As we know, hitting the trails means that we need to have faith in our footwear. By definition, the ground is often unstable, covering an array of terrains, gradients and weather conditions. The perfect pair of shoes is the difference that makes the difference. Having the confidence to run through mud and then straight onto a wet downhill path, trusting that you’ll remain upright brings peace of mind can be the difference between a personal best or a new collection of graze-art on your body.
When you add a canine running buddy into the mix, attached to you and running ahead of you through the trails, maintaining a level of core strength and balance that you can only dream of, that need for peace of mind takes on a whole new meaning. The risk of slipping, of falling or losing your balance doesn’t just mean potential injury for yourself, but for your running buddy too. The speed and accuracy that you need to maintain so as not to adversely affect the partnership relies on your feet and the shoes you have chosen.
Our resident canicross duo have been out in all weather conditions, running around the Brecon Beacons National Park. Each pair of shoes has faced Sugarloaf and Pen y Fan, the trails around the foothills, the country roads and the weather conditions that can only be enjoyed throughout the ‘summer’ in Wales. As the comfort and safety of the hound were paramount, we weren’t out running in the sun and ‘luckily’ have had plenty of cool days and drizzle to enjoy while reviewing the shoes.
With wet rocky paths, mud, grassy downhill sections and the occasional glimpse of dry ground, our runner was accompanied by her oversized canine running buddy, putting the grip, cushioning and comfort of each pair of shoes to the test.
|On Running Cloudventure Peak
The Cloudventure Peak includes the patented On Speedboard. This is designed to promote explosive forward-motion on the ascent, yet also provides protection for the foot on uneven terrain – described as a sort of Swiss-army-knife for your feet. The 4 level Grip-Profile means that on any surface, there is traction to feel in control. With the grip built on to the Cloud elements themselves, soft landings and firm take-offs still happen, even in the wildest conditions. As one of the lightest trail running shoes on the market, it still provides the grip, protection and support needed.
Website: On Running
Beautifully designed, these shoes do inspire a fast run as they fit perfectly and are comfortable from the outset. On the trails, the uneven ground is absorbed by the shoes and even with an increase in pace with the help of my running buddy, there was precision and control from my feet. My buddy loves running through puddles, and remember that I’m following him so the shoes were tested in water. They dried out at a super-fast speed!
The flexibility of these shoes is impressive, considering the strength over different terrains. Running from rocky trails to grass, the ease of transition was a blessing for the knees.
|Merrell All Out Crush Shield
• Durable, water repellent TPU coated mesh upper for protection
• Traditional lace closure
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Breathable mesh lining
• Integrated EVA footbed
• UniFly™ midsole provides a ride that is soft to the ground for cushioning and terrain absorption and firm against the foot for stability and agility
• TrailProtect™ pad offers under foot protection
• M Select™ GRIP tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it
• 7mm drop
• 5mm lug height
• Weight: 15oz
First and foremost, these shoes were great in the mud! On a particularly soggy run around the trails leading to Sugarloaf, we found ourselves in a natural obstacle course after a long weekend of tourists making their way to the summit. However, on the way back down I did slip on some rocky terrain, with a comedy landing and an unsympathetic running buddy.
Designed for the OCR market, these shoes perform well in the muddy, wet conditions but might not be the shoe of choice for the mix of terrain on the trails.
They are comfortable, flexible and the drainage holes are great in wet and muddy conditions.
|Saucony Peregrine 7
Designed as the successor to the Peregrine 6 with PWRTRAC outsole for optimal grip and traction across multiple surfaces. Saucony added EVERUN Topsole construction for enhanced energy return and continuous cushioning throughout the run with TPU exo-skeleton framing the foot for optimal support and protection. RUNDRY Collar Lining has been added to wick moisture away quickly and there is external heel support for lockdown fit and hold.
Shoe Category: Neutral
Construction Type: Trail
Surface: Trail, Grass
Arch: Normal (Mid)
Water Resistant: No
Heel Stack Height: 21.5mm
Forefoot Stack Height: 17.5mm
Weight: 9.4 oz. | 266 g.
As a fan of the Saucony road running range, I was excited to try these shoes and knew that I needed to gauge the sizes with at least a half size increase.
This is a definite ‘all-rounder’ that coped well on the road between a couple of routes as well as on the trail terrains. The only blip was a fall on a wet day going uphill on an assorted mix of grass, embedded rocks and gravel. The propulsion wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped.
Other than that, the shoes were comfortable, responsive and supportive. Moving across different terrain was undertaken with flexibility and ease and both the ventilation and drainage were impressive.
|The North Face Ultra Endurance GTX Running Shoes:
Designed for runners to tear up the trails in complete confidence: this cushioned running shoe offers unparalleled protection and standout support in all weather conditions. A GORE-TEX® membrane repels moisture for guaranteed waterproof protection, ideal for running in the wet, while Ultra Protect™ CRADLE™ technology in the sole promotes a more efficient stride across uneven terrain.
Website: The North Face
From the first outing, there’s a familiar comfort and protection that brings confidence out on the trails. The design ensures minimal risk of rubbing regardless of the weather conditions or terrain and the snug fit is maintained throughout the day.
The transition between the different terrain is responsive and the cushioning offers fabulous support across all conditions. It doesn’t claim to be the lightest shoe on the market and yet, when running, there isn’t any compromise with the added cushioning.
|HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 2
Inspired by Karl Melzter, who holds the record for most 100-mile trail race wins, the fastest completion of the (2,190 mile) Appalachian Trail, and epitomizes the “go everywhere, run everything” attitude, this shoe is designed to attack all breeds of technical trail. With this fully redesigned iteration, there is improved fit, stability, and durability. The wider midsole is designed to create a more stable platform for the foot and offers a wider toe box with reinforced areas. The outsole features deeper, more aggressive Vibram lugs which hold up to all kinds of rugged terrain, while the more forgiving upper offers improved comfort up top.
Website: HOKA ONE ONE
These shoes do look great and taking them out of the box, I wondered if the added cushioning would compromise the weight and flexibility.
Nothing to worry about! While they’re not the lightest shoe available, the additional cushioning is welcome on the trails. There isn’t as much flexibility in movement in comparison to some of the other shoes, but keeping in mind the cushioning, the functionality is brilliant.
The shoe performed well on all terrains and in all conditions without any slipping and offered a strong propulsion up hills.
|inov8 X-Talon 200
The X-TALON 212 is designed to be durable, quick-draining and perfect for wet, rocky off-trail running and obstacle course racing at high speed.
The 8mm sticky rubber studs not only claw through soft terrain but also hold firm on harder ground, delivering all-round grip. Weighing just 200g and boasting incredible flexibility, it is designed to complement the foot’s natural movement. A 3mm heel-to-toe drop and injected EVA midsole brings the foot closer to the ground and encourages faster speeds while still retaining superb underfoot comfort. A rubber toe bumper protects the foot from rocks and obstacles, with hardened Rope-Tec rubber on the outsole.
The grip on these shoes is outstanding. Running up some wet, rocky and loose terrain I didn’t lose my footing and could safely propel forwards without any loss of traction. Picking up speed due to my four-legged friend on the downhill sections, I wish my internal monologue had been as confident as my feet, which felt like poetry in motion. I did say ‘felt like’ as I doubt very much that was what it looked like.
These shoes are comfortable, lightweight, quick drying and I didn’t realise how valuable the rubber toe was until I no longer had it. These have become my ‘go to’ shoes for a confident canicross run.
As with any running shoes, go and try them on and see how they feel for you. The sizing was great in all of the shoes apart from the Saucony pair, which did come up about half a size smaller.
It was actually a close call between four pairs when deciding on our favourite all-round canicross shoes; On Running, inov8, The North Face and HOKA ONE ONE. Having slipped in the Merrell and Saucony shoes during a climb and descent in the rain, confidence had dropped slightly with these two pairs. Of the remaining four pairs, the inov8 X-Talon shoes take our canicross crown. The reason is that not only were they phenomenal in all weather conditions and throughout all trail terrains, they are also the most cost effective. They certainly allowed me to attempt to keep up with my running buddy in comfort and safe in the knowledge that wherever my feet landed, I would remain upright and moving forwards.