2018 Spring Shoe Guide

Some of my favorite shoes available today

Spring is here in the northern hemisphere and that means for many of us the weather is starting to warm up. What better way to celebrate than with a 2018 Spring Shoe Guide! OK, in all seriousness I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the best, readily available shoes on the market today based on different use cases.

Do you need more than one pair of shoes? No, probably not in most cases. However, if you believe it sometimes takes the right tool for the unique job you are facing – you’re in luck! Below you’ll see a combination of shoes that have been available for a while now along with shoes either recently launched or coming to market shortly. So with that – here are some of my favorites:

Everyday trail shoe

  • Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 – With some fresh new colorways for 2018 I still believe this is one of the best, do just about everything really well, trail shoes available today. Pick up a pair while you can. The forthcoming Hoka One One Torrent will be replacing it soon as Hoka One One currently does not have plans to make a third version.

Launched in the late summer of 2017 the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 is rock solid.

  • Salomon Sense Ride – The more I wear this shoe the more I like it. It’s a Goldilocks shoe in terms of just the right amount of cushion, protection, and grip for those daily 6-10 mile trail runs. It can handle almost every type of terrain with relative ease.

One of the newer colorways of the Salomon Sense Ride available now.

Ultramarathon race or (really) long run training shoe

  • Salomon Sense Pro Max – The Vibe® technology (fancy speak for a compressed EVA foam surrounding a softer insert in the midsole) rides really great. The shoe likely won’t work for folks with narrow feet but if you are looking for a max cushioning alternative to a Hoka, this is it.

One of the newer colorways of the Salomon Sense Pro Max available now.

  • Hoka One One EVO Mafate – I’m predicting this shoe is going to be a big hit – if you can stomach the price. We’ll have to wait for the final production specs t looks like it will weigh almost exactly the same as the Speedgoat 2, yet have more cushion, and a similar Megagrip outsole. Plus, and most importantly to me – the fit does not seem to be as tapered at the forefoot and the upper is lighter and more breathable.

With a Kevlar reinforced, lightweight upper the Hoka One One EVO Mafate should be a big hit.

Workout / go-fast / up to marathon distance race trail shoe

  • The North Face Flight RKT – Light and nimble. North Face got this shoe right for what it is. It’s not the widest fit you will see in a performance-oriented trail shoe but due to the very lightweight and breathable upper the fit doesn’t feel compromising. Durability remains a concern, but I’ve seen reports online suggesting it may last ~300 miles like a normal trail shoe as opposed to 100-150 like North Face was quoting at Outdoor Retailer. Plus, it can easily serve as a road shoe as well due to the very minimal (non-existent?) pod lug design.

The North Face Flight RKT could be your weapon of choice this spring when pushing the pace.

Technical / big-mountain trail shoe

  • La Sportiva Akasha – This shoe really excels on steep and technical terrain. And it’s particularly well-suited to folks with narrow feet. The sizing is a little off, and the fit snug for my average width foot, but the levels of protection and grip is fantastic.

The La Sportiva Akasha excels on extremely technical terrain

  • Salomon S-Lab Ultra – To be clear from the get-go I’ve only worn this shoe around a running store for a few hours thus far, but I like what I’m feeling. It feels a bit more cushioned than the excellent and still available Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra (confused yet?) with a slightly more protective upper as well. The downside? It’s still $180 and now it’s a full ounce heavier. Sigh.

The Salomon S-Lab Ultra is the latest, greatest, and heaviest S-Lab shoe from Salomon

Everyday road shoe

  • Under Armour HOVR Sonic – The step-in fit, ride, breathability, and just overall comfort of this shoe are impressive. At $100-$110 (depending on whether you want the ‘normal’ or ‘connected’ versions) the value play is strong as well. Thank you for turning things around UA!

Under Armour nailed it with the HOVR Sonic

  • Skecher GOrun Ride 7 – This shoe is simply fantastic. If you have any preconceived notions of how good a Skechers running shoe can be – I’m telling you – this shoe rocks! Utilizing a new midsole foam Skechers calls FLIGHT GEN™ the cushioning is ample, lightweight, and still responsive. Plus, the flatknit upper with supportive overlays is oh so comfortable. Best of all? It’s $90. Try this shoe – you won’t be disappointed.

The Skechers GOrun Ride 7 is easily one of my favorite road shoes available today

  • Salomon Sonic RA – Another shoe from Salomon that utilizes the VIBE midsole technology that works so well. The fit is interesting – it’s snug in the midfoot but then really flairs out in a rounded way at the forefoot. If you want your toes to splay this could be the shoe for you. The shoe has a snappy ride yet plenty of cushioning (28mm / 20mm) for longer runs too. As usual with Salomon shoes the design, materials, and build quality are all top-notch. With plenty of outsole rubber used this shoe could easily crossover to tamer trails as well.

The Salomon Sonic RA is a great everyday road shoe

Workout / go-fast / up to marathon distance race road shoe

  • Reebok Floatride Run Fast – I suspect a lot of road marathoners, or ultramarathoners doing their speed work, will be using this shoe on race day and on workout days as well. Utilizing a Pebax foam midsole the shoe is crazy lightweight (pre-production specs claim 6.1oz in a men’s size 9) for such a cushioned shoe (25.5mm / 17.5mm). It’s a little stiff out-of-the-box but that’s part of the design it seems – to be really snappy when pushing the pace.

Expect to see the Reebok Floatride Run Fast on a lot of racer’s feet this year

  • Salomon S-Lab Sonic 2 – The Salomon S-Lab Sonic 2 is a shoe that feels the best when pushing the pace. The craftsmanship is second-to-none and the fit is surprisingly forgiving in the forefoot. I really like this shoe on road (or tame trail) workout days.

The Salomon S-Lab Sonic 2 is a red rocket!

Purchasing Information

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these shoes, please check availability at your local, independently owned running specialty store. They need your business and are a great resource for the community.

Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf

I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.


Disclaimer: These shoes were provided to URP/me for review purposes. Compensation was neither offered nor requested and all words and thoughts are 100% my own.

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