Top 11 Shoes For Trail Running

Are you all set to go running on the paths this winter? Exploring off-road can be enjoyed all year round, but it is particularly enjoyable to take a break from slick roads and venture into peaceful forests or icy singletrack during the winter season.

To be successful when running on muddy routes and difficult paths, it is advantageous to have specific trail running shoes that have a good grip on the ground and offer padding for your feet to face the rocky surfaces.

Take a look at the best trails here, or continue further for reviews about the trail shoes and more favourites from the test team. We also have further details to help you choose your next pair.

Why Trail Running

Each of us has a distinct perspective on the significance of trail running, different and special like the unbound lands we traverse. To some, it’s a spiritual, transformative experience. You don’t need to have an extreme attitude towards life or be in a state of complete enlightenment to be considered a trail runner.

Many of us include extra distance to our standard neighbourhood route by simply running on a short trail near a nearby park. The advantages of outdoor activities appeal to both dedicated ultrarunners and casual outdoor enthusiasts, prompting them to invest additional time in nature.

What to Look for in a Trail Running Shoe

No matter what you like or your own beliefs, we believe that anyone can become a runner on trails, particularly when they have appropriate footwear. Before you buy trail running shoes, you should think about what kind of shoes your feet require (e.g. firm or flexible, good for a neutral gait or good for foot stability, wide or narrow, with a high or low heel-toe drop). Additionally, you should consider what the terrain requires when it comes to the type of shoes. Consider if the paths you come across are rocky or surface-smooth, inclined or flat, have footing that is unsteady or strong, and if they involve water crossings. Stiff shoes with fairly deep treads (5mm+) should be worn while navigating challenging trails with bad terrain, though they may not be very comfortable or pleasant to use while running on pavement. These shoes will be more effective on the toughest surfaces and could be suitable for day hiking too. Hybrid shoes are distinct from their tougher counterparts due to the shorter lugs (2mm to 4mm) and better grip when on the pavement. They’re great for taking leisurely walks on softer, wooded paths that won’t be too tricky to navigate. Top Shoes for Trail Running

1. Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

Though the “GTX” distinction suggests ankle-high waterproofness, the material only reaches to the top of the laces. The gaiter collar is instead a stretchy fabric, preferable for shielding against small debris and light drizzle.
Not suited for deeper creek diving, this construction does breathe easier. After splashing through shallow riverbeds and rain-filled potholes, no testers reported the soggy wet squish they’d sometimes feel after sealing their feet inside GoreTex. Interestingly, many runners will grab the GTX version for reasons other than waterproofness. The shoe’s outsole uses a different rubber than the non-GTX version. Nike finally made the switch to a stickier rubber. “The shoe performed wonderfully on all surfaces, especially the road,” said one tester, who put more than 120 miles on the shoe, equally split between road and trail surfaces.

2. Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3

“This isn’t a workout or fast race shoe. This is the long-haul shoe,” one tester declared. He also noted how ultrarunners like Topo’s shoes because of their wide toe boxes. The Ultraventure is no exception.
For gnarly trails, you’ll want to choose the brand’s MTN Racer or Terraventure, which has toothier treads. (The Ultraventure 3’s lugs measure a fairly modest 3.5 mm in length.) The outsole, made of grippy Vibram rubber, is more lightweight and sectional than the previous iteration. Its lugs are shorter and wider as well, making the shoe versatile for both roads and trails. “The Vibram outsole is sticky enough for rocky trails, but it’s not like a cleat,” said a tester. Even though the shoe doesn’t have a rock plate, the increased stack height—Topo added 5mm to the heel and forefoot—serves as a buffer on rugged terrain. The thicker midsole is composed of a new Zipfoam compound that’s lighter and more responsive. (It’s the same bouncy material used in Topo’s Ultraventure Pro model.) To ensure stability, the platform was widened, too.

3. Hoka Mafate Speed 4

The Speedgoat might be more popular, but we’re going to claim the overhauled Mafate Speed is Hoka’s best trail running shoe right now—especially if your trails require comfort and versatility. We found this out first-hand by using the shoe to race up and down Whiteface Mountain. With a wide range of trail options to pick from, the Mafate was the race day choice for both myself and video producer Pat Heine-Holmberg to tackle the Olympic ski hill in New York’s Adirondack Park. There have been several big changes to this model that make it more runnable and comfortable than before, including a new two-layer foam setup. The Profly+ midsole puts a lightweight, bouncy foam closest to your foot, which boosts comfort and makes the shoe feel alive when you’re running along the hard-packed ground. The bottom layer is durable and firm enough to crush over sizable rocks and protect the bottom of your foot. When you are in areas that are difficult to traverse, such as steep or muddy terrain, the shoe will still perform well. The bottom sole has been modified and there is a considerable amount of rubber on the foot. Each lug has three separate levels, providing you with an abundance of sharply cut edges for traction on the surface. Furthermore, it’s Litebase, designed to cut down on the weight to do its job without compromising the grip on the bottom. Litebase technology makes the sole thinner and lighter.

4. Brooks Catamount 2

The specially designed SkyVault midsole plate of the Catamount 2 is created for increasing efficiency when climbing, and providing a smooth and stable experience going down, so you can roll down trails easily. The plate on the bottom of the shoe is curved in the front of the foot to facilitate a faster transition when lifting off the toes on inclines. It also doubles as a rock shield. The testers commented positively on the shoe’s responsiveness, saying it was both “fast and fun”. Although a few of them did point out that support was sacrificed to achieve a lighter weight. A tester mentioned that their favourite at the moment is the Brooks Caldera 6, which features a cushiony sole that feels like a mattress. I was expecting to be more in tune with the surface beneath me while wearing the Catamount 2. The testers commented how the TrailTack rubber outsole had amazingly good grip in both wet and icy conditions. The Gear editor Amanda Furrer noticed that the grip was dependable while running in a 5K in the middle of December on a morning coated with snow and constant rain. She stated that the hold had taken a step up from the Catamount’s first version.

5. Altra Lone Peak 7

“The route I run most is a four-mile loop on a mountain that has every kind of surface that one can expect to get in Pennsylvania—gravel, technical downhills, rocky climbs, and water crossings,” said one tester who put more than 150 miles of running on the shoe in both wet and dry conditions. “This shoe grips all of it. The traction is fantastic, and the cushioning is ample, but still allows for ground feel and solid footing on the rock.” But, let’s be honest. Traction has never been an issue for Lone Peak. A secure fit has. Altra has tinkered with its upper to ensure that its roomy toe boxes allow for natural foot movement and toe splay, but not too much motion that it feels sloppy. It’s a tough balance to get right. While

the sixth version’s customizable lacing system did the trick for some, this version feels more locked in from a new stitch-less upper. Fewer bulky overlays and no seams let the mesh wrap the foot more closely without wrinkling and bunching.

6. La Sportiva Karacal

These shoes are a great all-around trail runner because they’re cushioned enough for long mileage days but also perform well in technical terrain. (Often, high cushion shoes feel great on well-graded trails but lack stability on uneven ground.) The Caracal has a soft upper, a well-padded fofootbednd a durable sole with grippy rubber. The shoe fits like a glove, hugging your foot in all the right places while providing enough wiggle room for your toes. Even in hot temps, there’s enough space to accommodate some foot swelling.

7. Decathlon Evadict XT7

While it’s worth investing in capable trail runners if you’re ramping up the off-road miles, you don’t need to spend an entire paycheck on a pair of shoes. Case in point, this versatile trail shoe from Decathlon excels on loose rocks and dirt because of the deep, 5mm, well-spaced lugs, and it costs less than £100. It also embraces features found one more expensive shoes, like a toe guard and a lace pocket on the tongue. The cushioning is even and the protection around the heel gives the user more comfort without taking away stability. In conclusion, the Evadict XT7 is an excellent value-for-money option for people interested in starting out with trail running.

8. Salomon Speedcross 6

When jogging on tracks that are soggy and full of dangerous sights, having good traction is essential so you don’t slip and having big grooves that grab onto the ground can help you halt suddenly. The Salomon Speedcross 6 is definitely the superior choice when it comes to running in potentially wet or icy conditions – runners living in the damp Pacific Northwest or icy Northeast often choose to wear this type of shoe. The source of the Speedcross’ success is evident when you look at the sole of the shoe (just turn it over). Yep, it’s the lugs. The Salomon Speedcross 6 has a total of 33 protuberances along the sole, two of which are situated in the front of the shoe to provide traction on steep inclines. The big grips function more like crampons for ice than treads for shoes, allowing for solid traction in poor conditions like snow, mud, sand, or whatever other landscape is difficult for walking. These running shoes should work well for the majority of runners due to the moderate cushioning and higher heel-to-toe drop in comparison with other shoes in this compilation; this design attribute helps to lessen the force each time your sole connects with the ground. The upper of the shoe, called Sensifit, is snug but still allows your foot to breathe, and the Quicklace system can help you achieve a precise yet comfortable fit. For the first time, there are two options available for the Speedcross 6; the standard and wide models.

9. Brooks Cascadia 16

Perez’s favourite footwear for running on trails, whether it be a brief or lengthy journey, is the Brooks Cascadia 16. This shoe is ideal for both novice and seasoned trail runners alike. She claims it is cosy and has more padding in the back, a bendable rock plate and a superior grip. It’s great because it is comfortable to use over extended periods on gentle terrain, yet it still has features for managing more complex trails. The sole of the TrailTrack shoe isn’t as intense as some of the others on this list, nevertheless, it still provides an excellent grip on loose soil, solid stone, and muck. The cushioning provides a good mix of comfort and responsiveness, affording you the advantages of cushioned protection without compromising on speed. If you’re a trail runner who enjoys varying the pace and types of surfaces you run on, you would have difficulty finding a shoe more adaptable.

10. Saucony Women’s Endorphin Edge

Trail running shoes are predominantly designed with speed and long-term comfort in mind, however, they are not typically associated with being particularly speedy when compared to road running shoes. For the Endorphin Edge, Saucony combined their renowned running shoe technology with dependable toughness to create a swift and reactive trail running shoe. The Endorphin Edge offers an extremely comfortable fit, which is a result of the airy upper that gently conforms to your foot instead of being too tight, as well as the unexpectedly generous toe box. The carbon plate offers a suppleness that allows you to move with no difficulty, as well as improving protection against stones and tree roots. The standout characteristic of this shoe is undoubtedly its weight; it weighs an incredibly light 7.8 ounces, yet still contains a foam midsole and 4-millimetre lugs. It is one of the most lightweight shoes on the market. The striking, fun all-pink colourway of this product is sure to grab attention while you’re out on the trail.

11. La Sportiva Bushido II

This shoe is specifically designed for technical terrain, and it isn’t the best for many other surfaces; however, it’s ideal for mountains with rocky ridgelines, unsteady ground, and steep precipices. Nothing surpasses the Bushido for these conditions. The sensitivity and level of command you have is unmatched, and as you reach the highest point, you’ll sense security in the terrain due to the tight, not-taking-up-much-space fit that keeps your foot in position. However, the characteristics that make this shoe so impressive also restrict it. If you’ve got feet that are on the wide side, then you’ll need to buy a shoe that’s almost one size bigger than you normally would – especially if you’re running in the summertime when it’s really hot. It does not provide any cushioning, making it reliable and able for demanding terrain, however, it is not suitable for those looking for a bit more bounce in their running. If you’re looking for incredible grip, a comfortable fit, and steadiness on terrain that is not level, you can’t do much better than this.

 

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