The Surprising Versatility of a Lightweight Trail Runner

Despite being engineered for speed, this Salewa performs day in and day out, no matter the miles.


Strava says I’ve put 302 miles in the Salewa Lite Train Trail running shoes, but what the data doesn’t show is the happiness and confidence that these lightweight models have bestowed. This is a shoe that, while not thickly cushioned, gives the kind of trail feel and consistent feedback that let you run far longer than their intended use would suggest.

At first, I was dubious whether the Lite Train Trail would work for me. After two meniscus surgeries and then a horrific leg fracture, I figured any running at all on these less-than-bionic limbs would need to be done on Hokas, or perhaps Moon Boots. But the narrow last and low-volume upper fit my skinny, tough-to-please feet perfectly, and I found that the predictable, slipper-like feel more than compensated for a loss of padding. It felt less than a shoe and more like a traction-delivery device, with just enough squish in the midsole (and a thin, flexible protection plate) to allow two-hour runs without feeling trashed.

Make no mistake, this is a minimalist shoe designed for “mountain” (i.e., softer surfaces) running. The drop is 5mm and it has stack heights of 12mm and 17mm. It weighs 9 ounces in men’s size 9. The Michelin outsole is thin and everything about the shoe says “whippet.” Never a particularly speedy runner, my trail speeds have plummeted since my injury and so has the impact. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to put in a half marathon in the dirt and run again the next day without the use of a walker, crutches, or painkillers.

Perhaps it’s because the Lite Train Trails lead to precise foot strikes, at least the way they fit my narrow feet. Some shoes are like fat skis, you just point them and go, but the Salewas are, um, surgical. And with that low stack height, I worry less about levering on a misplaced step and spraining an ankle.

The Michelin tread is excellent in mixed conditions, stairstepped rocks, and packed soil. Loam and soft surfaces will have you saying hell yeah. Loose ball bearings aren’t easy for any shoe, and the Salewa struggles here—just point them south and skitch. And pavement? Forget about it. The minimalistic midsole is your friend in the alpine, but not the urban.

Any other drawbacks? Not really. Wide feet should go up a size or try another model. It ain’t waterproof, but it breathes great. The midsole has compressed with use, but that’s not too surprising given the distance logged in them. The tread has held up well, and though you can see some wear on the upper in the photo above. In total, though, what I thought would be an interesting race day model has turned out to be my everyday choice. That, and 300-plus miles, say a lot about the surprisingly versatility of this all-mountain shoe.

$130 • BUY

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.

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