The fact this trail shoes test has left us fitter than we’ve ever been in late November (just in time for a barren tri calendar!) is testament to the enjoyment and fitness gains that come from trail running. All of the shoes here had elements that we’d recommend, but with major differences in their intended use.
The Salomon is just too niche for all-round consideration, and we’ll only be using them if a snowy season arrives. The ultra-targeting Scotts share some of the Salomon’s firmness and lack of versatility, while the Asics and Saucony were two major-brand disappointments and were both trounced by Brooks.
The parkrun-friendly New Balance beat the Merrell in the battle of the lightweight race-day numbers, while the fairweather Columbia have the top comfort tag. That leaves Inov- 8 and Hoka vying for the win. Both are fast, comfy and versatile, but the Hoka edge it due to their lower weight and cheaper price.