This is my third year of putting together a list of the most exciting lightweight trail shoes to look forward to. My posts for 2015 and 2016 have gone on to be some of Trail to Peak’s most viewed posts to date, and I expect this post for 2017 to be the same. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about so many new shoe models coming out. Six years ago, minimal shoes with very little cushion were all the rage…then Hoka came along and changed the game. The pendulum swung from minimum to maximum around 2014, and as you’ll see below, shoe manufacturers are riding the wave. Every shoe you’ll see below offers cushion and protection in a lightweight package. Another overall trend you’ll see across the lineup is a push towards bold and colorful designs. Salomon manufactures the most appealing shoes for my tastes, but many of their competitors have stepped up their game. Almost every shoe on this list incorporates welded overlays on the upper to wrap the foot comfortable, providing stability without being constricting like a stitched overlay. The final trend I’ll mention is a focus on sticky and durable outsoles. Many times, you’ll have to give up durability for a sticky outsole, that’s just the nature of the softer rubber needed to provide traction. Led by Vibram’s Megagrip and Salomon’s new wet grip Contragrip, outsole traction is no longer a big compromise in regards to durability. The other defining characteristic of an outsole is grip, which is determined by the lug pattern and depth of the shoes outsole lugs. I’m really liking the new designs put forth this year. I see a lot of flat lugs with good surface area for traction on slick surfaces, I also see an increase in space between lugs on a lot of shoes to help shed mud. Expect to see a lot of shoe reviews and previews coming your way in 2017, I can’t wait to try all of these new models out!!
1.) Salomon XA Enduro
The Salmon XA Enduro looks to be an absolute beast of a trail runner from Salomon, and is my choice as the most exciting trail shoe being released in 2017. The Enduro is listed at 10.6oz (300g), and will have a 19mm heel and 10mm forefoot. The midsole on the Enduro looks firm and responsive, and will incorporate Salomon’s Advanced Chassis system. The Enduro has full coverage Contra-grip outsole with a lug pattern similar to my Salomon X Alp Carbon’s, and a fill length ProFeel Film rockplate. My favorite feature is the integrated bootie gaiter to keep rocks and debris out. This shoe is now available for $160.
2.) Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra
The Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra is an evolution of the existing Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra lineup. The naming convention is a bit confusing here, as Salomon already has an SLAB Sense Ultra lineup with a numbered sequence now on number 5. I’m not sure if this shoe will replace that lineup and reset the numbers, or if it’s just a singular name that sits alongside the numbered shoes, much like the SLAB Wings before the SLAB Wings 8 debuted. However the naming is worked out, the SLAB Sense Ultra looks to be another incredible shoe by Salomon. This shoe has a 9mm drop, a full length Profeel Film rock plate, and more cushioning than in the SLAB Sense 5 Ultra. This shoe is now available for $180.
3.) Altra King MT FKT
The Altra King MT FKT is a brand new model from Altra and a very interesting trail shoe. The King MT has a very rugged looking upper with a Velcro strap on top to lock things down. The midsole uses Altra’s new EGO compound, and the King MT comes with an aggressive outsole. I think the King MT will be a very popular option for fastpackers and peakbaggers. This shoe is now available for $140.
4.) La Sportiva Akyra
The La Sportiva Akyra looks like the offsping of the La Sportiva Akasha and Ultra Raptor. Coming in 11.3oz and a 9mm drop, the Akyra is perfectly suited for long days on the mountain. I expect the Akyra to have a rock solid outsole like all Sportiva models.This shoe is now available for $140.
5.) Salomon Sense Pro Max
This is the third Salomon shoe in the top 5! The Sense Pro Max looks like a follow up to the firm Salomon Sense ProPulse. The Sense Pro Max looks to add a much softer ride with Salomon’s new Vibe midsole. The upper looks a lot like the Sense Pro 2, and like the Sense Pro 2, has a 6mm drop. The Sense Pro Max available now for $150.
6.) Scarpa Spin
The Scarpa Spin looks like an absolute screamer for mountain runs. At 8.9oz and a 4mm drop, this Spin is going to run fast. The Spin comes with a full length rockplate and a Vibram Megagrip outsole. The Spin is available now for $130.
7.) Dynafit Alpine Pro
Dynafit shoes are near impossible to find here in the US, but I still look upon them fondly. The Alpine Pro looks like a great shoe from Dynafit with it’s Vibram Megagrip outsole, and bombproof upper. Maybe this is the year that I actually get to review a pair of Dynafit shoes. These shoes are available now for $160.
8.) Brooks Caldera
The Caldera is a new trail shoe from Brooks. Coming in at 10oz with a 4mm drop, the Caldera reminds me a lot of the Brooks Pure Grit, mixed with some of the more protective elements of the Cascadia. It looks like Brooks took a page out of Altra’s book and added a Velcro gaiter trap like on the Lone Peak. The Caldera is available now for $140.
9.) Merrell Agility Peak Flex
The Peak Flex looks like a beefier version of the All Out Peak. The Peak Flex has a 6mm drop and a rockplate in the heel and forefoot. The Peak Flex is available now for $130.
10.) Arc’Teryx Norvan VT
The Norvan is the first trail runner ever produced by Arc’Teryx. When I heard Arc’Teryx would be releasing a shoe, I knew first and foremost that they would be more expensive than just about anything else on the market. It was probably the first time I wasn’t surprised by a $170 price tag on a shoe. Arc-Teryx has an innovative lacing design that will allow this shoe to go from trail runner to approach shoe with a hook system on the toe. The Norvan has no rockplate, and a Vibram Megagrip outsole. The Norvan is available now for $170.
11.) Saucony Peregrine 7
The Peregrine 7 is just a modest update over the Peregrine 6, with most changes coming to the upper. The Peregrine 7 is available now for $120.
12.) The North Face Endurus TR
The Northface Endurus TR is a brand new model from The North Face. This Endurus has a thick PlushFoam midsole and a snakeplate for rock protection. The Endurus is available now for $130.
13.) Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib
The Salomon SLAB XA Amphib is the fourth and final Salomon shoe on my list. What can I say?…I love Salomon products. The Amphib is going to a trail to water shoe as the name suggests. The midsole is the same as the SLAB Sense lineup, and the outsole has the new Wet Grip ContraGrip. The Amphib is available now for $180.
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14.) Inov-8 Roclite 290 and 305
The Roclite lineup has a very dear place in my heart, as the Roclite 290 was one of the first trail shoes I purchased some 7 years ago. This new version has a brand new upper and the new PowerFlow midsole. The outsole looks to be the same. This shoe has an 8mm drop and is available now for $130.
15.) Brooks Cascadia 12
The final shoe on my list is the Brooks Cascadia 12. The Cascadia has fallen out of favor in recent years due to fit and durability issues. It seems that the only thing keeping the Cascadia afloat is their abundance at department stores like REI. The Cascadia 12 looks like it might turnaround the transgressions of the 10 and 11, with a revamped outsole, midsole, and upper. Although a lot of the design elements look similar (especially the upper when compared to the Cascadia 9), this a really nicely redesigned shoe. I’m really looking forward to trying this one out and am optimistic about the Cascadia lineup going forward. The Cascadia is available now for $130.
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