Patagonia is dedicated to the trail running category with a full line of apparel and shoes for a variety of trail, race and weather conditions. New for Spring, Patagonia has introduced the Fore Runner as their lightest and most minimalist trail shoe to date. And while it may not be as minimalist as some may wish, it does a great job of delivering a minimalist package without being too minimal.

Patagonia Fore Runner Shoes Feature:

  • Air mesh/synthetic leather upper with perforated nylon reinforcement
  • Micro-fiber-reinforced rand and toe bumper provide durability and protection
  • Reflective webbing and heel for high visibility
  • 100% polyester moisture-wicking, ventilated air-mesh collar and tongue lining
  • 15% recycled EVA anatomical perforated footbed supports, cushions and molds to the contour of your foot
  • Forefoot shock absorption pad and flex grooves provide forefoot protection and flex with gender specific lightweight 15% recycled EVA footframe (4mm drop: 9mm heel, 5mm toe)
  • 1mm forefoot shock absorptions plate distributes pressure, protecting the foot while maintaining forefoot flexibility
  • Multi-density sticky rubber outsole provides 360-degree wet/dry traction in varying conditions (5mm thick; web 15mm; lugs 35mm)
  • Last characteristics: medium width, medium arch support
  • Weight: 259 g (9.17 oz)
  • MSRP: $110

Patagonia Fore Runner Trail Running Shoes Review

I’ve been impressed with Patagonia’s modest-but-growing trail running shoe lineup. None are flashy nor do they feature any over-the-top technology that’s really just there to justify price increases. Nope, Patagonia keeps things simple and predictable. So, when I first heard about the Fore Runner’s, I was confident they would be a great addition to the line.

While the Fore Runner’s aren’t the lightest minimalist shoes on the market, their respectable 9.17 oz feels downright feathery on the trail. When it comes to minimalist shoes, the lion’s share of those shoes are zero drop, but not the Fore Runner, which maintains a 4mm drop from heel-to-forefoot to satisfy the majority of runners who are still used to that. So, chalk that up to a great feature that’s not overdone as most runners can appreciate a minimalist-feeling shoe, but most runners take time getting used to a zero drop shoe.

That said, the super-hardcore “minimalist” crowd will cry foul with these shoes, but the rest of us humans will appreciate the instant comfort they provide. I opted to replace the standard insoles with a set of Superfeet Black insoles. The Black’s are minimalist in their design and are perfectly-suited to these treads.

The Fore Runner’s are about as breathable as it gets, so if you run in cold or inclement weather, these aren’t going to give you much in the way of protection. (It’s worth noting that softshell versions of these shoes will be out later this year to give them better weather resistance.) But, if you run in the heat, you’ll appreciate how cool they are and how well they breathe.

The outsoles feature a fairly straightforward lug pattern that bites well both uphill and down in wet and dry conditions. Only the loosest of dirt caused these to lose traction slightly. While no minimalist trail running shoes provide bombproof trail protection, these provide the perfect balance between trail feel and protection. Sharp rocks will be clearly felt, but most scree is kept at bay, no problem.

One thing that has baffled me about the Fore Runners is the lacing system. It seems pretty straightforward and pedestrian, but for some reason, I have had the hardest time cinching them down evenly. I have to continually cinch up each section of laces between each eyelet in order to get the right tension. The problem is that tension is not maintained with each eyelet so any slight release of pressure results in a looser-than-optimal lace-up.

Good Fore Runner

  • Loving the lightweight feel
  • Just the right balance between lightweight/minimalist and capable trail shoe
  • Great traction
  • Very breathable
  • Ample protection for this type of package
  • Perfect match for Superfeet black insoles

Bad Fore Runner

  • Toe guard is peeling off already
  • Laces are difficult to tighten evenly

Bottom Line: Patagonia Fore Runner

What a great shoe to start off the year! As far as minimalist shoes go, these aren’t quite as svelte as some, but I feel these strike the perfect balance between light and capable in an¬†outstanding¬†overall package with really only a few ticky-tacky faults.

Buy Now: Men’s Fore Runner | Women’s Fore Runner

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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