Which are the best trail waterproof running shoes and are they worth the investment? Both are questions asked by many a keen trail runner, especially during the wetter months/rainy season, and that often pop up in the trail running groups online. While there are non waterproof shoes that will drain away easily enough, if you really don’t like getting your feet wet on a run, you may be looking at buying a pair of trail waterproof running shoes for the wetter months. 

As with any item of sports attire, there are clearly pros and cons however, in the case of waterproof shoes, the pros and cons stem from the same feature!  If the water can’t get in, equally it can’t get out, they keep your feet warm, good when its cold and bad when it’s hot and they stop dirt getting in, and out!

Let’s take a look in greater depth at the arguments for and against waterproof trail running shoes as well as some top suggestions for different terrains. 

Click here to see our recommended waterproof trail shoes.

Positives of waterproof trail shoes

They keep your feet dry 

So the best trail waterproof running shoes keep the water out for the most part so feet stay drier for longer. When you are heading out on a long run, the last thing you want is wet feet in the first mile. you are then stuck with wet feet and socks for the remainder of your run. While the ground may be dry outside, if you are an early morning runner you are sure to notice how wet your feet get when running through dewey fields early in the morning. Your feet will soon get wet in non waterproof trail running shoes will. If you are an early runner, a pair of waterproof trail shoes may be just the ticket. 

trail running shoes

Keep your feet warm

The non breathable upper means that the heat stays in so on a cold day, your feet will stay warm.We don’t know about you but we have plenty of experience of freezing cold and wet feet on our autumn/winter frosty morning runs. Wet and cold feet can soon numb your toes. Taking your socks off at the end of the run gives your feet that “just out of a long bath” appearance and can lead to some pretty many toes. Waterproof shoes are great for keeping your feet warm (read on to find out why this doesn’t work in warmer climates). 

Keeps grit and small stones out

Have you noticed how, when you are wearing normal trail shoes, that you always seem to end up with bits of grit, mud and small stones in your shoe? Well, the absence of mesh means that you don’t get this in waterproof trail running shoes. If they do find their way in though, they won’t find their way out!

The Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 GORE-TEX have a high ankle gaitor to stop water and debris getting in. 

Negatives of GTX shoes

Water can’t get out 

Waterproof trail running shoes won’t stop the water getting in all the time. In fact, if you are running through deep puddles that go past your ankles, there is nothing to stop the water getting into the shoe. Stands to reason, if the water can’t get in then it can’t get out. the drainage that you get with standard trail shoes won’t be there with GTX shoes. This can lead to blisters. If you do find yourself running through very deep puddles and small streams, you may want to invest in a pair of gaiters too.  

wet running shoes

Sweaty feet

As we mentioned above, the best waterproof trail running shoes do keep your feet warm however, if you start out in the cold early morning and it warms up during a longer run, come the end you are going to have hot sweaty feet – uncomfortable, like to cause blisters and other issues. For this reason, GTX shoes are not recommended for late spring/summer runs. To be fair though, the puddles don’t tend to be such an issue in the drier months – even with heavy rain fall, they tend to dry quite quickly. 

Grit and mud can’t get out

If you do run through a deep and muddy puddle, the chances are you could end up with a shoe full of mud and grit which then can’t work its way out of the shoe again.

Choosing the right trail running waterproof  shoes

If you are considering a pair of waterproof trail running shoes and want to know which ones are the right ones, the following are examples of shoes suitable for different types of terrain. We take a look at the best waterproof trail shoes men’s and the best waterproof trail shoes women’s and give our verdict! 

What is GTX?

GTX – let’s discuss this technical trail running term and what it means. Usually, when appearing after the make and model of a shoe, it indicates that the shoes are waterproof. The GTX is short for Gore-tex and indicates the material that is used to make the shoe waterproof.

Hoka Speedgoat GTX

One of the most popular trail running shoes and a go to for many, we recently discussed this pair of shoes at length with a fellow runner. It was a warm May morning. We turned up for hill reps on a grassy hill. He wore his Speedgoat Gore-tex. His exact words – “great shoes, comfortable, brilliant on trails, I really rate them, especially in winter but my goodness don’t they make your feet extremely hot in the warmer weather! 

These shoes were then put to the test for hill reps – by number 6 of the 1 minute reps, he was commenting that his feet were really really hot! The lesson here – you don’t want waterproof shoes in the middle of summer! Why would you though? Any rain will be a light shower and your feet won’t get that wet. 

These shoes are the perfect solution when you want to race over wet trails and snowy roads. 

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Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

nike trail waterproof shoes

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX are a shoe designed to keep your feet dry in the wettest conditions. While they aren’t made for speed, they are made for comfort so you can expect comfort and bounce which will help to negate the rocks and tough terrain underfoot. With a high ankle gaitor, you have the added benefit of keeping more of the water out when running through deeper puddles. GORE-TEX along the upper helps your feet stay dry without sacrificing comfort.
If you are looking for a shoe with grip, a given in the wet, this shoe is highly rated for exactly that. With responsive Nike react foam, you can easily go from road to trail without disturbing your stride.
This shoe will give you a light and comfortable ride perfect autumn/winter. The shoe runs true to size and is certainly durable. Of course, the only downside – as a shoe that’s not breathable, you will quite possible get hot feet! A common problem with waterproof trail shoes.

Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX

Salomon speedcross 5 gtx

For those of you that are a fan of the Speedcross 5, you will be pleased to know that they do a GTX version in various colours. These all round popular trail shoes are a favourite among trail and ultra runners. Applying the same technology and features to their Speedcross 5 with the addition of GTX, means they are a serious contender for best waterproof trail running shoe. 

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Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX

The Inov-8 Roclite 315 is a great shoe – it does actually drain well in the non waterproof version. The trouble is, because of the construction of the upper mesh, too much getting wet does tend to damage the material quite quickly so the GTX may be preferable if you do a lot of trail running in wet conditions. 

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Asics Gel-Trabuco 9 

asics gel-trabuco 9 waterproof trail shoes

For the trail runner who is seeking durability, protection and grip, these Asics Gel-Trabuco 9 GTX can be described as rugged and comfortable.

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Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX

parkclaw 275 goretex

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Salomon Supercross Blast GORE-TEX Trail Running Shoes

waterproof trail shoes - Salomon

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GTX Trail Shoes for Soft Mud

During the rainy season (which one might argue is all year in the UK), you may want something with more grip. In which case check out this pair of waterproof trail running shoes:

La Sportiva Tempesta

la sportiva tempesta waterproof

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You may choose to opt for non waterproof trail running shoes and a decent pair of socks. Most trail shoes drain well and after a few minutes, even in the coldest temperatures, the breathable mesh membrane will allow the water out reducing the weight of the shoe and keeping your feet relatively dry. For those that really don’t like getting their feet wet though, there are a wide selection of waterproof trail shoes to choose from. Tell us which you prefer?

Disclaimer: Our posts may contain affiliate links. We may earn commissions if you shop through the links on this page although we only ever recommend products that we genuinely believe will enhance your trail running experience.