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Our list of the 10 best shoes for the ultra trail. Cascadia, Xodus, S-LAB ultra, Ultra Pro, Dynafit, Scott Supertrac RC, Tecnica Supreme Max, Terrex Two Boa, Mujin 5, Hierro V3.
The best shoes for Ultra Trail 2018
I know that there is no ideal ultra trail shoe and that the fact that a shoe is more or less “good” depends on many factors, some of which are subjective and directly related to the user and the type of race he/she will face. However, every year new ultra trail shoes come out with more or less interesting features and technologies.
First, we need to understand the different characteristics in order to be able to choose the best trail shoe for you:
In this article, we have brief reviews of ten of the best trail shoes of 2018, intended to be the best ultra trail shoes. We cant review all the shoes in the world, but the ones that are listed, deserve to be here.
I did not personally try all these shoes (I wished), this article is the result of months of careful reading and analysis of several reviews and forums. The order is completely random. This is not a ranking, so everyone can choose his/her ideal ultra trail shoe.
BROOKS CASCADIA 13
The Brooks Cascadia are back in their thirteenth edition, an all-time classic. This time, the Cascadia 13 (Check on Amazon.com) has fewer changes compared to the previous version.
These shoes are stable thanks to Brooks’ Pivot Post system and well-protected thanks to a new more protective upper and an anti-rock plate that will help when the feet are exhausted. In addition, cushioning is good thanks to the BioMoGo DNA midsole compound.
Among the points in favor of this shoe we find:
- The midsole is soft and the upper wraps around the foot in an optimal way, making the feet feel comfortable. It’s like running with your feet wrapped in cotton.
- Anti-rock protection. In an ultra trail, sooner or later we end up noticing every single pebble under our feet and this can cause many problems. The Brooks Cascadia 13 counter this with Ballistic Shield anti-rock plate, which protects very well the sole of the foot.
- The Upper Fit. Significantly improved upper that wraps perfectly around the foot preventing it from moving during the run. It will give you more security in more technical terrain.
- They are very comfortable and they incorporate a mesh that will prevent the entry of debris and earth into the shoe.
Some negative or points that can be improved upon are:
- Adhesion on wet soils. It is easy to slip on damp soils.
- The pocket to put away the laces. The laces come out of the pocket very easily.
SALOMON S-LAB ULTRA
These are the shoes that won the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc in 2017. Salomon presents a completely redesigned shoe, with a new outsole and a redesigned upper resulting in a slightly heavier shoe.
This more aggressive version greatly improves the fit to the detriment of the overall comfort of the shoe. With these shoes, you will be able to deal with more technical Ultra Trails since they guarantee better safety. In addition, the protections have been reinforced, in order to cope with these more technical trails.
The space for the toes is not much as it can damage the feet in the long run.
The upper is very soft, fine and breathable. Together with the tie rods that wrap around the back of the foot, they make for an exceptional grip. In short, with regards to fit, the S-LAB Ultra (Check on Amazon.com) version exceeds all expectations.
The Solomon Premium Wet Traction Contagrip sole offers excellent performance on the dry and a little worse in the wet, in line with other shoes in the category.
SCOTT SUPERTRAC ULTRA RC
It will be difficult for SCOTT to make a better version of these Supertrac Ultra RC (Check on Amazon.com). These are shoes for the long-distance, with which you can run for hours, even at a high pace, thanks to their dynamism and responsiveness.
They are oversize on the outside, creating a very wide, comfortable and stable support platform, helping you when you have many kilometers under your legs.
The sole is multi-purpose, there is practically no surface that puts in difficulty the Supertrac Ultra RC. This sole is a must-have. You just don’t have to worry. The studs work very well, especially the heel studs that are ideal on the downhill.
This is a dynamic shoe with a generous cushioning, two variables that make these shoes perfect for any runner regardless of weight.
The upper is a true work of Schoeller Dynamic engineering, a very resistant, water-repellent material that gives grip and protection to the foot. Plus it’s very durable. Of course, it is not the most breathable shoe and, in fact, it could warm up your feet, but in a non-dramatic way.
In short, the Supertrac Ultra RCs are perfect for runners looking for trail shoes for the long-distance, that is comfortable, well-protected, with a medium to high profile, and that despite everything are willing to run at a fast and vibrant pace.
TECNICA SUPREME MAX 3.0
The Supreme Max 3 shoes are a very interesting bet of the Italian company Tecnica, designed for long mountain runs, and oriented to all types of terrain. And although their relatively high profile would suggest that they are not ideal for technical terrain, the good characteristics of the VIBRAM sole, combined with a very adequate foot grip, making them much more multipurpose, than it might seem at first glance. They are one of the best-cushioned trail running shoes around.
Running with the Tecnica Supreme Max 3.0 feels very fluid, in addition, they are more flexible than other shoes, and this together with very good traction allows you to run dynamically, in a natural way, without feeling heavy.
Therefore, the flexibility, the responsiveness of the midsole and the relatively aggressive shape offered by the Tecnica Rolling System, make running with these shoes a pleasant and lively experience.
The only drawback of the Supreme Max 3.0 lies in the stability of the shoe. This is the result of the high profile, which could create problems for those accustomed to lower profiles. These shoes are suitable for long routes of the UTMB type.
These are shoes with a very comfortable cushioning thanks to the generous EVA midsole and the fantastic Ortholite double density anti-bacterial footbed. They truly offer an excellent balance between cushioning, responsiveness and flexibility.
They are suitable for fairly heavy runners, but also for lighter runners looking for a well-cushioned shoe for long distances.
Considering the type of terrain ideal for these Tecnica Supreme Max 3.0, we must mention the Vibram Megagrip Compound outsole, a true performer that guarantees excellent grip in any situation. The sole is equipped with multidirectional studs that work well on all surfaces.
NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM HIERRO V3
No one will be upset if we state that the Hierro Fresh Foam V2 was probably the best long trail shoe of 2107, and surely one of the most beloved by the runners. The new Hierro Fresh Foam V3 (Check on Amazon.com) had to reach a level of excellence never seen before seen. And instead… New Balance decided to go a different direction with this version… we can’t say if it’s better or worse, just different.
The V3 has nothing to do with the V2 since it sports a new design and new materials…
We can immediately see that these shoes are ultra-comfortable, among the most comfortable on the market. The hyposkin upper is well made and elastic, and the midsole offers generous cushioning. These shoes aim at ultra trails, that are not too technical, such as the UTMB.
Another positive factor is the Vibram sole, which can guarantee excellent results even in the wet.
There are a few things that can be improved. The upper is not waterproof but resists water quite well. It is also a slightly warm shoe that can cause problems of overheating your feet. Also due to the fact that this upper is comfortable and elastic, the fit and grip are somewhat compromised.
Ideal for all-mountain runners looking for an ultra-comfortable shoe, with generous cushioning, that can run the long distance. It is an ideal option for both daily workouts and semi-professional training.
They are perfect for medium to low difficulty trails where you can’t run very fast, better for runners with a high average weight, of 70kg or more, who prefer the comfort and protection, neglecting a bit the lightness, the dynamism, and the feeling of a perfect fit.
The new Hierro V3s are thus more comfortable, but less technical compared to the V2s.
MIZUNO WAVE MUJIN 5
Mizuno made very few changes to the Mujin 5 (Check on Amazon.com) compared to the Mujin 4. The DNA remains unchanged, these are trail shoes for the long-distance and ideal for medium-high weight runners.
They do not excel at anything but are an all-around guarantee for every situation. A great ally for your feet to rely upon.
They are very comfortable, you can wear them for hours and hours without any problem, and offer an exceptional rear cushioning, thanks to the oversize Wave technology and top durability.
The Michelin sole works very well in dry terrain, and is a good performer even on mud, but lacks a bit of grip in the wet, maybe for the short studs.
They are intended for medium-high weight runners (above 70kg) who do not have a very polished running technique. The Wave system will allow you to run for hours and will absorb all vibrations.
The fit and grip are very good and the feet do not move inside the shoe even in very pronounced descents.
In short, a reliable tank of a shoe. You wear them and you just have to worry about running, they’ll take care of the rest… you will get there eventually but don’t presume that they will make you faster.
SALOMON ULTRA PRO
These Salomon Ultra Pro (Check on Amazon.com) are the siblings of the SALOMON S-LAB ULTRA designed for easier routes and for those runners looking for comfort. These shoes are designed for a UTMB type of trail.
They are super comfortable shoes and weigh only 290gr! They are designed to run for hours and hours. They are perhaps the most comfortable Salomon trail model out there. There is plenty of room for your toes and the upper is soft and enveloping, its 3D Stretch Air Mesh combined with the Sensifit system is a work of art.
The midsole is well cushioned and although great for most terrain and runners, it is rather rigid and not so responsive.
The Contagrip Premium Wet Traction outsole offers excellent traction even in wet terrain. The compound is extraordinary and the 5mm studs bite the ground just enough to ensure traction but without numbing the runner when he wants to accelerate. The durability of the sole is excellent, and even after many km, the signs of wear and tear are really scarce compared to other shoes in the category.
Their concept does not make them excel in a technical course since the fit is not perfect for very steep terrain. In addition, the tongue is slightly thin, so when tightening the laces you should make sure there is no discomfort to the back of the foot.
These shoes are ideal for daily workouts, they are super light (considering the ultra trail segment), very comfortable, will last a lifetime and allow you to run on many surfaces at varying speeds without any problem whatsoever.
SAUCONY XODUS ISO 3
This is an ultra-comfortable tank for long distances. The Saucony Xodus ISO 3 (Check on Amazon.com) is a durable “bomb proof” mountain running shoe.
This third edition incorporates a brand new EVERUN midsole that runs the full length. The Saucony Xodus ISO 3 is extraordinarily responsive and comfortable trail shoes.
Also, consider the PWRTRAC sole that guarantees excellent traction on dry terrain but does not disappoint in the wet either.
Another positive factor is the new ISO upper that has an impressive foot grip, the fit is simply exceptional even in the most complex situations. This upper has been redesigned in the shape of a “sock” with the ISOFIT. As for the sole, there is no change since the PWRTRAC compound brought in excellent results with the Xodus ISO 2.
The only flaw is the weight of 366gr that makes the shoe slow. This is the choice you will have to make: excellent fit, ultra-comfortable, responsive midsole and protection… against the excessive weight. The choice is yours.
ADIDAS TERREX TWO BOA
The Adidas Terrex Two Boa (Check on Amazon.com) is the shoe that won the last World Cup.
They are lightweight (290gr) and comfortable with a drop of 8 mm.
The great novelty is the “BoaFit” tightening system, that offers an exceptional fit, and allows you to micro metrically adjust the tightening intensity faster than with the use of traditional laces.
The sole is provided by Continental and behaves very well both in dry and wet terrain. They behave well in a technical course if the pace is not very high and they are a breeze in a simpler course even at full throttle.
The Adiprene+ midsole behaves much better than the other Adidas’ compounds. It ensures a better feel of the terrain and better control in technical routes.
In addition, these are the cheapest shoes on this list.
The only drawback? The inside of the shoe a is little wide and the foot does move in certain extreme situations.
These shoes are suitable for runners (medium-high weight) who are looking for speed in not so technical terrain. For lighter runners with good technique, the Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed (Check on Amazon.com) would be a better fit.
DYNAFIT ULTRA PRO
The Dynafit Ultra Pro (Check on Amazon.com) have a pure Alpine pedigree. They are ideal for high altitude races with the presence of lots of stones. They’re shouting mountain! in every sense.
They are shoes with excellent traction (even in muddy terrain) thanks to the exceptional Vibram Megagrip outsole. They offer the best protection there is, it is just impossible to find a course too technical for these shoes that can compromise the safety of your feet.
They are also very comfortable thanks to a well-designed Duo Motion midsole and an excellent Ortholite anti-odor and antibacterial insole.
The fit and tightness are basically excellent. The upper wraps perfectly around the foot keeping it safe in the most technical sessions.
The main concern is the breathability of the upper that forces us to be careful in very hot climates. This is the price to pay for the super protection and the top fit. On the other hand, with these shoes, we can run safely in winter even on snow and be certain that our feet will remain warm and dry.
Ideal for long distances in the alpine environment, for runners who want to spend many hours running on stones and desire support and 100% safety.