As the cross-country season beckons, many runners are venturing off-road and here we take a look at some of the latest trail offerings from leading shoe brands
NNormal – Kjerag – £170.00
The shoe that Kilian Jornet won the 2022 UTMB race in, the Kjerag is actually a shoe he developed and a brand he created.
It’s very much a trail racer, although Kilian says his UTMB-winning shoes have covered over 1500km, so it’s built to go the distance. Being durable was one of the considerations in creating the shoes, a factor to help with sustainability.
The shoe features a relatively low-profile midsole cushioning with a 23.5mm of stack in the heel and a 6mm drop in the EExpure foam, a foam they say was developed specifically for trail shoes. It has a familiar feel and ride, similar to that of many Pebax-based marathon racing shoes.
Grip comes from a Vibram Metagrip Litebase sole with 3.5mm deep lugs. While not the most aggressive shoe, it is able to cope with the variety of trail surfaces you might encounter on a longer mountain race (firm footpaths and forest trails).
The Kevlar-reinforced Matryx upper fabric is both strong and lightweight, with a single-layer construction, again built for speed.
The Kjerag is a high-performance shoe and Kilian has had great success with it. For mere mortals, it is perhaps better suited to firm trails run at a faster pace thanks to its highly responsive feel and lightweight racer feel.
Salomon – Thundercross – £140.00
Off-road specialists, Salomon have a brand-new model, the Thundercross, which offers high levels of cushioning and grip for a dynamic and cushioned ride.
At 5mm deep, the outsole lugs appear aggressive, with a design that inspires confidence when both ascending and descending steep hillsides. The deep chevron pattern bites into the ground and provides coverage across the full width of the shoe.
Cushioning comes from the brand’s energy foam, which is softer and more responsive than previous generations of trail shoes and at 31mm deep in the heel, there’s plenty available to soak up the terrain.
The shoe’s upper is typical Salomon, strong and well made, with durable overlays for protection, a reinforced toe bumper and the familiar quicklace for a customised fit.
Suitable for regular off-road training thanks to the plentiful cushioning as well as racing, where the deep lugs allow you to attack the trails, this is a versatile trail shoe…