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Trail Runner Recommendations: generous toe box, midfoot not too narrow, preferably low drop, good cushion and grip
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Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Re: Vasque Pendulum, La Sportiva Helios & Raptor, Scarpa Spark, Altra - any others? on 04/09/2014 09:40:42 MDT Print View

Hi EJ-
You asked about sizing for the Vasque Pendulum shoe.

Normally size 13 Ds are a pretty tight fit on me, and both pairs of Pendulums are size 14, regular width. They fit fine with a pair of good old-fashioned ragg socks, and are a little roomy with anything thinner. They do stretch a little over time, I think. it works out fine for me because I usualy wear ragg socks in the mornign, and chage them out for something dry and lighter at lunchtime... so as my feet swell, more room in the shoes magically appears.

Just my 2 ยข... YMMV

Have fun!

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: More models mentioned by Zombierunner; Shoe spreadsheet Re: Trail Runner Recommendations on 04/09/2014 10:02:59 MDT Print View

I don't like big arch supports in my shoes or a big heel rise either, but I have a wide mid foot and find a lot of shoes with a big toe box taper too quickly for my foot.I thought at first the arch would bother me on the shoes I am currently wearing but they formed to my foot very quickly and I have had no issue.I have worn the Altra Superior and Intuition 1.5 and found them very slippery, but the Nike Flex Experience Run2 have not been slippery ,have a great width that does not taper as quickly as most shoes and come in 4E. They do not have a minimal rise(I don't remember what they are but not huge)and they are not designated as trail runners but I have had no issues with hiking in them, I was actually very surprised because I can't tell you the last time I owned a pair of Nikes and almost didn't try them because they were Nikes and not trail runners. They may not be what you are looking for but I thought I would throw it out there.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Trail Runner Recommendations on 04/09/2014 17:22:55 MDT Print View

"I feel most shoe manufacturers put fashion ahead of function and simply don't make the forefoot generous enough to allow for natural foot growth/swelling after hours and days of walking under loads."

Keep in mind you're shopping for trail RUNNING shoes. I prefer a less generous toe box for running, particularly on more technical terrain and steep descents. Wide toe boxes can be sloppy and imprecise feeling.

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Nike zoom wildhorse on 04/09/2014 17:39:58 MDT Print View


"Do you find the outsole protective even though it doesn't have a nylon rock plate, and how's the traction in dry and wet weather?"

I'm not sure about the conditions you may experience and they might be different from mine. Right now I primarily run and hike on forest trails. But fully planning on taking these shoes above the tree line.

Outsole is definitely more protective and stable than any minimalist shoe out there, it is thick and lined with a waffle, so far it has proven to be a good grip however i have not ran or hiked on a wet rock exclusively.

The fit may feel a slight tight at first, because the shoe feels like a sock. However, in all my shoes, I take the insole out because of high arch.

I don't like any stiff shoe materials upper, therefore Nike is ideal for me because they are so comfortable out of the box. But this may also mean the upper mesh material is more prone to tears. However, there is another layer of material just below mesh that looks strong so far.

Basically, if you want to run and hike in slippers but want grip and protection this is the closest you get to the experience:)

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Saucony Peregrine; @Chris re Altra Re: Trail Runner Recommendations on 04/09/2014 20:14:19 MDT Print View

Hi EJ,

I have a pair of Peregrines. Was really hopeful when I bought a pair. But after just wearing them to the gym, they are not up to much more than that (and that is the only place I use them except for use as a vacation shoe). The toe box is small, and the lateral support is non-existent and so you don't feel confident on anything but flat ground. I would not recommend these shoes. They are about two years old.

You should take all this with a grain of salt. I currently wear Salomon Comp XA5s. In contrast, this shoe is ever so slightly heavier (not more than a couple ounces for the pair). But they have a very nice toe box and I sized up a half size and am quite happy. Also, the torsional stability is much higher and very confidence inspiring. I also very much like the lacing on this shoe; I can get it just right. And when I really need to anchor it to my ankle (long steep downhills) I can without making it painful. I've used them in very steep stuff near home and in the Sierra's. An excellent shoe, for myself anyways. I am considering getting the XA7 because my XA5s are getting near their end. A long tough hike coming up in a couple weeks will let me know if I'll be making that purchase. Good luck on your hunt.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 04/09/2014 20:14:57 MDT.

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
more options on 04/09/2014 20:54:46 MDT Print View

I've been on a parallel search, and here are some scattered comments to add to those above.

Was excited about many of the options, but:

I found the helios, which by every other measure was about perfect, was not roomy enough in the toe box (and I don't know how anyone can say they fit true to size - size up).

The BoCo while in some sense wide up front, used stretch side panels, so it still gave me a somewhat firm fit up front from the upper (not good for my neuroma).

I've tried all the Altra trail models, and they are great in terms of drop and roomy toe box, but often have elements that just seem awkward/clunky in fit and finish to me.

In addition to Altra, one of the most promising roomy toe box low drop cushioned shoes was from Topo Athletic. I have yet to get one in my size to try, but am pretty interested.

Adrien Baker
(AdrienBaker) - F

Locale: Kern County
Re: Re: Trail Runner Recommendations: generous toe box, midfoot not too narrow, preferably low drop, good cushion and grip on 04/10/2014 11:06:23 MDT Print View


By your comments I am assuming the TrailRoc's do not have arch support? I am beginning to realize that wearing shoes without arch supports makes my feet happy. I am beginning to switch to "minimalist footwear" and was planning on trying out a pair of the Altra Lone Peaks, however it appears they have arch support so I will keep looking.

Additionally, I do not see too many people speak of Vivobarefoot. Anybody have feedback on their trail runners?


Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: Re: Trail Runner Recommendations: generous toe box, midfoot not too narrow, preferably low drop, good cushion and grip on 04/10/2014 11:25:30 MDT Print View

I've stayed out of this discussion, as the focus seemed to be far from minimalist footwear. I hike in Vivos (Breatho Trail, although now the new model is called Trail Freak). All I can say is that I love them. But you do have to adapt to minimalist shoes. Strengthen your ankles, calves, and Achilles, as well as internal foot muscles. There is lots on the web on how to do this. It will take longer than the shoe manufacturers suggest, though. But it is an investment in strength fitness that will pay off for the rest of your life.

I run in Inov-8 TrailRoc 150s. I find the Vivos more comfortable to hike in.

You can't really compare minimalist shoes to regular trail runners. Biomechanically and fitness-wise, they entail two different types of hiking almost. I'll note that the American College of Sports Medicine finally reversed itself and recognized the growing literature on footwear and has now endorsed more anatomic and minimalist shoes.$8

To be a little critical, the trail Vivos have had durability issues (I have had multiple pairs). The lugs rip off too easily (although there are so many, you can afford to loose a number of them with no real performance impact). I am not sure how well they have addressed this issue with the new Trail Freak model. There was also an issue with shoe laces (they sucked and needed substitution if you didn't want knots coming untied occasionally), which they have addressed with the Trail Freak.

But overall, I know of no other shoe I would consider wearing for 3 season hiking.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Nike Terra Kiger and Zoom Wildhorse Re: Trail Runner Recommendations on 04/10/2014 11:35:08 MDT Print View

"Michael, which Nikes do you use, and why don't you think they make great trail runners? Even though the two Nike shoes recommended by the Nike rep below don't have a rock plate, he said their outsoles were protective enough."


Sorry I forgot about this thread.

First, I don't have any experience with the Nike's you have mentioned. Second, I was responding based more on perception than my own experience with Nikes. It has seemed like I am the only one who loves to wear Nike's on the trail. I have had a couple of pairs of zoom vomeros and more recently a pair of air Pegasus shoes. Neither is a "trail" shoe. The are a bit flexible and you can stub/bang your feet a bit, but I really like them. I did climb Mt Adams last year in a pair (not running)!

I might actually check our the nikes mentioned in this thread since Nike's seem to fit my feet the best of all shoes and I'd like more of a trail runner than a plain running shoe.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Pearl Izumi N2's on 04/13/2014 16:19:41 MDT Print View

on my third pair (getting 500-ish miles/pair)- comfy, moderate drop- 4 mm, roomy toe box- this is what nixes me out of 90%+ of the shoes on the market now

pretty lightweight and the grip is very good as well

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: more options on 05/11/2014 01:11:25 MDT Print View

"In addition to Altra, one of the most promising roomy toe box low drop cushioned shoes was from Topo Athletic. I have yet to get one in my size to try, but am pretty interested."

I finally got a chance to try on a pair of Topo Athletics MT shoes and I came away extremely impressed.

They had the most comfortable uppers I've ever encountered on a pair of shoes (they are very nearly seamless, like for real though). The toe box was also very roomy and the shoes were extremely light to boot (around 9oz each).

My only hesitation is the firmness of the foam in the midsole. It is not a cushy feeling shoe, especially under the forefoot. This might be great for some and bad for others.

It has substantially more cushion than a minimalist shoe like the Merrell Trail Gloves, but a little less cushion than a "traditional" trail runner like the Brooks Cascadia 9s.

The drop is 2mm, which is nice.

I'm still not sure whether they would feel great after 20 miles of backpacking, or if the balls of my feet would want more cushion on a rocky trail. It's hard to say.

These are certainly a shoe to check out though.

Edited by dmusashe on 05/11/2014 01:13:20 MDT.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Nice looking shoe on 05/11/2014 18:03:43 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting your impressions. -I went straight to Amazon. Unfortunately, they are the same price as at the company's website. There is a two-minute review posted that may be helpful to some. For hiking, this shoe looks pretty great. It does appear to have some torsional rigidity with the V-pattern on the sides, kind of like Salomon's have. I just bought a new pair of Salomon XA Comp 7s, replacing XA Comp 5s. Haven't even unpacked them yet. But hope to use them next weekend. If I hadn't just got a smokin' deal on the 7s, I'd probably check the Topo MT shoes out.

Josh Platt
(EasternBox) - F

Locale: Southeast
NB MT10 on 04/07/2015 14:36:09 MDT Print View

I personally like the MT10's from New Balance. May want to put some superfeet insoles in if the cushion is too low for you.