Trail running shoes have to be different from their ‘road running’ counterparts because unlike roads, trails are unpredictable. The tarmac path, even if it is pothole ridden, is even surfaced for a runner and there are no major undulations. On the other hand, trails are undulating in nature aided by presence of mud, boulders, and potholes hidden under decaying leaves.
Thus, trail running shoes must satisfy the following three requirements:
significant cushion between the foot and the ground
- comfortable outsole with tread patterns or deeper lugs
- dust proof material or washable outer material
Before we begin, I am not a pro at running and I have limited experience of being on the trail as a runner. Though I have good experience of running down from a mountain pass in rain and snow. So much so that once I walked (at brisk pace) 30km in one day from Chamba(Laqa Temple -2000m) to Utrala(1800m) across Jalsu Pass(3400m) in a day. That’s an overall elevation change of +1400 m to -1600m.
I had to make a choice between Wilcox and Hugo and because I have an ankle issue (owing to my Himalayan trekking
misadventures) I decided to go for Hugo. This comes with a high ankle support which greatly reduces the risk of acute traumatic injury, like an ankle sprain which isn’t uncommon for trail runners.
Now no material in the world, in my understanding can be dust proof, but if the material is dust repellent and washable it surely is a big advantage. Hugo scores big in this aspect.
Let’s have a look at the specifications and features of this product:
- Product Name: Wildcraft Trail Running Shoes: Hugo (Black-Green)
- Material Specifications: Dust proof mesh upper with PU coverage and TPU protection
- 5mm lugs
- Anti-Slip Laces
- High Ankle with Collar
- IMEVA Footbed
- Moulded Insocks
- Weight: 800 grams
Imagine a scenario: You’re running, with your earphones plugged in, trying to focus hard on the trail. And while you do, all your energy points are converging at your feet. You push down your leg and lift the other one to move ahead. This endless circle compresses and expands the arch of your feet. If your insole doesn’t support your arch, you’ll have an uncomfortable run and that’s where moulded insocks play an important role. This constant squirming movement of the feet arch is controlled by moulded insocks resting above a cushioned footbed thereby leading to a comfortable run.
The IMEVA footbed offers better cushioning responsiveness on uneven surfaces. Moreover, EVA being eco-friendly in processing and manufacturing makes it a natural choice over compression injection midsoles. Anti-Slip laces are upto the mark and you really don’t have to tie your shoelaces after every watery crossing. That saves a great deal of time and energy as bowing down every now and then to tie your laces surely brings down the motivation of a runner.
The lug pattern is forward pointing towards the toe and backwards pointing towards the heel, which offers great traction on the go. This Chevron patterning of lugs ensures solid performance come mud or asphalt. With a tapered finish, lugs penetrate easily on a muddy trail offering better gripping. Lug spacing is sufficient to throw off mud or soil as you run.
While treading along the sandy banks of a nearby river, I observed that the sole tends to slip on extremely wet surfaces and doesn’t hold as good as it does on a muddy trail. Taking into consideration the weight of this product, deep lugs, high ankle-support, and up-front toe guards, I will place it in ‘meant for rugged and hiking trails‘ category. The outer material is protective against scratches that may be caused by thorns or bushes. So you’re fully covered on a hiking trail.
Usually trail running shoes don’t have a solid toe and the failure starts at the toe. Despite having a toe guard, I decided to put it through rigorous skip–rope test. Now, I may not be a good runner but I am a pro at skipping ropes (and classes too) and so far I have done over 5000 rope jumps wearing these shoes and the toe guard doesn’t mind that at all. Though my feet don’t really appreciate all this torture in the name of gear testing.
However, how well does it fare in a purely rocky terrain is yet to be seen as I haven’t had a chance to take these shoes to a boulder zone. Though I am sure these shoes are intended to work perfectly on a hiking trail. My understanding of shoes suggests that this shoe has to be a bit heavy (personally I hate anything that weighs heavy) to be able to work on purely rocky terrain. Also, those two lugs in the front, right below the toe-cover are not aesthetically placed. Functionally, Yes. Aesthetically, No. They look like teeth protruding out of your feet.
According to Outdoor Participation Report 2016, trail running has emerged as one of the most popular outdoor activities among youth aged 6-25 years. As one see, of late running has become immensely popular in India too.
Dr. Scott Levin, a sports medicine expert and orthopedic surgeon, in an article published in Runner’s World stated that, “Some of the forces that would normally be transmitted from the pavement up to the ankles, knees, shins, and hips are dissipated when the foot hits the ground on the trails because there’s some give there.”
Hit the trail. It is scientifically proven that it benefits your body and mind.
Pro Tip: Buy a size bigger than what you usually wear as your feet tend to swell as you run more and more miles.
Read REI’s expert advice on How to Choose Your Trail Running Shoes