trail-running shoes reviews

Gear Review: Scarpa Proton GTX Shoes

Scarpa Proton GTX
Scarpa Proton GTX

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
Scarpa Proton GTX
$169, 1 lb. 7 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 39-47, 48, women’s 37-41
moosejaw.com

Everyone wants ultralight footwear for all manner of outdoor adventures these days, from light hiking and ultra-hikes to trail running and ultralight backpacking. Bonus if you can scramble a peak in them. I feel the same way. But that kind of hybrid shoe can be a challenging find. I put some trail miles on Scarpa’s new Proton GTX, a low-cut, waterproof-breathable trail runner that crosses over to hiking, and found it packs a heap of performance and versatility into one of the lightest pieces of outdoor footwear you’ll find.

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Gear Review: Vasque Inhaler II Low Shoes

Vasque Inhaler II Low
Vasque Inhaler II Low

Hiking/Trail-Running Shoes
Vasque Inhaler II Low
$120, 1 lb. 12 oz. (men’s US 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-14, women’s 6-11
backcountry.com

For much of the trail mileage that most dayhikers, backpackers, and runners pound out, breathability is more important than waterproofing—our feet are hot more often than they face any prospect of getting wet. Since moisture and heat are two of the three elements that create blisters (the third is friction), unless you typically hike or run in a wet, cool environment, keeping your feet cool should really be your top concern when choosing footwear—and even more so the farther you hike in a day. On local trail runs of up to about 13 miles in the Boise Foothills, and southern Utah desert dayhikes in the San Rafael Swell and the Horseshoe Canyon District of Canyonlands National Park, the smart design of the Inhaler II Lows kept my feet dry and happy.

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South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park.

Ask Me: Advice on Low-Cut Trail Shoes

[Note: Both reader questions below are similar, so I combined them into one post.]

Michael,

I recently came across your website. It’s a fantastic resource—thank you!

I am looking for a breathable (i.e., not waterproof) shoe for long, fast dayhikes (with occasional downhill running) on rough, rocky terrain (on and off-trail). Reasonable performance on third-, fourth-, and low fifth-class terrain is a bonus, but 95 percent of the shoe’s use will be on rough, non-technical terrain. The two main shoes I was considering were the Salewa Firetail EVO and the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor. You give both of these shoes high praise, for similar applications (e.g. 22-mile, 5,000-foot vertical hike with the Firetails; 28-mile, 8,000-foot vertical hike with the Raptors). Which do you prefer? Which do you think would be best for my intended applications? Are there other shoes you think I should consider?

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Gear Review: La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0 Shoes

La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0
La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0
$115, 1 lb. 8 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43
sportiva.com

There are trail-running shoes I can run in, and then there are shoes I can run and hike far in because they simply have greater support and cushion for handling the cumulative abuse that feet suffer on longer outings. On many trail runs of up to 12 miles in the Boise Foothills—plus one 20-mile, 3,600-foot run—the Wildcat 3.0 never caused me the hot toes, sore soles, or foot achiness that I get from some lightweight shoes on runs of more than eight or 10 miles. Even after that 20-miler in the Wildcats, my feet felt good.

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Gear Review Update: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Shoes

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
$130, 1 lb. 10 oz. (men’s 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43
sportiva.com

For a recent 28-mile dayhike through Idaho’s spectacular White Clouds Mountains—partly off-trail, with a cumulative elevation gain and loss of nearly 8,000 feet, including a steep, very loose scramble of several hundred vertical feet over a pass—I wanted the lightest shoes possible, yet ones with plenty of support, comfort, and traction. It didn’t take me long to decide on the Ultra Raptor, which I had worn a lot and reviewed previously. Not only did they perform as I’d hoped they would throughout this long and rugged hike, but afterward, my feet felt fatigued but otherwise not like I’d just hiked 28 miles.

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