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The Trail Runner Thread
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Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
The Trail Runner Thread on 03/25/2011 19:10:52 MDT Print View

I’ve scoured the BPL forums for information on Trail Runners. I thought I’d find allot of information here, but did not find what I was looking for. I'll be using these for walking only; I'm not a runner. Here’s what I’d like to know:

1. Your favorite shoe and what you like/dislike about it?
2. What sock do you wear with it? Wool, synthetic, light- or medium-weight?
3. Low sock or one a bit higher to stick out the top of a short gaiter?
4. Did you go to a shoe fitter?
5. Do you use an insole or have a custom insole like a Shoe Dog?

Background: I went to Road Runner today. Got the Shoe Dog fitting and found I need Stability shoes. I then tried on two different shoes: Brooks Cascadia and ASICS GEL-Trail Sensor 4. The Cascadia was OK, but didn’t fit me very well, whereas the Trail Sensor 4 fit really nicely and also had a deeper heel cup. I definitely liked them the best. The Trail Sensor 4 fit very nice with the custom shoe dogs insert ($70! - ouch) but I did not fit them with the stock inserts.

I’d really like to know what sock you are pairing with your shoes and why. I will use trail runners for day hiking and backpacking with a trail weight of around 20-30 lbs. I’m really looking forward to ditching the boots. But I need your help to make the best choice. Thanks.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 03/26/2011 18:07:35 MDT.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
Just say no... to motion control! on 03/25/2011 20:01:36 MDT Print View

(beware: rant) It's what I did for both road and trail running after years of being told I needed motion control and routinely having injuries, etc. I've since dropped to pretty minimal shoes and have been much happier, although it did take a while for my body to adjust. Ran my first marathon in racing flats and ran my first (and only so far) ultra trail run in x-talon's.Maybe motion control will work well for you. On trails I am believer in having a flexible, close to the ground foot for less change of ankle roll, better trail feel, and more precise landing and pushoff. (end: rant)

Sorry, had to get that out, feel free to ignore it. Here's what I use:

1.Your favorite shoe and what you like/dislike about it?
Inov-8 x-talon 212’s. Pretty minimal, lightweight, super flexible, fairly low heal to toe drop (6mm), decent trail feel. They have crazy effective traction in just about everything I’ve thrown at them. On my 5th pair now and each has held up well. I am beginning to think about stocking up in case they drop this model.

Just tried NB MT101’s, a bit stiff in the midsole in comparison to the 212’s. Sold them due to this and due to the heel to toe drop, which was greater than I expected (10mm). Using those funds to try the inov-8 x-talon 195’s. Same sole as the 212’s, but even less cushion and a 3mm H2T drop.

2. What sock do you wear with it? Wool, synthetic, light- or medium-weight?

I have some drymax trail lite’s (1/4 crew & mini-crew), but usually wear icebreaker run lite’s (micro & mini’s). I use micro cut when not concerned about grit, rock, etc. and I prefer them.

3. Low sock or one a bit higher to stick out the top of a short gaiter? Use 1/4 crew with gaiters.

4. Did you go to a shoe fitter? I have in the past, don't follow recommendation though.

5. Do you use an insole or have a custom insole like a Shoe Dog? No, generally use the stock insoles, but sometimes run without insoles on smooth hardpack.

Edited by roguenode on 03/25/2011 20:04:34 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/25/2011 20:09:33 MDT Print View

1. Favorite shoes - are a very personal thing. What works for one person may be terrible for another.
That said, even "my favorite shoe" is a moving target. This is due to two things mostly. The evolution of my concept of a favorite shoe and what it should do for me. The evolution of the shoe industry itself in its never ending quest for our money.
Current favorite shoe : Salomon XT Wings S-Lab 3 (the lightweight racing version of the Salomon Wings.
I also own "and use" Brooks Cascadia 6,Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel, Salomon XA Comp 4, Vasque Transistor. Each has its pros and cons.
I also own but no longer use at least 8 other models.
This is what I mean by evolution of concept ...
What we think a shoe should do changes. Its a process of self discovery.
I find that I'm slowly moving to a lighter weight, more flexible and more responsive shoe.

2. Socks - this is the easiest. I only wear Injinji coolmax(synthetic) minicrew toe socks.
they come in wool which is more durable, but not in the minicrew length I prefer.

3. Gators - if I ever wear a gator, its the ultralight Dirty Girl gator. I keep the same socks mentioned above and pull the gator over the sock.

4. No Shoe Fitter. fit is an evolutionary concept based on our minds connection to our body. No shoe fitter can get inside our head. They only spout the standard line.

5. I do not use special insoles. if a shoe requires a special insole its the wrong shoe for you.

Edited by asandh on 03/25/2011 20:14:07 MDT.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/25/2011 20:17:02 MDT Print View


Thanks for ALL your comments. Just what I'm looking for. I would like to try some Inov8 shoes, but couldn't find any dealers that are reasonably close. The X212s look great. I'm just wondering if they are a bit to minimal for me? As with the MT 101s too. I need a good rock plate cause my feet can't take the rocks, and there are allot of them on many of the trails I hike.

Can you tell me if you like wool or synthetic better? Also, I'm used to wearing medium wool hiking socks. Should I use less or go with a medium weight low hiker?

Thanks for the help.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
OK on 03/25/2011 20:25:47 MDT Print View

Art, thanks. I was refering to the Dirty Girls. I may go that way. Not sure.

Thanks for the other comments as well. I will look at the socks you mentioned. I've liked wool in the past. Just wondering if people who wear trail runners use wool or synthetic? Do I need as heavy of a sock for trail runners as I'm used to using with l/w boots? I use medium-weight wool socks in boots.

Finally, I really yearn to go as light as possible. But I'm just not sure if my 47-year old body will like that. Mostly I'm looking for a good rock plate and good traction with some support. And I don't know how I'll do without the ankle support (of a boot). Seems most people say that trail runners provide plenty of support. I guess we'll find out.

edited for clarity

Edited by WarrenGreer on 03/25/2011 20:32:48 MDT.

Ryan Zahynacz
(creep) - F
go minimalist on 03/25/2011 20:45:25 MDT Print View

I second the minimalist approach. If you have something in mind that you want to do right away and it is a significant distance then you are probably best just finding a simple (no motion control etc.) light, flat bottomed shoe. The cheaper the better.

If you have some time and flexibility then just go to Walmart and buy some "water shoes". Wear them for all runs but make sure you start very slow and short. Build up for a number of months (10% rule). Your age is no issue, your feet and legs will easily adapt, just give them time. Your body will thank you long term.

It may seem that a flimsy rubber sole would not work well on rock or scree, but I assure you it does. You can actulally run in barefeet across all that if you really want to put some effort into it. But water shoes are a simple, cheap fall back that will provode all the necessary protection you seek. For reference I run most races in barefeet, and ultras in water shoes (I like the "aqua sock" variety from Canadian Tire).

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
FWIW on 03/25/2011 20:54:01 MDT Print View

Hi Warren,
I like Bridgedale Ventums for socks (may be discontinued--not sure--my local store still has them). Also like Darn Tough.

I'm a pretty recent convert to trail runners. Had two pairs of Keen Ridgelines after I switched from boots. Liked them a lot, but the soles wore quick. Loved the wide toes box. Light-ish at 26 oz/pair. Unfortunately, Keen discontinued them.

Just got a pair of Inov8 295s from Zappos (no local dealer near me either). Had to order 2 pairs and return one to get the right size, but they feel great, and Zappos has free shipping both ways. 21.5 oz/pair in size 10. A little narrower than the Keens. Not much cushion. Haven't hiked in them yet--just one day walking around town, but I think I'm going to be really happy with them.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
wool socks on 03/25/2011 21:11:06 MDT Print View

I prefer lightweight wool socks, but do mid-weight in the winter for added warmth. They are much more comfy to me when wet and I run where there are a good amount of stream crossings. I also don't get hotspot or blisters with them.

The advice on shoes being very personal is spot on. I usually get inov-8's from running warehouse as they allow you to try them on and send back for free if you don't like them. You can't, however, try them on road or trail and then send back. As for the x-talon's they run quite narrow, like many inov-8 models. I switched to minimal road shoes first and started running trails in them. The transition was relatively easy, some soreness in my feet and achilles. Nothing notable and only for the first month at most as I transitioned. I believe part of the key to this was that I was already a mid to forefoot striker. I have yet to see a minimal shoe that works for heel strikers. (edit: when running, no problem heel striking when walking in them.)

I have not needed a rock plate or ankle support. I do just about all of my hiking in the same setup, including peak bagging 14'ers where there's been plenty of skree. I've found my ankles and foot muscles have gained strength and stability as I worked up to doing my full mileage in minimal shoes.

Regardless of what you go with now, I'd say listen to your body and keep an open mind regarding the potential of change.

Edited by roguenode on 03/25/2011 21:13:11 MDT.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/26/2011 06:54:26 MDT Print View

Good topic!

1. Your favorite shoe and what you like/dislike about it? Been using the Saucony Peregrine for the last few months with sucess. It is minimalism with cushion. It feels like a 3 arrow Inov8 but has a better fit and feel. Also love the 4 mm forefoot to heel drop.
2. What sock do you wear with it? Wool, synthetic, light- or medium-weight? I have used Darn Tough wool socks for years but lately have been experimenting with Injinji. Still not sold on them yet.
3. Low sock or one a bit higher to stick out the top of a short gaiter? Short sock with simblissity gaiters
4. Did you go to a shoe fitter? Bought them at
5. Do you use an insole or have a custom insole like a Shoe Dog? Never, they hurt my knees

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Trail Runner Thread on 03/26/2011 07:52:55 MDT Print View

1. Montrail Rogue Racer, 16 oz (pair) / 25mm - 15mm stack.
2. Defeet sock.
3. 5" cuff, mid.
5. Stock liner.

Edited by thomdarrah on 03/26/2011 08:07:00 MDT.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
running warehouse on 03/26/2011 07:58:32 MDT Print View

Looks like a few people here use running warehouse. Fyi, you can click on "Team Discounts" at top of main page and enter cp20 for 15% off any order.

(edit: that code no longer works. However, CP15 does work for 15% off and runcolod works for 10% off.)

Edited by roguenode on 03/26/2011 08:17:10 MDT.

Clinton Morse
(cmorse) - F

Locale: New England, USA
The Trail Runner Thread on 03/26/2011 11:21:18 MDT Print View

I currently favor the Inov-8 Roclite 285 - same 2 arrow design as the X-talon 212 (6mm drop), but a bit more protection underfoot and a better rand in front (I tend to kick a lot of rock when running), still a pretty light shoe. Same great outsole as the 212.

I pretty much just use Thorlo Trail Running mini-crew socks except in winter.

Since I know by now what shoe/size I need, I order my Inov-8's directly from one of the guys on Team Inov-8 who has them drop shipped from the warehouse to me.

I've tried various insoles in the past (other shoe brands, not in Inov-8's), but have always gone back to relatively low to the ground shoe which is more stable on uneven terrain and just more comfortable overall..

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/26/2011 15:38:38 MDT Print View

The short answer is that you have to figure out what works best for yourself. If you look at elite professional runners training footwear is all over the place; and their goal in running may be different than most of us.

But if you look at an elite 10K or marathoner, they put in a lot of miles each week... often up to 150 mpw. Most competitive runners I know do train a lot on trails, but usually not in trail runners. They may use different shoes based on the training goal of a particular workout. Ryan Hall often runs in shoes at the 12 oz range and races in shoes 1/2 that weight, and most Hall watchers comment that he trains in a myriad of shoes. Some runners train in minimalist shoes.

Socks. Again individual. Some go without, some use simple liners, others use thicker. And many use cotton most of the year. The important thing is to prevent blisters and other friction related injuries. When we hike, we live in our shoes and socks all day. When we run, we usually are only out for a limited period of time.

Professional fitting: Be careful here, because the fitter is going to suggest shoes based on his/her theory on how shoe fit integrates into the training regimen. Some fitters believe that the shoe must compensate for foot strike, others feel compensation contributes to injuries by forcing an unnatural strike. One good think I have noticed in almost all fitters is that they put people in shoes that are larger than what the individual has been using in the past.

When I run, I often just grab the shoes closest at hand. Might be a Brooks training shoe or a trail runner. Really does matter that much to me, as long as they are properly fitted and they provide the proper traction on the surface I am running on.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Thanks all on 03/26/2011 18:37:36 MDT Print View

Ryan, that sounds a bit minimal for me, especially at this point in my journey. But I will keep in mind your comments as I get further into this new footwear thing.

David, thanks for the tip on Zappos. I didn't know that there were shoe sellers would provide shipping both ways (runningwarehouse too). That's cool. -And another vote for Darn Tough.

Chris, thanks for the clarification and expounding on your preferences and the discounts at runningwarehouse.

Jonathan, yet another vote for Darn Tough. I too have tried Injinji, only in the store. Didn't like them. They felt too tight around my digits. -Seems no one has gone to a shoe fitter and inserts hurt your knees. Glad to hear your experience. It is helpful. I have Super Green feet. Been on only one hike with them but many times on my walks in the neighborhood. Not sold on them either.

Thom, very concise. Like it! I have looked at the Montrail RR. I sure like the weight. Maybe they are enough for me. Gonna go look again tomorrow.

Clinton, your comments are very helpful. Especially about how you "have always gone back to (a) relatively low to the ground shoe which is more stable on uneven terrain and just more comfortable overall." I'm taking that into consideration too.

Nick, thanks for the expanded view of this type of shoe. I know little and now I know a bit more.

All, thanks allot. I'm taking it all in and am heading out to do some more trying on shoes tomorrow. I realize I may not make the absolute best choice the first time around, but I think I'll be allot closer with all of your help. It is much appreciated.

Let the conversation continue.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/26/2011 18:42:35 MDT Print View

Jonathan prefers the Saucony Peregrine
Thom prefers the Montrail Rogue Racer

Rogue Racer has only been on the market a month.
and I think this is also true of the Peregrine.

How many miles do you guys actually have on these shoes.
anything less than 300 doesn't count as a full fledged recommendation.

I only say this because I have been looking seriously at these models myself.
Leaning toward trying the Rogue Racer at this point.

If you actually have miles on these shoes I would appreciate your review.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
I thought... on 03/27/2011 19:06:37 MDT Print View

That this thread would go at least two pages. There's not much info out there regarding Trail Runners as used by walkers. I hope that more of you will come on and share your thoughts and experiences. Maybe even make this the definitive thread on Trail Runners.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: The Trail Runner Thread on 03/27/2011 19:22:00 MDT Print View

1. Your favorite shoe and what you like/dislike about it? (Favorite shoes may come and go so some will answer with current shoe)
My current shoe is the Saucony Excursion TR5 (after hearing about them from Dondo). I like that it is lightweight (11.4 oz/shoe, size 10.5) and has alot of cushion, maybe too much. My dislike is that it causes a small linear blister on the bottom of my heel if not pre-taped.

2. What sock do you wear with it? Wool, synthetic, light- or medium-weight?
Working on that one to attempt to stop the friction. I have only used the shoe on two trips, both in the Chihuahaun desert, and they survived that abuse.

3. Low sock or one a bit higher to stick out the top of a short gaiter?
Always low sock. Currently do not wear gaiters.

4. Did you go to a shoe fitter?

5. Do you use an insole or have a custom insole like a Shoe Dog?

Edited by jshann on 03/27/2011 19:23:14 MDT.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: I thought... on 03/27/2011 19:25:53 MDT Print View

My last two pairs were Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX and I liked them a lot. However I tested a new pair of Pearl Izumi this weekend and they were great. I think they will become my new backpacking shoe:

- Pearl Izumi Snycro Fuel XC
- Defeet wool Trail 19. I use Defeet for running and hiking. Outstanding
- fit just over the ankle
- bought online (road runner)
- don't use an insole. thinking about trying one, but really haven't had a need

Shoes are different for everyone. What works for one will not for another. Good luck.


Larry M
(Maethros) - MLife

Locale: Mid South
Trail Runners on 03/27/2011 20:00:54 MDT Print View

1. Your favorite shoe and what you like/dislike about it?
Current favorite is New Balance 573. Not too stiff, has good heel cushion for the many downhills we have here.

2. What sock do you wear with it? Wool, synthetic, light- or medium-weight?
Smartwool PhD Mini Crew Light Hikers. I also have some Injini toe socks when I'm in the mood.

3. Low sock or one a bit higher to stick out the top of a short gaiter?
Low, to fit under my Integral Designs eVent gaiters.

4. Did you go to a shoe fitter?
Nope, we're lucky to find a shoe store here in Arkansas.

5. Do you use an insole or have a custom insole like a Shoe Dog?
Nope, I'm a stock shoe kinda guy.

Edited by Maethros on 03/27/2011 20:02:46 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Trail Runners on 03/27/2011 20:44:15 MDT Print View

Well for hiking, I keep going back to Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra. They just fit me perfect and last. I have 3 pair. One for when they quite making them, and one a size larger for winter hiking.

I usually wear a Wright Sock or a thinner Smartwool. Those are what I have the most of, as I just put them on my Christmas list each year. But just about any sock works for me. In really hot weather I like a short sock, the ones that do not stick out of the shoe. Gaiters... sometimes Dirty Girl Gaiters, but usually none.

For winter I went up one size on my Salomon. I am pretty set on this set up for socks in winter, after a lot experimenting this year:
- Silk Liner
- Rocky Goretex Sock
- Thicker Smartwool Sock
- OR Verglas Gaiters

Fitter - No. I know how they fit better than they do, since I have them on my feet.

Inserts/insoles - none. This winter I tried a pair of Thinsulate inserts for warmth. I guess they might help. On my last trip I used one Thinsulate and one stock one. Couldn't tell the difference, and I was on snow and in sub-freezing weather the whole time. Guess I might have wasted $30.

Sometimes I think we make shoes more of a shopping decision than we need to. I have tried many pairs over the past couple of years, trying to find the weight Nirvana. But I keep going back to the Salomons. When I see a big sale, I am going to buy a 1/2 dozen :)