The Best Trail-Running Shoes On the Market
Get the Grip, Support, and Features You Need to Own the Trails
Whether you want to add a little more thrill and challenge to your hike or are just looking to change up your exercise routine, trail running is a fantastic activity that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Although you could just toss on your usual running shoes, the often-rugged terrain of backcountry trails could make these runs uncomfortable and even dangerous. This is where a nice pair of proper trail-running shoes can be a total game-changer. There are a few key attributes that make trail-running shoes some of the best footwear available to outdoor adventurers such as yourself.
Perhaps most importantly, trail-running shoes have specialized gripping technology that is designed specifically for rugged terrain. These are not level asphalt paths you are navigating. Instead, you are likely encountering winding dirt paths with loose gravel, rocks slick with rain or morning dew, and significant elevation changes. You’ll want a shoe that can hang tough in these conditions and keep you on your feet for maximum safety and performance.
Rocky and uneven trails can also be painful to run on with conventional training shoes. As you land on hard rocks with extra force from your running stride, you can feel each pebble push against the sole of your shoe, reminding you that this may not have been the best footwear choice. Many different trail-running shoes contain flexible rock plates in their soles which protect your feet while preserving the agile performance you’d expect from a running shoe.
Finally, you’ll need a nice blend of moisture resistance and breathability. Chances are, you will be running through some damp areas along the way. You’ll also be working up a sweat so a shoe that cools quickly is essential. These specialized shoes are made with high-tech materials that ensure watertight soles and cool mesh uppers.
Depending on the features you’re looking for and the intensity of your backcountry workouts, there is a trail running shoe that can meet your needs. Let’s look at some of the best options out there and find the right fit for you.
The Best Light-Duty Shoes: Saucony Canyon TR
If you’re a runner who’s looking at the trails as a nice complement to your usual pavement-based routes, you may want to consider light-duty trail-running shoes. This class of shoes offers you the dynamic flexibility to enjoy both traditional and backcountry routes without ever having to switch over to a traditional pair of trainers.
A prime example is the Saucony Canyon TR. Available for both men and women, the Canyon TR offers PWRRUN sole cushioning to protect your feet from trail hazards as well as specialized PWRTRAC rubber outsoles that provide superior traction on slick surfaces. The grip pattern on the soles will allow you to navigate standard trail conditions, while its modest spacing and offset still make running on the pavement comfortable.
The Best Off-Trail Shoes: inov-8 Mudclaw
Perhaps you’ve done an Ironman (or two or seven…) and need a new fitness challenge. Or, you are simply looking to run in the toughest of conditions. If it’s the extreme trail running experience, you’re after, you’ll be looking at off-trail-running shoes. These bad boys (or girls) feature some serious tread on the soles with extra protection and stability.
One of the toughest shoes out there is the inov-8 Mudclaw. With 8 mm studs, you’ll be able to handle some of the muddiest, most unstable terrain you can find out in mother nature. Don’t worry about getting them dirty, the micro-fiber material is easy to clean.
The Best Budget Shoe: Asics Gel-Venture 7
Want all of the great features of a trail-running shoe but don’t want to break the bank? Look no further than the Asics Gel-Venture 7 (for both men and women).
In addition to a sturdy grip on the sole, this shoe emphasizes your comfort with a gel heel and ORTHOLITE™ liner for shock absorption. You’ll also be well-equipped to handle rugged terrain with a firm midsole and tough synthetic leather uppers for extra support. With a price point of $70 (or less if you can find a sale), the Gel-Venture 7 offer some incredible bang for the buck.
The Best All-Around Shoe: Saloman Speedcross 4
We’ve been over the flexible and dynamic options as well as the tough and rugged ones. But what if you want a little bit of everything? Well, you may have just found it in the Salomon Speedcross 4.
With this all-inclusive shoe, you’ll enjoy the water-resistant textile construction, specialized Wet Traction Contagrip, and a mud-guard that wraps around the sole to keep those toes nice and dry. The Sensifit technology is also specifically designed to wrap around the unique conformation of your foot, giving you a personalized fit for the most comfortable trail-running experience. If you’re having trouble making a decision, you can’t go wrong with the Saloman Speedcross 4.
Trail running is an excellent way to bring something new to your enjoyment of the great outdoors. With a proper pair of trail-running shoes, you’ll be cruising through terrain you would have never considered before. Take the first step and check out these trail-running shoes today.