Last updated: 17-Aug-18
You might have been lucky where you live with a warm and sunny end to summer but all too soon you’ll be looking out your trail shoes for wet and muddy running. (If you live in Scotland you will have had these trail shoes on your feet for a few weeks now!)
At this time of year, trail and hill running shoes need to be able to cope with more slippery and mucky off-road conditions.
When it comes to the wet and running, it’s an individual choice; some people like footwear that allows the water in but quickly out again, while others prefer to wear shoes that offer some waterproof protection such as with a GTX lining. (We will be reviewing a few GTX trainers later this year.)
On review this month are Merrell All Out Crush Light trainers and Brooks Cascadia 11 shoes.
Merrell All Out Crush Light
The trainers weigh in at just 6oz (170g) and you can immediately feel this lightness when you put them on.
The shoes are generous in length and offer room at the toe box for pounding the trails. I would class them as medium width at the forefoot. (They are a bit wide for me but I have a super narrow foot.)
The lacing is standard and you can gain a good and fairly supportive fit. The heel area has a bit of cushioning in the upper area but not much. It really depends on what you like.
The upper is mostly mesh with some toe and side protection. The mesh is tight weave so there is less chance of debris penetrating the foot inside.
I rate these as hill running shoes rather than hard-packed trail or rough mountain shoes. The soles would quickly wear down on hard packed trails and tarmac, while the uppers would be destroyed by a lot of mountain type rocks and roughness.
However, they are shoes I’d very happily wear on wet and muddy hills.
The Uni-Fly sole is fairly flexible and has just a 6mm heel to toe drop so if you like a more natural feel to your off-road running these shoes are a good choice. There is a surprising amount of stability when running off-road despite the “natural” style of shoe.
The sole also features an aggressive 5mm lug that offers really good trip on muddy and wet terrain. If you are running hard-packed or stony trails you might feel the ground beneath your feet but for soft, wet and muddy terrain they are a great choice.
The material of the soles also looks hard wearing although I worry that cracks might appear in the long term where the soles crease across the foot.
Running in the shoes feels easy and light. They are a natural, flat insole and fairly non-supportive style of trainers and so they will suit people who prefer greater ground feel rather than lots of cushioning and support.
If you are looking for a shoe that is a bit heavier there’s the All Out Crush (1oz/28gr heavier per shoe), while the All Out Crush Shield offers more upper protection and claims to keep out more water.
PROS: Lightweight, natural feel, easy to wear, great sole grip, vegan friendly.
CONS: Lack of cushioning and support will put off some runners, concerns about durability of flexi sole, basic upper protection.
CONCLUSION: For runners who like a natural shoe but with lots of grip and more stability underfoot that you might usually get in a lightweight shoe, this is a good choice.
Brooks Cascadia 11
Brooks describe the shoes as being “like an SUV for your feet” and delivering “a cushioned, balanced ride”.
The Brooks weigh almost twice as much as the Merrell shoes, (men’s 11.8 oz/334g) and have a mid-sole drop 10mm so they are a much more traditional style of running shoe.
The shoes feel nicely supportive and the upper is quite plush when compared to other trail shoes. The tongue is cushioned and the heel area has great padding.
If you like a roomy fit these shoes are not for you. They feel quite narrow across the forefoot.
I think the shoes look more like road running footwear but with a sole that is aimed at trail running use.
The upper is robust with tight weave to keep out debris and lots of protection around the sides and at the toe. There’s webbing over the midfoot support area.
The upper will also offer more insulation of chilly runs if that is what you are looking for.
The sole is fairly stiff, which makes it great for rough and stony trails. You hardly feel the terrain beneath your feet. The cushioning is not as pronounced as, say, Hoka shoes, but then Hokas are in a field of their own.
PROS: Good, solid shoe with lots of cushioning and upper protection.
CONS: Quite heavy and fairly neat fitting so it may not suit the average foot; rather traditional in styling.
CONCLUSION: This is a reliable, solid and supportive shoe but I can’t get super excited about it.
All images Fiona Outdoors unless stated.
Have you used the Merrell All Out Crush Light or the Brooks Cascadia 11 shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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