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Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuel

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Just as you enter my hometown of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., there’s a park called Shady Rest. It has hundreds of acres of wilderness, miles upon miles of dirt roads, and trails that will make even the most casual runner hear the siren song of putting one foot in front of the other.

One of the best pairs of shoes for hitting these trails, which range from rich soil to pumice and crushed rock? The $110 Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuel XC. Regardless of terrain, the Syncro Fuel shoes offer great traction and support.

Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuel XC Running Shoes

Over two months of use, I went for miles without rolling an ankle, something I’m prone to do. On this shoe, the heel and toebox areas are a wee bit larger than usual. This seems to aid in stability and has kept me upright after much use.

The body of the shoe is dominated by mesh, and it breathes well. Although many shoes with a mesh upper open the floodgates to dust and grit getting inside, there was little of this with the Syncros, even on Mammoth’s pumice trails.

Fit-wise, they ran pretty true. I usually wear 10.5 or 11, and with the Syncros I used the former, which weighed in at about 12 ounces. Light enough.

There is a sockliner in the shoe, which makes for a snug fit. Even without tying up the laces the shoes fit better than most others on my sneaker rack.

—Stephen Krcmar

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