Newton BOCO AT 3
Specs: 3mm heel-toe offset; 27mm (heel), 24mm (forefoot)
Weight: 10.3 oz. (men’s size 9), 8.7 oz. (women’s size 7)
The Scoop: Despite many structural changes with the brand over the past two years—most notably the departure of co-founder Danny Abshire—Newton is still cranking out lightweight shoes aimed at helping runners run more efficiently and, ultimately, faster too. The focus of every shoe is still about the ability to run with good form and the company’s well-known Action/Reaction Technology, a system in which five external lugs press into a resilient rubber membrane upon impact to absorb energy, then return the energy as the lugs release from the membrane during the toe-off phase of a stride. Running with good form (upright, slightly forward-leaning posture, feet hitting the ground flat and a quick cadence of about 180 steps per minute) is important on the trails, but it’s often hard to be consistent given the undulating and unpredictable terrain. This shoe is largely unchanged from previous years, but it does have a new durable, water-resistant, mesh upper that contributes to an improved fit.
Who’s It Best For: Runners who like the sensation of running in lightweight, low-to-the-ground Newton shoes on roads will probably appreciate the same from this shoe on mild to moderate trails and dirt roads.
Plus: The Boco AT 3 has a wide footprint—wider than Newton’s road running shoes, especially through the heel and midfoot—and that’s one of its best features. That additional width helps provide a solid base for a runner to connect with the ground and allows this shoe to be very stable on all sorts of trails, gravel roads and bike paths.
Minus: Unlike Newton road running shoes, in which it’s easier to feel and understand the Action/Reaction Technology in the forefoot, most trails shoe don’t seem produce the same decisive energetic reaction at foot strike. Our wear-testers thought that the protruding Action/Reaction outsole lugs actually contribute to the traction of the shoe as much as anything else.