Altra’s new midsole compound gave
the Escalante one of the most notably soft feels of any shoe tested. While the squishiness may seem unnerving while walking around, it’s barely noticeable out on the roads. The flyknit upper has a soft seamless feel that follows the new knitted trend that saves weight while reducing hotspots. Then, there’s the typical Altra experience: a super-wide toe box to allow the foot to spread out naturally; a zero drop heel; and flexible construction to give a very sock-like fit. This is a fairly minimal, lightweight shoe that could be used for big mileage, fast workouts, or even longer races.
Inov8’s known for trail shoes, but the Parkclaw 275 is equally comfortable on trails and pavement. This is no small feat as most trail shoes are too stiff and heavy for roads, while most road shoes don’t have the support necessary for rough surfaces. The Parclaw’s low profile is plenty nimble and the tread is incredibly grippy. The level of stiffness is also appropriately cushy for the pounding
of the roads. While this shoe is good for both surfaces, it’s not necessarily amazing at either—but of course, that’s the point.
With a bevy of choices for racing flats, Brooks’ Hyperion stands out as a light- weight, but still reasonably cushioned option with a more traditional drop. Though it comes in well under 7 ounces, the Hyperion doesn’t feel like a shoe that’s lacking in outsole. While some race flats can feel responsive but abusive, the Hyperion has a more lively ride
than expected. The upper has clearly been minimized to save weight, and the seamless construction and ventilation make this shoe a great fit for T2. Though some may think that these are a short-course-only race-day flats, the Hyperion seems suited for races—or workouts—of any distance.
Without getting too far into the tech behind the On Cloudflyer, this shoe uses a proprietary CloudTec system that replaces a traditional closed-cell outsole with small pods that are meant to trans- fer energy and save weight. The Cloud- flyer also boasts slick Swiss styling and some of the most comfortable insole fabrics tested. While other models in the On line are meant to be more race-ready (and hence more responsive), this pair lands far on the firm/stiff side of the spectrum—ideal for runners needing more support.
The Draw: A slightly upgraded tried-and-true classic
The latest version of Asics’ classic flag- ship high-mileage, overpronation shoe got a few tiny tweaks. New, updated fabric on the heel cup gives a softer, more modern feel—and the possibility of slight heel slippage, especially at first. Expect a firm ride that should soften after a few runs. Though best used for training, the low weight of the GT-2000 still makes these conventional work- horses a good choice for longer events. *Tested and pictured in women’s version.
Built with Hoka’s signature oversized midsole for impact protection and a rocker system meant to propel runners forward, the latest version of the Clifton slightly reduces the cush in favor of a more responsive ride. While these shoes excel in downhill running (particularly good for those with knee or lower back issues), the rockered shape can take some getting used to and can be slightly unpredictable at first while on trails. With a luxuriously plush insole, this latest version of the Clifton seems to have found a sweet spot in the cushion to weight ratio: great for training and great for racing.
*Tested and pictured in women’s version.