2019 Gear Preview: Trail Running Shoes at Outdoor Retailer

Trail runners get dialed-in drop and extra support as customers train for their next ultrarun or thru-hike.
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Trail Running Trends We Saw at Outdoor Retailer

Cross Fit

With backpacking gear getting lighter than ever, many backpackers carrying less than 30 pounds are trading their light hiking boots for trail runners, according to Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, California. “Customers see that they can drop the weight of their footwear and maintain a great level of support,” he says. Infused EVA or dual-density polyurethane midsoles with TPU stabilizers and rock plates make ultralight trail running shoes appetizing for customers who might never run a mile in them.

Dropping Out

The fanfare around minimalist trail runners has subsided, according to Rob Singer, footwear buyer at Rock/Creek Outfitters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Zero-drop has settled down to 4- to 6-millimeter drop,” he says. This still gives runners the feeling of being barefoot without the steep learning curve of having to change their form in a zero-drop shoe. “People want a more natural stance when they’re running, and a 4- to 6-millimeter drop is the best of all worlds,” he says.

Building a Quiver

As trail running becomes increasingly popular, customers are buying multiple pairs of shoes to enhance their training regimen. “The race distances have broadened so that now one shoe doesn’t always cut it for training,” says Melissa McNell, footwear buyer at Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vermont. By buying both an all-terrain shoe for long distances and a more technical shoe for training in particularly wet or difficult conditions, customers can dial in their performance.