Model: Mountain Gecko
Why we like: it The Gecko delivers a rare combination of natural, barefoot-like stride with the protection, cushion, and traction of an everyday trail runner.
Stability While most trail runners have a more cushioned and elevated heel and barefoot runners have little to no cushion, the Gecko is a unique hybrid. It’s a “zero drop” midsole (the sole height under the heel is the same as under the toe), but with dual-density*EVA cushion. The softer layer conforms to trail irregularities: Instead of pitching your foot one way when you step on a rock, it absorbs the impact and keeps the foot level, stable, and balanced. The solid platform and the tiny, grippy lugs helped one runner cruise through a rugged Hells Canyon, Idaho, trail marathon.
Protection A rubber rand wraps completely around the shoe to protect against toe-bashing rocks, and a gusseted tongue keeps out trail debris. Underneath, the midsole’s firm upper layer guards against sharp rocks and other trail hazards. Result? On that Hells Canyon marathon, the Mountain Gecko handled every type of terrain: sand, hard pack, loose rock, scree, and mud.
Comfort A silky-soft, wicking microfiber lining has minimal seaming so testers could run sockless. Plenty of contoured foam around the heel and tongue soothe feet and help secure them to prevent blister-causing friction.
ding The oval laces came undone with maddening ease, even when triple-knotted.
$90; 1 lb. 6 oz.; m’s 7.5-13,
w’s 6-11; golitefootwear.com
*Dual density Midsoles with two densities often use firmer material on the inside edge to support the arch and resist pronation.