At its core, the best trail running shoes have great support and reliable grip.
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 the foot compared to road running. Plus, being out there with nature makes it more transcendent in experience.
Trail running has a lot of benefits. And here are 6 unexpected reasons you need to be running trails:
- Beat Stress! Get relief in the great outdoors.
- Boost your immune system & clean out your lungs with fresh air.
- Give your eyes, hands, and neck a break from electronics.
- Get rock-solid strong running up and down hills.
- Stay safe & don’t worry about getting hit by distracted drivers.
- 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.
What are the Best Trail Running Shoes?
The best trail running shoes can keep your heel always aligned with your body as you make determined efforts to take on tough surfaces and rocks of your favorite trail.
The best trail running shoes have these features:
- They have an excellent grip on the ground for various terrain and weather conditions.
- They offer excellent cushion that can stop foot pain and injury.
- They can help improve your overall form.
- They can protect you from rocks and abrasions on the ground.
- They are durable and dependable in taking you there and back.
Top 5 Best-Selling Trail Running Shoes
Important: If your support type is neutral to supination (and high arches), your best shoes are neutral shoes because they are flexible and supportive. Neutral shoes can give support up to mild overpronation with no foot problems. But if you have issues with overpronation and flat feet, your best shoes are stability shoes because they have the most overpronation correction.
Plus, if you have tight calves and an aggressive heel strike, you may need a shoe with a higher heel-toe drop (8-12 mm) to stay comfortable on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf. But having a higher drop shoe may direct more stress to your knee and hip. So if you also have knee and hip issues, you may choose a heel-toe drop between 4 mm and 8 mm. Although the lower the shoe differential, the more calf flexibility and ankle mobility you need.
Note: The foot is a complex unit, but the right shoe feels good right away. If the shoes you are using aren’t comfortable and you experience pain while running, you should try a different pair.
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Best Trail Running Shoes (Neutral to Supination)
Here’s a list of the best trail running shoes for neutral to supination (in no particular order):
1. ASICS GEL-Venture 7 – Best budget buy, OutdoorGearLab
2. ASICS Gecko XT – Best all-terrain, OUTSIDE
3. ASICS Alpine XT – Best in class 2018, Gear Institute
4. ASICS GEL-Sonoma 5
5. New Balance Nitrel V3
6. New Balance FF Hierro v5 – Best plush ride, Road Runner Sports
7. New Balance FF Gobi v3 – Best road to trail, COACH
8. On Cloudventure – Best waterproof trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
9. Salomon S-Lab Ultra 2 – Best for ultrarunners, RW
10. Salomon Ultra Pro – Editor’s choice, RW
The best ASICS trail running shoes have Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Systems which reduce impact from heel-strike through toe-off, SpEVA midsole which provides lasting comfort under your foot, and Durable AHAR rubber outsole which has excellent abrasion resistance, good cushioning, and reliable traction and grip.
The best New Balance trail running shoes have Skeletal FantomFit upper which offers lightweight structural support and breathability, Toe Protect technology which provides reinforcement and protection of your toes against the elements while you run, EVA midsole which provides lasting comfort under your foot, and AT tread outsole with multi-directional lugs which allows you to tackle any trail at any weather condition with ease.
The best On running shoes for trail have CloudTec technology which delivers a soft landing and explosive take-off. These shoes also have Helion super foam for a big energy return, responsiveness, and protection. On Running shoes also have Zero-Gravity foam, which is ultralight with advanced abrasion pads for superior grip and longevity.
One of the impressive features of a trail running shoe is its adaptability on the roadside. So for those who want to mix trail and tarmac, these are the best trail and road running shoes.
11. Salomon X-Mission 3
12. Salomon Speedcross 5 – Trail legend, Triathlete
13. Salomon Supercross – Ideal for heel-strikers, RW
14. Salomon Sense Ride 3 – Best in variable terrain, OUTSIDE
15. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail – Best cushioned trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
16. Nike Wildhorse 6 – Best for soft muddy trails, RW
17. Merrell Mix Master 3
18. Merrell Bare Access XTR – Best affordable zero drop, OutdoorGearLab
19. Merrell Antora X Trail Sisters – Best women’s trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
20. Merrell MTL Skyfire – Great value, RW
The best Salomon trail running shoes have SENSIFIT technology which wraps your foot for a secure yet flexible fit, QUICK LACE system which allows you to make quick and easy change on the laces as you run, EVA midsole which provides lasting comfort under your foot, and High Traction Contagrip technology which provides a reliable traction on wet weather and winter.
The best Merrell trail shoes have Vegan-friendly features which are 100% synthetic materials, TrailProtect pad in the midsole which offers protection on rough terrain, and Barefoot technology which allows you to be flexible and agile on your run having the zero-drop or minimalist experience and protection from a durable shoe.
An exceptional trail shoe can adapt to any terrain and challenge. And if you only walk and not run, these are the best trail running shoes for hiking.
21. Saucony Peregrine 10 – Best trail shoe, RW
22. Saucony Xodus ISO 3 – Most plush, Gear Institute
23. Saucony Koa TR – Best road to trail, COACH
24. Saucony Mad River TR – Ready for customization, RW
25. 361 Degrees 361-Taroko – Road-trail Hybrid, RW
26. adidas Terrex Agravic XT – Best waterproof trail shoe, RW
27. Brooks Divide – Best for beginner trail runners, Road Runner Sports
28. Brooks Cascadia 15
29. Brooks Caldera 4 – Best daily training trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
30. Hoka Challenger ATR 5 – Best road-to-trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
The best Saucony trail shoes have TPU exoskeleton which delivers structural support on the foot, EVERUN top sole which delivers smoother landings on the heel and reduces pressure in the forefoot, EVERUN Landing Zone technology under the heel for maximum energy return upon impact, PWRFOAM midsole which distributes pressure evenly for a smoother ride and added rebound, and a sticky PWRTRAC rubber outsole which provides long-lasting traction and abrasion resistance.
The best adidas trail shoes have cushioned Cloudfoam midsole which has soft, lightweight cushioning designed to give you freedom from tired feet and painful heels, mesh and knit upper for comfort and breathability, grippy Traxion/Continental Rubber outsole, and abrasion-resistant weldings for protection.
The best Hoka One One trail running shoes have removable foam insoles, Meta-Rocker geometry which creates a smoother transition from heel-strike through toe-off, PRO2LITE dual-density midsole which offers cushioned heel and firm forefoot, and Strategic Hi-Abrasion rubber outsole which reduces weight and provides optimal grip.
31. Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2 – Editor’s choice, RW
32. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 – Best for max cushioning, OutdoorGearLab
33. Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6
34. La Sportiva Akasha – Editor’s choice, Trail Runner
35. La Sportiva Mutant – Gear of the year, OUTSIDE
36. La Sportiva Jackal – Best for long distances, OUTSIDE
37. La Sportiva Kaptiva – Firm but versatile, RW
38. Altra Lone Peak 4.5 – Best perfectly roomy toe box, Road Runner Sports
39. Altra Superior 4.5 – Removable stone guards, RW
40. inov-8 Terraultra 260 – Editor’s choice, OutdoorGearLab
Other inov-8 trail running shoes to consider are:
The best La Sportiva trail shoes have slip-on construction which wraps your foot like a sock; updated heel design for increased comfort and fit; injection-molded EVA midsole with an external structure for shock absorption; and FriXion XT V-Groove2 which incorporates dual-compound rubber guaranteeing superb grip on any terrain, dry or wet
The best Altra trail shoes have FootShape toe box which allows the toes to relax and splay naturally. This design helps deliver optimal comfort. These trail runners also have fully cushioned Zero Drop platform–a famous technology that provides a low-impact landing, Natural Ride System (NRS) which delivers a more natural ride, and DuraTread and TrailClaw outsole which offers a reliable grip on the most distressing terrain.
Altra Running has the best zero drop trail running shoes.
Best Trail Running Shoes for Flat Feet (and Overpronation)
Here’s a list of the best trail running shoes for flat feet and overpronation (in no particular order):
1. ASICS GEL-Kahana 8 – Best buy, RW
2. ASICS GT-2000 8 Trail – Best stable trail shoe, Road Runner Sports
3. Salomon XA Pro 3D – Most supportive trail shoe, RW
4. Merrell MTL Long Sky – Best trail shoe, RW
5. Hoka One One All Gender Tennine
6. New Balance Leadville v3 – Best in class, Gear Institute
7. Saucony Guide 13 TR
8. La Sportiva Akyra
9. La Sportiva Bushido II – Editor’s choice, Trail Runner
The best ASICS trail running shoes have removable foam insoles, DuoMax Support System which provides smooth overpronation control, SpEVA midsole which improves cushioning and bounce-back, GEL System in the midsole designed to enable optimal shock absorption, Trusstic System in the mid-foot area which provides stability and helps control torsion, and Trail Specific Outsole which provides great uphill and downhill traction on various terrain.
The best Salomon trail running shoes have Sensifit technology which provides a precise and secure fit, Quickfit System which provides a one-pull lacing system, optimized protective heel and toe cap, EVA midsole which provides the highest level of shock absorption and bounce-back, and Contagrip outsole which provides traction and durability on various terrain condition.
The best Brooks trail shoes have removable insoles, BioMoGo DNA cushioning system which adapts to your weight and speed and provides custom ride, Progressive Diagonal Rollbar which provides overpronation control and smoother transitions, Flextra rubber outsole which offers enhanced flexibility and custom support, and Segmented Crash Pad which provides cushion and smooth heel to toe transition.
The best La Sportiva trail shoes have MEMlex EVA midsole which provides optimal underfoot support and shock absorption, Aggressive Trail Rocker2 outsole which ensures the stickiest grip, best traction, and impact braking system, and EVA Rock Guard which protects feet from rocks and abrasions.
To get into tip-top condition, aim for the trail shoe with a minimalist design. This will allow your leg muscles to work and strengthen.
Most of these brands stay away from any orthopedic claim, but we have included their shoes in the list because of consumer reviews and testimonials. We hope that these shoes will work for you.
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