Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Review

by | Dec 11, 2023

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Specs and takeaways:

  • Name: Craft Pure Trail Running Shoe
  • Weight (men’s size 11): 12 oz / 340 g
  • Stack height: Heel – 36mm // Forefoot – 30mm // 6 mm heel-toe drop
  • Sizing: True to size
  • Pros: Good traction; wide sole unit; good underfoot protection; airy upper
  • Cons: Not super light; roominess in the upper may give narrow feet trouble
  • Best for: Trail running of all types from smooth to technical; <100K
  • Price: $169

Where to buy

When Craft running shoes exploded on the market in 2019, it was the first time the Swedish athletic brand had stepped into the running shoe game. However, since 1999 the Finnish brand, Karhu, was the exclusive distributor of Craft in the United States and Canada and Karhu has been making track spikes since 1916 and air cushioned road running shoes since 1970.

When I first saw Craft entering the running shoe category, I was curious because I’d thought there could possibly be inter-brand conflict. However, with Craft now under it’s own, new company, their tech is theirs alone.

Despite not getting our feet into the first few iterations of Craft’s road and trail shoes, we were extremely excited to see if even a bit of the hype we’d heard was true. From both of our first runs, Arron and I found out.

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Outsole

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Outsole | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Outsole | Gearist

The Craft Pure Trail shoes begin with a full traction outsole designed with 4mm deep, variable-shaped lugs. The shoe sits on a full traction platform without any major cutouts in the outsole rubber. The exception to the cutouts lies in small, triangular spaces in between lugs which serve to get rid of a bit of weight. These spaces also give us a bit of a glimpse at the rock plate which lies between the midsole composed of supercritical CR foam and the outsole rubber.

In addition to fairly normal toe spring at the front of the shoe, there is also quite a bit of rocker in the back half of the heel. While this may be more of a midsole feature, it bears mentioning since it could be a part of how some runners may perceive rearfoot traction.

[Brandon] With a grippy outsole designed for a wide base variety of terrain, the Craft Pure trail shoes showed up to play on my Colorado mountain trails. I ran this shoe on trails varying from smooth single track and gravel to VERY technical terrain and rocky trails which had everything from sharp rocks to wide, flat rocks. I felt very confident, regardless of the type of surface underfoot.

The gaps in the outsole rubber showing the exposed rock plate above didn’t affect the grip of the shoe at all. 

As far as durability of the outsole goes, the Pure Trail lives up to being a premium trail running shoe. At roughly 65 miles in this shoe as of this writing, there is little-to-no wear on the outsole.

I’ll also add here that while I haven’t yet run in this shoe in snow, as I write this it’s October 25, 2023 so I’ll be able to provide an update soon!

[Arron] The outsole for me, being in VA with softer, leaf-covered trails, did extremely well. The exposed rock plate helps when stepping on leaf-covered roots and grips on the tight corners of softer trails. Post rain, this shoe’s lug pattern and depth allows for confident running, while not retaining much mud. Regardless of conditions, on the trail this outsole performs great and after 50+ miles little to no wear on the lugs. 

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Midsole

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Midsole | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Midsole | Gearist

On top of the outsole of the Craft Pure Trail we find it features a full Cr Foam™ midsole. Underlying this foam we can see that this shoe comes with an exposed rock plate for protection and also a bit of propulsion. 

Stack height in this shoe are 36mm in the heel and 30mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 6mm.

[Brandon] The midsole material made using a single layer of supercritical Cr Foam not only provides cushion and stability but brings a good amount of rebound to the run, certainly right for an endurance trail running shoe. There is no propulsive plate in the midsole of this shoe (carbon plate or otherwise) but there is a flexible forefoot rock plate. This combination of rock plate and foam equates to quite good underfoot protection, even on sharper rocks.

The off-road use pedigree of the Craft Pure Trail belies the brand’s relatively recent entry into the trail running game. I found the midsole cushioning dialed in without being spongey which felt great later in long runs on some more aggressive, Colorado trails

[Arron] Not the lightest of midsoles, yet soft and responsive. The rock plate provides good protection on my trails while still malleable enough to not throw me off when landing on covered rocks or roots. There is enough midsole cushion to endure those longer runs, and they’re springy enough to be used on those trail tempo days.  For me, this shoe looks to be a great shoe for a 50K to 50M trail race day shoe, but will still be a good all-around training shoe on those longer effort trail days. 

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Upper

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Heel | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Heel | Gearist

Made with a lightweight, one-piece TPU mesh upper, the Pure Trail’s mesh is, for a trail shoe, very lightweight and airy. There is no stretch to speak of in the mesh of this shoe and despite it being a trail shoe, the upper is very pliable without an overly built structure. 

There is not tongue gusset in the Craft Pure Trail, again despite being a trail running shoe, which leaves the TPU mesh all the more breathable throughout the entirety of the upper in the midfoot and forefoot. 

The heel counter is largely an external structure with backing foam internally which isn’t overly built up. Reinforced lacing is fairly standard and well-integrated into the mesh.

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Upper | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Upper | Gearist

[Brandon] Much of what I think of the upper will be covered below in the fit section so be sure to read on!

The ultra-light feel of the upper on this shoe is impressive. That said, it definitely gave me a bit of pause in thinking about busting through some rocky and challenging trails. I definitely took a couple of hit to the foot  – hey, I never claimed to be non-klutzy all the time – which found basically no protective resistance. Not really a big deal but if you’re a clumsy one, heads up.

I was also more impressed than I thought I would be with how well the upper – which again, has no stretch – brings to party a mid foot with excellent lock without compromise. I do wish the tongue were gusseted if for no other reason that to mitigate the familiar tongue slide which happened a bit. Not to a massive degree but definitely such that it needed some straightening out a couple of times per run.

[Arron] The lightweight, ripstop fabric is comfortable and airy. The synthetic toe guard that wraps around to the inside of the foot provides some added protection when brushing up against obstacles on the trail. Agreeing with Brandon, the tongue could be gusseted to reduce tongue slide, but isn’t too bad compared to other shoes. The soft heel counter did give me pause for concern, but after running in them, I found no issue. While I am not a huge fan of the see through upper, the durability is great. 

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Fit

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Fit | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Fit | Gearist

[Brandon] The Craft Pure Trail shoes fit me true to size. However, on a couple of longer runs – over 10 miles in my case – I did feel as though I was bumping into the front end of the shoe but only after taking my shoes off post-run. In no way would I call these shoes to be on the smaller side, I’m just noting an experience.

Beginning at the front of the shoe there is definitely room in the forefoot for superior toe splay without being swimmy. In the midfoot there is quite a surprising amount of room and finding the right tightness of lacing to get the proper, snug fit takes a bit of effort on the first go. The heel cup and overall rearfoot gives a nicely held feeling and I didn’t find any sort of discomfort

I would definitely say that the Craft Pure Trail shoes are a wider shoe. I have a very average foot but I found myself having to lock down my laces more than I was expecting. Once you’ve got that sorted, the heel and mid foot hold well in place while the toes still have plenty of room.

If you have narrow feet, I’m curious to hear some comments about how this shoe has (or hasn’t!) worked out for you.

[Arron] This shoe for me, a size 13, fit true to size. The toe box had plenty of toe splay and at no point in my run did I feel like my feet were cramped.  The mid foot is a tad bigger than I like, but when you tighten the shoe it does fit well.  There is a little bunching of the ripstop fabric that had me worried about hotspots, but none yet. Heel cup is a good fit, and while the heel counter isn’t rigid, it does look down nice and tight.  This shoe does seem to be slightly wider than some of my other shoes, but by no means does it effect the way the shoe performs. My laces seem to be a little closer together across the tongue, so if you do have a slightly wider foot but not quite a wide, then this would fit extremely well.

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Ride

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Rearfoot | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Rearfoot | Gearist

[Brandon] The wide sole unit of the Craft pure Trail combined with their cr foam midsole material does a great job of bringing to the trail reduced weight and explosive rebound from some shoes in its class. On smooth single track and much more technical trail, the pure trail features traction and protection that allowed for long, comfortable miles.

The upper has a lot more room that many will be used to seeing but the additional room in the forefoot keeps things not only comfortable but also cool. I will say that with that room you’ll need to mess with the lacing to find the sweet spot relative to your regular fit. That said, once you’ve got the lacing dialed in, the heel and midfoot truly do a good job of locking the foot in place while leaving the toe box room for toe splay and vertical space.

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Outsole | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Outsole | Gearist

[Arron] The Craft Pure Trail shoe offers an exhilarating ride, seamlessly blending the innovative CR foam for optimal cushioning with a design that ensures stability on diverse terrains. Its CR foam midsole provides a plush yet responsive feel, absorbing impact during technical trail runs while maintaining a lively bounce on smoother, buffed-out paths. The shoe’s stability is commendable, instilling confidence with each step on challenging landscapes. Whether conquering rugged, technical trails or cruising on well-groomed paths, the Pure Trail’s dynamic combination of CR foam and wide-based stability makes it not just a reliable companion but a genuinely enjoyable partner, transforming any trail run into a thrilling and fun adventure.

Craft Pure Trail Shoes Overall

Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Review | Gearist
Craft Pure Trail Running Shoes Review | Gearist

At $169, I think the superior comfort and performance of the Pure Trail are well worth the cost. For me, the energy return of the midsole and the protection it offers make this one of those shoe which can handle a huge variety of trail running conditions.

We’ve even run in the Craft Pure Trail on some snowy trail and the traction did quite well. It’s worth noting here that the VERY breathable upper on this shoe means that if you do choose to take them out in the snow, your feet are very likely going to get quite wet.

This is a great trail running shoe for both elite athletes and everyday runners. There’s a lot of room in the upper which may mean some tinkering to get the fit right but it also means that there is a veritable plethora of adjustments you can make if you want to.

Have you run in ANY of Craft’s running shoes? Let’s hear your thoughts on how this (kinda) new entry to the game stacks up!

Where to buy

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