Best Fell Running Shoes: Autumn 2022

Expert Advice on Running Shoes,Trail & Fell Training Advice
Best Fell Running Shoes: Autumn 2022

Fell shoes are designed for serious off-road running. They are ideal for hill racing, cross country and adventure racing. They are also suitable for Tough Mudder and Deerstalker type events, as well as training on the hills and soft muddy trails.

In effect, if the expected terrain involves anything where grip is important and you value staying upright, a fell shoe is probably the best option. All are available in half sizes, and all have a deep studded sole to give excellent grip.

Like racers and spikes they have a snug fitting upper and are sized a little smaller than road shoes, so you may need a half size bigger than your road shoes. A little tip: the number after the name of any Inov-8 shoe (makers of excellent fell and off road shoes) relates to the weight of the shoe in grams. The shoes can be used for short road or hard trail sections, but if used extensively on hard surfaces the studs will wear down quicker.

Cushioning & Grip

Fell shoes were originally designed primarily for racing. Cushioning is usually minimal to keep the foot close to the ground and reduce unnecessary weight. Having said that they are also used by runners in long distance 2 day Mountain Marathons and 24-hour expeditions, like the classic Lakeland Bob Graham Round.

As with racing flats for road running, not everyone can handle long distances in a light shoe. Your own experience in training and racing will guide you as to how far you can cover in a fell shoe, before you start looking at or comparing some lighter trail running shoes.

If you are running on a variety of surfaces, it is worth bearing in mind the conundrum that has faced off road runners for years. There is no one shoe that is totally brilliant on all terrains, and often a compromise has to be reached between cushioning and grip.

Fit & Comfort

The single most important factor in deciding which fell shoe to purchase is the fit. Despite what rave reviews you might read about any shoe, or an elite (sponsored) athlete extolling the virtues of Brand A or Brand B , it is your own feet that have to feel confident in them. They should feel snug but comfortable and hold well at the heel so they don't come off in the mud! There should be no lateral movement inside the shoe (i.e. your foot shouldn't be slipping from side to side) and not too much space at the front. Most people find that it is this, rather than the exact technical specifications of the shoe, that determines which model will be best.

Inov-8 X Talon / VJ Irock / Inov-8 Mudclaw G260 / Inov-8 Terra Ultra 270 / La Sportiva Mutant

Inov-8 X-Talon

The classic lighter weight and very flexible option, which is basically like a traditional road-racing flat with studs, designed to go fast and light. Slightly wider in the forefoot.

Men's Inov-8 X Talon 260 Ultra v2

Men's Inov-8 X Talon 255

Men's Inov-8 X Talon 255

VJ Irock

The Scandinavian favourite amongst orienteers and mountain runners. Working with elite athletes, VJ have produced shoes that have excellent grip and a robust upper with Kevlar infused fibres to give remarkable durability. The aggressive outsole with its 6mm deep grip and Butyl rubber compound provides incredible traction on even the toughest muddy and rocky terrain.

VJ Irock 3
£95.00 £120.00

Inov-8 Mudclaw G260

As the name suggests, this has grip solely in mind. Its deep lugs and snug fit make it a good option for muddy or more technical terrain. Inov-8’s trademark Graphene rubber outsole, with a slightly sticky element, certainly makes for security and durability on the majority of surfaces.

Inov-8 Mudclaw G260 V2
£119.00 £140.00

Inov-8 Terra Ultra G270

This shoe offers better cushioning and is made on a wider last. It is fast gaining a following amongst hill and trail runners who run longer distances. Also popular amongst those with slightly wider forefeet, who often had to squeeze uncomfortably into the traditional narrower standard models.

Men's Inov-8 TerraUltra G270
£110.00 £145.00

La Sportiva Mutant

A stable trail and fell running shoe suitable for many different types of off-road terrain: from muddy hills and mountains to fields and parks. The sole is ultra-sticky rubber with 6mm deep, well-spaced lugs to optimise grip on slippery ground, including mud and scree.

La Sportiva Mutant

La Sportiva Mutant

Women's La Sportiva Mutant

The deeper studs of the Mudclaw, X-Talon or VJ Irock can be better in very wet or muddy conditions. A less aggressive sole will be more comfortable on mixed terrain or for dry summer hill running (see also Trail Running Shoes). Another technical point to look out for is "sticky rubber" (or softer rubber) outsoles, which give good traction on wet rock.

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