View Full Version : Trail Runner Examples

04-13-2013, 20:34
What shoes have you used for long hikes and what has been your experience? If you used boots before, what made you switch? Assuming that feet structure varies widely and that shoe recommendations are just a starting point to be followed by one's on specific research, what shoes would you recommend to section and thru hikers? Or would you recommend boots instead?

04-13-2013, 21:00
I really think that anything is comfortable is fine. Squishier shoes will have to be replaced more often, and they might not be too comfy in the rocky states (Pa).
When I started sectioning, I bought a fancy pair of Asolo boots. They were too much boot for my feet and tore my feet up. I gave them until the third section of duct taped feet before I banished them to the car camping box. I tried a used pair of salomons xa pros, and have yet to get a blister, three sections in.

If you go to an outfitter and find something you think you will love but it is way too expensive, there's no harm in looking at ebay and the WB sale section for a used pair.

04-13-2013, 23:37
Besides being lighter and, therefore, less tiring to wear, low topped hikers or trail runners allow more foot control - if you need to change where you've decided to place your foot, you can do it more easily with less weight on the end of your leg. Running shoes typically have more padding than boots, too, so there tends to be less shock transferred up your legs to your knees and hips, and, personally, I've found that lifting less weight is easier on the knees. My knees are a bit on the loose side due to several accidents and I can actually feel the knee joint separate when I'm lifting a heavy boot (I still use my custom Limmer hikers - 5+ lbs. for the pair - for motor cycle riding, and I can still feel the uncomfortable sensation when walking on pavement with them).

Personally, I use Asics trail runners, because they fit me well.

I hesitate to recommend them to you or anyone else with a different foot shape (think Donald Duck - flat and wide with a narrow heel).

I use aftermarket orthotics with an arch support.

04-13-2013, 23:52
+1 to almost everything Tinker said. However, I use New Balance trail runners to fit my size 10.5 EEEE feet.

I used to wear heavy hiking boots for years--almost everyone did back in the 1970s and 1980s. (Plus, I spent nearly 13 years in the military--so boots were on my feet a great deal). My trail runners are SO much lighter and SO much more comfortable by comparison. The typical person will take 24,000 to 30,000 steps per day if they hike 12 miles. (That doesn't count all the other misc. walking that they do throughout the day around camp or in town). With that number of steps per day, it makes a BIG difference if you are lifting 5 pounds or 1-2 pounds on your feet.

04-14-2013, 01:21
Wow, your advice has been very useful, thank you so much! Trail runners it is, then!

04-14-2013, 01:38
For traditional spring, summer and fall AT hiking I use NB 814's. Although I haven't done any winter weather hiking in years I'm not sure that the trail runners would be my choice but I've seen post on WB that suggest some here use trail runners in the winter on the AT. I too used boots for years but the trail runners are less tiring and faster drying.

04-14-2013, 05:07
Merrill Moab Ventilator and Montrail Mnt Masochist are two lightweight shoes worth trying on.

04-14-2013, 14:52
Ditto all that's been said. But you'll be extremely lucky if you find the right shoe the first time. You cannot tell in the store. It will become apparent when you start hiking consecutive 15 and 20 mile days, though, which becomes possible after you switch to light shoes (and the corresponding lighter pack). That's the reason I switched--I wanted to thru hike the PCT where you need to average over 18 mpd, and there was no way I could accomplish that with my boots, my knees, and my age. Unfortunately, it took me 2000 miles to find the right shoe, after listening to everyone else's recommendations. Someone else's perfect shoe might feel like the box they came in, for you.

I've been using the New Balance 8XX series in EEEE width for nearly 10 years now, and have no idea what newer, better shoes are out there. Best of luck finding the one that fits you.

I've never seen anyone except me unhappy with the Moab Ventilator mentioned above. They are heavier but have the huge advantage of lasting much longer, probably twice as long as my NBs. That's the sticking point for me with light shoes--the amount of waste in a long season of hiking.

04-14-2013, 15:58
I use New Balance shoes. Usually a 600 series or higher with the "all terrain" feature. Every couple of years, I'll buy a new pair (I'm a section hiker). They are usually cheap enough at the local discount store, typically 40 to 50 bucks. NB shoes have served me well over the years. :)

04-14-2013, 17:20
I hike in Brooks Adrenaline ASR 8 trail shoes. I've been running in Adrenaline trainers for years so it was an easy choice to get the trail version. They are very comfortable (for me at least!) and relatively lightweight.

04-14-2013, 17:23
I love trail runners and absolutely wish I could wear them on hikes but I've now sprained my left ankle something like 50 times and have to have the ankle support of boots.

04-15-2013, 13:21
I use Salomon XA 3D Ultra 2 Trailrunners. I love them, but are priced high comparative to New Balance.

04-15-2013, 17:34
Well you hit the nail on head. Shoes are are a very personal choice. With that being said, I use La Sportiva Wildcats. They average about 500 miles each. I never had a break in period or a blister. I have gone through about 4 pairs so far.

04-15-2013, 19:06
Thank you all for both your general observations and your specific suggestions. Summarizing what has been posted so far:

- Four votes for New Balance (600+ all-terrain, and 8xx series)
- One vote for the Montrail Mountain Masochist
- One vote for the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 8
- One vote for the Salomon XA 3D Ultra 2
- One vote for the Merrill Moab Ventilator shoe

I need to add my own to the list: yesterday I went to buy shoes for my teen daughter, and while at the store I happened to try a pair of Fila Multitude in wide, and my feet immediately liked them. Took them home and used for an 8.5 mile hike this morning, while carrying a light 17-pound backpack - they performed beautifully. They are light on the feet and also on the wallet, at only $49.98. You can see them at this URL:


But these are not cheapo shoes. The materials and construction are high-quality. I cannot tell for certain, but these shoes feel as if they are going to last as much as any other trail runner (I usually use NB for running). If my feet continue to be happy with them after a few more hikes, I probably will get a backup pair, in case Fila decides to retire the model.

04-15-2013, 19:43
Shoes are such a personal thing. In the last three years I have gone through the following.
6 pairs of LaSportiva Wildcats (did the PCT and currently back to them, found them really inexpensive)
4 pair Salomon XA 3D ultras. I can wear these but they are a bit narrow vs other shoes.
1 pair Brooks Cascadias. Possibly my favorite. Wide like the Wildcats especially in the toe box but haven't found them as cheap as I have the wildcats.
1 pair Salomon XA 3D uLtra I will never do another goretex shoe again.
2 pairs Salomon exit aeros these were my first non goretex trail runners.

i get between 500-600 miles per pair before my trail runner become my everyday shoes, they used to even because my casual work shoes. I found I like wide toe boxes. I also found the proper sizing which was a full size and a half larger than I used to wear. Right now it comes down to price. If I find a good price, less than say $70 I will buy multiple pairs. Good luck, it may take you a couple of tries but I'm not sure i could go back to even lightweight boots.

Another Kevin
04-15-2013, 19:45
What's the difference between New Balance 400 (e.g. 479), 600, 800 series? Just wondering; I wear 479s on day trips in good weather (still wear big clunky leather boots in winter or with a heavy pack), and wonder whether I'm missing out on something.

04-15-2013, 22:00
Almost anything will work. Your just walking, which you do every day in many various types of shoes.
However some will work better than others
Especially on mud, and slick rocks

Fit, grippy open tread, light wt, good draining, minimal upper to absorb water are things I look for.
I mostly find them for me in Inov8 shoes like the 330, 310, 295
These are somewhat minimal shoes, but are engineered to allow your foot to work properly, flexing as it should, unlike boots.

My son used a cheap pair of Nike Alvolords? (i think) for about 200 miles, without a complaint. Have a rock plate in them, fit him ok, pretty light (~10.5 oz each I recall). But the tread was anything but grippy and well designed. Didnt really matter 99% of time though.

04-16-2013, 07:18
What's the difference between New Balance 400 (e.g. 479), 600, 800 series? Just wondering; I wear 479s on day trips in good weather (still wear big clunky leather boots in winter or with a heavy pack), and wonder whether I'm missing out on something. Never understood their numbering system either. I just go by fit and "feel". If they seem substantial, have a good sole (traction), and fit comfortably, I give them a try. If they don't work for hiking, they get used for everyday activities. :)

04-16-2013, 10:59
The 800 series have been the preferred new balance AT trail runner over the years, Some years models are better than others. They do seem to have a slightly more agressive tread than the other series and more shock control in the heel. They work well but the trade off is they have very limited toe protection in the front. If you kick a rock you are going to know it!

04-16-2013, 11:11
What's the difference between New Balance 400 (e.g. 479), 600, 800 series? Just wondering; I wear 479s on day trips in good weather (still wear big clunky leather boots in winter or with a heavy pack), and wonder whether I'm missing out on something.

AK, for some shoes the higher number is "supposed" to better quality. Not for sure if it fits in this case or not.

04-16-2013, 11:47
Brooks Cascadias are really nice and comfortable. And they have the coolest tread on the market!