Saturday, January 4, 2014

Top 5 Trail Running Shoes of 2013

As I did last year, I'd like to present my top picks for Trail Running Shoes of 2013.  I had a fairly typical mileage year and ended up getting in 3000 miles.  Before I reveal my top 5, here is a list of all the shoes, to the best of my memory, I ran in this year.

Altra Lone Peak
Altra Lone Peak 1.5
Altra Torin
Brooks Pure Grit 2
Hoka Bondi B2
Hoka Bondi B Speed
Hoka Rapa Nui
La Sportiva Helio
Merrell All Out Rush
Merrell All Out Fuse
Merrell Bare Access II
Merrell Ascend Glove
Montrail Fluid Flex
New Balance MT1010
New Balance MT1010v2
New Balance MT110
New Balance MT110 Winter
Newton Boco AT
Nike Terra Kiger
Patagonia EverLong
Patagonia Evermore
Salomon SLab Sense
Skechers Go Bionic
Skechers Go Bionic Trail Prototype
Skechers Go Run Ride
Skechers Go Ultra Prototype
Skechers Go Ultra
Skechers Go Run 2

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try quite a few new shoes this year! The top five represent the ones that I liked the best.   My list is based on nothing other than personal preference and is completely biased towards what I liked running in.  Since I really don't have a clear favorite, this list is in alphabetical order, not in order of my preference.  Here we go!

Altra Lone Peak 1.5 (175 miles)
Altra called this version a minor update from the original.  I found the subtle changes to be a huge improvement.  An excellent fit, wide toe box, great traction and rock protection make this shoe my pick when going to the mountains or doing tough terrain.  You can read my Review HERE on Runblogger.

La Sportiva Helio (235 miles)
This was my first pair of La Sportivas.  I found them to drain well, have excellent traction and provide adequate protection from the elements.  You can read my review HERE on Runblogger.

Nike Terra Kiger (238 miles)
My first pair of minimal shoes was the Nike Free.  I loved the way the upper felt like part of my foot and I ran a ton of miles in them.  I always wished that there was a trail version.  It took Nike a long time to deliver just that, but it was worth the wait.  This shoe is one of my all time favorites and it is good for a very wide range of terrains.  I would even consider running a road race in them because they ride so smoothly on pavement.  The shoe drains well, is super flexible, has decent traction and a perfect level of cushioning.  And from what I've been reading you can pick them up super cheap now!  I went up 1/2 size for a perfect fit.  I never did get around to reviewing them, as I was to busy enjoying them. 

Pearl Izumi EM N1 Trail (237 miles)
My first pair of Pearl Izumi's, and after seeing Timothy Oleson kill it at Western States twice I was really looking forward to trying them.  They didn't disappoint.  I found them to be another shoe that was good in many different environments.  They have a light, fast and smooth feel.  You can read my review HERE on Runblogger.

Skechers Go Ultra (148 miles)
After working with Skechers describing what would be my dream Ultra Marathon shoe, they came up with the Go Ultra.  It satisfies almost all my requests and is an incredible first effort.  Think of a Nike Free/Hoka mashup and you'll get an idea what they are all about.  And at only $80 they are one of the best trail running bargains in the market.  Read my full review HERE on Runblogger.

There are two shoes that I also need to mention.  Since this is a list of my 5 favorite trail shoes, the Altra Torin doesn't qualify.  But....I used that shoe more than any other shoe this year, putting 809 miles on two pairs.  I used it for the majority of the Vermont 100, which I set a PR.  It has a perfect fit, perfect level of cushioning and is the shoe that I grab when I am going to be running any length of time on hard surfaces.  You can read my review HERE on Runblogger. 

The other is the Hoka Rapa Nui.  I received them 8 days ago and have used them for almost every run since.  I have been looking forward to trying them since I saw Karl Meltzer using them a year ago.  I will be doing a full review soon (I already have 50 miles on them) but I can't imagine them not being included in next years top 5.  I really like them!

So, what were your favorite trail shoes of this past year?   How about the shoe that you are looking forward to the most for 2014? Leave a comment and let me know! 

My Top 5 Trail Shoes for 2013


Dave Burns said...

I just received my Altra Torin the other day put them on and they seem very stiff. Do they break in after some runs?

Nathan Sanel said...

They are a little bit stiff when you first try them, but I find that for running they don't feel that way. And they do get a bit more flexible as you put the miles on them.

Mike said...

I've only run in the Altra Lone Peak 1.5 's and Merrell Mix Master 2's this past year as far as trail shoes go. I REALLY like the Lone Peak 1.5's. I've read durability issues with the so hopefully they'll hold up for me because I love the Fit and feel out on the trail.

Looking to try the Hoka Rapa Nui 2's as well.

Mike said...

Should have asked before.. If I'm an 11.5 in the Altra Lone Peak 1.5's, what size you think she the Hoka Rapa Nui 2's?

Nathan Sanel said...

Mike, I wear the same size in both.

Chris Ⓥ said...

Have you had any rolling problems in the Skechers Ultra shoe on technical trails? I twisted my ankle (very minor) 3 times on one 10-mile trail run. I think they are too high (and not super wide like Hokas). I do like them on tamer trails.

Mike said...

Thanks :)

Nathan Sanel said...

Chris, I have not had any ankle rolling problems in the Skechers. They don't feel really high to me, certainly not like the Hokas.

Andy said...

I love my Lone Peak 1.5s and found that they broke in nicely over the course of a few runs. I have not had the same luck with my Torrins and it seems like the combination of slightly less forefoot volume and stiffer materials/overlays does not work for me. I would love to try the new Pearl Izumis as the road EN1 has the one of the most comfortable uppers in which I have run.

ORRunner said...

How is the toebox width on the Nike Terra Kiger's? Nikes always seem to run narrow.

Nathan Sanel said...

The toe box is nice and wide, not narrow at all. I wore them yesterday and actually thought, these have a very comfy toe box!

Anonymous said...

Hows the toe box in the new Hokas compared to the Altras? I've always found the Stinson Evos a big tight in the toe area.

Nathan Sanel said...

The toe box on the Rapa Nui is considerably narrower than on any Altra. That being said, it is a more roomy toebox than on the Stinson Evo. They look very similar, but putting both on side by side reveals a much better (for my shaped foot anyway) toe box. I wore the Stinson Evo's for the VT100 in 2012 and got some blisters. I won't know for sure until I do a (very) long run in the Rapa Nuis, but I don't think I'll have the same problem. I like them so much I just bought a pair of the Rapa Nui Tarmac's.

T. Buckner said...

I can't seem to get away from my Cascadias, even though they are not minimalist. I have transitioned in all my road shoes to a minimalist shoe with cushioning, but trails I still love the Cascadias, and they don't affect my form.

Put about 300 miles in the Grit as well, but just not enough cushion for me.

Looking forward to? Actually looking forward to trying some of those trail shoes on your list!! Thanks for the great reviews.

Anonymous said...

I've recently received a pair of Go Run Ultras, and I really like them. Even though they are well cushioned, they are still light and flexible. Looking forward to a longer run in them.

Anonymous said...

Are there any trail shoes you would recommend for 5ks?

Nathan Sanel said...

That really depends on the terrain. But in general, anything that is light and fast. My personal choice for a trail 5k would be the New Balance MT110.

Mike said...

What kind of miles can I expect to get out if the Hoka Rapa Nui, in number ? 500?

Nathan Sanel said...

Hi Mike,
I have 70 miles on them so far and they only show a small amount of wear on the heel lugs. I usually get at least 500 miles out of a pair of Hokas. I see no reason why these wouldn't last at least that long.

George Heywood said...

Great reviews. Thinking of picking one of these up. Was looking for some of the best shoes i could get

Mike said...

Nate, do you use the sockliner in the Go Run Ultras? My first 2 runs in them I didn't. Today I did, but I greatly prefer the feel without the socklkiners. The only thing is that without the sockliners I feel creases in the shoe. Can anybody recommend a very thin zero drop insole to slide in there?

Nathan Sanel said...

Mike, I have run with the stock liner and also with a flat one from another pair of shoes. I normally don't like anything with a higher drop than 4-5mm but I like the feel of the shoe with the stock liner because it doesn't slip. I was planning on reducing the heel thickness of the stock liner with a belt sander. But, almost all my miles in them have been with the stock liner. Hope that helps.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the awesome information about the Top 5 Trail Running shoes.You really did a great job by posting it.Thanks