Best Trail Running Shoes 2021

Our top choices in the best trail running shoes are:

Trail running is a sport that requires running and hiking on an unpaved pedestrian path or dirt road, which often takes place on the hills and a rocky stretch of land. This sport has a heavy following and the number of new trail runners around the world grow each year. In the United States alone, an annual increase of new trail runners can reach up to 250,000 with participants as young as 6.

Trail running doesn’t differ much from road running, but many trail runners say they felt less pressure on their foot compared to road running. And being out there with nature makes it more transcendent in experience.

Trail running has a lot of benefits. And here are 6 unexpected reasons why you need to be running trails:

  1. Beat Stress! Get relief in the great outdoors.
  2. Boost your immune system & clean out your lungs with fresh air.
  3. Give your eyes, hands, and neck a break from electronics.
  4. Get rock-solid strong running up and down hills.
  5. Stay safe & don’t worry about getting hit by distracted drivers.
  6. Improve memory and attention span by up to 20% just by getting outside.

While the best trail running adventures take place in the most amazing natural features of the terrain, this sport will require you to have a special pair of shoes fit for off-road running.

Table of Contents

What are the Best Trail Running Shoes?

The best trail runners can keep your feet always aligned with your body as you make determined efforts to take on tough surfaces and rocks of your favorite trail.

Here’s what you should look for in a trail shoe:

  • Excellent grip on the ground for various terrain and weather conditions.
  • Excellent cushioning that can prevent foot pain and injury.
  • Design that can help improve your overall form.
  • Protection for your feet from rocks and abrasions on the ground.
  • Durable and dependable materials that can take you there and back.

How We Choose a Running Shoe

We spend many hours testing new running shoes and reading new technologies, expert advice, and consumer testimonials on various foot types. And we choose the best running shoes for a specific foot type.

Disclosure: We provide links to shoes mentioned in this article and use our affiliate links to earn commission income from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. This site is an associate of Salomon, La Sportiva, Zappos, Roadrunnersports, and Runderwear.

Runderwear – Have a chafe-free running!

Best Neutral Trail Running Shoes

– Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 4 mm
Weight: 9.2 oz

This cushioned trail shoe is Hoka’s top recommended shoe for neutral trail runners. Now with more breathable, responsive, and stable materials, this shoe continues to be a beast on technical trails. It has a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is an excellent choice if you have knee and hip issues because it’s gentle toward those regions.

As the name suggests, the Speedgoat 4 is built for speed with a secure grip coming from its Megagrip rubber outsole designed to take on any dry and wet trails. For winter running, go for Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 GORE-TEX.

Here are other excellent Hoka options for neutral trail running:

– Brooks Caldera 4 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 4 mm
Weight: 10.3 oz

If you are looking for a versatile trail shoe that can energize your run, Brooks Caldera 4 is one of your best options. This shoe has a level 5 cushioning, which is a maxed out cushion when it comes to comfort and technology.

Now with reconfigured grooves in the outsole, expect this trail shoe to be more fluid on a changing terrain. But it remains excellent on both trail and pavement, which makes it a hybrid. Having a TrailTack sticky traction, the Caldera 4 is super grippy even on wet weather conditions.

Other excellent neutral trail runners to consider are:

– Salomon Speedcross 5 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 9.87 oz

Salomon Speedcross 5 is a trail legend. And if you. dream of going into extreme adventures on a loose, soft, rugged, and uneven surfaces of any terrain, this is the trail shoe to wear.

Salomon Speedcross 5 has a Contagrip TA rubber outsole, which is durable, abrasion-resistant, and grippy. It uses deep, sharp lugs that can penetrate and provide sure traction on soft and muddy trails. It has an OrthoLite insole, which conforms to the shape of your foot for an added stability.

The Speedcross 5 has a high rebound midsole with a heel cradle for clean foot strike, Quicklace system, and a sock-like, stitch-free welded upper that hugs your foot through every stride. For winter running, go for the Salomon Speedcross 5 GORE-TEX.

There’s a cheaper version of the Speedcross 5, the Supercross, which is $30 cheaper. Salomon Supercross has a different tongue, shoelaces, and a Contragrip TD rubber outsole that is harder and less grippy than the Speedcross’s Contragrip TA outsole.

Salomon Sense Ride 3

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 8 mm
Weight: 8.28 oz

Salomon Sense Ride 3 is a hybrid trail shoe that can do everything on a moderate terrain. It has a Contagrip MA rubber outsole, which offers sure traction from road to trail even on wet conditions. This trail runner has a heel-to-toe drop of 8 mm, which some experts consider as the new go-to drop in shoes. The 8 mm drop encourages a heel strike and is gentle on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 has plenty of support that can secure your foot and decrease muscle fatigue as you run – Optivibe, SensiFit, EndoFit, and Molded OrthoLite sockliner.. It can even fit wider foot sizes and has a roomy toe box. For winter running, go for Salomon Sense Ride 3 GTX, the shoe with weather protection.

– Saucony Peregrine 11 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 4 mm
Weight: 9.5 oz

The Peregrine 11 is Saucony’s best in trail shoe. It has a level 3 cushioning, which is a more lightweight cushion designed for those who are quick and nimble on their feet. This trail runner has a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is gentle on your knee and hip.

This old-time favorite now comes with a PWRTRAC rubber outsole with at least 5 mm trusty lugs that are fast and aggressive on any type of rugged terrain. This trail shoe has a PWRRUN cushioning that is super lightweight, springy, flexible, and durable. For winter running, go for Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX.

Best Trail Running Shoes for Flat Feet

There are only a few choices for trail runners for flat feet. But the trail is oftentimes softer and more forgiving than pavement, so you’ll have lesser stress during foot strike and toe off. If you don’t have severe overpronation and you don’t have issues caused by a deformity in the foot, you can choose either a neutral or stability shoe.

But if you have issues with overpronation and flat feet, you need more stability. Here’s a list of the best trail running shoes for flat feet:

– ASICS GEL-Kahana 8 –

Support Type: Neutral to Overpronation
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 9.9 oz

If you are looking for a wide trail shoe with a roomy toe box, ASICS GEL-Kahana 8 is one of your best options. It can address pain-related problems causes by overpronation and flat feet.

This trail runner has a DuoMax technology, which provides adaptive stability that controls inward roll, aligns your foot, and reduces stress. It works with the Trusstic System in this shoe to provide a smooth stride. The GEL-Kahana 8 has a Rearfoot GEL technology, which absorbs impact during heel strike. It works with the SpevaFoam midsole to allow smooth transition and an energized run. This shoe has a trail-specific outsole that can provide traction during uphill and downhill climb, and a breathable open mesh upper. that provides airflow.

– Salomon X Alpine /Pro –

Support Type: Neutral w/ Stabilizing features
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 6 mm
Weight: 9.5 oz

If you have flat feet, you’ll lack stability on uneven surfaces and you need a shoe that can provide a stable ride. Salomon X Alpine /Pro will provide maximum stability and protection on a changing mountain terrain. At its best, it’s a neutral shoe with stabilizing features coming from the Advanced Chassis technology between the midsole and outsole, which enhances motion control, energy, and stability. If you have mild to moderate overpronation with no known foot issues, you’ll feel comfortable wearing this trail shoe.

Salomon X Alpine /Pro has a Contagrip TA rubber outsole with deep, sharp lugs that can provide maximum grip on loose, soft, and uneven surfaces. It has plenty of cushioning that can absorb shock during impact, cradles the foot from the midsole, and conforms to the shape of your foot for a personalized fit – EnergyCell, SensiFit, EndoFit, and Molded EVA sockliner.

– Salomon XA Pro 3D v8 –

Support Type: Stability
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 11 mm
Weight: 10.5 oz

This trail runner is Salomon’s stability shoe. Although it has a lesser cushioning compared to the X Alpine /Pro, this shoe has a 3D Advanced Chassis technology between the midsole and outsole that can enhance motion control, energy, and stability. This technology is designed to provide stability and protection for mountain terrain. And to improve the comfort in your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf, this trail shoe uses an 11 mm heel-to-toe drop, which belongs to high drop running shoes designed to be gentle on the foot.

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 has Contagrip MA rubber outsole that grips everything in its path. It has an EnergyCell midsole with SensiFit technology that can cradle the foot from the midsole and absorb shock during impact. This shoe has a Molded OrthoLite sockliner, which conforms to the shape of your foot for a superior cushioning that is unique to you. It has a stitch-free upper, which hugs the foot and a 3D mesh that provides continues breathability during long runs. For winter running, go for Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GORE-TEX.

– Saucony Guide 13 TR –

Support Type: Stability
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 8 mm
Weight: 9.9 oz

This latest item of the Saucony Guide is known for its fluidity and reliable support. It has an extra grippy outsole designed to provide traction on slippery conditions. Saucony Guide 13 TR has a PWRRUN cushioning that is super lightweight, springy, flexible, and durable. It has a guidance frame that can guide your foot through every stride.

– La Sportiva Akyra –

Support Type: Stability
Activity: Trail Running
Heel-toe Drop: 9 mm
Weight: 11.35 oz

If you are looking for a mountain running shoe, La Sportiva Akyra is one of your best options. It uses a FriXion Trail Rocker2, which is specifically built for mountain running. This technology has an impact breaking system.

La Sportiva Akyra has a MEMlex EVA midsole that cushions your every step regardless of the angle of your foot during landing. It has an AirMesh upper for breathability with Flex-Guard technology that repels diseases that might be present on the ground. This trail runner can fit wider foot sizes. For winter running, go for La Sportiva Akyra GTX.

Another excellent option for stability is La Sportiva Bushido II.

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