The Skechers Gotrail Ultra 4 is a neutral trail running shoe with maximal cushioning. It has a thick cushioned midsole with a 36mm heel and a 32mm front, giving it only a 4 mm drop. That is quite a lot of stack height and with a weight of 312g it isn’t a super light shoe, but for the amount of shoe that you are actually wearing it isn’t half bad. The sole has a rocker shape that helps you to toe off and Skechers uses the M-strike technology to promote a midfoot strike.
Skechers has been working on their performance line for the last 5 years and I have owned almost all of their ultra series shoes. Skechers used to have just one ultra shoe in the beginning, but later on, this was split into a road version and a trail version. I’ve tried both, but didn’t like the road version and switched to the trail shoe instead since I did really like the predecessors of this shoe. I’m not a real trail runner, I only run easy trails during training runs and I don’t run trail races, but I have used these during my road marathons. Yes, I basically use them as road/trail shoes. I actually own three pairs of these shoes.
On the Gotrail Ultra 4 there are no more stitches or overlays on the upper. The upper is made from a synthetic mesh which is glued together. Only the part around the the laces has some stitching. This creates an almost seamless interior. On one of the pairs I own a small part of the glued section came undone, but not in such a way that I could no longer use the shoe and this section also didn’t get any bigger over time. The other two pairs are just fine, so it doesn’t seem to be a very common issue.
The mesh isn’t as flexible as it used to be and is actually a bit sturdier and thicker than on the Gorun Ultra 1 and 2, but the toe box is roomy and gives your toes enough space to move and splay while running.
The tongue isn’t padded, although it isn’t uncomfortable, I don’t know why it isn’t padded. Is that supposed to be a trail shoe thing I just don’t know about? Why wouldn’t you need a padded tongue while running trails?
The back has a quick-fit loop attached to it. This helps you get into the shoe, but doesn’t bother you while running. The collar of the shoe is more durable that on the Ultra 1 and 2. In the previous models the fabric of the collar eventually ripped and I had to tape it in order for me to keep using the shoe, but I haven’t had that issue with the Skechers GoTrail Ultra 4, the fabric is still in one piece after hundreds of miles in these shoes.
The midsole of the Skechers GoTrail Ultra 4 has a unique water drainage system. I was a bit skeptical of this in the beginning (how much can a few holes in the midsole of your shoe actually do?), but it does work rather well. I was surprised at how quickly the shoes drained the water and dried up after running through a big puddle of water during one of my marathons. That’s probably because the drainage holes are on the side of the midsole, instead of on the bottom of the shoe. This prevents them from getting clogged up by dirt and the downward force of the foot while running will help get rid of the water.
I found the midsole much more comfortable than the ones of its predecessors. That might be due to the 5GEN midsole material that Skechers used in the GoTrail Ultra 4. It isn’t a super responsive shoe, but the energy return certainly isn’t bad.
The rubber outsole of the GoTrail Ultra 4 seems to be unchanged from that of the GoTrail Ultra 3. The outsole has deep lugs for traction and even deeper flex grooves. The durability of the outsole used to be a real issue for Skechers, but something that they’ve now seemed to have tackled with their new rubber outsole.
It does provide enough grip on different terrains. It adapts to easy trail as well as running on the road. The lugs are not that noticeable while running, so it didn’t bother me while running on the road, but it does give you enough grip on a wet surface.
Since the Skechers GoTrail Ultra 3 ran rather small, I decided to order half a size up from my usual size just to be sure. I did not regret that decision.
Out of the different Ultra models that Skechers has produced over the years, this one is definitely my favorite. It’s a bit bulky, but not too much and it’s very comfortable. It has a roomy toe box and an almost seamless upper. And they have fixed the durability issues of the previous models, the rubber outsole clearly lasts longer and the durability of the upper has also improved.