Patagonia made a strong entry into the trail shoe market a couple of years ago with its Release, a rugged, durable shoe that rode comfortably over the most difficult terrain.  The Nine Trails is a lighter, somewhat more versatile offering that maintains Patagonia’s outstanding construction and reliability.

Patagonia Nine Trails Running Shoes Feature:

  • Gender specific lasts
  • Upper: Durable water repellent (DWR) treated mesh with DWR synthetic leather overlays
  • Brushed rubber toe and heel bumpers
  • DWR moisture-wicking ventilated air mesh collar and tongue lining
  • Stretch scree guard over tongue
  • X-Dynamic lacing system
  • 20% recycled EVA pronation post
  • 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate
  • Midsole height: 30mm heel, 20mm forefoot
  • Outsole: multi-density sticky rubber
  • Weight: 312g (11.0 oz)
  • MSRP: $110

Patagonia Nine Trails Shoe Review

I’ve previously compared Patagonia’s Release shoe to a Toyota Camry: there’s nothing especially flashy about it, but everything is well-built and works exactly as it’s supposed to, to the point where you never have to worry about it. Continuing that analogy, the Nine Trails would be something (if such a thing exists) like a Camry Sport: a slightly more streamlined version that can move more quickly and nimbly, but can still keep your feet well-protected and provide a nice dependable ride for as many miles as you need to travel.

However, the Nine Trails isn’t a “20 miles right out of the box” shoe; optimal comfort requires a breaking-in period, as the anatomical footbed gradually molds to your foot’s contours over a period of several runs.  These footbeds sit atop gender-specific lasts, adding an extra measure of fit customization that’s not found on every shoe.

Aside from the footbed, the rest of the shoe feels pretty comfy right off the bat.  Internal support construction fabric wraps around the midfoot for a secure fit, and is reinforced by Patagonia’s X-Dynamic lacing for additional support.  The air mesh collar, sockliner, and tongue liner all feel very soft against the foot and ankle.

Dual mesh upper with brushed rubber toe protection; scree guard over tongue

Patagonia’s DWR-treated upper fabrics provide a nice combination of comfort, ventilation, and water resistance.  These won’t keep all water out – as the name implies, they’ll just repel it for a while – but the mesh keeps your foot much cooler than true waterproof technologies like Gore-Tex, which is a nice compromise for an all-conditions trainer.

The underside of the shoe is designed to keep your ride comfortable as well, with a pronation post to distribute impact forces evenly, and a 1mm forefoot plate to protect you from sharp rocks.  However, with a midsole thickness of 20mm in the forefoot, you’re probably well-insulated from most small pointy things anyway.  The thicker-than-normal midsole heights also compromise ground feel for the sake of comfort – whether that’s a good thing depends on your point of view.

The outsole tread is what I’d call “medium-knobby”, and provides nice stable traction in all but the most difficult conditions.  Weight of the Nine Trails, at 11 ounces, is a nice medium-range spec as well; while it’s too heavy for a racing shoe, it’s a bit lighter than other pronation-control or stability shoes, and doesn’t feel like a burden in the last half of a 20-miler.

“Medium knobby” sticky rubber outsole

Good Nine Trails

  • Very comfortable overall fit
  • Nice combination of ventilation and water resistance
  • Dependably durable in multiple trail conditions

Bad Nine Trails

  • Best fit requires breaking-in period of 25-50 miles
  • Scree guard across tongue makes the shoe opening slightly snug when putting the shoe on
  • 30mm heel may be too high for some, and prevents good ground feel

Bottom Line: Patagonia Nine Trails Running Shoe

With a comfortable fit and smooth ride, the Nine Trails is a very respectable addition to Patagonia’s line of trail runners, and is an attractive option for a relatively lightweight all-purpose, high-mileage stability trainer – unless you’re someone who likes riding a bit closer to the ground.

Buy Now: Find Trail Running Shoes at REI

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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