Brooks
Women’s Caldera 4 Trail

5/5 Stars • 8.9 oz • 4 mm Drop • $160 CAD

I love when I take a shoe out of the box and it feels so great I can’t wait to go for a run. The roomy toe box was a hit with me, and I really liked the ample cushioning that felt light but not squishy. The grip on the shoe is phenomenal over trails and rocks, with lugs that give traction without giving up on responsiveness. I was super happy with this shoe, and will wear it with confidence on a lot of trail runs.

Lucy Smith | Victoria, B.C.
Coach, author, motivational speaker and professional athlete in distance running, duathlon and triathlon for over 30 years.

Brooks
Men’s Caldera 4 Trail

4.5/5 Stars • 9.9 oz • 4 mm Drop • $160 CAD

Brooks has created an endurance trail running shoe with ample cushioning and a grippy high-tech sole. This shoe has the stability for technical trail particularly mountainous rocky terrain with ample width in the forefoot and toes box accommodates that inevitable swelling. The upper and lacing matrix creates a secure fit with no heel slippage even on steep slopes. The fit is true to sizing, accommodates trail gators and sports a few colours, making it the ideal shoe for short and long trail adventures.

Cal Zaryski | Calgary, AB
Endurance athlete/coach with a Masters Degree in Sport Science and 9 World XTERRA Titles. He has represented Canada at World Mountain Running worldwide. 

Columbia
Women’s Montrail FKT (and FKT Lite)

3.5/5 Stars • 8.9 oz • 8 mm Drop • $165 CAD

The upper felt durable and provided a tight fit with the power-mesh sock. This shoe appears heavier but actually measures similar to other available trail shoes. The directional lugs were minimal and provided decent traction on gravel but less desirable for mud. The lite version of the F.K.T shoe is built for speed without sacrificing durability and fit. Pick up this shoe if you’re looking to set a Fastest Known Time (F.K.T.) on your own local trails!

Karen Holland | Toronto, ON
Ultramarathoner, avid trail runner and competitor in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (now scheduled for 2021).

Columbia
Men’s Montrail F.K.T. Lite

4/5 Stars • 8.3 oz • 5 mm Drop • $160 CAD

I was pleasantly surprised by the strength and structure of this shoe. The F.K.T. Lite performed perfectly on twisty, winding trails. The grippy outsole kept my foot planted and the strong but light upper was able to hold my foot back and in place around all the tight corners. The cushion and midsole provided plenty of support and structure to allow me to run freely without worry of feeling the sharp jagged ground below my feet.

Phil Hiom | Kamloops, B.C.   trail runner for most of his life and racer for 20+ years. He takes a science-based approach to training and is always looking for the why and how.

Icebug
Women’s Horizon W RB9X

4.5/5 Stars • 10.2 oz • 7 mm Drop • $150 CAD

This is an ideal shoe for urban trail running. It provides plenty of cushioning for both roads and trails, while the substantial lugs provide excellent traction for muddy or root-filled trails. The Horizon has a soft, reinforced upper with a wide toe box and narrow heel. The sole is quite flexible, making for a very comfortable ride. I’d recommend this shoe as an everyday trainer for well-groomed urban or mountain trails.

Joanna Ford | Calgary, AB
Ultramarathon runner with a passion for running long distances in the mountains.

Icebug
Men’s Horizon M RB9X

4.5/5 Stars • 10.2 oz • 7 mm Drop • $150 CAD

These are perfect for light trails and gravel roads. Runners who prefer a wider forefoot would like these shoes. They are a wider shoe the entire length and a comfortable 7 mm drop. The number, length and distribution of the tread lugs is just right for gravel trails but also works well for hard-packed, smooth trails too. The upper is thin, breathable and durable because of the wrap around TPU mudguard. Overall, excellent attention to detail, functionality and clean aesthetics. 

Matt Setlack | Kingston, ON
Competitive mountain runner for 10+ years and Royal Canadian Air Force pilot.

Inov-8
Women’s Terraultra G 270

4.5/5 Stars • 9.5 oz • 0 mm Drop • $210 CAD

There’s a lot to love about the Terraultra G 270. As long as you’re used to a zero-drop shoe, you can jump right into these shoes with confidence. The ‘Adapterfit’ technology in the upper does a brilliant job of balancing security with appropriate give. The toe box is roomy enough for some swelling, yet remains effective against the terrain. The outsole handily grips the surface regardless of the conditions underfoot and a plush, yet responsive mid-sole makes it a great choice for the longer miles.

Syl Corbett | Calgary, AB
World Cup and World Championship competitor in triathlon, duathlon, mountain running, snowshoeing and marathons. Private consultant to pro-athletes.

Inov-8
Men’s Terraultra G 270

4.5/5 Stars • 9.5 oz • 0 mm Drop • $210 CAD

These ultra-lightweight shoes felt fast and responsive on technical trails. I was confident wearing them on rugged terrain as the flexible upper allowed for natural movement on accents and descents, providing enough flex and support for a secure landing. They performed well in various conditions and the 4 mm lugs provided excellent grip and drainage on wet trails. The boomerang beaded insole provided an extra cushioned feel underfoot. These shoes really moved with me.

Matt Setlack | Kingston, ON
Competitive mountain runner for 10+ years and Royal Canadian Air Force pilot.

La Sportiva
Women’s Helios III

4/5 Stars • 6.2 oz • 4 mm Drop • $135 CAD

When I think of La Sportiva I think of hiking but not with the Helios III trail runner! It did not disappoint! This shoe felt nice and light right out of the box with a fancy sole that was super grippy. It offers a lot of cushioning and was very comfortable around my ankle. The toe box fits great and it has a nice toecap for added protection for kicking rocks. This shoe would make a great race shoe with it being so light and responsive! A very comfortable shoe!

Grace Hiom | Kamloops, B.C.
Race director for Dirty Feet Trail Series, running coach and ultramarathon runner.

La Sportiva
Men’s Jackal

4/5 Stars • 10.5 oz • 7 mm Drop • $159 CAD

The La Sportiva Jackal is a relatively light shoe without sacrificing stability, protectiveness and cushioning. It fits snug on the heel and mid-foot with a wider than usual toe box than is typical of other La Sportiva models. The well spaced lugs are very grippy and can handle any terrain whilst leaving behind mud and debris. The comfortable, short, gusseted, padded tongue fits like a sock and stays in place. I sized up half a size for the perfect fit.

Alistair Munro | Toronto, ON
Run coach for the Toronto Harriers with a love of trail and ultrarunning for the adventure, community and competition.

Nike
Women’s Pegasus Trail 2

4/5 Stars • 9.5 oz • 10 mm Drop • $165 CAD

My first experience in this shoe was up 900 m over 2 km at Vancouver’s iconic Grouse Grind. Right away I noticed an ideal fit (I’m picky), plush cushioning and tough traction. The traction at the heel and toe helped me stay secure when going uphill or downhill on both road and trail. The mesh throughout the toe and perforated tongue allowed for airflow and water drainage. These runners cater to everything from city streets to mountain peaks, but will remain trail-focused for me.

Mandy Gill | Vancouver, B.C.
Ultramarathon trail and road runner, named one of IMPACT Magazine’s Canada’s Top 10 Vegan Athletes, and avid explorer in the mountains.

Nike
Men’s Pegasus Trail 2

4/5 Stars • 11.7 oz • 0 mm Drop • $165 CAD  

The Pegasus Trail 2 is a complete overhaul of the previous iteration of Nike’s flagship road shoe, the Pegasus Trail 36. The Pegasus Trail 2 employs a thick, soft, comfortable, responsive Nike React foam midsole with a similar lacing system to the Nike Wildhorse. The wider base and thicker midsole of the Pegasus Trail 2 makes for a more comfortable ride for long trail days. The higher stack height and wider base increase cushioning, but also add a bit of extra weight.

Jacob Puzey | Canmore, AB
Winner of the Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra, 4x (consecutive) Canadian Ultramarathon Champion, and run coach with numerous national championship titles.

On-Running
Women’s Cloudventure Peak

5/5 Stars • 7.4 oz • 4 mm Drop • $190 CAD

This was my first time wearing ON shoes. When I put them on, it felt special, similar to how I feel when I wear a nice track spike or racing flat. The sock-like upper hugged my foot and felt like an extension to my foot. I loved how light and grippy the shoe felt. The fine details such as the lacing system and breathable upper fabric really made this shoe stand out. The shoe moved with me on the trail and the lugs really dug into and gripped the surface as I ran without picking up mud and gravel.

Emily Setlack | Kingston, ON
2:29 Marathoner; avid trail and mountain runner who finished 11th at the World Mountain Running Championships.

On-Running
Men’s Cloudventure Peak

4/5 Stars • 9.2 oz • 4 mm Drop • $190 CAD

This second generation trail racing shoe packs a lot of features into a lightweight package. It has a sock-like feel, with a breathable upper, which makes it comfortable out of the box. With a 4 mm drop the shoe has great ground feel, but may be too minimal for some despite the apparently beefy lugs. White is a bold colour choice for a trail shoe and I for one like the look, while it lasts…

Adam Campbell | Canmore, AB
A lawyer with a dirtbag-heart. He likes to cover long distances in the mountains on foot, bike, rock and skis, usually accompanied by his puppy, Peat.

Puma
Women’s FIRST MILE LQDCELL Shatter Trail

3.5/5 Stars • 12 mm Drop • $140 CAD

This shoe will appeal to the environmentally conscious trail runner with material sourced from recycled plastics. Although its tread appears more like a road shoe, it held up well on a mix of single track and crushed gravel trails. I did not find myself slipping – however, I may be hesitant on wet surfaces. The toe box is slightly narrow, and moderately technical trail runners will appreciate the extended tongue to prevent unwanted debris from entering the shoe, as well as a stable cushion.

Catrin Jones | Victoria, B.C.
Ultra trail and road runner who has represented Canada at the 50 km and 100 km World events.

Puma
Men’s FIRST MILE Erupt Trail

3/5 Stars • 12 mm Drop • $140 CAD

Puma is a brand with a storied history in the running shoe market, but it has been largely absent from the trail running scene. They have changed that with the Erupt TRL FM. It is a heavy, supportive shoe with a wide feeling base, but the sock-like gusset was very comfortable. I found the tread worked well on dry, rocky terrain, but became slippery in wet and muddy conditions. The bold colors and laces attracted quite a few comments from my running companions.

Adam Campbell | Canmore, AB
A lawyer with a dirtbag-heart. He likes to cover long distances in the mountains on foot, bike, rock and skis, usually accompanied by his puppy, Peat.

Salomon
Women’s Sense Ride 3

5/5 Stars • 8.3 oz • 8 mm Drop • $160 CAD

I love this shoe! The sensifit wraps nicely around my narrow, high arched foot and fits like a glove. The Contagrip® traction is the best. I haven’t slipped once. The Sense Ride 3 feels super light and fast, even though it provides a significant amount of cushioning. The wide toe box is super comfortable, and fits true to size. The quick lace system is smooth and secure. I highly recommend the Salomon Sense Ride 3 as an awesome all-around trail shoe!

Melissa Ross | Nanaimo, B.C.
Competitor at the Canadian 10K Championships, Canadian Cross Country Championships and World Mountain Running Championships.

Salomon
Men’s Sense Ride 3

4/5 Stars • 9.9 oz • 8 mm Drop • $160 CAD

This is a great all around trail runner from Salomon. The tread pattern provides grippy confidence on the trails but doesn’t feel out of place when asked to run some pavement – making this a great option for crossover trail/road use. The ride is responsive and snappy with ample cushioning. Solomon’s unique lacing system locks down my foot nicely.

Matt Cecill | Victoria, B.C.
Competitor for Canada at the Trail World Championships who holds various trail FKTs (fastest known times).

Skechers
Women’s GOrun Speed TRL Hyper

5/5 Stars • 8 oz • 4 mm Drop • $160 CAD

The Skechers GOrun Speed TRL Hyper was incredibly comfortable to run in. Nice and light and very responsive. The breathable upper mesh panel over the toes kept my feet dry and comfortable. The toe box felt quite large and roomy, and the base plate felt stiff enough to handle rocks and roots on a mountain trail, but flexible enough not to cause discomfort.

Amy Puzey | Canmore, AB
Mountain and road runner, and National Director of the 5Peaks Trail Running Series. She has a 3 hour marathon PB and competes internationally.

Skechers
Men’s GOrun Speed TRL Hyper

4/5 Stars • 8 oz • 4 mm Drop • $160 CAD

This was my first time running in a Skechers shoe. What I found was a lightweight, comfortable and highly responsive short distance trail racer. The 4 mm drop sits right in the sweet spot for most trail runners, and the Hyper Burst midsole and rock plate provide just enough cushion and protection for runs up to 50 km. The dynamic heel-lock system worked as advertised and my heel felt nicely locked in place on technical trails. Overall, a fun, responsive and lightweight shoe which impressed me!

Andy Reed | Canmore, AB
Sport medicine physician and mountain ultra trail runner. He has numerous wins and podium finishes in mountain ultras throughout North America. 

Under Armour
Women’s UA Charged Bandit Trail

5/5 Stars • 8.4 oz • 8 mm Drop • $100 CAD 

I took these shoes straight out of the box and onto a muddy, 25 km trail run, and they performed really well. They were a little tight around the toes, but with plenty of room in the middle, my foot didn’t feel constrained. The wide base made them stable and grippy in the muck. With an 8 mm drop, these lightweight, reasonably priced, cushioned and comfy shoes will be my 2020 go-to for the local trails. 

Nicki Rehn | Calgary, AB
Ultramarathon runner and adventurer who loves to travel the world doing crazy races, disappear deep into the mountains, and rip up the local single-track. 

Under Armour
Men’s UA Charged Bandit Trail GORE-TEX

3/5 Stars • 9.1 oz • 8 mm Drop • $120 CAD

The Bandit is a durable shoe. I took them through the roughest trails that I like to run and had no issues with the upper keeping up. I found the outsole offered decent traction in loose terrain – soft dirt, mud, wet trail, and scree. The shoes are relatively stiff but not uncomfortably so. The GORE-TEX lining offers a dry run, which has been great throughout this year’s rainy summer.

Ian MacNairn | Calgary, AB
Professional trail and ultrarunner; 2x ultrarunning National Champion; PhD study of global ultrarunning community.

Xero
Women’s Mesa Trail

3/5 Stars • 6.4 oz • 0 mm Drop • $120 CAD

First impression is a super lightweight, flexible, minimalist shoe; a zero drop “barefoot” alternative. The toe box is roomy and comfortable, though I felt it fit a little on the short side (would probably fit true to size for someone with higher arches!). My foot felt secure, and they were surprisingly comfortable with breathable upper and super grippy sole. BUT there is no support or cushion – I could feel every pebble on the trail, so I’d restrict the use of these babies to shorter, smooth trail outings.

Arden Young | Calgary, AB
Dentist and ultra trail runner with multiple race wins and podium finishes under her belt.

Xero
Men’s Mesa Trail

4/5 Stars • 7.6 oz • 0 mm Drop • $120 CAD

The Xero Mesa Trail is fast, flexible and functional. The 3 mm midsole takes the edge off rockier routes and rugged lugged rubber outsole provide traction. Mesa’s welded mesh upper is tough enough to stave off trail debris and breathable enough to dry quickly. The lacing system holds your heel firmly in check while giving room to move. It’s a minimalist shoe, so take care. Start with shorter, softer trails and as your feet adjust increase time and intensity. Xero Mesa? An A from me.

Pete Estabrooks | Calgary, AB
A professional personal trainer, fitness instructor and award-winning writer. He is one of IMPACT’s Canada’s Top Fitness Trainers/Instructors.


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