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Mountain-Worthy Trail Shoes

Hit the trails in these running shoes, made by ski companies, to get on the mountain even when the snow’s gone.

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The mountains are calling. Sure, those in North America are increasingly bereft of snow, but running their trails doles out pain and beauty akin to…

The mountains are calling. Sure, those in North America are increasingly bereft of snow, but running their trails doles out pain and beauty akin to the sufferfest of earning your turns. And ski companies know it. From Salomon to Patagonia, ski gear companies put out a range of trail running shoes. We tested a bevy—in mud, on gravel, through snow, on boulders, and in creeks. Here are some of the best. 

With super aggressive, beveled triangular lugs that splay out ever so slightly around the sole, the Fellraisers grip a variety of surfaces with ease.…

With super aggressive, beveled triangular lugs that splay out ever so slightly around the sole, the Fellraisers grip a variety of surfaces with ease. Super soft, like thick marshmallows underfoot, these trail shoes are really flexible and responsive, but still handle all conditions, especially wet and sloppy stuff. They’re good for heel-strikers. If you have gnarly bunions or big-jointed toes, you’ll appreciate the roomy toebox and unobtrusive materials on top of the shoe. Also, these shoelaces actually work, unlike many lock-lace, race-style set-ups.

[10.2 oz. (men’s size 8.5), $110, salomon.com]

The most minimal, aka close to the ground with limited materials, of the bunch, these Patagonias are super flexible and best for mid-foot strikers…

The most minimal, aka close to the ground with limited materials, of the bunch, these Patagonias are super flexible and best for mid-foot strikers who don’t need a lot of support. You might feel sharp rocks under your forefoot (the tread is light) and slip a little in mud, but you don’t notice the shoe (that’s a good thing). This style is great for scrambling, particularly with a climbing shoe-style lace system that starts lower than most other trail runners. We recommend them for run-hike-climb adventures.

[8.8 oz., $125, patagonia.com]

These shoes are light and pliable—perfect for all-condition mountain runs. They offer great traction through snow, mud, and loamy pine trails. The…

These shoes are light and pliable—perfect for all-condition mountain runs. They offer great traction through snow, mud, and loamy pine trails. The Bushido’s arch support makes them ideal for high arches without being too suffocating or stiff if you have another foot type. The thin uppers are soft and protective—plus a high ankle cup keeps rocks out.

[9.1 oz., $125, sportiva.com]

True to this brand’s footwear form, these Scarpas have a great foot feel. The upper material isn’t super light, but it’s flexible and, thank…

True to this brand’s footwear form, these Scarpas have a great foot feel. The upper material isn’t super light, but it’s flexible and, thank goodness, not bunchy. With triangle lugs and a moderate tread, these low profile shoes handled dirt, gravel, and rocks well. A slightly beveled heel makes for a fast-feeling run that propels you forward whether you land on your heel or mid-foot. The tongue is a bit long, but it includes a little pocket into which you can tuck your laces, and keeps rocks out. 

[10.3 oz., $119, scarpa.com]

Now these are a sweet, super flexible ride. Good on rocky trails, gravel, hard-packed dirt, and even pavement, the Kinabalu delivers a smooth…

Now these are a sweet, super flexible ride. Good on rocky trails, gravel, hard-packed dirt, and even pavement, the Kinabalu delivers a smooth heel-to-toe transition—many thanks to a rocker-style foam design. The model is low-profile, so you’ll use and feel your foot muscles more than in beefier models, but it has a wide toebox so you can splay your toes out. If your lower leg, ankle, and foot flexibility and strength are good, you can really fly on moderately difficult trails in these. They are also breathable, have moderate tread, and great non-slip laces to avoid tripping yourself—and they come in sharp colors. 

[10.2 oz., $130, scott-sports.com]

Dynafit’s Pantera is somewhat of a throwback, updating the classic heavy-duty trail runners of years past. At 12 oz., the Pantera is the heaviest…

Dynafit’s Pantera is somewhat of a throwback, updating the classic heavy-duty trail runners of years past. At 12 oz., the Pantera is the heaviest shoe we reviewed and firmly in the bulletproof category. We like that in a trail runner. We also like that this is a durable shoe that laughs at scree fields, rooted ruts, and miles of single-track abuse, and will last several seasons for most runners, which helps mitigate its relatively high price. Sizing is snug in the midfoot, but expansive in the toe box. With a tough toe bumper, Vibram outsole, and serious cushioning underfoot, the Pantera is a stable downhiller, ready to take you places. These are true trail-running kicks, not pavement-pounders, down to the metal eyelets.

[12 oz., $140, dynafit.com]