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10 Best Trail Runners Reviewed & Tested in 2019

last updated Aug 05, 2019
Bored of running on roads? Ready to try something different? Trail running just might be your niche! If you are looking for a more challenging workout and to branch out of your normal routine, give trail running a shot. Trail running comes with many benefits and presents you with new and challenging obstacles that will help build your strength to increase your endurance. Check out some of the best trail running shoes to get you going in our buying guide below. We've fully reviewed our favorite trail running sneakers so that you can get out on some rugged runs in no time.

In a Hurry? The best trail running sneakers after 16 hrs of research

icon
Salomon Speedcross 4
97.4/100 our score
Protection
97
Breathability
97
Weight
98
Durability
98
Traction
97
Salomon Speedcross 4
Why is it better?

Water-resistant

Good grip on mud and snow

Quicklace technology

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Salomon Speedcross 4
Test Winner: Salomon Speedcross 4
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Researched Sources
6
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1500
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
16
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
20
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Brian Price:

In this update, we rewrote our criteria section to help you learn more about what to look for before you start shopping and to help you know better what to expect from the products on this list.

Sorting Options
Protection Breathability Weight Durability Traction Overall Fit Terrain By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
Protection
97 %
Breathability
97 %
Weight
98 %
Durability
98 %
Traction
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Amazon Link
$94.00
Backcountry Link
$104.98
See Deal
Holabird Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
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#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.2
Protection
97 %
Overall Fit
97 %
Weight
95 %
Durability
95 %
Terrain
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
Protection
92 %
Overall Fit
95 %
Weight
92 %
Durability
88 %
Terrain
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.2
Protection
90 %
Overall Fit
95 %
Weight
90 %
Durability
87 %
Terrain
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Backcountry Link
$114.98
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Amazon Link
$129.95
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Protection
90 %
Overall Fit
90 %
Weight
87 %
Durability
87 %
Terrain
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Holabird Sports Link
$69.95
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Amazon Link
$90.00
Backcountry Link
$119.95
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Road Runner Sports Link
$119.95
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#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
Protection
87 %
Overall Fit
89 %
Weight
87 %
Durability
85 %
Terrain
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Protection
85 %
Overall Fit
85 %
Weight
83 %
Durability
82 %
Terrain
83 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
Backcountry Link
$109.95
See Deal
Amazon Link
$129.95
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.4
Protection
83 %
Overall Fit
82 %
Weight
82 %
Durability
80 %
Terrain
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.2
Protection
75 %
Overall Fit
88 %
Weight
90 %
Durability
78 %
Terrain
75 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73.6
Protection
75 %
Overall Fit
75 %
Weight
73 %
Durability
73 %
Terrain
72 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.08.19)

10 Steps to Choosing The Right Trail Running Shoe

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Trail Running Shoes Reviews

1. Salomon Speedcross 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
Salomon Speedcross 4 running shoes
Amazon Link
Protection
97
Breathability
97
Weight
98
Durability
98
Traction
97
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Amazon Link
$94.00
Backcountry Link
$104.98
See Deal
Holabird Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
Pros:

Water-resistant

Good grip on mud and snow

Quicklace technology

Cons:

Expensive compared to other shoes

If you’re willing to splurge for high-quality trail running shoes, go for the Salomon Speedcross 4. With the latest technology Salomon has to offer, the Speedcross 4s are water-resistant, provide solid traction and just enough support for a good combination of flexibility and protection.

Read more

Comfort / Stability

The Speedcross 4s are very well cushioned shoes which provide lasting comfort for those long trail runs. Additionally, the Quicklace system that this shoe employs actually works well to provide a custom fit to the user, offering a secure fit and ensuring comfort. At first, the shoes may feel a bit tight, but after wearing them for a short while they seem to break in easily. The secure fit also works well in conjunction with the multi-directional lugs attached to the shoe’s Contagrip rubber outsole to provide excellent stability and traction for multiple types of environments.

Quality / Durability

When compared with other trail running shoes, the Salomon Speedcross holds its place at the top of the list. With attributes such as a durable upper, rigid outsole and protective toe caps, the Speedcross has everything needed to hammer through those rough trails and keep you moving. In other words, they are pretty durable shoes.

Cost

For beginners, these may seem expensive. However, the more experienced runners as well as those who tend to stick to the trails and off-road courses, these trail running shoes are fairly priced.

2. Saucony Peregrine 8

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.2
Saucony Peregrine 8 running shoes
Amazon Link
Protection
97
Overall Fit
97
Weight
95
Durability
95
Terrain
97
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Pros:

6mm lugs

Great traction

Comfortable

Wide toe box

Great for long distance

Flexible

Responsive

Durable

4mm heel drop

Cushioned midsole

Provide protection and stability

Cons:

Not as lightweight as its predecessor

Not ideal for highly technical or difficult terrain

Too cushioned for some users

Pricey

This model has been a favorite among runners for quite some time, and it seems like every time they release a new model it only gets better and better! These shoes provide the traction, comfort, and protection you need when braving those trails.

Read more

Comfort / Stability

These trail running shoes feature a cushioned midsole and have great responsiveness. They are great for long distance trail running and offer appropriate flexibility and stability for easy and average trails. They also have a wide toe box and provide a secure fit.

Quality / Durability

This model has 6mm lugs and offers excellent protection against rocks and other elements that may get stuck to the shoe. They are highly durable and are built to last.
There are some issues with parts of the rubber peeling off from the bottom of the soles. However, other than that, the durability of these trail running sneakers for an extended period of use is, overall, quite good.

Cost

These are pretty pricey, but given their features and durability, they are well-worth the cost.

3. La Sportiva Bushido 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.8
La Sportiva Bushido 2 trail runners
Amazon Link
Protection
92
Overall Fit
95
Weight
92
Durability
88
Terrain
92
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Pros:

Added toe protection

Added cushioning

Super sticky grip

Snug flexible fit

Extra stability

Supportive rock plate

Cons:

Heavier trail shoe

Just a step above the original, the La Sportiva Bushido 2 stays true to the Bushido name with a low stable profile and aggressive grip on the most rugged terrain. It is a shoe that offers epic control. Although these trail running sneakers are keeping to the same standard, the very minimal upgrades deserve the attention of a second-generation trail runner. It is what some call a perfect combination of all things trail: comfort, responsiveness, stability and very lightweight.

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Comfort / Stability

The low profile, extra tongue padding, and slipper snug fit set the Bushido 2 in a ranking of its own in stability. Unlike most trail runners, the Bushido 2 offers extra cushioning in all the right places without taking away from the true trail feel. This design with smart cushioning and EVA sole is a step above the norm. It still offers a rugged midsole and extra sticky grip, which allows for a nice ride in mud or steeper slopes. The lock-in lacing system is also a great tool in the Bushido arsenal, working with you to keep those feet locked in tight on the most difficult terrain.

Quality / Durability

La Sportiva Bushido is known for having high standards in durability. Although the grippy sole does wear out a bit faster, having good “breaks’ outweighs the need for longevity in the expert trail department. The rock plate adds to the durability, allowing you to glide over rubbish, also adding to the comfort. The toe is reinforced with rubber, protecting the shoe from trail use and your toes from abuse. The mesh material is made very well and does not take away from the durability of the shoe while allowing it to breathe.

Cost

The average price tag of these is pleasant since the shoe itself offers more than average design and build. The Bushido 2 offers more than average stability as well. Running low and fast to the ground. You can feel as safe parting with the money as you do running the trails.

4. Nike Terra Kiger 5

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.2
Nike Terra Kiger 5 trail runners
Amazon Link
Protection
90
Overall Fit
95
Weight
90
Durability
87
Terrain
89
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Amazon Link
$129.95
Backcountry Link
$114.98
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
Pros:

Roomy toe box

Good underfoot protection

Better forefoot stability

Responsive

Agile and fast

Secure fit

Excellent traction

Cons:

Poor drainage

The heel can be unstable

Midsole lacks lugs

From flexibility to stability, Nike covered all threads when making the Terra Kiger 5 trail runner without sacrificing durability or comfort. The Terra Kiger 5 has carbon fiber lugs and rubber outsole lining. They are proving to outlast and outperform the competition and coming in at 9.5 oz, it is also one of the lighter and agile on the list.

Read more

Comfort / Stability
Nike added the React mid-sole to the Keiger 5 while taking out the Zoom Air in the front and replacing it with a rock plate. This not only adds to the stability of the shoe, it also allows you to get a smoother ride when shredding through rougher terrain. Nike put more thought into the lacing this time, allowing for a more snug fit. The added loops allow for the K5 to pull the midfoot in tight, giving the runner a secure lockdown, which means no slippage. Another small but effective upgrade is the small pads intelligently placed in the tongue right where the laces lock-in. This small addition makes the Terra Kiger 5 over the top comfortable. The soft ankle fabric prevents the shoe from chaffing and rubbing the ankle as well. Nike did leave the Zoom Air pocket in the heel, keeping up with the bounce and responsiveness runners seem to love most about these trail running shoes.

Quality / Durability
Durability is what makes this shoe stand out. Equal to any shoe with great traction, the multi-directional carbon fiber lugs seem to wear faster than the rest of the shoe. Strategically placing the rubber-coated lugs in the front and rear of the trail runner leaves the midsole more open and flexible. Nike added a midsole cushioning to this area, which adds to the support and makes the shoe seem to last a bit longer while also protecting from sharp rocks. The rock plate in the front works like magic on those jagged trails without sacrificing any flexibility. Needless to say, the shoe moves and lasts. Average daily trail runners are locking in a solid 350 miles of trail in these. The midsole and upper have gotten raves across the board. The mesh durability is not questionable and they are breathable, although they lack drainage.

Cost
Think of the Nike Terra Kiger 5 as more of an investment when making the purchase. The balance of comfort vs. weight is a great selling point for those runners who love a soft light shoe that can handle a beating. The Kiger 5 is a smart, well thought out trail running shoe at an average price.

5. Altra Lone Peak 3.5

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 trail sneakers
Amazon Link
Protection
90
Overall Fit
90
Weight
87
Durability
87
Terrain
88
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Amazon Link
$90.00
Holabird Sports Link
$69.95
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Backcountry Link
$119.95
See Deal
Road Runner Sports Link
$119.95
See Deal
Pros:

Designed for EVA feet 

EVA midsole

Rock plate 

Cushioned

Comfortable

Cons:

Expensive according to some users

Sizing issues for smaller shoe sizes

The Altra Lone Peak 3.5 is a highly rated trail running shoe, specifically made for runners with wider feet.

Read more

Altra has been a consistent brand on this listed, and this year the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 trail running shoes are among the most highly rated shoes currently available.

These trail running sneakers are specifically tailored for individuals with wide feet, so if you have a narrow foot steer clear.

That being said, they feature a zero drop--meaning they the entire shoe is the same height. ALtra also uses its' A-bound EVA foam combined with rock plate embedded midsole--this allows for a well-cushioned and stable shoe that will not get destroyed (or sacrifice comfort) when running on those rugged terrains.

Cost

This shoe is up their in cost, but it is definitely reasonably priced--especially with all of the features it provides.

6. The North Face Ultra Endurance

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
The North Face Ultra Endurance best trail running shoes review
Amazon Link
Protection
87
Overall Fit
89
Weight
87
Durability
85
Terrain
85
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Pros:

Sticky Vibram Megagrip outsole

Ultra Protect CRADLE provides heel stability

Snake plate offers forefoot protection from the trail

Cons:

A bit bulkier than some models

The North Face doesn't produce a ton of running shoes, but the models they do make are pretty good. The ultra Endurance is one of those shoes. With excellent grip to plenty of protection from the elements, this one has it all.

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Comfort / Stability

The Ultra Endurance provides a supportive fit for the trail with its heel stability technology which they call the Ultra Protect Cradle system. The breathable upper provides both excellent airflow and quick drying properties, which are essential features for the trails.
The midsole is constructed from single density compression molded EVA, offering enough comfort for a decent run.
The durable Vibram Megagrip outsole provides sticky traction on multiple surfaces, with the added protection of their ESS Snake Plate under the forefoot.

Quality / Durability

As far as durability goes, they really don't seem to have any real issues which users are too concerned about. In fact, we couldn't really find much negative feedback about this model at all.
The construction and materials seem to be of good quality.

7. Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 trail running shoes reviews
Amazon Link
Protection
85
Overall Fit
85
Weight
83
Durability
82
Terrain
83
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Amazon Link
$129.95
Backcountry Link
$109.95
See Deal
Pros:

Durable and lightweight design

Great price and investment value

Comfortable design

Dynamic Fit technology

Cushioned

Heel support

Great traction and grip

Cons:

Upper is not as durable as the rest of the shoe

Not enough heel support for some runners

These Nike trail running shoes are durable, lightweight and comfortable. They are a perfect option to hit those trails and will help keep you going while also providing you with the protection and stability you need.

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Comfort / Stability

There are no complaints with these shoes when it comes to comfort. They feature Dynamic Fit technology, which They are well ventilated and allow for maximum breathability--and their Phylon midsole provides additional heel support.

Quality / Durability

These trail running sneakers are made of high-quality material and highly durable--you can expect to get about 300-500 miles out of them. They have a waffle outsole for great traction and outsole lugs on the outsole for great grip.

Cost

These shoes come moderately priced and are a great addition to your running gear.

8. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.4
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4
Amazon Link
Protection
83
Overall Fit
82
Weight
82
Durability
80
Terrain
80
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Pros:

Lightweight

Great for easy trails

Comfortable

Redesigned breathable upper

Optimal EVA cushioning

Durable

Underfoot protection

Great traction

Extended toe cap

Cons:

Sizing issues reported by some runners

These Hoka shoes have quickly risen to one of the most highly recommended trail running shoes of this year. They are a great option for easy trails and offer the comfort, cushioning, and durability many runners seek.

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Comfort / Stability

These lightweight shoes are versatile and have just the right amount of EVA cushioning. They provide great shock absorption, which helps prevent injuries from occurring. They offer excellent rollover support and are equipped to provide optimal traction. This model features a more breathable model than its predecessor and an extended toe cap.

Quality / Durability

These trail sneakers are highly durable and made of high-quality material. They are built to last and designed to withstand rough conditions.

Cost

These come at a pricey cost but are definitely worth the investment.

9. Merrell Trail Glove 4 Runner

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.2
Merrell Trail Glove 4 Runner
Amazon Link
Protection
75
Overall Fit
88
Weight
90
Durability
78
Terrain
75
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Pros:

Better comfort and fit

Very lightweight

Cushioned

More protected outer sole

Cons:

The outer mesh is thin

Absorbs water

Not as fast

Merrell’s Trail Glove 4 has all the authenticity of a minimalist, barefoot design while still keeping up with the trail running competition. Not only is the Glove 4 outperforming other minimalist designs, but it is also adding a whole other level to the trail shoe game. The flexibility allows for the most natural of foot movement a shoe can offer while still providing just enough padding and protection to run and hike some of the gnarliest trails.

Read more

Comfort/Stability
Forming to the total foot, the Trail Glove 4 wraps the arch area without adding unwanted pressure. The thin but effective padding in the midsole protects the foot from sharp objects and adds much-needed stability and grab on uneven terrain. The abrasion resistant, anti-slip outer sole allows for all sorts of quick movement for a more controlled run. The midsole padding does not take away from that minimalist design either; it creates a perfect marriage of barefoot and trail.

Quality/Durability
Merrell’s Vibram Outsole TC1 adds so much that would be desired on tougher terrain in a basic minimalist shoe: comfort, control and very importantly, added durability. Merrell made the rubber “abrasion proof”, which makes the Trail Glove 4 virtually indestructible. The quality of shock absorbency is surprising since the padding is so thin and the shoe itself is feather light, 7oz, making this more an extension of the natural foot than a shoe. A smart addition to this padding is the anti-microbial, microfiber that keeps the Glove 4 dry and clean from sweat, saving the shoe from faster breakdown and smell.

Cost
If you're looking into barefoot running, you won’t find more functioning simplicity for your buck. The Trail Glove 4 is a minimalist shoe on steroids and holds a firm grasp on trail running standards. The lightweight carries a heavyweight title in agility and quick response. For the low cost, you get a top-notch trail shoe.

10. Inov-8 X-Talon 200

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73.6
Inov-8 X-Talon 200 trail running sneakers
Amazon Link
Protection
75
Overall Fit
75
Weight
73
Durability
73
Terrain
72
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Pros:

DWR coating keeps the elements out

Aggressive outsole offer exceptional grip

Breathable upper construction

Toe box is roomy without creating a loose improper fit

Cons:

Needs more underfoot protection

Check out the incredible grip, something that this trail runner would have to possess with a name like the X-Talon 200. Breathable, lightweight and flexible are some of the major selling points for these trail running sneakers from Inov-8.

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Comfort / Stability

Due to the upper mesh's DWR coating, there is a decent amount of airflow through the XT200 while still remaining protected from the elements. Reinforcing overlays provide additional upper support and fit as well. There is plenty of room for natural forefoot splay without being loose and unstable.

In the midsole you'll find EVA foam that provides adequate cushioning which offers great shock absorption, as well as energy returning bounce back.
The X-Talon's Rop-Tech outsole has some fairly aggressive tread to maintain a positive grip on just about any trail. The reinforced toe bumper provides additional protection against loose rocks and debris encountered along the way.

Quality / Durability

The feedback from users has been typically positive, although many would like to see more underfoot protection built into the model. As far as durability goes, these seem to stand up to most rough terrain. However, there are a few reviews critical of the shoe's lifespan under heavy use over extreme types of terrain.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Traction

When you're trail running variable surfaces are part of the equation so you'll need a shoe that has excellent grip on different types of terrain.

All of the trail running sneakers we picked for this list offer the user a high level of grip on a wide variety of terrain. Since you'll be venturing off road and onto trails the type of surfaces you'll encounter differ greatly from must asphalt roads. For the most part, when trail running you'll probably be encountering dirt trails with maybe a few rocks and sticks here and there. But you could also wind up running on wet grass, doing some stream or river crossings, or even some light bouldering so you need to be ready for anything.

Some things to look for while you're shopping for the right pair of trail running shoes for trail running is an outsole with an aggressive tread pattern that ideally has good grip on both dry and wet surfaces. You'll notice that some products have gripping elements that are on the sides of the outsole. These are to help you grip variable terrain when you're foot is at an angle. These can be some of the trail running situations where you are most likely to slip, so if you're regularly running on steep pitches with variable terrain you'll definitely want a pair of shoes with this feature.

Breathability

Especially if you'll be encountering wet grass and/or stream crossings, you'll want a trail running shoe that allows moisture to escape and dries quickly.

Any time you're running you're likely to work up a sweat and it's important to have a pair of shoes that can let that moisture escape. Trail running can often require more exertion than running on asphalt and it also brings the possibility of encountering more moisture than you would when road running, in the form of stream or river crossings and wet foliage. Because of this combination of factors, most shoes designed specifically for trail running incorporate several features that help the shoes to dry quickly and let moisture easily escape.

Some things to look for when you're shopping include breathable mesh uppers, drainage ports if you'll be a doing a lot of water crossings, and synthetic materials that dry quickly. Although it's not the focus of this list there are even waterproof shoes that are still breathable for runners who do a lot of water crossings or even an advanced type of trail running known as fell running.

Weight

Running even just a moderate distance requires literally thousands of strides so even saving a few ounces leads to reducing a lot of work and wear and tear on your body.

Every stride you make while running is work that your body has to do. Trail running ups the ante by asking you to go up and down hills and sometimes negotiating variable terrain. It might not seem like a big deal, but saving a few ounces by buying a lighter pair of trail running shoes than another option can lead to saving literally pounds of work and wear and tear on your body. It varies greatly depending on running speed and the length of your strides, but the average person takes about 1,500 strides per mile while running. So even if you're only saving one ounce per shoe that works out to over 93 pounds of lifting work that your legs didn't have to do as well as a good amount of stress and force that your joints and tendons don't have to deal with. And that's just one mile! If you regularly run long distances, whether it's on the road or trail, you can save yourself a lot of work and bodily wear and tear by buying a lightweight pair of trail running shoes.

Durability

Shoes for trail running experience a lot of wear and tear so be sure to buy a pair with qualities and features that will help make them long-lasting.

The most durable models are usually constructed from the ground up (literally). When determining durability we started by taking a look at the outsole material and how well it holds up to the elements and harder than average impacts. Midsoles need to maintain a solid level of comfort while not giving out as more miles are added. The uppers should be comprised of strongly constructed materials. It’s crucial that you can trust your footwear when you might find yourself out in the middle of nowhere, and our research uncovered the most trusted trail runners on the market.

One trick you can use to help maximize the life of your trail running shoes is to have two pairs that you use and to rotate between them. When you run in shoes where the interior is still damp from sweat it causes the interior cushioning to compress and wear more rapidly than when you run in shoes that are dry. So by rotating between two pairs of running shoes, you can help to get more use out of each pair. It's a larger investment upfront but you'll save money and hassle in the long run.

Motion Control

If you're an under or over-pronator be sure to look for a pair of shoes with features that will help give you the support and gait enhancement that your unique body needs.

While shoes that help support unique running gaits and issues such as fallen arches and under or over-pronation aren't the focus of this buying guide, it's an important thing to consider if you have any of these situations going on with your feet and ankles. Trail running can put more stress on your feet and ankles and ask for more flexibility and mobility out of them than road running and it's important for everyone, especially people with any sort of stride impairments to look for models that will give them the support that they need.

Some things to look for are overlays that offer motion control and a comfortable and supportive insert, especially if you have fallen arches and/or plantar fasciitis issues.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Mercedes Siegle-Gaither
Marathoner

2017 Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans

2017 Rock 'n' Roll Nashville

2018 Rock 'n' Roll Washington, D.C.

2018 Pueblo Marathon

2019 The St. Croix 50

2019 The St. Croix 50, 50K, 3rd place overall

2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge, 50K, 3rd F 20-29

When looking for a new running shoe, I think about shoe weight, arch support, and durability. I gravitate towards a lighter weight shoe with medial arch support. But equally important is durability. When I’m running those trails, the last thing I need is my shoe soles to fall apart. Some of the newer running shoes tend to be too malleable for tougher terrain. This is definitely something important to consider if you’re going off-road.

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
Protection
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#2
Weight
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#3
Durability
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#4
Overall Fit
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#5
Terrain
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Have a good idea of the terrain you're up against!

When you look at all the trail shoes out there, you'll notice the difference in treading. Some are more aggressive, some are less. Some shoes are constructed with more protective attributes, and some have more of a minimalistic design.

If the terrain you're running requires more flexibility, then perhaps consider a lighter shoe. If the terrain is hard and rocky, well then more protection is probably a better choice.

Waterproof or not?

Do you need shoes that are constructed with materials such as Gore-Tex or similar? Well, where are you going?

If you live in temperate or humid environments, then go for it. If you're running in an arid or desert environment, then not so much.

Other Factors to Consider

Advanced Features

Water is always a possibility in the great outdoors--Mother Nature has the tendency of surprising you when you least expect it! We wanted to make sure that our selections were capable of sloshing through mud and splashing in puddles while leaving your feet comfortable and dry. Off-road runners should be able to keep water out while still maintaining breathability so you can comfortably pursue your love of this higher level of activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Why should I start trail running? What are the benefits?

a:

This is not an easy question to answer because words alone will not give trail running its due justice. So, here is a great introduction video explaining why you should start hitting those trails!

q: What should I look for when I need a significant amount of grip on wet or excessively rugged terrain?

a:

You are going to look for deeper lugs on the outsole. This rids the shoe of larger pebbles and stones you encounter. Also, look for an aggressive tread pattern and well-placed grooves so you receive the stability you need on uneven terrain.

q: I’m going to be running or hiking in wet and muddy conditions. What are some features that can help me?

a:

First off, look for a waterproof design because it will be your first layer of protection against the elements. Secondly, find a pair of trail running shoes that have a mudguard feature, to help keep your feet dry. Gore-Tex liners can be worth their added weight wet conditions and well-spaced lugs will help the sole release mud more efficiently.

q: What kind of cushioning can I expect with this kind of running shoe?

a:

While there are trail shoes that take cushioning into consideration, don’t expect them to be as cushiony as your normal road running shoes. Typically, off-road shoes have a stiffer sole and hidden plates that protect your feet from rocks and other obstacles that you might come across. Keep this in mind if you are surprised by their lack of cushioning.

q: I’m used to providing maintenance to my outdoor gear like my pack, what kind of maintenance should be provided for when it comes to my outdoor footwear?

a:

You're going to want to inspect the sole of for wear and tear as well as rocks and stones that can remain lodged in-between lugs and grooves. Additionally, just because they may be waterproof or water-resistant doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check for moisture build up. Properly air drying your shoes will help keep them nice and fresh for your next outing. Something that is frequently overlooked is the laces; before you head out, inspect the laces to make sure they are not damaged and that they won’t snap when you need them the most.

q: I have a pair of top quality road running shoes, can’t I just use those off the road?

a:

We can’t recommend that at all. Having footwear that is specifically designed for the task of outdoor trail running is crucial for your safety. Road running shoes simply aren’t made to give your feet and ankle support and stability on rough terrain nor do they provide the grip you will need. Just by comparing their soles you will be able to see the difference between the two. Additionally, road running shoe features that help with ventilation collect mud, dirt, and debris on even light non-technical trail runs

Sources

  1. Editorial Team, Zen Habits, Healthy living website
  2. Dax Ross, Dirty Running, Running blogspot
  3. Linzay Logan, Competitor.com, Running website
  4. Jenny Hadfield, Runner's World, Running enthusiast website
  5. Editorial Team, Strength Running.com, Running enthusiast website
  6. Wendy Bumgardner, How Many Steps are in a Mile?, Website