The Speedland GS:PGH is the latest evolution of the high-end Speedland trail running line that started with the Speedland SL:PDX. Like the shoes before it, the GS:PGH is a trail running tool with a bunch of customization options. But Speedland also improved the fit, functionality, cushion, and price.
While the market for the Speedland GS:PGH may be small, mostly due to the size of the group of trail runners that can balance the $275 price point with the utility gained, it’s got a strong argument as the best trail running shoe ever made. And that’s not something I say lightly.
Let me explain why the Speedland GS:PGH is my personal favorite trail shoe and belongs in the upper echelon of trail running shoes.
Release Date: October 2023
Weight: Unisex 10.5 oz.
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Speedland GS:PGH is the most comfortable and capable trail running shoe currently on the market.
Gone is the rubber cup sole from the SL:PDX and in its place is a 100% beaded HTPU external midsole. The removable drop-in midsole sits inside this external layer. The drop-in sits low enough that a few millimeters of my foot also sits below the top line of beaded HTPU. This resulted in elite support that prevented my foot from sliding off the footbed on quick turns or technical terrain. The rubber cup sole from the SL:PDX also did that but the rubber was unforgiving and not as nice to bump against with your feet or toes. The HTPU does the same job but much more comfortably.
The drop-in midsole is a proprietary blend that includes Pebax. Like before you can swap in a Carbitex carbon fiber plate (for $35 extra) on the bottom of the drop-in midsole if you’d like added stiffness and protection. I preferred going sans carbon plate. There’s enough Pebax (30mm forefoot and 37mm heel) to prevent me from taking any rough underfoot blows from sharp rocks or roots.
Overall the cushion was consistent throughout the foot, provided a nice squish, a bit of a bounce on every step, and adequate protection for longer runs. And it gets even better as the drop-in midsole molds to your foot. By run 3 I felt like the Speedland GS:PGH was an extension of my foot and it suddenly became hard to test other trail shoes. The underfoot feel and locked-in upper, which we’ll discuss shortly, create a shoe that quickly provides a 1:1 fit.
The upper of the Speedland GS:PGH is basically the same design as the original Speedland shoe with a few tweaks. The Dyneema in the upper has been replaced with a more traditional spacer mesh mixed with high-tenacity knit sections. The result is a more comfortable upper that can’t shed water as easily. And honestly, I like this trade-off. The socklike comfort around the collar is still there but now the whole shoe feels more socklike. Not using Dyneema likely saved a ton of money as it’s one of the more expensive materials for clothing and bags. This change, along with no longer including the carbon plate, partially explains how Speedland was able to cut $100 off the retail price.
There are also new achilles pillows just below the heel collar. Those pillows, the returning dual direction BOA lacing system, foam pads behind the BOAs, and the new upper material make it much easier for me to lock my heel into the shoe. I was easily able to get the BOAs tightness just right to avoid any heel slippage. The multidirectional BOAs made it super easy to tighten or loosen the fit to better handle upcoming trail conditions. The BOA system is just so much better than laces on dirty, mucky trails.
The Speedland GS:PGH includes a Michelin Fiber Lite outsole with 4.5mm lugs. I found it gripped boulders, muddy trails, and river rocks without any issues. And there’s still a drain hole you can open with a set of pliers.
Showing the shoe off to one trail runner they remarked they might need longer, more aggressive lugs. But while the Michelin lugs don’t look particularly fierce, they do the job extremely well. I had perfect confidence in every step…and that’s rare for trail shoes.
Surprisingly, the lugs can also handle concrete fairly well. I tried the Speedland GS:PGH on a few road-to-trail outings and I didn’t take an extra pounding on the roads (as can often happen in trail shoes). And durability looks to be amazing. I’ve run over 50 miles in my pair and outsole wear is basically non-existent. If it weren’t for some dried mud and almost invisible forefoot fraying it would be hard to tell the outsole was used.
Is the Speedland GS:PGH wide foot friendly?
Yes, the Speedland GS:PGH is quite accommodating. It fits long lengthwise compared to road running shoes so I went a half size down from my typical size 12. I think most wide footers will be able to go half down or wear their normal running shoe size.
The generous toebox allows me to easily spread my toes which is super helpful in trail situations where I need more control. The shoe doesn’t get too narrow in the midfoot or heel either.
And fear not if you’re a narrow footer. The BOA lacing system allows you to tighten the upper without any strange puckering. Get the lacing tightness right and your narrow feet won’t slide around inside the ample upper. The Speedland GS:PGH is the rare shoe that works just as well for both wide and narrow footers.
Is the Speedland GS:PGH worth $275?
The answer is yes as long you’re running trails several times a week or regularly doing trail races. Think of the Speedland GS:PGH on the trails similarly to how you’d think of the Nike Vaporfly on the roads. It delivers value if you’re consistently wearing it to chase down big goals.
Speedland GS:PGH Summary
The Speedland GS:PGH is the best trail shoe ever. Cushion, comfort, lockdown, and traction are all elite. The only negative is that it’s not the best all-weather shoe…but maybe Speedland has a Gore-Tex version in the works.
If you’re an avid trail runner or racer looking for the premier trail shoe, you’ve found it. It’s an investment that will pay dividends as you fly up and down the trickiest of technical trails.