SHOES & BOOTS

Best Trail Running Shoes: For Every Type of Adventure

Best Trail running shoes
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Would you agree that trail running can be an exciting way to exercise and be in the great outdoors? But, since you are here, we can assume that you will also agree that without the best trail running shoes you can slip your feet in, the whole experience can turn into a nightmare. Without a proper support, you will get tired soon, and if they are not comfortable, the dreaded blisters will ruin your week, right?

So, for anyone who loves to get outdoors and have some fun, finding the right pair of running shoes is going to be extremely important. You want to make sure that you’re getting something with the right type of support, the right fit and definitely the right strength so that you can travel everywhere. High quality trail running shoes are going to give you all of that and a whole lot more and that’s extremely important to your overall success, whether you’re heading out just for fun, for fitness or for something more.

Image showing a man running in trail shoes on a sunny day

However, finding that perfect pair can be extremely hard since there are so many models on the market, and not all of them are good for your feet. As you will see in this article, you will learn about what to look for in a trail running shoe, with all of the important features we have to share.

We will show you several reviews of the top trail running shoes for this year, and by the end of the read, you will have a pretty good idea which model to choose. Also, you will find a few related products that will make the overall experience even better.

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightColorSpecific FeaturesGenderPrice
Pearl Izumi EM Trail M2 V22.1 lbCactus, black w/ blue, shadow grayOffset midsole, snug fitMen’sCheck price on Amazon
Saucony Men's Peregrine 52 lbBlue w/ orangeEBO protective plate, cushionedMen’sCheck price on Amazon
Altra Superior 23 lbNavy, red, silverRubber outsole, quick dry upperMen’sCheck price on Amazon
La Sportiva Helios2.3 lbBlack w/ yellowPoly Grid, EVA meshMen’sCheck price on Amazon
Saucony Women's Peregrine 52 lbGray, blueBright colors, comfortableWomen’sCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Speed Cross 31.6 lbOnix, Azurin blue, Bordeaux, & moreWater resistant, anti-debris meshWomen’sCheck price on Amazon
Hoka One One W ATR Challenger 1.6 lbFuschia, Corsican blue, black & moreSeemless, SpeedFrameWomen’sCheck price on Amazon
Mizuno Wave Kazan1.8 lbMint, red, orange, & moreVegan made, toe guardMen’sCheck price on Amazon
Altra Lone Peak II2 lbMochaContoured, standard designWomen’sCheck price on Amazon
Brooks Cascadia 103 lbFlamingo, midnightMade in the USA, earth friendly materialsWomen’sCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

When you’re looking for running shoes you want to look at a variety of different factors and features. These features are going to help you pick out what you need to be successful and they’re going to make sure that you don’t get hurt when you’re heading out there to have some fun. Different shoes are good for different things.

Keep in mind that your trail running shoes are not the same shoes you’re going to wear for every day, because they’re definitely going to have some benefits that you don’t want to waste on your next trip to the mall.

Outsoles

The first things to look at are the outsoles. Outsoles are the part that hits the ground when you’re running or walking and they provide you with traction as you go over different surfaces.

Salomon trail running shoes ready for action

When you walk on ice or slippery sand, for example, those outsoles will make sure that you don’t slip and fall or get hurt. This is especially important if you’re moving quickly because you don’t have a lot of time to catch yourself on slippery surfaces and you have to trust your shoes to do all the work for you.

Lugs

Specifically on the outsoles are the lugs, which should be large enough that you can easily walk across different surfaces and get the same traction as if you were walking on level ground. The deeper the lugs the better traction you’re going to get, which is why your trail running shoes are entirely different from typical tennis shoes.

Image showing a man holding a trail-running-shoes and showing us the lugs

You want to get something that’s a whole lot higher quality, no matter what type of tennis shoes you usually buy. After all, the best tennis shoes still aren’t going to compare to the level you want for your trail runners.

Fabric

Next, check the material that the shoes are made of. You want something that’s going to be waterproof as much as possible because you could be running into the wet ground or even streams and puddles.

Image showing a man showing to the camera a pair of trail running shoe

You don’t want to get a lot of water in your shoes because that’s going to cause blisters. At the same time, you want the material to be breathable because if it doesn’t have enough air circulation your feet are going to get way too hot. Plus, the material needs to be strong enough that it will keep rocks and sticks from scratching you through your shoes.

Weight

Lightweight shoes are extremely important for any runner, no matter where you’re actually running at. After all, if you’re trying to move quickly any extra weight is going to be a burden on you. The lighter the shoes you can buy (while still not sacrificing anything else) the better off you’re going to be and that’s going to be extremely important.

Image of saucony grid excursion running shoe

You’ll be able to move more quickly and more efficiently at the same time and you’ll find yourself a whole lot better prepared for whatever happens while you’re out there, especially whatever you might have to run through.

Heel to Toe Drops

Finally, look at the different heel-to-toe drops available. Your average shoes are going to have a moderate drop, which means that the amount of heel is a lot larger than the amount under your toes.

There are a variety of different drops available with everything from barefoot shoes (which are only a thin layer of protection over your feet with no heel at all) to massive heel-to-toe drop, that will give you an even more smooth stride, but not necessarily a natural one.

A couple wearing trail-running-shoes-sitting in front of each other

Either of these extremes is going to take a little getting used to, but no matter what, you’re going to be able to get a good fit and you’ll feel more comfortable while you’re running. Just make sure you practice if you’re going to jump to a completely different heel-to-toe drop than what you’re used to wearing.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now that you are aware of the important features, you are ready to look into some great trail running shoes! Take a look below at the top 10 train running shoes for this year and see which ones work best for you!

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 V2 Running Shoe Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 v2 Running Shoe4

Price: Approx. $60

Weight: 2.1 lb

Specific features: Offset midsole, multi-directional rubber outsole

Best use: Hiking/running in areas with less traction or rougher areas

Description: The Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 v2 Running Shoe is actually the second edition of one of their bestselling pairs, which also happen to be award winners, and they fit better around the middle of the foot and the upper, plus they have better traction than ever in wet areas. Furthermore, these shoes are designed to fit snug throughout the entire foot so you don’t have to worry about any slipping that might cause blisters.

You will definitely be able to see these shoes a mile away too because they come in beautiful fluorescent colors like lime green, bright orange and highlighter blue. They definitely don’t come much more interesting than these shoes. Overall, these shoes definitely back up the claims of their manufacturer, and not only do they look good, but they feel good, and help you last longer on the trail.

PROS:

  • Award winning
  • Stylish
  • Synthetic sole

CONS:

  • Too snug for some
  • Not many color choices

Related: Get your shoes on correctly the first time with the Gainwell Shoe Horn. This item is under $10 and made with a leather strap for the handle and stainless steel on the shoe horn.

Check the price on Amazon

Saucony Men’s Peregrine 5 Running Shoe Saucony Peregrine 5 Trail Running Shoe

Price: Approx. $110

Weight: 2 lb

Specific features: PowerGrid cushioning, EBO protective plate

Best use: Intended for trail running and smoother gait

Description: Available in two different color combinations, the Saucony Peregrine 5 Running Shoe is designed for anything you might want to do outdoors.

It has a larger heel-to-toe drop, to provide a smoother, rolled step, and also has added cushion to make any trip more comfortable while still maintaining traction. Made by a company that is well known in the running shoe market, there’s definitely a reason why these shoes are popular.

They’re specially designed and engineered to help you run faster and perform better no matter what you want to do or where you want to do it. The FlexFilm uppers are going to make it more comfortable to run and the XT-900 traction outsoles will make you better at it as well, though it will take a little higher price tag. Overall, this is a great shoe, and we love the nice, 4 mm heel to toe drop, as well as the comfort they provide.

PROS:

  • Gaiter compatible
  • 4 mm heel-to-toe drop
  • Stylish, nice look

CONS:

  • More costly than others
  • One known color choice

Related: If you are concerned about cushioning, the Sof Sole Heel Liner Cushions come with 2 pairs! Light and comfortable, you can find these fairly inexpensively.

Check the price on Amazon

Altra Superior 2 Running Shoe Altra Superior 2 Running Shoe

Price: Approx. $75

Weight: 3 lb

Specific features: Sticky rubber outsole, quick dry upper, removable StoneGuard insole

Best use: Trail running, hiking, backpacking, off-roading

Description: With the Altra Superior 2 Running Shoe, you won’t have any problem at all running through rough terrain. They come in three different colors and feature a variety of different added features including a foot-shaped toe box, quick dry mesh, sticky rubber outsoles for better traction and a specialty insole that’s designed to keep you more comfortable and safe while running.

They are a little heavier than other trail shoes, but have a lower profile and a lower drop platform to keep you running properly. That way, you won’t get worn out or get hurt in rougher terrain.

With a moderate price, they’re also great shoes for the novice and experienced runner alike. If you start running in these shoes, as you gain experience with them, you probably won’t need another pair and you will agree with us that this is a great model, definitely worth checking out and definitely worth the “Superior” name.

PROS:

  • Stylish, nice colors
  • Quick dry upper
  • Roomy in the toe box

CONS:

  • Seams aren’t durable
  • Mesh easily tears
  • May run small

Related: If your shoes tend to collapse into themselves, you can consider the Keep Shape Shoe Tree as it helps keep your shoes in place when you are not wearing them so they don’t develop unneeded creases.

Check the price on Amazon

La Sportiva Helios La Sportiva Helios

Price: Approx. $105

Weight: 2.3 lb

Specific features: Poly Grid and synthetic EVA mesh for ventilation, toe and heel inserts, Morpho dynamic midsoles

Best use: Trail running even in hotter areas or for extended periods

Description: When you are doing research about a tennis shoe, you’re going definitely going to run in the La Sportiva Helios, as one of the most talked about model. These shoes have a classic look to them. With deep traction outsoles and midsoles, the manufacturer made sure your shoes have just the right amount of giving to keep you running, but not so much that you feel it on your feet.

They also have high-quality mesh to get rid of sweat and water as you run. Plus the toe and heel inserts are designed to keep your feet from abrasions as you run.

We loved the Italian flag colors and style that goes along with these shoes, and the fact that they can be worn everywhere you go, especially when you feel how comfortable they are. In our professional opinion, this is one trail running shoe that is definitely worth considering as a buying option.

PROS:

  • High performance
  • Breathes well
  • Light and durable

CONS:

  • Soles can come apart
  • Not supportive in the arches
  • Made for shorter hikes

Related: If you find that you want to wear other shoes on the way home because your trail shoes have gotten wet, you can store them in the YAMIU Travel Shoe Bag. Under $15, you get 4 bags that are waterproof and made of nylon.

Check the price on Amazon

Saucony Women’s Peregrine 5 Trail Running Shoe Saucony Women's Peregrine 5 Trail Running Shoes

Price: $85 – $100

Weight: 2 lb

Specific features: Bright colors, 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, gaiter compatible

Best use: Trail running in rocky areas

Description: If you’re a lady that is looking for a shoe that’s going to look stylish and still give you the comfort and protection that you need for running over rocky terrain, the women’s edition of Saucony Peregrine 5 Trail Running Shoe might be the model you are looking for.

It has bright color options and still has just enough traction on the bottom. Not only that, but it has a moderate heel-to-toe drop that you’re likely comfortable with already from your regular tennis shoes, while providing enough rock protection all the way across the bottom of the foot.

It’s also made by a company that has long been synonymous with high quality running shoes. At the same time you’re looking at a moderate price tag that you will easily be able to afford, even if you’re just getting started as a trail runner and aren’t sure just what you need.

PROS:

  • Stylish, nice colors
  • Comfortable, has rock protection
  • Durable and strong

CONS:

  • Runs large
  • For narrow feet
  • Can rub against your foot

Related: Stay hydrated while you are running, with the Hydration Running Belt as it can hold two 12 ounce water bottles as well as your phone! Under $30, this is made with high grade materials.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon SpeedCross 3 W Trail Running Shoe Salomon SpeedCross 3 W Trail Running Shoe

Price: Approx. $70

Weight: 1.6 lb

Specific features: Bright colors, anti-debris mesh, water-resistant upper, OrthoLite insole, quick lace system

Best use: Trail running in snow or mud

Description: The Salomon SpeedCross 3 W Trail Running Shoe for women, is a model that’s designed to take you through the snow and the mud and up trails that are otherwise impassable. It uses an EVA midsole, moderate heel-to-toe drop, and Sensifit technology to make sure that you are comfortable running anywhere you want to go.

It also uses a mesh that is designed to keep out water and debris at the same time and has a moderate price tag to go along with it. The outsoles are even designed not to leave behind a trail as you run so you don’t have to worry about marking up the wilderness. The thin, elastic ‘lace’ system makes it a whole lot easier to slip these shoes on and get moving and you don’t need to worry about tripping over untied shoelaces.

PROS:

  • Many color choices
  • Affordable and stylish
  • Quick lace system

CONS:

  • Too narrow
  • Heel can wear off
  • Can pinch your toe

Related: You may find that you would like some gaiters to protect your shoes. The Altra Trail Gaiters are about $20 and come in many colors. They slip on and keep out debris well.

Check the price on Amazon

Hoke One One ATR Challenger Running Shoes Hoka One One ATR Challenger Running Shoes

Price: Approx. $110

Weight: 1.6 lb

Specific features: Large heel-to-toe drop, seamless SpeedFrame

Best use: Neutral runners, cushioning is most important

Description: Being comfortable while you’re running is always going to be important, but it’s not always an easy task to find comfortable running shoes, especially when you want to run on trails. The Hoka One One ATR Challenger Running Shoes are a women’s model designed with a large amount of cushion as well as a comfortable stride, no matter which of the color options you choose.

With a traditional lace-up design and mesh uppers, these shoes are ready for anything that comes your way, including moisture and rough trails. A little more expensive, these shoes are definitely going to be worth it when you feel how well you can run the trails in them.

There’s no need to sacrifice when it comes to quality. All in all, these shoes are definitely ones to consider, as they are comfortable and made of quality materials, and come with a reasonable price.

PROS:

  • Many colors to choose from
  • Supports your feet, light
  • Cushioned

CONS:

  • Soles can come apart
  • Inserts bunch up easily
  • Too narrow for some

Related: Do your shoes stink after you use them? Try the Sof Sole Sneaker Balls as they can be tossed right in your shoes when you are done to deodorize them! They also come in multi-packs.

Check the price on Amazon

Mizuno Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoes Mizuno Men's Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoe

Price: $50 – 100

Weight: 1.8 lb

Specific features: Vegan made, patterned upper and toe guard overlay, 3 inch shaft

Best use: Running, trail running, workouts, everyday use

Description: These Mizuno Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoes are unique in a completely new way, being entirely vegan. That means, if you’re interested in getting out there with the planet and saving the animals too, you’ll have no problem doing so with these shoes. They have a moderate rise around the ankle to provide support, moderate heel-to-toe drop, and a variety of color and pattern options.

You also get a comfortable fit and style from the inside padding to the form of the shoe. Plus, they’re moderately priced so anyone can get them, definitely a plus for anything vegan made that usually costs a lot more.

It’s definitely great to have an option that allows you to conserve a little money without compromising on what’s important to you and the planet at the same time. In the end, this shoe offers tons of quality and style, so you may want to check them out!

PROS:

  • Nice appearance, style
  • 3 inch shaft from arch
  • Cradles the heel

CONS:

  • Sole comes apart
  • Runs big for some
  • Laces aren’t good enough

Related: Get yourself some great running socks for the trail. The Saucony Socks 6 Pair are affordable, no-show, and high performance for a low price!

Check the price on Amazon

Altra Lone Peak II Trail Running Shoes Altra Lone Peak II Trail Running Shoes

Price: Approx. $115

Weight: 2 lb

Specific features: Low price, contoured shape and protection, standard design

Best use: Trail running, jogging, hiking, walking

Description: These shoes may not look like anything special, but for the cost, they definitely are. That’s because the Altra Lone Peak II Trail Running Shoes are made with Air Mesh to provide plenty of breathability, and they have a FootShape toe box and Zero Drop platform.

They also feature StoneGuard rock protection, and carbon rubber outsoles so you get the traction you need going uphill and downhill. On top of that, they have a low rise and extra cushion for comfort over long hikes and walks.

Also, with the comfortable interior and nice fit around your foot, you can be sure that no blisters will appear. However, you need to be careful when choosing the size as they run smaller, and ordering half a number bigger is what we would recommend. Other than that, these shoes really don’t have anything that would be a deal breaker and they definitely are worthier than the price they are offered for.

PROS:

  • Air mesh
  • Nice toe box
  • Cushioned

CONS:

  • Run small

Related: If you find that your sole is coming apart, you can always use Shoe Good Adhesive as it seals your sole back to the shoe and you can keep running! For a low price, this stuff works great!

Check the price on Amazon

Brookes Cascadia 10 Running Shoe Brookes Cascadia 10 Running Shoe

Price: Approx. $75

Weight: 3 lb

Specific features: Bright colors, many made in USA, earth friendly materials

Best use: Running in rough conditions or terrain, flexibility needed

Description: The Books Cascadia 10 Running Shoe is designed for women who like to run in all different conditions and all types of terrain. Whether you love running through the mountains in the winter or along the beach in the summer, you’re going to have no problem with these shoes which have breathable lining as well as rock shield and comfortable padding throughout.

They may look like a standard tennis shoe with moderate rise and heel-to-toe drop, but they’re definitely prepared for a whole lot more than your regular tennis shoes are.

They’re also very moderately priced, which is going to be extremely important if you want to get into running, but aren’t so sure about spending a fortune to get started. You’ll love the mesh uppers and the high-quality traction control outsoles. Overall, this is a high quality shoe that rightfully deserved a place on our top product list.

PROS:

  • Looks good, stylish
  • Great price
  • Mesh uppers

CONS:

  • Too narrow
  • Tongue feels strange
  • Not for high arches

Related: For some great trail running shoe laces, you can try the Lock Laces which are made of elastic and you don’t have to tie them. Under $10, this can make running a little easier!

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

With the elastic laces, we have reached the end of our article. By now, you should have a pretty good idea what to keep an eye on when shopping for running shoes as we have presented the most important features when it comes to these types of shoes.

Furthermore, thanks to the provided model reviews, you have a great starting point when the best models are concerned, and we are pretty sure that at least one of the models from our list will fit all your personal needs.

Image showing a man running in trail shoes on a bridge

Not to forget, the recommended products were included in the article with a reason, and that is to make your new shoes and the overall experience with them even better, so consider taking another look at both the recommended products, and the reviewed running shoes, as you never know if you might have missed an important feature that makes a certain model perfect for you.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you look for in your trail running shoes? We would love to hear from you, so leave your thoughts and comments about trail running shoes in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Edward Gregory

    I’m not the most advanced trail runner, but what I do is spend 5 hours a day on film sets which vary greatly in their terrain. I’ve been wearing Salomon for the past 3 years, and my feet never get tired. They are very sturdy and strong without being too heavy.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Great choice, buddy! It even has a line for the ladies so if you have a wife or girlfriend that appreciates safety and comfort, this will be a nice present for any occasion.

  • Patrick Calhoun

    For backpacking, I find the La Sportive Helios fine for me but I have not gone to the most advanced trails yet. They say it’s a bit small and I agree that it’s a close-fitting but not very tight. I like the cushioned lower drop. Someone who has tried it for ultra distances can give more advice but so far these shoes somehow allow you to feel the ground while running. They have good traction and super light!

  • Jerry Mueller

    I think it still depends on the user’s feet, if you know what I mean. Well, I have wider feet than most people I know and some running shoes that my friends swear by don’t fit me. That being said, the La Sportive is a very comfortable shoes – the mesh ensures dry feet, which is important for most runners. The colors are eye-catching, as well.

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