Skechers continues to refine their performance line and produce some top level running shoes. I was incredibly impressed with the company’s offering of the GOrun 5 earlier this year.
Last year, the first shoe I tested from them the Ultra 3s, and I truly enjoyed them. So I was looking forward to seeing what had changed.
In this case, they have done quite a bit of change to the previous model and it has paid off.
Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 General Info
The GOtrail Ultra 4 is the top level trail shoe offered by Skechers. This shoe has maximal cushioning, and is made to keep you comfortable through the longest of long runs.
With this type of cushion, the Ultra 4s will compete against Hokas and top level cushion shoes from Brooks (Caldera) and Altra (Olympus).
When these shoes showed up, I was incredibly impressed with the new look. The updated upper is sleek and more streamlined than before.
The overall look of the shoes is nice, but these are not a shoe that will be added to the everyday rotation when they are retired from running.
My first run in them was an easy 6-mile gravel and dirt trail run that felt like running on air. That feeling still hasn’t gone away.
Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 Sole Unit
The sole unit of this shoe is where everything begins. The outsole uses aggressive lugs and a very grippy rubber to go along with deep grooves between those lugs.
This outsole helps grip rocks and break through dirt as you take on the trails. It also helps grip rocks during stream crossings.
The midsole uses Skechers’ 5GEN foam technology. This foam is both soft and yet responsive no matter the stack height.
This sole unit has a stack height of 34mm in the heel and 30mm in the forefoot, which is substantial. This amount of foam keeps your legs and feet fresh as you put on the miles.
This is more or less the same sole unit as the Ultra 3, with one noticeable change for me. The forefoot seems to be a little wider, and firmer than last year’s model.
I could be imagining it, but when I did a run in the 3s followed by the 4s the next day I noticed these two small details. This combination of changes makes for a more stable ride on narrow trails than the Ultra 3s.
However, they still can put a little pressure on your ankles as you run on narrow trails due to the stack height. This pressure can be a little uncomfortable, but this year’s model did not cause the same amount of unstableness as did the 3s.
One of the places where this sole unit shines is in water drainage. Through multiple stream crossings or running in the rain and very wet tall grass, the water accumulated in the shoe itself.
However, the built in drainage system of the sole unit was a beast at expelling the water. With each step, the sole would push water through the inserts and out through the drainage holes on the side of the sole unit.
Within just a few steps the water was out of the shoe and the inflow of air helped dry my feet and socks. Truly impressive.
Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 Upper Info
The upper is completely redesigned from the 3s. This update involved a completely different material. This year’s model uses the much more traditional mesh that can be found on most running shoes.
The update also moves the upper to be almost completely seamless. This made for an even more comfortable running experience while wearing them.
The upper was soft and supportive. The heel locks in well, and the midfoot is supportive and tight and then it splays very nicely into the forefoot.
The toe box is incredibly spacey and lets your feet spread out while on the run. This makes for a more comfortable feel as you go for longer distances.
Just like on the upper for the GOrun 5, one of my favorite features is something very small in detail. That would be that on the heel of the upper, they placed a tab called the “Quick-Fit” for easy on and off of the shoe.
It is something that most people would overlook, however, this tab works so much better than the ones I’ve seen on other shoes, and it was greatly appreciated.
The upper fits true to size, as my size 13 fit exactly as I like them to — with a bit of room left in the toe box for landing and toe off.
Skechers GOtrail Ultra 4 Conclusions
In the end, this is a great offering from an up-and-coming running company. Skechers has been offering some great new shoes in its top performance line.
The GOrun 5s have been one of my favorite road shoes of the year, they truly knocked it out of the park on that one, and these trail shoes have followed suit.
Although not a perfect product, these shoes are a great offering. They only really faltered slightly in one area (ankle pressure and slight unsteadiness due to high stack height on narrow trails), and excelled in many others.
I took these shoes on many different surfaces — gravel trails, dirt, gravel country roads, wooded single track, rocky up-and-downhills, rutty trails, stream crossing — and the traction and sole unit preformed incredibly well.
These shoes took me to runs from 6 to 14 miles and never once made me feel uncomfortable or had my feet or calves be tired.
Skechers continues to prove that their top-line shoes are equal to the task of any of the big brands. These shoes could easily slide into any trail runner’s rotation when logging high mileage.
Are you hitting the trails? Are you putting up double-digit miles on those runs? Maybe you should check out the GOtrail Ultra 4s.
We thank the nice people at Skechers for sending us a pair of GOtrail Ultra 4 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.