[best traction in mud]
How effective are the fang-like lugs on these shoes? When one tester ran a slippery, muddy trail race in Oregon, he lowered his 50K time on the course by more than 20 minutes. “A lot of people repeatedly fell in the mud on the steep, slick hills, but not me,” he says. All testers raved about the traction, and many commented on the toothy Vibram lugs, which angle out diagonally from the sides of the soles. These “canines” are paired with an array of multi-directional triangular lugs—like terrain-grinding molars—spread over the rest of the outsole. But they’re not just for mud runs.
The burly trail runners are also suitable for fastpacking and dayhiking, thanks to a protective plate in the sole that shields the mid- and forefoot from sharp rocks. The Gore-Tex membrane keeps out all manner of mud, rain, and dew, while a D-ring centered over the toebox allows for easy, secure gaiter compatibility. The 4-mm drop from heel to toe will please those who like a minimalist profile. Bonus: durability. A couple hundred miles of shoe-trashing ultramarathon training produced just a few frayed threads and a slight rounding on the edges of the outsole lugs. Fit is best for medium to high arches. $130; 1 lb. 9 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-12; saucony.com