’ll admit that I was initially drawn to the 7mm lugs, which, for Colorado, are typically overkill for most trails and conditions, however, I often like to run through challenging terrain and conditions, so when I do, it is really nice to have that extra bite.  I was also headed to Kauai and was looking forward to how they would perform in truly wet, muddy, challenging conditions.  Out of the box, I am of course impressed with the massive, aggressive and deep lugs, dominating the look and overall vibe of the shoe.  Upon first putting them on, I was not particularly impressed with the comfort, as the upper felt somewhat thick and stiff and getting the burrito style wrap over tongue and lacing situated took some practice and the laces are particularly thin.  The Reverence is also surprisingly heavy and dense feeling, at over 12 oz. in my US men’s size 10.  This feels even more heavy after just recently reviewing the (to be compared) Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed, which in the same size weighs nearly 3 ounces less (though admittedly not as protective or robust of a shoe overall).  

The upper is made of the increasingly popular and super functional Matryx micro fabric that is manufactured in France for Ron Hill, complete with Kevlar reinforcements to give additional lockdown and support.  The Matryx upper is very protective and durable, though perhaps not the lightest or most breathable, but such are the trade offs.

There is not really a tongue, but instead a wrap over, burrito style fold over providing a cradled fit around the midfoot.  Lacing is very secure, but it does take a bit of work to get into these shoes, particularly to set the lower flap so that it is not folded over or bunched up internally.  I have found the laces to be a little tricky and while I can achieve very secure snugness, they are spaghetti noodle thin and seem to come untied easily unless you really snug up tight double or even triple knots (then they can be a challenge to untie once they are set after a run).

The toe bumper is very substantial and protective.

The heel counter is semi flexible and sturdy, while the heel collar is moderately padded.  I found the collar to be a bit stiff at first, but it has really broken in nicely over time.

Fit is true to size, with a secure heel, very secure midfoot and a toe box with just enough room for splay and all day comfort, yet still providing confidence inspiring control.

The upper is not super airy, but that is good for this shoe, as it does not allow much for dirt, sand, or mud to penetrate, yet it drains of water fairly well (though the padded area will retain wetness for some time).

Midsole & Platform

The midsole consists of a dual density EVA called Duo Pro, where the top layer softer foam to provide a comfortable cushioned feeling ride for long durations, while the bottom layer is firmer to provide stability on rough terrain. 

 I find the midsole and ride of the shoe to be appropriate for the shoes intended use on rugged, varied terrain, as it is very stable, predictable and protective.  At first I found the shoe to feel a bit stiff and clunky overall, the upper, combined with the midsole, but I found that after a few runs, the feel was softer and more forgiving.  The midsole does not however offer much in the way of bounce, response or energy and is not notably cushy.


As I said in the introduction, the outsole for me is the star of the show, featuring super aggressive 7mm lugs made of Michelin’s OCX3 compound (Outdoor Compound Extreme 3), a sticky rubber that provides superb grip on all surfaces and especially in wet challenging conditions.  

I received the Reverence on the eve of a weeklong vacation to Kauai and found them to be the perfect shoe for the trip, as parts of the island receive an average of 450 inches / 1140 cm of rain  per year. The trails were guaranteed to be wet, muddy and slippery!  The mud there varied quite a bit, from soupy mush, to clumpy muck, to hard pack mud as slick as ice.  

The Reverence performed about as well as any shoe could in such challenging conditions, with the Michelin sticky rubber providing very good wet traction and the 7mm lugs biting very well.  

As far as clearing mud out of the tread, it really depends on the consistency of the mud, where softer more viscous mud would clear fine, but sticky clay like mud would just pack the gaps and stay there.  

Back in Colorado, I was able to test them in wet spring snow, frozen snow, wet rock, steep loose off trail, wet/dry slabs and rocky technical trails and traction was top notch in all of those circumstances.  Durability is proving to be very good, with really no visible wear thus far.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff: The ride is stable, predictable and protective, but not at all responsive or inspiring for pushing hard and going fast (unless it is a very technical downhill). 

 I’ll admit that at first I was somewhat unsure of the Reverence given the weight, stiff feel and uninspiring midsole, but as I broke them in and they softened up (also getting them very wet with mud and creek crossings every day), I found them to be great for negotiating the very slick and technical trails of Kauai, either mellow to moderate runs, or all day hikes.  The midsole also softened up some over time and while not a pillowy cushioned shoe, I do not find them to be harsh or abusive either and are adequate for their intended purpose.  

So what are the Reverence best for and how will I use them going forward?  Despite the weight, or perhaps in part because of it, they are very protective under foot, as well as the from the upper, being very well protected from bumps and bangs while running or hiking in the most technical terrain, talus, rough creek crossings, etc…  They have a very stable and low to the ground feeling, as well as are consistently wide underfoot throughout, offering a stable platform and a lot of surface area, with good proprioception.  Outside of Kauai, I will run the Reverence for longer, slower days on the most technical terrain where protection, security, stability and all around traction (especially if loose or muddy) are paramount.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.2/10

Ride: 8.5, Fit: 9.25, Value: 9.5, Style: 8.5, Traction: 10, Rock Protection: 9



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 

Ron Hill Freedom (RTR Review soon)

The Freedom has a similar construction with more stack height at 32/27 and 4mm instead of 7mm lugs.

Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed (RTR Review)

Quite similar in many ways with massive sticky rubber lugs and a Fell shoe look, the Mudtalon has even more pronounced 8mm lugs.  The Mudtalon is narrower and more minimal and pared down, resulting in a nearly 3 oz lower weight in my US Men’s size 10.  They are much faster and more agile than the Reverence, and superior for going uphill and for faster paces.  The upper is thinner and retains less water than the Reverence (though the Reverence does drain well too).  For faster running and shorter distances, the Mudtalon is a better pick, but for slower speeds, longer days where more protection (upper and under foot), the Reverence is a better choice.

VJ XTRM 2 (RTR Review)

The VJ is much lighter, more agile and a quicker shoe overall, with 6mm lugs and great traction, but can feel a bit thin underfoot, so it is best for shorter, faster runs, where the Reverence is best for longer days, slower paces and where you need more protection.

Saucony Peregrine (RTR Review)

Again, the Peregrine is significantly lighter, with a very well cushioned feel, a lively midsole, comfortable fit and pretty good traction.  The Peregrine has a less stable feel than the Reverence despite both having about the same stack. The Reverence is wider and has a more planted feel in technical terrain and has superior traction.

Topo MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review)

The MTN Racer 3 is lighter, is softer and has more cushioning, but a similarly stable feel.  While the MTN Racer 3 has very good traction, the Reverence is superior in that department.  The Topo is better for faster running on just about any terrain and for longer distances as it has more cushioning and a wider toe box, the Reverence is better for much more technical terrain and loose muddy conditions.

Reverence and Freedom are available at

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.

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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Jeff Valliere said...


zac said...

The closest comparison would be with a la Sportiva mutant. The wrap around upper and asymmetric lacing is clearly lifted from the mutant.

I tried the reverence on in store and thought it fit a bit long. but maybe im not use to shoes this wide in the forefoot

Jeff Valliere said...

Good catch Zac, looking back at my review from 2016, there are a lot of similarities. The Reverence has much more protection underfoot than the Mutant, plus the outsole is far superior (deeper lugs, stickier rubber and much more durable, as the Mutant tread wore down really quick).

zac said...

I really like the mutants. I have three pairs that I rotate. Love the fit and lockdown. The grip is phenomenal on the wet rocks and mud we have so much of during winter in the UK. And theres just enough cushion for ultra length runs if its a route where you need that sort of shoe.

Maybe I will have to give the ron hills a try. They didnt feel any more cushioned or protective than the mutants standing in the store. Nor did i think the lug pattern look as aggressive as the mutants. The mutants sure do wear down fast.

Jeff Valliere said...

Many of my local friends here in Boulder love the Mutants, mostly for scrambling in the Flatirons and they are runnable. I found my feet and especially metatarsals to get really tired in the Mutant because of the rocky terrain we have here and their flexibility, a pro or con depending on your use.