Running is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities – you can hike through the woods and enjoy the view, while dodging rocks, tree roots and unexpected obstacles. It’s completely customizable to each person’s physical level and technical ability – you can run on flat tracks in Maryland or cross a knife edge in the Rocky Mountains. And compared to other outdoor activities like mountain biking or skiing, trail running is also incredibly affordable: all you really need is a pair of shoes (and maybe a bottle of water). to keep warm). But without the right shoes for a given terrain, you risk getting injured on your adventures, which is why we trust the best trail running shoes.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all trail shoe: the brand and style you choose will depend on many factors, from comfort to trail conditions. Once you’ve figured out the type of trail you want to ride, you can focus on the characteristics to consider, such as spike pattern, cushioning, and overall fit. Basically, the right trail shoe is there for you, you just have to find it.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 8 best trail running shoes for every type of athlete. Find the one that suits your needs and get started.
- Best trail running shoe overall: La Sportiva Karacal
- Best trail running shoe for wet conditions: Salomon Speedcross 5
- The most versatile running shoe: Adidas Terrex Agravic Flow 2
- Best trail running shoes for speed work: Saucony Endorphin Edge
- Best trail running shoes for technical terrain: La Sportiva Bushido II
Best Trail Running Shoes Overall
An Off-Road Shoe That Blends Cushioning And Agility
Weight: 8.8 ounces | Cushion: Moderate | Heel-to-toe drop: 7 mm
These shoes are a great trail runner because they’re cushioned enough for mile-long days but also perform well on technical terrain. (Typically, high-cushioned shoes feel great on flat roads but lack stability on uneven ground.) The Karacal has a soft upper, good cushioning, and sole. Durable with flexible rubber. The shoe fits like a glove, hugging your foot in every proper position while still providing plenty of room for your toes. Even in hot weather, there is enough space to accommodate swollen feet.
For over 7 years, I’ve worn the La Sportiva Bushido II (reviewed below) because I love their performance in rugged mountain environments, but I’ve struggled with the tight fit that La Sportiva gets known. I recently switched to a louder Karacal with a slightly wider footbox. I wear shoes on all but the most technical terrain and my feet couldn’t be happier. Overall, these shoes are perfect for many hikers who are looking for a shoe that is capable of hiking but is comfortable.
- Breathable upper with thick sole
- More spacious than most La Sportiva . trail runners
- Spacious cushion for long hikes
- Sizes are even smaller than most brands, so you may want to consider upsizing
Best Trail Running Shoes For Wet Conditions
Deep Lugs To Keep You Safe On Soft, Slippery Ground
Weight: 9.9 ounces | Cushion: Moderate | Heel-to-toe slump: 10 mm
When running on trails, where there are often slippery and wet obstacles, you need superior traction to prevent slipping and deep lugs that grip the ground so you can stop at any moment. So the Salomon Speedcross 5 is the best of the best – you’ll often see riders doing these kicks in the wet Pacific Northwest or the icy Northeast.
These shoes have several features that allow you to achieve a precise and comfortable fit: a comfortable yet breathable Sensifit upper and a speed lace system to tighten the shoe. They offer moderate cushioning with a higher heel-to-toe slump than most shoes on this list, so they absorb impact every time your foot hits the ground.
- Deep lugs help you dig deep into soft mud
- Precise fit thanks to exclusive technology
- Flexible sole allows you to adapt to different terrains
- Engineering design isn’t great on the road
- Soft rubber on the sole is not as durable
Most Versatile Trail Running Shoes
Looks Good, Performs Well Over Varied Terrain
Weight: 11.3 ounces | Cushion: Moderate | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
Adidas is relatively new to the trail running world, having launched their outdoor line, Terrex, in 2011. And yet, they’ve been perfecting running shoes for decades, so they know how to make one. shoes fit, and The Agravic Le Flux 2 is no exception. The mesh upper is soft, breathable, and seems to melt into your foot, while the midfoot and forefoot are roomy without being too roomy. You can buy this at sale.
I love the look of this shoe, so I’m happy it performs well on different types of terrain, from rocky trails to flat roads. It’s relatively sturdy, so runners who are used to less cushioning may be better off wearing this shoe. That said, it’s quite a bit heavier at 11 ounces, making it a more suitable option for longer miles.
- Versatile design capable of all types of terrain
- Cushion support for all-day comfort
- Made of recycled materials
- Collars that are too stiff can create hot spots
- Heavy compared to other trail runners
Best Trail Running Shoes For Speed Work
Road-Running Technology Adapted For The Trails
Weight: 7.8 ounces | Padding: Top | Heel to toe drop: 6 mm
Trail running shoes are often designed with agility and comfort in mind over long distances, but compared to trail running shoes, they are not known to be particularly fast. In creating the Endorphin Edge, Saucony combined its renowned road shoe technology with rugged durability to create a fast and responsive trail runner.
The carbon sheet is flexible and stable so you can move it around with ease, and it also improves protection from rock and roots. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the weight – at around 7.8 ounces, it’s one of the lightest shoes in the bunch, and it packs into a plush foam midsole and 4mm lug lugs. Plus, the all-pink track is striking, fun, and sure to catch everyone’s attention on the runway.
- Super light
- Carbon plate helps propel you forward
- 6mm heel-to-toe drop provides a stable ride
Best Trail Running Shoes For Technical Terrain
The Best Of The Best For Mountain Running
Weight: 10.5 ounces | Cushion: Moderate | Heel to toe drop: 6 mm
If you asked me to pick my all-time favorite trail shoe, I wouldn’t hesitate to name it La Sportiva Bushido II. It’s built for technical terrain, so it’s not the most versatile shoe in the world, but for mountainous terrain, like ledges, loose mud, and steep scrambles, you can’t beat it. Bushido. I bumped against rocks and climbed rocks, and these shoes have protected me through it all.
Sensitivity and control are unmatched, and as you get close to the top, you’ll feel connected to the ground thanks to a snug, low-volume fit that locks your foot in place. But the qualities that make this shoe great also limit it. It’s really narrow, so if you have wide feet (I do), you’ll need to go almost a size up, especially if you’re going to run in the summer heat. It’s also cushionless, which adds stability and agility when traversing rough terrain, but makes it less than ideal for runners looking for a bit more bounce in their stride. But if you want incredible traction, a perfect fit, and stability on uneven ground, that’s no better than this.
- Glove-fit design for a stable ride
- Narrow toe box promotes agile, agile movement
- Rubber sticks to stone easily
- Highly specialized design and fit