MATRYX Uppers Are Taking Over Your Trail Running Shoes, And I’m All For It

How wearing shoes boasting uppers made from MATRYX fabric can help improve your running performance (and enjoyment) on the trails.


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We’ve come to learn that when choosing their next pair of running shoes, many runners are highly interested in features such as the level of midsole cushioning (whether you love it big and plush, or lightweight, low and responsive), or the gnarly, grippiness of the outsole – But what about the upper?

The upper on your running shoes is hugely important, too, given it’s the part that holds your foot in place within the shoe, and helps regulate temperature within. To what extent it holds, supports and flexes with your foot depends a lot on the material used to create the upper, as well as, of course, how it has been shaped, cut and applied.

As well as supporting your foot, a great running shoe upper is going to offer you other benefits, including comfort and breathability (reducing instances of blisters and helping reduce foot swell), and it should last you hundreds of miles until your shoes ultimately need replacing.

One of the great things about reviewing as many running shoes as we do here at Trail & Kale Running Co., is that we see the range of component brands and design trends evolve with each new season and batch of new shoe design launches. One of those trends is a clear move by many high-end trail running shoe brands to using MATRYX fabrics for creation of their shoes’ uppers.

MATRYX is one of a number of premium running shoe component brands that are enjoying a growth in application and popularity among running shoe brands’ top models. Other brands that we have written about in this category include Vibram and BOA, for example.

In this post, I’m sharing what you should know about MATRYX when used to create performance running shoe uppers, what differentiates it from other shoe upper fabrics, and a selection of current trail shoes that use this clever fabric technology.


MATRYX is a cutting-edge fabric designed for high-performance applications, particularly in the realm of athletic footwear. Created by Chamatex Group in the Ardèche region of France, MATRYX boasts a blend of innovative materials and advanced technology.

MATRYX Uppers Are Taking Over Your Trail Running Shoes, And I'm All For It 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
A selection of trail running shoes made using MATRYX on the uppers.

It’s crafted from high-tenacity synthetic yarns such as polyamide or polyester (coated with polyurethane), and technical yarns like Kevlar, aramid fiber, and carbon. These materials are woven into a single piece per zone, tailored to the specific shoe design.

It bears three key properties that make it a great choice of fabric for creating running shoe uppers.

1. Breathability and comfort

MATRYX offers exceptional breathability, which is achieved by individually coating each yarn with polyurethane rather than the entire fabric, allowing for optimal ventilation. This construction enables perspiration vapor to escape, keeping feet drier and more comfortable during intense physical activity such as trail running in the heat of summer, even during prolonged use.

MATRYX Uppers Are Taking Over Your Trail Running Shoes, And I'm All For It 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx is a trail running shoe featuring a Matryx upper (the clue is in the name!)

This makes shoes that use it a great choice for running in hot weather when your feet are going to sweat more, as well as intense runs like sky running, and ultra running when you are on your feet for hours at a time.

2. Customization and design flexibility

In manufacturing, this material can be tailored to specific performance needs, which is why it can be adopted by a variety of shoe brands to create their specific shoes, even if the shoes are designed for different styles of running and otherwise perform very different to each other.

As an example, the yarn, construction, and density can be adjusted to meet various requirements, so one brand may choose to incorporate reflective yarns to enhance visibility during low-light conditions, and another may opt for a jacquard weaving technique that allows them to create unique designs, shapes, and colors, differentiating their shoe from a competitor shoe using the same technology.

3. Lightweight, yet durable

In the world of running, every gram counts when you have to carry it around with you as you run, and MATRYX delivers on this front by offering an ultra-light fabric option for shoe uppers. By using uppers made with this material, we’re seeing shoe brands being able to shave weight off their performance trail shoes. Wearing lighter-weight running shoes can help reduce fatigue over long distances, and ultimately contribute towards achieving better times.

While some lightweight mesh uppers lose points for lacking in durability, this particular lightweight upper fabric has been created without compromising on other critical properties such as durability and support.

Nobody wants their shoe’s upper to start wearing through or getting holes in before the shoe’s midsole or outsole has otherwise reached the end of its life. The high-tenacity yarns used in its construction provide exceptional resistance to abrasion, making it suitable for use on rugged terrains such as rocky trails and clay surfaces. This extreme resistance ensures long-term performance and safety, which is crucial for athletes who demand reliability from their footwear, like we do.

Running shoes boasting MATRYX uppers

As mentioned earlier in this article, we’re seeing MATRYX being used by a growing number of premium trail running shoe brands. Here are a selection of current running shoe models with MATRYX uppers that we’ve reviewed here at Trail & Kale Running Co:

  • Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 3 – A lightweight, responsive trail running shoe designed for technical terrain, featuring a breathable Matryx mesh upper, firm cushioning for excellent ground feedback, and a Contagrip outsole with 4.5mm lugs for superior traction on both ascents and descents.
  • Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx – A lightweight, durable shoe with a breathable Kevlar upper, dual-density FloatPro™ Foam midsole, and Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs – it’s ideal for high-intensity mountain running and Skyrunning.
  • Arc’teryx Sylan – A versatile trail running shoe designed for technical trails, featuring a breathable MATRYX mesh upper, an innovative rocker geometry for efficiency, and Vibram Megagrip. It’s ideal for runners tackling various trail conditions up to half marathon distances.

Read our reviews of those shoes to learn more about their specific designs and performance on the trails, and head over to our running shoe reviews page for more.

One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.


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