trail shoe recommendations

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    Christopher C


    Hey backpackers,

    About 16 months ago, I went out and bought a pair of Inov8 Roclite 295s in preparation for a SHT thru hike.  While I loved the weight and the breathability of the shoe, I ended up with severe pain in the balls and arches of my feet and had to end my hike after about 108 miles. Have any of you had that problem with the 295s?

    I’d like to plan another big trip for next summer, but I don’t want this to happen to me again…  Does anyone have any recommendations for a breathable, lightweight trail runner / trail shoe that provides more support?




    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The classic and only too common cause for these symptoms is that your feet are wider than the Roclites. Get your feet measured on a Brannock Device in a Sports Store and ONLY buy shoes that width or even wider. If the box does not specify the width, it will most likely be a D fitting.

    And go up one size from the length measured in-store too. Your feet WILL swell up by the end of the day.


    John W
    BPL Member


    I’ve tried Salewa Ultra Train, Lems Primal2 shoes and Altra Superior 2.0 for hiking.

    It is very important for your shoe not to constrict your foot. Most shoes, like Salewa, have a narrow footbox which turns out to be quite a problem. Lems are wide, very minimal and light, but their microfiber fabric soaks up every drop of dew in the morning and they never dry. Altra Superiors were much better in this regard but the biggest available size at the local store ultimately turned out a bit small (I was leaving for a hike and it was a choice of these or my soaking Lems). Had to take the insole out.

    Got a half-size bigger Altra Lone Peaks 3.0 for my next hike. Seems great.

    Lester Moore
    BPL Member


    Locale: Olympic Peninsula, WA

    How much time did you spend in the shoes (or any other trail runners) before your trip? If you are accustomed to heavier hiking shoes/boots for backpacking, then it can take a season or two to get the feet and ankles used to light trail running shoes.

    +1 on sizing up with your shoes. In addition to sizing up, I keep the laces super loose so I can slip the shoes off and on my foot easily – this approach is much more comfortable than tightening the laces down. Takes a while to get used to, but I’ll never go back now, even for steep downhill and sidehilling.

    Fit, and close behind it comfort, are 95% of what to look for in a trail runner IMHO. Breathability, weight and other factors are way less important than the fit. Fit and comfort are quite subjective and variable from person to person.

    Also consider multiple trail runners for different uses. For maintained trails I like Hoka Speed instincts but for rough trails or off trail I wear La Sportiva Ultra Raptors instead.

    Ben C
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kentucky

    Specific recommendations are hard with shoes.  What’s good for me might not be good for you.  Most Inov’8s seem to fit me well.  I’ve had good experiences with the 295s.  Try a different pair that seem to fit well.  Wear them around town for awhile.  If they feel good, buy another pair.

    Steofan M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bohemian Alps

    Brooks Ghost 10’s are my current fave. 20.6 oz for the pair. I did go up one size from normal and keep the toe lacings loose but tighten the heel. These are very comfortable walking, trail running and stream crossing as they breath quite well.
    Several running shoe warehouses have fit/happiness guarantees, so shop around.

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