Merrell Trail Glove 4 Trail-Running Shoes
Research shows that carrying one pound on your feet uses as much energy as carrying five pounds on your back. If you're intent on stripping down your footwear to the essentials, look no further than the Trail Glove. At a scant 12 ounces per pair, the Trail Glove has a barefoot-like feel, but its full-rubber bottom protected us against rocks and roots better than most other super-minimalist running shoes. Bonus: Small enough to stuff in a climbing pack for the descent. Get a pair here.
Altra Lone Peak 4
Altra's Lone Peaks have become the favored trail shoe of everyone from thru-hikers to dayhikers; we've personally used them for everything from weekend-long backpacking trips on the Continental Divide Trail to rugged half-marathons in Colorado. Right now, you can snag a deal on the Altra Lone Peak 4, which features updated MaxTrac rubber outsoles, a cushy 25-millimeter stack height, and Altra's signature wide toebox. Bonus: Attachment points make it easy to keep sand out with lightweight gaiters. Buy it here.
Topo Athletic Terraventure 2
From California’s Eastern Sierra to Arizona’s red desert, speeding up rocky inclines to bombing slick descents, testers raved about the comfort of the Terraventure 2. A generous toebox keeps wider feet happy, but even those with a narrower forefoot lauded the extra space for splay. “These aren’t so spacious that they get sloppy,” said one tester after 32 days on trail. The dual-density EVA midsole is relatively thin, but the plastic rock plate prevented bruising on a bumpy, 6-mile run on California’s San Bruno Mountain.
The Terraventure 2 has a PU exoskeleton to improve the durability of the mesh upper without affecting airflow. “These breathe so well that my feet never overheated even when I was pushing hard for hours on a 90°F day,” says our California tester. A 3mm drop will please minimalist runners, but heel-strikers may want to look elsewhere. The shoe has attachment points for gaiters ($20, sold separately), but they sag and allow debris in. Buy it today.