The Skechers Performance GOrun Ultra Road was one of the first few Skechers Performance shoes that I had the chance to run in and review. At the time I was pretty clear that while I was surprised at the response of that shoe, my preference still fell toward a less cushioned shoe. This is largely still the same if I’ve got to choose between A and B however, Skechers constant development and improvement has led them to launch technologies that have taken cues from feedback and ingenuity. At the front of that is probably one of my favorite – yet most subtle – innovations in recent years, their 5GEN compound. While it has appeared in other models, one of my favorite applications has got to be the shoe we’re looking at today, the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4. But, is a midsole foam good enough to make a shoe great or does development need to spill over to the big picture? Let’s find out.
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The outsole construction of the Sheckers Performance GOtrail Ultra 4 seems to be unchanged from version 3 of the shoe but, since I didn’t review that shoe, let’s give it a quick rundown. The ~3mm-deep lugs are laid out in a directional pattern in the middle of the outsole with what seem to be a set of perimeter triangles for side-to-side traction. These lugs are set atop sections of the sole which are separated by four, very generous flex grooves (as deep as ~5mm!) in the from half of the shoe.

First, the durability of the outsole on the GOtrail Ultra 4 has been very impressive. With my (and Lori’s) 40+ miles of trail in this shoe there has been little wear on a variety of terrain. As far as grip goes, the rubber used here did very well – especially for a rubber that doesn’t really have a proprietary name or additional marketing behind it. On flat rock and trail the lugs and rubber did their thing, digging in where they needed to but also hanging on to the more difficult (yes, more difficult) flat, angled surfaces without slipping. On looser terrain the shoe actually did something I wasn’t expecting which was to allow the shapes of things underfoot to indent the materials of the outsole AND the midsole to] mold to them and hang on tightly. While the lugs aren’t the deepest things in the world they did do a passable job on more technical terrain even allowing for some of those cool Jornet-esque controlled slides (well, at least that’s what I looked like in my head).

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With a shoe that easily falls into the “maximalist” category, it’s no wonder that the large midsole is where much of the focus is pointed. Utilizing Skechers’ 5GEN compound, the midsole of the GOtrail Ultra 4 sports stack heights of 36mm in the heel and 32m in the forefoot for a net drop of 4mm. The midsole of this shoe also features a unique water drainage system which routes water from under the foot in angled channels out the sides of the midsole.

First of all, the midsole of the GOtrsail Ultra 4 is, by all accounts, more firm than its predecessor and while I didn’t try that shoe, I have to say that this is a good thing since it’s easy for maximalist shoes to fall victim to being too squishy. The midsole of this shoe is really wonderfully firm for a shoe with so much material underfoot. For people who want that super squishy feel (first, why?) I’d say that this is going to actually be a more comfortable and practical material because it will allow the foot to work more without sinking too much into the midsole.

Second, if you’ve read many of my reviews, I don’t really make any secret of the fact that I’m not a huge fan of drainage systems. This is mainly because they’re unnecessary and they don’t really work since the majority of their drainage holds are on the bottom of shoe and they become clogged with debris – not to mention the fact that they’re mostly too small and mesh-covered to allow the surface tension pos water to be broken and allow proper flow. In the case of the Skechers Performance GOtrail Ultra 4 the setup is really well thought out. While I’m still not convinced that they system is entirely necessary, it does serve to cut out some weight, if nothing else. Additionally, the fact that the holes are on the side of the midsole, toward the middle, means that they’re not going to be clogged and that the downward pressure of the foot will push water through the sockliner and out of the holes MUCH more efficiently.

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Moving into the upper of the GOtrail Ultra 4 we find the body with a bonded mesh that allows for an almost seamless interior. The interior seam which do show up are where the tongue attaches at the bottom of the throat/top of the vamp as well as where the soft, collar foam appears in the back third of the shoe as well as an integrated, flush mounted mid foot support strap. The external support structure of the upper is made from a smooth, 3D printed synthetic overlay which is beefy enough to ensure things don’t blow apart but spaced well enough to allow breathability. Lacing in GOtrail Ultra 4 is a significant change from version 3, going from eyelet lacing to a beefier, ghillie lacing system through which lay-flat laces with a bit of stretch run over the thin, non-gusseted, tongue. At the rear of the shoe we find the same adaptation of Skechers’ Quick-Fit system which we saw in my review of the Skechers GOrun 5 as changing from being a cut-out section of the heel counter to being a synthetic pull tab.

I don’t quite understand when trail shoes don’t have gusseted tongues. I mean, I didn’t have a problem with this shoe getting debris into it a lot but it just seems to me that for a shoe which may be coming into contact with debris – a LOT – that a tongue gusset should just be included in some form. So, I’d like to see that here. Moving on.

The upper of this shoe is a solid, no-frills unit which does a great job of being breathable but also beefy enough to stand up to the trails it’s aiming for. The support structure holds the foot in place well, especially when the external works with the internal, mid foot strap to keep the foot well-connected to the shoe. The support material also does a great job of forming a toe cap and a cohesive heel counter. For me, the lacing of the shoe and space through the throat allowed for plenty of cinching down as well as loosening for more narrow or wide feet (since I don’t think that there is a wide version of this shoe). Foam around the collar is simultaneously smooth and firm, which gave what I felt to be a perfect feel. I really enjoyed the feel of this upper and the durability it showed for us over the course of our mileage has been great with no picks or tears at all.

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Fitting true to size, it seems from my reading that the Skechers Performance GOtrail Ultra 4 feels a bit more generous in the forefoot than its predecessor. While I can’t compare the two I can say, with confidence, that the toe box of this shoe is very generous and gives ample foot for wiggle and splay of the toes. Across the metatarsal heads this feeling of spacious comfort remains but gives way to a nicely held down feeling in the mid foot, thanks in part to the internal strap. The heel also feels well locked down without being to rigid as to fight back agains the foot on more severe angles.

 

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Coming in at 13 ounces even in my men’s size 11, the Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 is certainly not the lightest thing in the world but, for the amount of material involved in its construction, it’s also not as heavy as it could be and I wasn’t overlay aware of a weight mass on my foot at any time.

As I mentioned at the outset of this review, I am very impressed with the application of the firmer 5GEN midsole material in this shoe. Yes, it is firmer than earlier versions, but I would recommend not making a call after just one run simply because it feels firmer to you. This is a material which gives more than enough cushioning while also being more responsive and poppy. With that as the main part of the ride experience for me, here are a couple more things which I should point out. First, this is a high-stack shoe and while I found it to be pretty much the same as running in a much lower shoe from and ankle stability perspective, it should be noted that IF you manage to roll and ankle, there’s more distance to go to the ground, so be aware. You also may have notices that I don’t refer to a rock plate anywhere in this review and that would be because there isn’t one – there isn’t a need for one with all of the midsole height. To me, this isn’t a bad thing but it’s also worth pointing out that it’s difficult for a shoe of this height to have good ground feel and that is certainly the case. While the shoe is responsive and gives you some snap, feeling what’s going on underfoot simply isn’t going to happen to any significant degree – but maybe that’s what you’re looking for.

I’m still not one who’s going to reach for a maximalist shoe most of the time, but for what it is, this is a shoe where I really enjoyed the ride and response regardless.

 

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One of the biggest markers of Skechers Performance running shoes has always been their price point. While some of their shoes are slowly making their way a bit higher toward their peers, they still come in at a fantastic price for the great product you’re getting. In the case of the GOtrail Ultra 4, the shoe was originally priced at $120 but, if you check our partner links below you can see that they can be found for as little as ~$60 which is an amazing steal.

If you’re looking for a shoe with plenty of cushioning that and underfoot protection that is rugged enough to pound out tons of trail miles without sacrificing much in the way of responsiveness, this shoe may be for you. At any rate, if any of those descriptors piques your interest it is absolutely worth picking up for a good price.

Get the GOtrail Ultra 4 at our partner links below!

Brandon Wood

Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).

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