Top 8 Trail Running Shoes for 2013

Beckoning like a whisper through the leaves, the trail calls to you, and it is not to be ignored. While the mud may be thick, the rain heavy, and the sticks jagged, there is nowhere else you would rather run. When you lace up with a prime pair of trail running shoes, you are making a statement, a commitment, and a promise to unleash your greatest performance each and every time you lay rubber to dirt. Check out these top shoes that will help you attain infinite trial running glory.

Montrail Bajada ShoesBorn to dominate whatever may lie in your path, the Montrail Bajada Shoe unloads all the features necessary to lay waste to nature’s obstacles. An aggressive Gryptonite outsole sets you up with unparalleled traction on all terrains and a Trail Shield along the forefoot protects against debris. The full length EVA midsole snuggles your foot with some serious lightweight cushioning that refuses to be beat.

When the trail is laid out before you and is begging for some shredding, lace up with the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running ShoesSalomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running Shoe. Created to dominate all that lies in front of them, this pair harnesses Salomon’s dedication to innovation, technology and materials to push the boundaries of possibility. As the czar of traction, the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running Shoe enables you to get a grip on any terrain that rises up to challenge your superiority.

TrekSta Sync Trail Running Shoes - Women'sLeaving a cloud of dust behind you has never been easier than with the Treksta Women’s Sync Trail Running Shoes. Making your time on the trails more enjoyable than ever, this pristine pair beautifully blends comfort and performance. Your feet are cuddled by an advanced NestFIT system that was designed to promote more efficient strides, and the HyperGrip sole lets you get a grip no matter what type of terrain you encounter.

Since when are mountain trials the picture of perfection? That’s right, never. So, the Brooks Cascadia 8 Trail Running ShoesBrooks Cascadia 8 Trail Running Shoes were engineered to adapt to all those uneven, gritty, slick and wet surfaces. These highly versatile slices of footwear haven’t been able to stop winning awards thanks to their sweet combination of BioMoGo DNA and Caterpillar Crash Pad features that can help you zoom through an ultramarathon and then beg for more.

Saucony Progrid Xodus 3.0 GTX Running ShoesThe Saucony ProGrid Xodus 3.0 Shoe is all about getting you in touch with your surroundings. Offering incredible flex and feel, this shoe provides an intimate connection between you and the terrain you choose to take on. However, they also deliver an impressive amount of protection. A Vibram sole increases stability while a slight heel-to-toe drop encourages you to strike with the front of your foot. Enhance your experience on the trail with the Saucony ProGrid Xodus 3.0 Shoe.

When your adventures take you away from the pavement and concrete, lace up with The The North Face Single Track GTX  XCR II Trail Running ShoesNorth Face Single-track GRX XCR II Trail Running Shoe. Built to do battle with the most severe elements you may encounter on your run, these bad boys block out debris, resist abrasion and keep your feet nice and dry no matter what the weather is up to. Stable, supportive and comfy, this pair is everything committed trail runners love in a set of kicks.

Vibram 5 Fingers Spyridon LS Shoes - Women'sEmbrace the barefoot experience with the Women’s Vibram 5 Fingers Spyridon LS Shoe. Rugged landscapes are yours to explore when you slip on these mean bits of trail crushing power. Nothing can slow you down thanks to the combination of a trusty Vibram sole, a lightweight Coconut Alive Carbon upper, and a quick-fastening hook-and-loop system. Join the revolution and mount up with the Vibram 5 Fingers Spyridon LS Shoe that has been designed specifically for the ladies.

You don’t need anything weighing you down when you are out conquering new territory at Merrell Road Glove Dash 2 Running Shoes - Women'sblistering speeds. That is why the Merrell Women’s Road Glove Dash 2 Running Shoe has been enhanced to embrace the minimalist phenomenon that is pushing the sport in a new direction. Featuring highly breathable mesh and a zero-drop platform, this pair aligns your body in a natural position that lets you get the most out of every stride and every muscle.

If you are for real about trail running, don’t waste time with inferior footwear. Give your feet the advantage they deserve by choosing one of these top trail running shoes.

It’s All About the Shoes

Lower Turret Lake, High SIerras

Lower Turret Lake, High SIerras

Regardless of your activity, shoes play an intimate role in how you feel during participation. There is a reason people spend so much money on footwear. Our feet are sensitive, and we use them almost all the time during physical activity. Picking the right set of shoes/boots for hiking or trail running  is a crucial part of finding enjoyment in your adventures. Two trips that I took recently reminded me how shoe choice can make the difference between success and failure. One trip was a run/walk around Mt. St. Helens, totaling about 30 miles with a light backpack in a single day. The other was a two night adventure in the High Sierras covering over 50 miles, mostly off trail, boulder hopping. Each required excessive use of my feet. The only store I trusted in picking up the right trail running shoes was US Outdoor.

Saucony Progrid Perigrine Trail Running Shoes

Saucony Progrid Perigrine 2 Shoes After 30 Miles

For the run around Mt. St. Helens, I wore Saucony’s Progrid Perigrine 2 shoes. Coming in at only 1 lb. 3.8 oz, they still offer enough heal and forefoot support to keep the foot centered and stable on the sole. Even with a backpack near 15 lbs., they provided plenty of stability and cushion. They also are minimalist regarding the foot bed. This means they do not have an arch support, or other technology that interferes with the foot’s natural movement. The sole has a thin plastic shank that runs back and forth like a riverbed S-shaped through the sole. This reduces stiffness and weight while protecting from rock protrusion through the sole. The tread has massive grip with large, knobby rubber protrusions. The trail around St. Helens has sand, mud, rock, boulders, hard pack, and “Ah Ha” lava (the rough, hard to walk on kind). These shoes held up perfectly across every type of terrain I could find. If you trail run or backpack light, there is not a better shoe out there.

High Sierras La Sportiva Trangos

High Sierras La Sportiva Trangos

Next, I went off trail in the High Sierras on the west side of the mountain range. For this trip, I needed a beefier shoe since I had heard that the terrain was brutal on foot wear. I had no idea how brutal it would be. I’m glad I chose my La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evo Light GTX boots. The moment I stepped off the John Muir Trail, I was committed to careful foot placement on boulders ranging in size from cars to bowling balls. Literally, every step was crucial since the boulders are stacked in a chaotic granite wonderland of enormous proportions. Any mistake here could be very costly since few people are likely to be traveling in the same place off trail. The La Sportiva Trango has extremely good ankle support, ridiculous durability, and more importantly, a sole that protects the foot bed no matter how sharp the rock feature placed beneath. Anything less stout would have put my safety at risk.

North Side of Mt. St. Helens

North Side of Mt. St. Helens

Of course, that nature of your trip is what matters most. So if you are planning any type of adventure, consider seriously, the shoes or boots you are going to choose. Not only is that shoe choice going to affect the entire quality of your experience, it also will influence the safety of the trip. For lightweight backpacking, hiking, or running, I can attest to the quality, comfort, and durability of the Saucony Progrid Perigrine 2. It is my favorite shoe. For three season mountaineering, and strenuous backpacking, nothing competes with the La Sportiva Trango. The ankle support, footbed protection, and rugged construction make it perfect for serious mountain travel. Both are available for men and women. The basement at US Outdoor has the most knowledgeable staff in the state regarding hiking shoes, boots and trail running shoes. Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful Portland resource when you think about your next exciting trip.

Mt. St. Helens Suprise

Running Toutle Canyon

Running Toutle Canyon

During late July, 2012, I took a couple of co-workers on a small backpack trip to Mt. St. Helens. I had been putting off trips there for years since I always assumed it had a homogenous landscape, was busy with tourists, and that special permits were required. I was pleasantly wrong on all accounts.

To begin with, no special fees or permits are required for lower elevation wilderness travel. All you need is a Northwest Forest Pass or Snow Park pass to parking, which you can purchase at the US Outdoor. Climbing fees and permits are only necessary for those who are attempting to summit the mountain. When the mountain is snow covered in winter and spring, the fee required is worth the price considering the pristine nature of the Mountain. The neat thing about Mt. St. Helen’s is that hikers reach timberline below 5000 feet. This makes accessing alpine environments less arduous than many of the other volcanoes in the area.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

Regarding monotonous unchanging terrain, the mountain has undergone a massive transformation since it’s eruption on May 18, 1980. The trail systems include canyons, waterfalls, old growth hemlock forests, prairies, grasslands, and alpine flower environments. Traveling paints a picture of the destruction and rebirth of the many ecosystems surrounding the Mountain. Evidence of the explosion is apparent everywhere, but so is the magnificent succession of new species reoccupying the landscape. The flowers and ground covers are more diverse than any of the other Cascade volcanoes I’ve hiked. The dust and ash I expected instead seemed to nourish a rich botanical diversity with unique textures and color tones. The story that unfolds as you hike provides a new dimension to backpacking that no other wilderness can match.

West Side of St. Helens North Viewing

West Side of St. Helens North Viewing

Finally. Privacy. We all want to know where the secret places are that no one else goes. They don’t exist as we envision them. However, my visits to Mt. St. Helens typically include fewer visitors than I expect. My vision of tourists swarming the mountain has vanished. The only people I see are nature lovers with a mellow attitude and an appreciation for the beauty of the land. No ski lifts. No cash hungry mountain towns. Just the Mountain its self. Camp sites are available, and use is minimal. Serenity abounds at Mt. St. Helens during all four seasons. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and mountaineering all await those who choose to venture out.

If you have not yet hiked around Mt. St. Helens, then a wonderful opportunity awaits. A great way to see the whole mountain is the Loowit Trail. It circles the entire mountain, and offers views of all the amazing features and ecosystems surrounding the dramatic history of the place. Of course, any supplies or gear needed to maximize your experience can be found at US Outdoor.