Expert Reviews of Trail Running Shoes by Jans

Expert Reviews of Trail Running Shoes by Jans

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Avid runner, trail racer and Jan’s expert, Patrick Coffey, provided the following product reviews about a variety of trail running shoes sold by Jans and White Pine Touring. Logging 20-30 miles a week running on Park City trails each summer, Patrick loves to run in the mountains, so much so that he participated in the 2013 Triple Trail Challenge. Over a period of five weeks, Patrick ran the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, a 16 mile loop with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet, the Park City Marathon and will run the Mid Mountain Marathon this weekend which traverses Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and the Canyons. Patrick shares his expert insights gained from wearing some of the shoes reviewed below during the Triple Trail Challenge.

HOKA OneOne Evo Stinson:

Up front I want to say that the HOKA OneOne Evo Stinson running shoes perform exactly as advertised.  These running shoes feel like you’re walking on a pillow.  The tread pattern is plenty aggressive for trail use, and the shoe is well constructed to take a tough season of abuse.  With that said I would not recommend the HOKAs for trail running.  With the thick, well cushioned sole, I found myself struggling to have a good feel for the trail, which is less than ideal when you have to navigate rocks and tree roots.  However, if sore knees or hips keep you off of the trail, then this running shoe could be just what you are looking for. Head on over to White Pine Touring and try on a pair.

LaSportiva Helios:

When I first saw the LaSportiva Helios, I was skeptical.  I am generally a fan of more stout, beefier trail running shoes.  These light weight runners with the odd looking tread would be a new adventure for me into the world of trail racing shoes.  With that said,  the Helios rock.  The upper wraps well, and the toe box can accommodate a slim, low volume foot.  The tread pattern is incredibly effective, especially on downhills.  These running shoes were my pick for the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase and you can find them at White Pine Touring.  The cushion in the heel is very impressive.  My only warning is that you can feel every bump in the trail.  There is no strike plate in the LaSportiva Helios, which prevent them from protecting your forefoot.

Scott Aztec 3:

Available at Jans’ flagship location on Park Avenue, the Scott Aztec 3 is my kind of trail shoe.  With a fairly large 11 mm drop these running shoes climb like a dream.  The Vibram sole protects your feet making it great for the all day warrior.  The midsole is pretty stiff which pushes it towards the category of being a light hiking shoe.  And even though the Aztec is a burlier shoe, it is still incredibly light.  The walls of the upper are made of mesh which makes them very breathable.  I imagine that they shed water well (which I can’t really tell you from personal experience since it never rains in Park City!).  The Scott Aztec 3 is great for long, long days on the trail.  I even backpack in them.  But, if you are looking to pick up speed on the downhills, it’s best to leave these trail running shoes at home.

Scarpa Spark:

The Scarpa Spark offers a great mix of stability in a lightweight trail running shoe thanks to a woven nylon strike plate in the forefoot.  The last in the Spark also creates a nice platform for stability, being fairly rigid and a bit wider in the heel than some other running shoes.  I expected to feel a big difference climbing in  trail runners due to their low weight, but I found them to feel best on the descent.  I felt quick and nimble knowing that I could trust the shoes to grab on any surface.  Try on a pair and see for yourself at White Pine Touring.

Patagonia Everlong:

Even though the Patagonia Everlong won’t be released until next spring, I was just lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of these trail running shoes this summer.  Jans will carry the Everlongs as soon as they’re released so be sure to come see us in the spring and we’ll get you into a pair.

The Everlong is based on a road running shoe design with weight as a key focus.  The construction seems to be very solid with nice welding on the upper.  This shoe is certainly lightweight and wraps around the foot well.  I ran the Park City Marathon in the Everlongs, and did not experience a single hot spot.  I was a bit worried about the cushion in the forefoot, but after 26.2 miles, I had no complaints.

The midsole material appears to be on the soft side.  I have not put in that many trail miles in these shoes yet, but so far there does not appear to be any problem with wear even though the tread pattern is not very aggressive.  For smooth single track running (which there is plenty of around Park City) the Patagonia Everlongs are great.  I will be heading back to Vermont next week and will put these shoes to the test in the rocky, rooty, and rainy Green Mountains.

DownUnder Foot Beds:

It’s worth mentioning my experience with DownUnder foot beds.  I have a pair of the Purple runners that I always put in whatever trail running shoes I am using.  I find that the Downunders help position my foot correctly in the shoe, and keep me from moving around within the shoe.  Also, the cushion in the heel is really helpful.  I am a self-proclaimed heel striker, so this extra cush goes a long way to keeping my feet happy.

Working at Jans I spend the majority of my day on my feet.  I have a pair of the Downunder Green foot beds in my shoes that I wear every day.  I can notice a difference in my knees, lower back, and hips since I started using these footed inserts.  After running the Park City Marathon, I found that my feet were much more comfortable in my shoes than barefoot.  Even at home I was walking around with my shoes on for a few days to help aid in recovery!  You can pick up a pair of Downunder Footbeds at Jans.

Patrick Coffey, Jans Mountain Recreation Expert