Trail runners are a hardy bunch, and a change in weather doesn’t slow them down. Here are a few of the trends, tech, treads and top picks we’re most excited about to extend your trail season:
Trend: forging new paths
Races, run crews and clinics have been cancelled or postponed, but that hasn’t stopped trail runners’ motivations. Virtual races, online scavenger hunts, and FKT (fastest known time) records have emerged in full swing. In fact, during the first few months of COVID-19, we saw a big boost in trail running shoe sales – so not only are you finding ways to get out there safely, you’re getting out there more than ever.
Without race aid stations or run group leaders, it’s incredibly important to be prepared on the trails. MEC member and Salomon Ambassador Jeff Pelletier shares his 10 essentials for trail running:
Jeff’s 10 essentials, which all fit into a 12L Salomon running pack
- Headlamp, plus a backup or spare battery if you’re heading out at night
- Extra clothing
- Emergency bivy or blanket
- Water (Jeff uses the Salomon XA filter for water treatment) and nutrition
- First aid kit
- Lighter/waterproof matches
- Compass and map (plus skills to use them). Jeff also likes the Suunto Baro 9 for creating and uploading routes to follow, and the Garmin inReach for serious backcountry travel.
- Other essentials, like sunscreen, traction devices, or trekking poles
Tech: Latest run watches
During this COVID-19 era, days can kind of feel like they’re blurring together. Run watches can be a way to keep motivated and get a sense of achievement from seeing measurable progress in action:
Garmin Fenix: now with solar power
Garmin Fenix 6 watches set the bar for trail tech: they’re rugged, have amazing battery life, and track every stat you can think of. New this year are Fenix 6 Pro Solar editions with a built-in solar panel to give the battery a boost. Plus, if you’re a climber as well as a trail runner, the Fenix 6 now offers activity tracking for indoor climbing and bouldering too.
Suunto 7: Google integration, custom sport modes
Suunto’s newest watch, the Suunto 7, is their first to work on the Google Wear OS (they call it their smartest smartwatch yet). You can access your Google account for Google Pay™ contact-less payment, calendar updates, Google Maps and more. It has 70+ sport modes to track your activities accurately, free offline outdoor maps, and connects to your phone’s playlist to control tracks through your watch.
Treads: Wildly grippy trail shoes
Want to keep the rubber side down? These are a few of our favourite grippy picks:
La Sportiva Bushido II
La Sportiva has deep roots in mountaineering and climbing, so it’s natural they’ve created shoes to move quickly in steep terrain. The Bushido II gets excellent reviews with many runners noting just how comfortable they are. Sticky, aggressive lugs give solid grip in sloppy conditions, and they shoes are cushioned without being too heavy. Great for new trail runners getting used to gravel and singletrack, or for experienced runners covering serious distance.
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
On the hunt for mega cushion? Pick up a pair of Hoka Speedgoat 4 shoes to float down switchbacks, over roots, and on hours of long runs. The latest iteration of Speedgoats are designed to give even more control (thanks to the midfoot overlays) and grip (thanks to the larger, multi-directional lugs).
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 shoes don’t mess around when it comes to chomping into gnarly terrain – they call the lugs TrailClaws – and that’s part of the reason for their legendary status. The ample toe box lets toes spread naturally, and the zero drop promotes a natural stride. Lone Peaks are hugely popular with long-distance thru-hikers if you’re got distance in your future.
Top gear: MEC member favourites
While newness is exciting, some classics just keep getting more popular. The numbers don’t lie – these are the pieces MEC members are turning to year and year.
Salomon Adv Skin Set Packs
Salomon running packs are top picks for many MEC members, especially the Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Pack – it’s our best-selling running pack. It has enough space to hold what you need for long runs, and is super comfortable (check the reviews for proof). The Salomon Adv Skin 8 Set Pack is a slightly smaller version, pared down for runners on slightly shorter runs or for runners who prefer a minimalist approach with just the essentials.
Salomon Speedcross 5
Trail running’s dirtiest secret is that walking uphill (a.k.a. power hiking) is the norm. So it’s not surprising to learn that Salomon Speedcross shoes are a hit for day hiking as well as trail running. They’re our best-selling trail shoe and they’ve accumulated some loyal followers, according to the reviews.
Stay safe and happy trails!