It was the traction of the Zeal that made a lasting impression. The big rubber studs gripped mud, ice and snow like cleats on fresh turf — and they’re spread out on the sole so mud didn’t get stuck. The non-absorbing upper meant the shoe also stayed drier. The Zeal weighs 8.8 ounces and has a 6mm drop, making for a fast and lightweight ride. I usually wear a women’s 9, but I had to size down to 8.5, so the fit was a little narrower than I like. However, a snug fit can help when it comes to balance and stability on obstacles. $170;

Shalini Kovach is a regular contributor to Terrain magazine