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Trail runners: Altra or Brooks, or Hoka????


Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (2018)
Hello. I am VERY confused and not a little obsessed with reading reviews about trail runners. I’ll be grateful if you can help to end my torment 😀

I’m used to wearing hiking boots but they’re too sweaty for a May/June Camino Frances (just SJPP to Belorado). I have knee/joint trouble so trying trail runners makes sense. I plan to break them in during a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands this month, then use them for weekend walks through the winter too.

I have to use an orthotic insert to raise my arches so will need to put this in whatever I buy. My understanding is that all of the shoes I’m considering will be fine with an orthotic, but maybe there are also some differences?

And my main question... I initially looked mostly at both the Brooks Cascadia and the Brooks Caldera. Most are out of stock in my size, though, and I’ve read poor reviews about their durability. Im confused because the Caldera has better cushioning but the Cascadia is more popular, and I don’t know why. After reading about these, I then repeatedly convince myself that the natural toe width of the Altras would surely be better. I have quite narrow feet (I’m a petite 5ft tall woman) but in the past have had black toe on my little toe in my hiking boots, although never yet a blister.

I suspect that the Altra’s flat sole—the zero drop—might not be good for my knees. If I did consider Altras, I don’t understand why so many people wear the Altra Lone Peaks—for the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Camino—when the Altra Olympus offers more cushioning and still good traction/stability. Can you shed light on this? Is the Lone Peak actually really well cushioned?

Also Hokas... and… others… and I can’t get to a shop to try anything on because my family is shielding.

Any light-casting on the above mess of uncertainty will be very much appreciated! 😀🙏
Forget about brands and what works for others. This is what is important to consider:

Does the footwear fit
Is it comfortable
Does it cause problems

If the answers are yes, yes, and no, then that is the footwear you want. Could be a boot, sandal, or shoe. You'll know it when you find it.
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