Craft Pure Trail Review (2023): Are These Super Shoes?
An exciting multitasker for all lengths of trail runs that delivers stability and comfort.
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
An excellent all-around trail shoe with Craft’s proprietary supercritical foam that features an ultra high rebound level and speedy turnover without the need for carbon plates, the Pure Trail almost has it all, delivering stability and speed in a balanced, fun shoe.
Featuring excellent heel and midfoot protection from a wide platform, relatively high stack, and plushy heel collar, Craft’s new trail running shoe works well in ultra-running as much as for hilly, rolling interval sessions. The built-in, exposed rock plate shields feet from rocky trails, while the ultra breathable, see-through mesh upper drains well and keeps feet cool. A full traction outsole designed for all types of underfoot conditions completes the offering.
Two of the shoe’s few downsides are the tight opening when putting it on and the paper thin mesh upper. But, as long as you stick to less jagged technical terrain, the latter won’t be a problem.
Although the Pure Trail is by no means ultra light, it sits among fast racing shoes while delivering comfort levels close to ultra specialist models. An “almost perfect” pair that’s worth the investment.
Please read our full review of the Craft Pure Trail for more information.
- Great balance of cushion and propulsion
- Very stable thanks to a wide platform
- Feels close to the ground despite high stack
- Good value for money
- Extra snug fit on entry
- Upper not very protective
Although Swedish brand Craft has been around since 1973, it made its name primarily in technical base layers and textiles. They’ve only produced trail running shoes in the last few years, making steady progress in developing interesting and exciting new designs. After working on the Pure Trail (1) model for over two years, Craft has now launched what it calls a premium trail running shoe. Developed with the elite athletes sponsored by the brand, the Pure Trail brings together all their top expertise, new exiciting technology, and fun.
While a lot of recent Craft shoes have been hybrid designs, this one makes a bold statement with its name and ambition: a supercritical foam super shoe without a carbon plate.
I have run extensively with this model in the last few months. Does it live up to the hype, and will it be suitable for you? Read my in-depth review to find out.
One of the first things that stand out with the Craft Pure Trail is the width of the platform. The shoe effectively flares out with substantial heel and midfoot protection. The outsole features a very prominent rocker shape that helps with forward propulsion while rising to a nicely protective toe bumper at the front. This makes the shoe feel fast and helps with natural forward motion.
Another positive feature is the full traction outsole, made with Craft’s Contact rubber. Since we’re talking about a premium shoe, there’s been no expense spared in covering the outsole completely in multi-directional, 4mm lugs that have wide contact surfaces to provide extra traction for off-road running.
Compared to its minimalistic upper, the outsole of the Pure Trail feels a little overkill in size and design. However, I found that it performs really well with traction on all types of terrain, from hard packed off-road to softer surfaces and even on wet rock. The only time the grip seems to falter is on some bigger rocky sections, where it’s possible to lose stability because of the oversized outsole.
Interestingly, I heard from several runners who have taken the Craft Pure Trail through river crossings successfully that they appreciated the quick draining upper (more on that below). This includes stability and good traction through wet surfaces.
The Craft Pure Trail features the brand’s Cr foam midsole – a high rebound compound that is soft and responsive at the same time, boosting speed. While it certainly provides comfort, it doesn’t feel as cushioned as the softer New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7, for example. The Pure Trail relies on a flexible plastic rock plate embedded in the midsole to give more forward momentum when combined with the soft foam. There’s flexibility in the midfoot and forefoot, too, which is appreciated.
With a stack height of 36 mm in the heel and 30 mm in the forefoot, this feels like a super stacked shoe. However, I find that, in reality, it rides comfortably and surprisingly flexibly. The 6 mm heel-to-toe drop also feels just right for an array of different terrains.
Craft claims that the midsole offers a “pillow-soft ride” and excellent energy rebound. While opinions on the softness are mixed, I quite appreciated the shock absorption, with great heel and mid-foot protection from rocky terrain.
The stack height and midsole all add up to 241 g (8.5 oz) for women and 320 g (11.3 oz) for the men’s version. On the heavy side, but it doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as the numbers suggest when wearing the Pure Trail – which bodes well for its wearability over longer distances. However, it’s fair to say that the weight is surprising for a self-declared “super shoe,” especially given the reduced weight of the Cr foam midsole.
Thanks to the rockered outsole design, the Craft Pure Trail smoothly rolls forward with every landing. That’s why everyday runners, including heel strikers, will see a great positive impact on the speed they’re achieving on all types of terrain.
The Cr foam is responsive and flexible, as is the outsole with its exposed rock plate. This makes the Pure Trail fun and bouncy despite its weight. However, these heavier shoes are less agile than their competitors in the fast performance category, such as Hoka Torrent 3 or Zinal.
As much as the Pure Trail has a high stack and plenty of underfoot protection, the upper is very minimalistic. Made with single layer TPU mesh that is see-through for extreme breathability, it lacks a gusseted tongue or any padding above the foot. It lets in a good amount of dust and debris when running on gravel roads, but it benefits from good drainage so this doesn’t become a problem.
A powerful benefit of the shoe’s design is the secure fit which grips the midfoot really well. Craft doesn’t have a good history when it comes to uppers, so it’s a relief to see a breathable mesh that can go the distance. Unfortunately, while some praise the supportive upper, I noticed that, despite the fact that the shoe sits relatively high from underfoot obstacles, jagged rocks on technical trails still got to my feet and caused some damage with the lack of tongue padding or lateral protection.
At the same time, there’s a good level of padding in the heel collar, which contrasts with the super thin, flexible one-piece TPU mesh upper.
Fit and sizing
Generally, the Pure Trail is true to size, with a bit of additional room in the toe box. But a slight downside of the design is the way it favors wider feet, especially at midfoot level. This can make those with smaller feet tighten the laces excessively, causing discomfort. It almost feels like it could benefit from two additional eyelets for each lace to climb higher around the ankle, securing the foot while leaving it comfortable in the roomy toe box.
The Pure Trail’s Cr foam provides cushion and stability with explosive rebound – at least, on paper. The shoe is designed to be fast and fun, but also suit ultra runners looking for reliability and protection. Combined with the broad platform, the midsole delivers comfort over long distances, as agreed by runners doing up to 3-4 hour long runs in them. At the same time, the thin TPU blend of the rock plate helps propel you on moderate uphill segments and on rolling terrain.
You can take the Craft Pure Trail out for anything from recovery runs on mixed trails to marathons and possibly further. Elite athlete Ida Nilsson (2) wore past prototype versions of the shoe at Western States and the 80k World Trail Championships in 2023, while Tim Tollefson (3) ran this year’s 100-mile UTMB in them, after all!
Value and Sustainability
After taking these shoes out for over 100 miles so far, I can confirm that they seem durable and sturdy. The wide, full rubber outsole withstands all types of terrain, while the thin upper holds up surprisingly well to wear and tear. Importantly, the Cr foam midsole retained its shape better than other similar trail shoes I have tested.
Retailing at $169.99, this is a good investment for the level of innovation and durability displayed so far.
Carbon footprint and animal welfare
Other than a declared recycled insole, Craft doesn’t state other sustainability elements that went into the making of these shoes. The Cr foam is also sustainably created, but there’s no additional information on it currently available.
The brand doesn’t list the shoe as vegan, so it’s likely using animal products.
Craft’s new shoe is a pure display of innovation, offering superior comfort for moving fast on the trails. A narrow heel collar cradles the foot, while ample toe room comes in handy for long distances. The Cr foam midsole excels at balancing cushioning with energy return, while the thin upper is innovative in design and breathability. You’ll definitely get benefits with every stride wearing these, so a new pair is worth the investment.
|Heel height||36 mm|
|Forefoot height||30 mm|
|Weight (men)||320 g/11.3 oz|
|Weight (women)||241 g/8.5 oz|
|Features||Recycled materials, Rock plate|
|Outsole||Contact Lugged Rubber, Rock Plate|
|Midsole||Cr Foam, Ortholine high-rebound recycled insole|
|Upper||One-Piece TPU Mesh|
|Workout||Daily running, Racing|
Craft Pure Trail
Craft (retrieved on 10/23/2023)
Ida Nilsson’s Instagram (retrieved on 10/23/2023)
Tim Tollefson’s Instagram (retrieved on 10/23/2023)