Apr 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm #1315351
It’s time for my wife and me to replace our current trail runners, and would sincerely appreciate your recommendations for shoes you think would work well for us.
I’m 6 ft tall 175 lbs with an 11 size foot, she 5 ft 6 130 lbs with a 7 size foot. While we’re both normal width, we find many shoes cut too narrow, especially in the toe box (usually just for fashion), to allow room for foot swelling on higher mileage days.
We both have regular width feet, however, I have a bit of a tailor’s bunion on the outside of each foot, which can touch the side of a shoe if the midfoot is cut too narrow.
We put a lot of regular weekly miles on our shoes, typically hiking 3 miles/day on weekdays on hilly local trails, and 8-15 mile hikes on weekends.
We prefer shoes with a nylon rock plate underfoot, good cushioning and toe bumper, so we’re not fans of super minimalist shoes through which we can feel every root and rock and which wear out quickly.
My wife and I have put a lot of miles on our current shoe, the Saucony Xodus 3.0, which has held up extremely well to use (only failure points are tears in the forefoot mesh and cushioning around the ankle opening which has worn away). At 4mm drop it was our first low drop shoe, which we really loved and which eliminated issues we felt with higher drop shoes, though think that a zero drop shoe isn’t for us. While the Xodus has excellent cushioning, you still feel low to the ground and very sure-footed. Probably 4mm drop is ideal for us, max 8mm. Before this we used traditional 12mm drop trail shoes from Montrail, New Balance and Salomon. We found the Xodus 3.0 ran small, so our shoes are 1 ½ sizes above our foot size – me 12 ½, she 8 ½ (in most hiking/running shoes we typically wear at least a size larger).
My only issue with the Xodus 3.0 is that the midfoot is cut just narrow enough that with enough foot swelling the midfoot is cut a bit too close so that it can be a problem with my tailor’s bunion. In general the shoe would be perfect for me with just a tad more midfoot room and toe box. It’s possible that the current Xodus 4.0 would work well if I order it in a size 13 instead of my current 12 ½. Will try it on, but looking for other shoes to try as well.Apr 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm #2090353
@scubahhhLocale: White Mountains, mostly.
I've been happy with my 2 pairs. 4 mm. drop, nice wide toe box, and the uppers outlast the soles. I'm a big guy (6'4", 220#) and get close to 500 miles in the NH White Mountains, which are notoriously tough on shoes. My only issue has been that the insoles don't last long; I just replaced them whe. The fell apart with leftover insoles from my Viobarefoot every-day shoes.Apr 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm #2090366
sounds like you should check out peral izumi and altra.Apr 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm #2090377
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Measure your foot width properly! (Brannock Device)
CheersApr 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm #2090391
I love my size 48 Scarpa Sparks. I have a wide foot, and enjoy a minimal drop shoe.
I also really liked the fit of the Altra Lone Peak, but in the wet and muddy Adirondacks they slipped all over the place, and were actually quite dangerous. In a dryer climate I'm sure they would be a better choice.Apr 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm #2090419
Try the Helios. Minimal but not too. 4mm drop, rock plate, great traction, super durable.Apr 6, 2014 at 7:09 pm #2090477
Roger, you should know after how closely I followed your writing on shoe fitting that I've always measured with a Brannock device at the end of the day preferably after hiking : )
I've always measured Normal Width with a Brannock device, with foot length about 11 1/4 by end of the day. Like you, I feel most shoe manufacturers put fashion ahead of function and simply don't make the forefoot generous enough to allow for natural foot growth/swelling after hours and days of walking under loads.
Below's a photo of my lovely flippers – you'll see a bit of a tailor's bunion on the outside of my feet where the sock pattern changes from darker to lighter vertical lines. When the midfoot of a shoe narrows too much or too early from the forefoot, the bunion can touch the side of the shoe. So it's less about overall width and more about how soon the shoe narrows from the forefoot.Apr 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm #2090479
Thanks Richard – I wore some Vasques a few years back and will check out the Pendulum – nice to know they have a 4mm drop model. How much larger than your foot size did you buy them? Insoles on the Xodus have lasted very well. Not a big deal that the Pendulum insoles didn't last beyond 500 miles – you can replace them pretty easily. How's the traction and the durability of the sole? I've done hut to hut trips in the Whites and those trails do chew up shoes [and knees].
Thanks Peter, the Helios looks in the ballpark with their 4mm drop – will check them out. How much larger than your foot size did you buy them? How's the traction and durability of the sole? In the past I thought La Sportiva made a lot of shoes with narrow toe boxes and forefoot. I'm not a fan of La Sportiva SCREAMING loud colors, partly for practical reasons – when traveling it's nice to be able to use some trail runners as casual walking shoes so you don't have to bring another pair of shoes.
Phil at Sectionhiker and others have had good things to say about the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor, 8mm drop. Can anyone comment on the fit? Get them how many sizes up from foot size?
Thanks Wes, I'll check out the Scarpa Spark. 6mm drop. How's the durability of the sole? How much larger than your foot size did you buy them?
I agree about the Altras grip – I'll add that I don't think zero drop will work well for us and both my wife and I found the thick mountain logo on the side of the Altra Lone Peak to press in uncomfortably – and according to Zombierunner, one of our local trail running shops, this has been a common complaint.
Fb, which Pearl Izumi model/s?Apr 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm #2090512
I find the Helios fits true to size. Excellent outsole traction & durability. The upper is also durable. The wavy outsole pattern provides good cushion while remaining very light (8oz in size 9). Toe box seems roomier than some Sportiva models, but obviously you'd need to try them. This has been my favorite trail running shoe for the last 2 years.Apr 6, 2014 at 9:20 pm #2090519
@blabelleLocale: Davis, CA or on an adventure
I agree on the Helios. I've used them for ultras, and for fast packing where I knew there would be lots of talus or wet rock. They have a significantly wider toe box than a shoe like the Vertical K, for example.Apr 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm #2090528
@antonsolovyevLocale: Colorado, Utah
+1 on Scarpa Spark. I have wide feet and high arches. I first purchased Sparks for hiking. Now I have switched my running to them as well. I run 4-5 miles 5 days a week, no exceptions, mostly on hard surfaces.
I have climbed Elephant Butte in Arches NP in them, there are low fifth class moves on slickrock on the route. Sparks held fine on high angle sandstone. Not a climbing shoe, but never the less.Apr 6, 2014 at 10:06 pm #2090531
@chrisjgilmoreLocale: New Almaden
I use a Asics GT2000 II and love it i have adopted it for my Crossift shoe now too.
It works great and works well for both. Amazing grip in the hills on uneven surfaces and loose dirt and gravel.Apr 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm #2090540
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
I'd agree that the helios and the sparks are both good bets based on your description. I'd add the Nike Terra Kiger and Zoom Wildhorse (similar shoes) to your list as well. The terra kiger is probably the most anatomical fit that I've found (for my foot). Its cushy and light with good rock protection (not a plate though). Its an extremely smooth ride and the rounded heel works well for walking where you're more likely to heel strike more often.Apr 7, 2014 at 4:40 am #2090561
I find it amazing what some people consider to be a "wide toe box". Outside of Altra (whose models post sell-out have unnecessary arch support) and maybe the Nike, nothing mentioned thus far would qualify IMO. You might like the Inov-8 TrailRoc. I have the 235 (zero drop) but you might try the 245 or 255. They don't have a wide toe box IMO, but it's stretchy with no stiff overlays which allows it to work ok.
This is a wide (proper?) toe box:Apr 8, 2014 at 10:31 am #2090927
@lenchik101Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
I have high arch/wide feet "syndrome" and I've been using Nike because of their wide toebox and lightweight materials. Now I use Nike Women's Nike Zoom Wildhorse Trail Running Shoe.
-I believe it's 2.2 mm drop
I do want to add that I usually take the inserts out.Apr 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm #2090988
"I find it amazing what some people consider to be a "wide toe box". "
Exactly. I've never seen a pair of vasques that I consider having a wide toe box!
I have one pair of brooks that are wide, else I go with a few nikes…not the best trail runners, but they have a wide toe box at least.Apr 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm #2091105
Thanks Chris and Michael, agreed.
Michael, which Nikes do you use, and why don't you think they make great trail runners? Even though the two Nike shoes recommended by the Nike rep below don't have a rock plate, he said their outsoles were protective enough.
Thanks Elena, the Nike rep who replied to my email agreed with you. Don't think I've ever received such a detailed answer from a shoe company before. Sharing for everyone's benefit below. Do you find the outsole protective even though it doesn't have a nylon rock plate, and how's the traction in dry and wet weather?
My name is Dave and I am a Nike Running Pro. We currently offer two Nike Running shoes that are trail specific and I would be glad to give you the run down on both of these items. Let's dive right in. These shoes are the Nike Zoom Wildhorse (men's – http://goo.gl/5Jsf1q women's – http://goo.gl/jS1k9c) and the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger (men's – http://goo.gl/I8SVMs women's – .http://goo.gl/h087R2). In addition, both of these shoes share many commonalities. For instance, both models have a 4 millimeter offset, a rounded heel, and aggressive lugs on the outsole. In concert with this, both have Zoom Units built into the midsole for a highly cushioned ride. However, the Nike Zoom Wildhorse only has one Zoom Unit under the heel, where the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger boasts two Zoom Units under the heel and forefoot respectively.
Moving on, both models are extremely lightweight, fall into the neutral category, and fit true to size. I believe that either of these shoes would be an excellent fit for you and your wife based on your description of prerequisites. Ultimately, I would make the final decision between these two models based on your desired level of cushioning. For my taste, I prefer the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger and have run a full marathon in these shoes in complete comfort and happiness. However, while neither of these shoes feature a nylon rockplate, our outsole is very rugged and up any terrain without sacrificing premium impact absorption. EJ, don't hesitate to reply to this email or even call me directly if I can be of further assistance to you. My direct line is 1-877-645-3500 ext 189224. I am out of the office on Thursday and Friday, but the Nike Running Pro team is available seven days a week between 8 and 5 PST. Enjoy your running and stay in touch.
Nike Pro ServicesApr 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm #2091106
Anyone wear the Peregrine? While a past model I checked out didn't have one, the current model has a nylon rock plate. 4mm drop and seems like good cushioning.
Chris, how have the Altra models changed? I just took a Spanish friend visiting from Dubai who was suffering from foot issues to Zombierunner, our local trail running shop, and the Altra lone Peak seemed to be just as wide as ever – he bought them as walking shoes.
We adjusted easily to 4mm drop shoes from 12mm, but I think zero drop shoes might not feel good climbing hills and might be too different from our work shoes (even though we try to stick with shoes with very low heels).Apr 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm #2091111
These are some models the guys at Zombierunner mentioned:
Newton Boco 2mm drop
Topo MT 2mm drop (from ex-CEO of Vibram)
Merrell All Out Rush – 6mm drop
Brooks Pure Grit 4mm (though said they were narrow)
Asics Fuji Racer (though said they were narrow toe box)
Salomon Sense Pro 6mm Rock Plate
While some of the shoes didn't have the widest toe box they had more forgiving and stretchy material on the sides (which might be less durable than harder material).
Might be very helpful to put together a shoe spreadsheet like John Abela's pack and shelter spreadsheets as shoe recommendation questions come up a lot.Apr 9, 2014 at 8:28 am #2091174
Chris, how have the Altra models changed?
My original Instinct (2 pairs) had a flat midsole (no arch). All of the models I tried post sellout (2011) had added an arch (could be felt pretty easily by running your fingers across the interior of the shoe) which became even more pronounced with the insole in. It caused issues for me, but may be of no consequence to others. I don't like a lot of unnecessary support.Apr 9, 2014 at 8:40 am #2091179
@scubahhhLocale: White Mountains, mostly.
You asked about sizing for the Vasque Pendulum shoe.
Normally size 13 Ds are a pretty tight fit on me, and both pairs of Pendulums are size 14, regular width. They fit fine with a pair of good old-fashioned ragg socks, and are a little roomy with anything thinner. They do stretch a little over time, I think. it works out fine for me because I usualy wear ragg socks in the mornign, and chage them out for something dry and lighter at lunchtime… so as my feet swell, more room in the shoes magically appears.
Just my 2 ¢… YMMV
Have fun!Apr 9, 2014 at 9:02 am #2091188
I don't like big arch supports in my shoes or a big heel rise either, but I have a wide mid foot and find a lot of shoes with a big toe box taper too quickly for my foot.I thought at first the arch would bother me on the shoes I am currently wearing but they formed to my foot very quickly and I have had no issue.I have worn the Altra Superior and Intuition 1.5 and found them very slippery, but the Nike Flex Experience Run2 have not been slippery ,have a great width that does not taper as quickly as most shoes and come in 4E. They do not have a minimal rise(I don't remember what they are but not huge)and they are not designated as trail runners but I have had no issues with hiking in them, I was actually very surprised because I can't tell you the last time I owned a pair of Nikes and almost didn't try them because they were Nikes and not trail runners. They may not be what you are looking for but I thought I would throw it out there.Apr 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm #2091298
"I feel most shoe manufacturers put fashion ahead of function and simply don't make the forefoot generous enough to allow for natural foot growth/swelling after hours and days of walking under loads."
Keep in mind you're shopping for trail RUNNING shoes. I prefer a less generous toe box for running, particularly on more technical terrain and steep descents. Wide toe boxes can be sloppy and imprecise feeling.Apr 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm #2091303
@lenchik101Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
"Do you find the outsole protective even though it doesn't have a nylon rock plate, and how's the traction in dry and wet weather?"
I'm not sure about the conditions you may experience and they might be different from mine. Right now I primarily run and hike on forest trails. But fully planning on taking these shoes above the tree line.
Outsole is definitely more protective and stable than any minimalist shoe out there, it is thick and lined with a waffle, so far it has proven to be a good grip however i have not ran or hiked on a wet rock exclusively.
The fit may feel a slight tight at first, because the shoe feels like a sock. However, in all my shoes, I take the insole out because of high arch.
I don't like any stiff shoe materials upper, therefore Nike is ideal for me because they are so comfortable out of the box. But this may also mean the upper mesh material is more prone to tears. However, there is another layer of material just below mesh that looks strong so far.
Basically, if you want to run and hike in slippers but want grip and protection this is the closest you get to the experience:)Apr 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm #2091346
I have a pair of Peregrines. Was really hopeful when I bought a pair. But after just wearing them to the gym, they are not up to much more than that (and that is the only place I use them except for use as a vacation shoe). The toe box is small, and the lateral support is non-existent and so you don't feel confident on anything but flat ground. I would not recommend these shoes. They are about two years old.
You should take all this with a grain of salt. I currently wear Salomon Comp XA5s. In contrast, this shoe is ever so slightly heavier (not more than a couple ounces for the pair). But they have a very nice toe box and I sized up a half size and am quite happy. Also, the torsional stability is much higher and very confidence inspiring. I also very much like the lacing on this shoe; I can get it just right. And when I really need to anchor it to my ankle (long steep downhills) I can without making it painful. I've used them in very steep stuff near home and in the Sierra's. An excellent shoe, for myself anyways. I am considering getting the XA7 because my XA5s are getting near their end. A long tough hike coming up in a couple weeks will let me know if I'll be making that purchase. Good luck on your hunt.
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