What To Look For In A Trail Shoe

Trail Shoes for White Mountains
I've tested a lot of shoes in the White Mountains and very few have held up to the rugged terrain unique to our mountains. This is a short list of features I look for when testing out shoes in the Whites.
#1 Grippy Outsole. Has to hold up on our terrain. Single piece of Vibram is preferred but Vibram in general is the compound that I've found to provide the most reliable performance, specifically wet conditions. 
#2 Featherweight. Overbuilt shoes really slow you down so grams matter. I like shoes < 380g if possible but I'm a size 14. 
#3 Cushion.  You can go any direction here and it's personal preference. I like max cushion for longer efforts but there's also the risk of rolling your ankle if the stack height (height of heel above ground). Low cushioned shoes are more responsive meaning you have a better feel for the ground, tend to be lighter and more durable but obviously not as soft on the foot strikes.
#4 Breathable Upper. I steer clear of GTX unless I'm looking for a warmer winter shoe. Don't be afraid to step in puddles or river crossings. It's important to have a shoe that can breath and drain, keeping your feet dry. There's a balance between too breathable though which lets rocks and grit in and will do a number on your feet and put holes in your socks. 
#5 Even Wear. You should get your money's worth out of your shoe. This means that you should get many miles before hitting a show stopper like a blown upper, tread failure, or dead midsole. Some shoes will have tread that starts peeling off or the upper wears through. This is ok if the rest of your shoe is wearing down as well but not a good sign if this is after a few trips in the mountains. 
Bottom line - finding the ultimate trail shoe is a challenge and the options are continually evolving. The new Dynafit Alpine Pros ticks all these boxes but as mentioned, there are a handful of other great shoes for the Whites so make sure that you find the one that's right for you. You can support Run The Whites by shopping through our store or clicking through our affiliate link to runningwarehouse.com.
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1 comment

  • My favorite shoes for mountain running(mostly in the whites) are:
    Brooks Cascadia’s – They’ve had this series going for 10+ years now and although some of them have had a few flaws, they’ve been consistent with their fit and durability. Most times you can find they’re previous years versions for pretty cheap too!

    Salomon Sense Pro Max – I’ve been using these shoes for over a year now and have done a Pemi Loop and Presi Traverse in them and they’ve been amazing. I have a wider foot and I noticed these shoes have been known to have a wider toe box, so that’s why I went with them. They’re super grippy, light weight and have held up really well. Definitely my go-to trail shoe.

    La Sportiva Ultra Raptor – I used to run in these shoes all the time but use them for more multi day stuff because they’re very durable and super comfortable. They’re known as mountain running shoes and that’s definitely what they’re built for.

    Eric B

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