Trail running shoes have historically been very well priced, often cheaper than regular running shoes. However, the price points for newest-generation models are $100 or more. Luckily, we found some good deals for $85 and less. If you're on a budget, your best bet is the Montrail Rockridge (*Est. $75) , reviewed earlier in the trail shoes for rugged terrain section. This trail shoe gets more recommendations than any other, regardless of price.
We also found good reviews for the Columbia Ravenous (*Est. $75) , a lightweight trail shoe that can transition nicely between trails and pavement. It was released before many of the other trail shoes mentioned in this report. While there are many positive reviews, most date back to 2010, the year the Ravenous scored an Editors' Choice award from Trail Runner magazine, which praises the shoe's arch support and overall cushioning. "The upper mesh is airy and breathed and drained well, and the outsole provided good grip in most conditions," editors write. Outside magazine was also impressed with the Ravenous, saying it's breathable and feels solid and stable, especially on uphill climbs. The Ravenous lacks the grip to take on rugged or muddy trails, however, and testers for Women's Adventure Magazine say the thick sole makes it difficult to feel the trail underfoot. The Ravenous weighs 12.2 ounces for men and 10.2 ounces for women. According to reviews, the shoe tends to run a little wide.
The soon-to-be-released Adidas Response Trail 18 (*Est. $85) will be another relatively affordable pick. Previous heritage models of this shoe have earned coveted Editor's Choice awards from Runner's World magazine. Testers love the soft cushioning, which makes the shoe a great choice for runners who traverse both trails and roads. Early insight into the Response Trail 18 says the shoe maintains its nimble feel. Downhill-oriented heel lugs are ideal for hilly trails, and the flexible forefoot provides comfort and responsiveness along rocky terrain.
The Brooks Trailblade (*Est. $85) -- also previously discussed -- is another budget-friendly option. Amazon.com user reviews appreciate the cushy insole, saying the shoe's a good option for slight underpronators or runners with high arches. Still, the heel is firm enough that the shoe maintains its responsiveness. Outside magazine, which includes the Trailblade in its 2011 Gear Guide, says, "at this price, a shoe this good is a steal."
Another running shoe that performs well on roads or trails is the Asics Gel-Trail Attack 7 (*Est. $85) , the release of which closely followed the October 2010 discontinuation of the Trail Attack 6. It's lightweight (11.7 ounces for men, 9.6 ounces for women) and feels quite racy, according to reviews, yet offers enough cushioning for road runs. The upgraded version of the shoe features an upper with a double layer of mesh to help lock the heel into place and provide a snug fit, and a new lacing mechanism that reviewers say often comes undone. Owners at Amazon.com warn that the shoe fits narrower than most Asics thanks to the new upper; potential buyers should be prepared to size up. Reviewers say the Trail Attack 7 excels at high-speed stability, and at less than $90, that's a bargain.
The New Balance 101 (*Est. $75) is another light trail shoe that won't break the bank. It's incredibly lightweight for this category -- only 7.8 ounces for men and 6 ounces for women -- so the shoe is best for those who race or run fast over smooth, groomed trails. The 101 includes a rock plate under the forefoot and a puncture-resistant fabric toe wrap. There's very little cushioning and not much arch support. This shoe's predecessor, the New Balance 100, earned a bit of a cult following: Owners loved it and gave it high marks across the board. The newer version has also performed quite well with users but hasn't received as much attention from professional publications. Backpacker magazine included the 101 in its 2011 gear guide, and the review is fairly detailed and incredibly positive. Wear-testers say this shoe is a "versatile compromise between traditional shoes and new-school 'no-support' models." Amazon.com offers nearly 30 user-generated reviews of the New Balance 101, two-thirds of which give it a perfect score. Owner-reviewers say the shoe is a good option for those who like the New Balance Minimus Trail but are looking for a bit more protection. Some say the 101 runs small, and lacks the longevity and durability of brands like Saucony.