Trail running is a fun and beneficial physical activity that has been gaining popularity over the years. Whether you run through the fields, up and down the hills, or along low paths, it is important to wear durable trail running shoes with good grip and protection. Having the right footwear gives you the confidence you need to accomplish your goals, helping you move more efficiently and run faster. However, knowing which manufacturer to trust can be tricky as there are hundreds of products available in the market. To help you answer the siren call of trail running with the right gear, we have prepared a guide on how to select the best trail running shoes.
If you are searching for an instant solution, we recommend Salomon Woman’s X-Mission Trail Running Shoes. These durable shoes are made of synthetic and textile materials and come with molded EVA midsole for cushioning on trails and urban environments. Want to discover more high-quality shoes? Check out top five selections and read through our buying guide to make sure that you get the right pair that will take you to your destinations.
This pair gives runners the power and grace to run across many types of surfaces thanks to its durable components, breathable fabric that keeps feet dry and fresh, and a full-length foam unit to ensure the ultimate comfort of the foot with every stride.
Top 5 Trail Running Shoes
|Salomon X-Mission Trail Running Shoes||Female||Stretch Air Mesh for breathability and comfort||Check Price|
|Salomon Speedcross GTX Trail Running Shoes||Male||Wet Traction Contagrip anti-slipping technology||Check Price|
|New Balance Nitrel FuelCore Trail Running Shoes||Female||REVlite technology and Toe Protect for extra durability and protection||Check Price|
|ASICS Gel-scram Trail Running Shoes||Male||Advanced traction on various types of terrain||Check Price|
|Merrell Glove Trail Running Shoes||Female||M-Select Fresh to keep feet dry, cool and healthy||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Trail Running Shoes
Salomon Women's X-Mission Trail Running Shoes
What makes these trailing running shoes stand out is their exceptional traction not only on dry conditions but also on wet surfaces. Whether you’re running on soft or hard, dry or wet grounds, this pair features 3D grip multi-density outsoles to ensure confidence at all times. The lugs of these shoes also look fierce and heavy-duty.
These trail running shoes provide molded EVA midsoles and thermoplastic inserts, giving enough protection and cushioning for both trail and urban environments. Their quick-lace wraps on your instep provide a comfortable and snug fit in the ever-changing terrain.
In addition to foam insoles that enhance comfort, these shoes also include polyester lining that draws moisture away from your feet to prevent the growth of bacteria. Protective toe caps also shield the front of feet against abrasion and bumps.
Made of textile and synthetic materials, these shoes are designed for women who are looking for high quality and a cozy fit. It comes with breathable, abrasion-resistant nylon mesh uppers that feature asymmetric synthetic leather overlays for an accurate fit.
Pros and Cons
- Simple and efficient quick lace system
- Great traction in both wet and dry conditions
- It features a Stretch Air Mesh that maximizes breathability and comfort
- Roomy toe box
- Comfortable cushioning
- Stiff material
- Some runners reported that the shoe’s mesh developed holes after a few months of regular wear
2. Best Trail Running Shoes for Wet Environments
Salomon Men's Speedcross GTX Trail Running Shoes
Featuring systems and high-quality materials that let you perform freely across irregular terrains, these running shoes are designed for men who have a neutral gait. The semi-curved shape of these shoes follows the curve of your foot. Also, it comes with injected EVA, a responsive underfoot cushioning unit that keeps your feet comfortable at all times.
The upper part of these shoes is made of anti-debris mesh that prevents small trail debris, dust, and other invasive objects from entering inside. It is also breathable, so it allows air to infiltrate and keep your feet dry.
Another reason why many runners like Speedcross GTX is its water-resistant textiles, which prevent water from entering the walls of the shoe. This feature makes this pair great for wet and muddy terrains, as well as snow.
With Wet Traction Contagrip technology for the outsole, the shoes have large rubber lugs that deliver good grip even on soft terrain. These lugs, which extend throughout the outsole, also help absorb shock and provide heightened traction. The material used works well in puddles or mud, preventing slippage and accidents.
Pros and Cons
- Dual-density midsole provides enough cushion and stability
- The lacing system is easy to manipulate and adjust
- Wet Traction Contagrip technology for outsole helps prevent slippage
- Protective and breathable mesh
- Water-resistant textiles keep feet dry
- According to some people, the lugs are wearing prematurely or breaking off
- Some runners find the toe box constricting
3. Best Trail Running Shoes for Extra Protection
New Balance Women's Nitrel FuelCore Trail Running Shoes
One of the best shoes for neutral runners, FuelCore Nitrel Trail utilizes an engineered mesh to provide maximum breathability with no-sew overlays. These materials are placed over the midsole to secure your feet on the platform and provide extra breathability. Padded tongue and collar are also utilized for additional comfort.
Using REVlite technology for constructing the midsole, these shoes have innovative foam compound that delivers durability and responsiveness. The material aims to give a lightweight stride without sacrificing comfort and compromising the overall construction. A layer of Injection Moulded EVA foam is also added to improve cushioning and help absorb shock.
When it comes to the lacing system, the shoe uses flat laces to lower the risks of breaking or snagging on unpredictable terrain and debris that are common along the trail.
The AT Tread rubber outsole provides traction while running over a combination of trail and road. With various sizes and shapes of the lugs, these shoes also come with Toe Protect for additional protection against rugged and harmful environments.
Ideal for logging miles off or on the road, these shoes are available in medium widths, providing a more secure fit from the heel to the forefoot.
Pros and Cons
- Breathable mesh fabric
- Synthetic overlays provide additional support
- Padded tongue and collar offers long-lasting comfort
- Rubber outsole increases traction and keeps shoe and foot protected
- It features Toe Protect for extra protection
- Several buyers said that the shoes don’t last long
- Some reviewers mentioned that the toe box was narrow
4. Best Off-Road Trail Running Shoes
ASICS Men's Gel-scram Trail Running Shoes
For those who are looking for shoes tuned to accommodate advanced runners and neophyte trail adventurers, these Gel-scram trail running shoes have features that do not disappoint most users. Designed for those who have medium-sized feet, the shoes mold naturally according to the shape of your feet.
The upper unit features a breathable mesh material that protects your feet without making the inside feel stuffy or warm. It also allows air to infiltrate inside to keep your feet dry and fresh throughout your workout.
Synthetic overlays offer structural integrity to the unit, keeping your feet secure and cozy as the main fabric covers around your feet.
When it comes to the midsole, these shoes have a full-length foam unit that serves as the underfoot cushioning. Most reviewers reported that it doesn’t wear off easily even when used many times.
The Gel Cushioning System at the rear section is a silicone-based unit that protects the feet from shock during the running session.
With Asics High Abrasion Rubber outsole unit, it covers the entire midsole to protect it from wearing away or peeling off. Its gripping lugs help traverse in different terrains and function well when it comes to downward and upward navigation.
Pros and Cons
- Breathable upper mesh
- Lugs provide downhill and uphill traction on various types of terrain
- Reduces shock during impact phase
- Removable sock liner to accommodate medical orthotics
- Well-padded but adequately lightweight
- Some users said that the sole unit produces squeaking sounds when walking or running
- According to some consumers, these shoes were narrow and tight
5. Best Trail Running Shoes for Clean and Dry Feet
Merrell Women's Glove Trail Running Shoes
Because it is only a minimal shoe, it doesn’t come with a heel cup, but the heel collar has enough padding. The outsole, which consists of a lightweight rubber material, provides a more durable, responsible, and flexible running experience and better grip.
A Trail Protect Pad located between the outsole and midsole serves as underfoot protection from sharp and rough objects like rocks and debris.
For the midsole, these running shoes have EVA foam that provides long-lasting and light cushioning. Its non-removable microfiber footbed uses M-Select Fresh, an anti-microbial agent that keeps your feet dry, cool, and healthy.
In addition, the shoe has a small toe bumper made of thick synthetic material and rubber outsole to protect the foot from roots and rocks.
Pros and Cons
- Molded EVA foam gives long-lasting and light cushioning
- Breathable mesh lining
- It comes with five-piece lace system
- Trail Protect Pad provides underfoot protection
- It features M-Select Fresh to keep feet dry, cool, and healthy
- Wearing the shoe can be painful in the beginning
- Some users reported that the mesh was very thin
Important Things to Consider When Picking Trail Running Shoes
If you always run for long periods of time, it is vital to look for shoes with padded tongue and collar for additional support. These features will also prevent rubbing during your running session. Look for shoes that offer extra cushioning in the midsole to reduce fatigue and pressure on your joints. When it comes to trail running, cushioning is the essential factor, as it safeguards your feet against impactful foot strikes.
You want your running shoes to keep your feet free from water, especially when the ground is muddy and wet. Many trail shoes are designed with waterproof upper that helps in keeping your feet comfortable and dry.
If you are always running through puddles or in the rain, make sure that the shoes you pick are waterproof.
The amount of support the shoes provide to your ankles and feet is vital when you are trail running. High levels of stability will boost your confidence knowing that you would not roll your ankles as you increase your pace. At the same time, your shoes should also provide a sufficient level of freeness so that they can easily adjust to uneven grounds.
Soles equipped with tread patterns or deeper lugs improve traction, helping you move with confidence over roots, gravel, dirt, mud and rock slabs, and avoid slippage.
Another factor that you must consider is the place where you will be running. Will the ground mostly be dusty, muddy, wet, or filled with grass, sharp rocks, or small rocks? Selecting a pair of shoes that doesn’t match the designated terrain will significantly reduce its lifespan.
Twigs, rocks, and stones can cause foot problems like Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Durable and stiff sole will protect your feet from all the things you will step on. You can also opt for shoes with flexible elements for additional comfort and to speed up your movements.
A shoe with high star reviews is not the best shoe for you unless it fits you properly. Getting the right fit takes more than width and length. Because the size of your feet changes as you age, it is always best to get measured first before making a purchase.
Top Trail Running Benefits
Why should you take up trail running? Many dedicated runners find trail running to be better for their overall health. There’s no denying that exercise provides numerous benefits – from developing our physiology to enhancing our brain function – and trail running is not an exception. On top of that, it offers benefits that other activities may not provide, such as strengthening your legs.
1. Works a greater range of muscles
Trails are bumpier than flat roads, and it is not uncommon to see rocks and tree roots on them. When running through rough terrain, you will need to balance your body and watch your step. Doing so causes you to use muscles not only in your legs but also arms, ankles, feet, and the core. In most cases, your step reduces a bit when running on soft grounds, requiring you to use more muscle power every time you take a stride.
2. Mental and emotional benefits
Getting out into nature is satisfying, and it is an excellent way to fight anxiety and depression. Trail running lets you explore mountains, woods, rivers, and other scenic views that are not available on the urban roads.
One study shows that outdoor natural environments help reduce stress, improve self-esteem and mood, and restore mental fatigue.
3. Fresh air for your lungs
Getting into the woods for a jog or run is better for the lungs as it lets you breathe some fresh air. Running in polluted environments can increase your chances of developing cardiovascular or lung-related diseases. Your lungs will definitely thank you every time you go on trails for a run.
4. Your joints take less pressure on the trail
Some of the forces from the pavement would normally be transferred to your ankles, knees, and hips when your foot hits the ground. This means that your joints take a lot of pressure when running on asphalt. Taking your adventure on a trail gives your feet relief from the unforgiving flat road.
5. Burns more calories than road running
Trail running can help you burn up to 12 percent more calories than on a pavement of the same intensity and length. This is because your body uses a wide variety of muscles, meaning that it burns more calories.
Additionally, you have to compensate for a less even space, receive fresher air which boosts your energy levels, and feel extra inspired due to being out in nature.
Trail Running Safety & Fun Tips
It can be daunting to hit the trails for the first time, so here are some tips to help you get the most out of your adventure.
Keep your eyes on the trail
The beauty of nature may tempt you to look around you. However, doing so can quickly lead to slipping and falling. Make sure that you slow down or stop if you want to enjoy the sceneries. Otherwise, keep your eyes ahead to see where you will step next.
Invest in trail running shoes
If you are planning to incorporate trail running into your lifestyle, it is best to invest in trail running shoes as they are different from regular running footwear. This will reduce the risk of ankle rolls, and you will have better traction on wet, rocky, or muddy trails.
Bring water and food
Even if you are not hungry or thirsty, consider bringing water and food with you. Doing so will help you stay hydrated, and it will help you in cases of extreme situations.
Going for a run alone can help you achieve peace of mind, but make sure that you inform someone about your schedule and planned route. Always bring your phone and ensure that the battery is fully charged. When trying out a new path, bring a compass, GPS, or map.
Bring sports ID bracelet
In case of an emergency, first responders can easily identify you, know any diseases or allergies you may have, and contact your family if you’re wearing an ID. Your information should be visible on your bracelet as quick access to this critical data can help save your life.
Remember that not all trails are the same
One of the best things about trail running is that you will always encounter different challenges and sceneries. The obstacles differ from one area to another, such as sand, mud, tree roots, rocks, and more, giving you a more dynamic running experience.
While this can be fun, never underestimate the trail and challenge it with respect.
Keep your distance from other runners
Keep in mind that you may not be alone on the track. If there are other runners, make sure to respect their personal space and stay at least ten feet away from them at all times.
If you want to go faster, you can always ask them politely to give you enough space to pass. Don’t force your way through without alerting the runner first.
Bring other gears if needed
Besides a good set of running shoes, you can also consider bringing waterproof clothing with you on your adventure. Additionally, make sure to invest in a good insect repellent if the place you’re going to is likely to be occupied by mosquitos or other insects.
Running at night or in the evening? Spare yourself from troubles and get a good headlight that will illuminate your path and prevent you from tripping and injuring yourself.
Take it easy
As experts suggest, you shouldn’t push yourself too much, especially if you’re just starting out with trail running. At least 80% of your training should consist of easy running. Once you become more experienced, you can increase the intensity and difficulty of the training.
Create Your Own Training Plan
You can be spontaneous, but it is also good to have a training plan. This will help you not only to stay on the right track but also to improve your skills and stay motivated.
We suggest making a weekly or monthly trail running plan in which you should answer questions such as:
- How many miles per day/session will I complete?
- Where will I go?
- Do I have an alternative option in case of unfavorable weather conditions?
- What intensity shall I hit the trail at?
- What type of scenery do I prefer?
- What are my goals? Do I run for fun or am I preparing for something bigger?
- Are there any past injuries that I should be aware of before choosing the next track?
- How do I want my workouts to look like?
There are no universal answers to these questions. It is up to you to find out what you want and what you expect. Remember that you can always change your goals and milestones if you’re not happy with your plan or if you can’t keep up with it.
Wearing the right footwear will help you make enjoyable and unforgettable memories as you go out for a run. Because trail running shoes are different from road-running shoes, and there are hundreds of products available in the market, it is important that you select the right pair according to your needs.
From products’ features to your preferred running style and activities, there are many factors to consider before making the final call. For that reason, we have prepared this buying guide to make your selection easier.
While the Salomon Women’s X-Mission Trail Running Shoes ranked #1 on our list due to providing a high level of comfort, traction, and exceptional performance, all shoes introduced in this article will likely keep you busy for many years.
Are you ready for your next adventure? Order the best trail running shoes now and set out on a run of your lifetime!