By Jessie Wiese Explore Big Sky Contributor

The running industry has seen some major trends in the last few years, from minimalist running shoes designed to mimic the barefoot running experience, to shoes with extra-thick midsoles and extreme cushioning like the new Hoka One One Conquest.

The new design takes a little getting used to, but after just a few miles, I enjoyed the springy feeling of the shoe and being so light on my feet.

While nearly as light as the minimal brands, the 9.6-ounce Women’s Conquest provides remarkable protection for your feet, thanks to higher volume, softer density and greater rebounding foam than a standard running shoe. The extra protection is most noticeable on trails, where you can easily ignore stones and bumps underfoot.

The IMG_4378Conquest’s thick sole tapers from the forefoot to the front of the shoe using Hoka’s “Meta-Rocker” midsole geometry, and the low heel-to-toe differential of 4 mm allows me to have a better forward lean and toe off. It also keeps me from heel striking and overstriding, symptoms that amplify impact on joints.

The shoe’s midsole is essentially made up of two layers: The top layer, composed of Cmeva foam, is super-plush and, in Hoka style, cradles the entire heel for increased stability. The lower layer is made from an injection-molded compound called Rmat, which claims excellent weight-to-resilience ratio and provides outstanding energy return.

I’m a former long distance runner, and after two knee surgeries and disc issues in my back, the added cushion of the Conquests have allowed me to run trails again. $170 hokaoneone.com