They’re Trail Runners. So I Ran in Them

When I was researching footwear for hiking, I noticed that technical trail running shoes were de rigueur among hikers for their lighter weight, great traction and rugged durability. As a non-technical trail runner, that appealed to me, so I grabbed a pair of Merrell All Out Peak’s at a great price. Aside from the stiffer sole and beefed up toe (both important for surviving rocks and roots on the AT, as I quickly found out) they had the light weight and fit of my usual Asics non-technical trail runners.

The Merrell All Out Peak. They look significantly different (translation: worn and trail dirty) than this now.

Surprisingly, I never actually tried them for running until the other day, when a couple inches of snow covered the trail and fields on which I typically run. I opted to take them out for a quick five miler. Here’s what I found:

  1. Their weight and upper feel was comparable to my normal fare. Decent fit and feel. No hot spots, snug to the heel.
  2. The ride felt stiff to the soles of my feet at first. After a half mile or so, that feeling faded as my feet adjusted. I expected that, however; a first run in any new shoe always lends itself to an adjustment period.
  3. The traction wasn’t noticeably different except on snow covered grass. There, they outdid my Asics by a solid margin. Also noticed a slight difference on smooth snow packed/melted to the consistency of ice. That could be the Vibram outsole. Or it could be that I expected the Vibram outsole to perform better, so assumed that it did. Psychology.
  4. A noticeable difference on dry asphalt between these and my Asics. They slapped the pavement, and the firm ride and more limited toe-off was definitely more pronounced. But it should be. They’re TRAIL runners, after all. No points taken away. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to run any distance on asphalt in these shoes. A quarter mile told me all I needed to know.

Overall, I liked the feel of them. They were stable and delivered good traction, though a slightly stiffer ride. But I appreciated them enough to consider using technical trail runners in winter from now on…




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