The ACTIVE Spring 2019 Running Shoe Guide

Trail

Going off road? These trail shoes will get you from A to B and back again.

running shoe

Nike Wildhorse 5

A perfect fast hiker or beginner trail runner, the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse brought our tester back in time with a nostalgic waffle pattern lug system that he knows and loves. While the tongue isn’t ideal for running on trails where lots of debris is around, the shoe offers a noticeably stable foot bed and just the right amount of mid-sole stiffness to get out and do some trail grinding whether you are a beginner trail runner or a sport hiker.

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral/Stabilizing
Price: $110
Weight: 10.6 oz. (men)
Drop: 8 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Merrell MTL Cirrus

The Merrell MTL Cirrus is fantastic for off road running, especially through uneven, soft surfaces thanks to the deeper ridges on the bottom of the shoes that provided stability and an even distribution of weight. Our tester found the hard soles to be great for running on rocks and sharper surfaces as well. The material is very breathable and our tester had no worry with them getting wet running on the beach due to how quickly they dry.

"I love the bright color for safety! They reflect off head lights, and made me feel safe on the roads—and off."

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $160
Weight: 11 oz. (men); 8 oz. (women)
Drop: 5 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

361 Yushan

Every time our testers take a new pair of 361s for a spin, they’re increasingly impressed with the design, fit and ride. Each iteration gets better and better. For one tester, this was her first venture into 361’s trail line. Her conclusion: The Yushan has a shot at pulling its weight in the market.

These shoes are comfortable right out of the box. The toe box is the perfect size and provides both balance and agility. The upper is secure and unobtrusive. And the cut of the heel shape allows you to maneuver your feet easily. These shoes are strong, and—better yet—make you feel strong too.

“Putting on these shoes feels like ‘go time’ to just hit any trail regardless of technicalities.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $130
Weight: 12.3 oz. (men); 10 oz. (women)
Drop: 8 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Merrell Trail Glove 5

With very little cushioning, you get the full trail experience in these shoes. From scrambling up climbs to traversing down hills, the perfectly aggressive Vibram sole and integrated strike plate give the balance expected from a brand like Merrell. Trail Glove really comes to life on terrain where you need fast, agile feet and the ability to "feel" the trail. The minimalist design helps foot placement and keeps you engaged with the trail.

However, our tester noted that you may want to go down a size and pay extra attention to the arch length and heel box when selecting your size. Getting it wrong here may leave added room for trail debris to get in and wreak havoc during your run.

“The Trail Glove 5 is a minimalist trail runner’s dream.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $100
Weight: 7 oz. (men); 6 oz. (women)
Drop: 0 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5

Nike has really stepped up its game when it comes to trail running, and it shows with the Terra Kiger 5. The improved features over past iterations include a woven knit upper that helped reduce the overall weight, a React midsole with a front segmented rock plate, and a more aggressively lugged sole to help with dry traction, as well as stickier material to help facilitate wet and slippery traction as well. But our testers’ favorite feature is the sleek, aerodynamic design that implements the features and look of many of Nike’s latest road shoes.

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral/Stabilizing
Price: $130
Weight: 9.75 oz. (men)
Drop: 4 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 5

The stability, durability and cushion were perfect for the uncertainty of what the trails had in store for our tester. HOKA continues to blow our testers out of the water with their shoes. The wider toe box allows toes to wiggle around and have enough space to grip and move with the variations on the trail. Overall, the Challenger ATR 5s are low impact, great for long runs and very breathable, making them the perfect option to be your next pair of go-to trail runners.

“These, quite frankly, changed my life! If I could only buy one brand of running shoe, I would go with HOKA every time.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $130
Weight: 9.4 oz. (men); 7.7 oz. (women)
Drop: 5 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Brooks Caldera 3

Straight out of the box, the amount of cushion the Caldera 3 provides is immediately noticeable. And once taking them to the trails, runners and hikers alike won’t be disappointed, no matter the terrain they might be taking on. Even bigger roots and sticks went unnoticed to our tester. Plus, she noted that the ventilation in these shoes is fantastic, so much so that even after walking through puddles or streams, she noticed they dried faster thanks to the new "Ariaprene mesh upper" technology.

Overall, the Caldera 3 is a nice upgrade for a popular trail running option. The shoe includes trail-friendly features like the plush BioMoGo DNA midsole, as well as a stiff construction to protect the runner from the hazards and demands of running off road. Another tester especially liked the wide toe box, but he did note that he wished the TrailTack rubber was a little grippier in wet conditions and had a slightly more aggressive tread. The integrated gaiter tab on the heel and lace garage on the tongue were nice, trail-friendly features that stood out as well.

“This shoe is worth the investment and quickly became a favorite in my rotation.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $140
Weight: 9.3 oz. (men); 8.5 oz. (women)
Drop: 4 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Altra Timp 1.5

Your most comfortable trail run to date is packaged inside of the Altra Timp 1.5. Similar in the feel and performance of its popular road-running friend the Torin, Altra runners and fans of a low-to-zero drop will enjoy every plush step that this edition of the Timp offers. From the asymmetrical laces to the forgiving and compliant soles, this shoe spares no amount of luxury for those willing to trade in a quicker, yet stiffer, turnover for overall comfort mile after mile. Though steep descents and jagged trails may present a challenge for this flexible shoe, runners and hikers of all distances will enjoy the supple cushioning and allowance of natural movement this shoe awards on moderate terrain and topography.

One tester loved the stability and traction the Timp 1.5 provided on the snow-covered trails of her Minnesota town. The fit is true to size, perhaps with a tad more width than other models. Severe over-pronators will want to use an orthotic, but mild pronators and neutral runners should be happy with the support right out of the box. The shoes are moderately rigid but still responsive enough for long races over rough terrain.

“If you only own one pair of trail runners, the Altra Timp 1.5 is a great choice.”

Nuts & Bolts

Stability
Price: $130
Weight: 10.5 oz. (men); 8.7 oz. (women)
Drop: 0 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Merrell Antora

Designed specifically for women, the Merrell Antora is a protective trail runner made with the latest technology from Q FOAM and Vibram. It features a GORE-TEX waterproof membrane, ensuring your feet stay dry even on the messiest runs. Plus, even when your feet sweat, the M Select FRESH antimicrobial agents in the shoe help reduce odor to keep you smelling fresh mile after mile. While our tester noted that they do take a bit to fully break in, once done so, they really open up and gain flexibility. Plus, they don’t feel large or bulky despite not giving off the appearance of a minimalist shoe.

“The Antora is a supportive trail shoe with good grip, roomy toe and longevity—just for women!”

Nuts & Bolts

Stability
Price: $140
Weight: 9 oz. (women)
Drop: 8 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Altra Superior 4

Altra fans will be delighted to take any run off the beaten path in the new Superior 4. This light-weight shoe provides a perfectly snug feel throughout the heel and midfoot while still living up to their "embrace the space" motto in the toe box. Those who may need to run through the concrete jungle to get to their favorite trail will notice how well the shoe glides over pavement before seamlessly transitioning off road.

One tester appreciated that she could still feel the ground underneath her without compromising her speed and agility, thanks to the reactive outsole and midsole. This shoe's sole seems to grip the ground underneath it, making loose trail no worry at all.

Another tester found that it does give up a little bit of protection from sharp rocks and roots. But that’s exactly why it comes with removable StoneGuard inserts, which she found to be incredibly useful. The cushioning is light to moderate and the arch support is fairly non-existent, so runners looking for more of either should wear with insoles or orthotics. The Foot-Shaped toe box allows your toes to retain their natural spread, making for a comfortable fit right out of the box. The shoe tends to run on the small side though, so consider ordering a half size up.

“No terrain is too little or too much for this shoe!

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $110
Weight: 7.9 oz. (men); 6.6 oz. (women)
Drop: 0 mm

Buy Now


running shoe

Merrell Nova

The Merrell Novas will have you feeling great on the trails after a short break-in period of approximately five miles. Once broken in, the Nova's performed great—from the trails to warm-up runs on the road to strength training in the weight room. Our tester was surprised at how well the exterior held up aesthetically. Cruising thru the trails at 230 pounds, he noted the cushion was perfect and the Vibram sole held up to the terrain.

“These will be my go-tos for any trail activity.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $110
Weight: 11 oz. (men)
Drop: 8 mm

Buy Now

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Signs It’s Time to Ditch Your Running Shoes

PREV
  • 3
  • of
  • 3

Discuss This Article