In a complex, chaotic and often stressful world, the simple act of throwing on a pair of running shoes and heading into the hills offers fast and light relief from the demands of modern day life. Closing down the computer, slowing down the brain and escaping into the mountains powered only by your legs, lungs, heart and mind provides the type of basic yet enormously powerful experience that is arguably more relevant today than ever before.
If you’re one of the increasing numbers of aspiring or established mountain runners heading out into the hills and looking for a new pair of shoes to help facilitate your vertical summer kicks, then read on….
We’ve spent the past three months putting some of the best new trail running shoes for summer 2020 through their paces in the Highlands of Scotland. Heather hopping, bog trotting, long rolling terrain and steep technical mountain ridges, we’ve put a heap of quad busting kms into testing these shoes – this is what we found….
SPEC – 6mm drop. Max cushioning. Pomoca outsole. Invisible lacing. Ortholite footbed. Heel preloading tech. 2cm lugs. 300g (men’s) 270g (women’s).
An uber comfortable, max cushioned shoe, the Ultra 100 is ideal for long days in the high mountains. Dynafit’s first shoe with max cushioning, the Ultra 100 has a more precise, less sloppy feel than other similarly cushioned shoes thanks to its built up heel and relatively stiff midsole.
The most important thing to note about this shoe is that the sizing runs really, really small. Be prepared to size up big style folks! We normally wear a UK 6 but found we had to size up to a UK 7.5 to get the right fit. Volume—wise it’s a precise fitting shoe so best suited to narrow to medium sized feet.
Out on the trail, the Ultra 100 is an absolute dream. Super comfortable from the off, we were able to take these out of the box and head out for a 20km run on a scorchingly hot day in the remote Northwest Highlands with zero hot spots or blisters to show for our work! Total result.
The outsole is made from Pomoca rubber and comes with multi-directional 2cm lugs that work well in soft terrain and on stony trails. If you’re looking for mega muddy grip then you might want to opt for a more traditional fell running brand with more aggressive lugs but as a steep, technical all-rounder for long summer runs in the Alps and the UK, the Ultra 100 is a cracking choice.
Fave feature? The invisible lacing system that keeps debris out and stops your laces getting shredded by the heather!
BEST FOR – Long days on the trail where max cushioning is a must. Ideal for mega endurance events like the UTMB, South Downs Way 100 and West Highland Way.
SPEC – 7mm drop. High cushioning supplemented by EVA midsole with Infinitoo™ high energy return technology. Durable and grippy FriXion Red dual density outsole. Impact Brake System. 3 cm lugs. 300g (men’s) 250g (women’s).
Just like the Ultra 100, the Jackal is a super comfortable shoe designed for long days in the mountains and ultra-marathons. With a slightly wider toebox than the Ultra 100, its ideal for long hot days in the hills when you need a little extra room at the front to accommodate swelling feet.
When it comes to fit, we’d recommend sizing up to get the right Jackal for you. Our normal shoe size is a UK 6 and whilst our 6.5 test pair are great for the majority of runs around the 25km mark, we would definitely consider going up another half size if we were planning on anything over 50-100km, particularly in the heat.
If you’re looking to position the Jackal within La Sportiva’s technical trail running fleet, we’d describe it as a light yet protective ultra running shoe that fits neatly between the slightly heavier and more rigid ultra-focused Akasha and the Kaptiva – a lighter, rapid shoe for medium distances.
Another super comfortable shoe out of the box, the Jackal feels agile and responsive out on the trail whilst still providing all the protection and stability you need. The springy yet secure underfoot ride is all down to some super innovative system called Infinitoo Technology that uses front insert for extra cushioning and a rear insert to increase stability.
Traction comes easily in all but the muddiest of terrain thanks to the 3mm lugs and if you do end up with your foot in a bog, we can confirm they dry out super quick so won’t slow you down!
BEST FOR – Ultra distances and long mountain runs where you need a light, responsive yet stable shoe with a little more room at the front.
SALOMON SENSE RIDE 3
SPEC – 8mm drop. Max cushioning. Contagrip MA outsole. Profeel Film chassis. Optivibe midsole. Molded Ortholite insole. Internal Sensifit technology. Quicklace system. 280g (men’s) 235g (women’s).
The lightest shoe in our line up with the biggest drop, the Sense Ride 3 is a super cushioned, mega versatile shoe designed to adventure on a variety of trails.
More at home in light rolling terrain than the other long distance specialists in our review, the Sense Ride 3’s are ideal for newbie trail runners looking for a cushioned shoe to support them on their journey from roadie to mountain goat. Their versatile nature also makes them a brilliant option for established trail runners looking for a more comfy, cushioned shoe for less intense, short-to-medium distance days.
Fit-wise, the Sense Ride 3’s sit in the middle of the spectrum so they should work well for the majority of foot shapes. They should fit true to normal shoe size but do be prepared to go up half a size. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the toe box feels a little roomier in this latest version compared to previous Sense Rides so don’t just assume you’re going to be the same size this time round. As always, make sure you try before you buy!
On the trail, the Sense Ride 3’s feel light, compliant and comfortable. For a super cushioned shoe you do get a lot of feedback from the trail which we appreciate but this is a personal choice and could become their undoing on longer outings. Not the most rugged of shoes, the lugs do offer decent grip on dry rocks and roots but their limit will quickly be reached on boggy moors and muddy fields.
Keep ‘em on the trail where they belong and you’ll have no complaints.
BEST FOR – Light trails and recovery runs – a great every day trail running shoe for newbies and experienced off road runners alike.
WHICH SHOES ARE YOU ENJOYING RUNNING IN THIS SUMMER?
LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW….