Trail-inspired sneakers continue to successfully navigate the nexus between utility and style in 2019. In part a reaction to the unwieldy ‘dad shoe’, trail sneakers remind us how to implement form and function. Labels like Salomon, New Balance, and Nike have belayed fashion trailblazers Jun Takahashi, The Broken Arm and London skate label Palace, creating the trail sneakers that managed to climb to the top in 2019. No longer a style reserved exclusively for those clamouring up the Saalbach–Hinterglemm during long weekends in Austria, the trail phenomenon will undoubtedly hit dangerous levels of altitude in 2020.
Palace Salomon Speedcross 4
Born in the heart of the French alps in 1947, Salomon continues to scale the streetwear zeitgeist in 2019, with the Speedcross 4 trainer recently reworked by London skate label Palace. Taking the scalpel to the highly utilitarian fourth-generation Speed Cross, Palace implemented subtle branding on the tongue and toebox while keeping Salomon’s design aesthetic intact via a Quicklace fastening system and Contagrip outsoles. Durable and lightweight, the Palace Salomon Speedcross 4 looks pretty enough for the streets, the runway, or caught between two rocks in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.
New Balance 990 + 801
One of the more polarising mashups of 2019, the New Balance 990 + 801 sends daddy straight to the mountains. With a sole unit torn straight from the hike-ready 801 (read: no modifications), this nuclear hybrid could be mistaken for a custom job, equipped with compression-molded EVA foam midsoles and robust rubber outsoles. The New Balance 990 + 801 is shameless, rugged and reliable – just like your real daddy.
Cottweiler Reebok DMX Trail Shadow
Back in September, Cottweiler’s Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty took the reins on Reebok’s DMX Trail Shadow, the high–flying fashion label rethinking the silhouette with their signature futuro-minimalist aesthetic. Tagging the tongue with the Cottweiler logo, the London-based brand built the DMX with an eclectic mix of nubuck, mesh, furry suede and a nuclear Electric Green cage, landing one of the most impressive trail sneakers of 2019. It’s basically the Balenciaga Track.2 without the four–digit price tag.
The Broken Arm Salomon Trail Pro
King of the alps Salomon again linked up with French boutique The Broken Arm back in May, combining for a rendition of the ultra-technical Trail Pro. Taking a palette straight from the earth itself, The Broken Arm x Salomon Trail Pro keeps it muted in tones of beige and maroon, giving us highlights of lime green to provide some visual hierarchy. Can’t quite summon up the energy for a hike? Take it poolside with The Broken Arm’s accompanying colab, the Salomon RX Slide 3.0
New Balance MSRC
Another gem from New Balance, the brand new MSRC hiking sneaker takes cues from the iconic 574 to produce a mixed-material masterpiece coming in three colourways. NB threw the whole damn toolkit at the MSRC, combining ripstop nylon, suede and mesh underlays resembling topographic maps. Regrafting the ‘N’ on the silhouette’s side-panels, the MSRC is both hike and street ready, and may end up as one of the more criminally underrated silhouettes of 2019.
Undercover Nike Gyakusou Pegasus 36 Trail
Running enthusiast Jun Takahashi channeled the spirit of 1970s running with the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36. Gyakusou – the brainchild of Nikelab and Undercover – remodelled the Pegasus 36 with a toggle-lacing system, heel wraps and cage overlays, giving the silhouette even more tech to take flight. The cult Japanese label really delivered with this Nike collaboration, coming through with a Gyakusou Nike pinwheel motif on the heel, floral detailing springing from the midfoot Swoosh, and ‘GYAKUSOU WENT THE DISTANCE’ stamped on the toebox. Safe to say, Jun Takahashi reached his peak in 2019 with the Air Zoom Pegasus 36.