With trail running growing so much in popularity, the sport has seen a boom in recent years, something which shows no signs of tailing off any time soon. With the popularity of the recent (and still ongoing at the time of writing), Montane Spine Race and the online buzz surrounding 2024’s sensational winner, and record breaker, Jack Scott, it seems interest just continues to grow. Did you know that there are now over 200 trail shoes to choose from? 200!!!!!!! So, how on earth are you supposed to know which are the best ones for you? When it comes to choosing the best trail running shoes for your needs, you probably have a great many questions. We aim to answer these and give you everything you need in our detailed guide to trail running shoes in 2024. In this article, we will put our experience to the test and focus on the following: 

  • What you will use your trail shoes for – short distance, long distance, racing, easy running?
  • Budget – how much do you want to spend, how much trail running do you do?
  • Model – how does the shoe compare to a previous pair you purchased? Are they the same, do you want a similar shoe again?
  • Special Requirements – do you have wide feet and need a wider-fit trail running shoe?
  • Do you need waterproof shoes – are you likely to encounter a lot of water on your runs?
  • Seasonal requirements – we wear different shoes in the summer on dry trails than we do when it’s wet and muddy – what time of year are you purchasing shoes for?

Updated 09/04/24

Choosing the Best Trail Shoes for You

How do you know which are the best trail running shoes for you? It can all seem a little confusing. Even when you are an old hat at the sport, and have purchased many pairs previously, there are still so many decisions to make, especially when so many new brands and models come to market.

We spend hours researching and testing trail running shoes and even we still get ourselves stuck on which ones to buy. It’s very much a case of trial and error as we have found. Not everyone is the same, no two trails are the same and your requirement for a trail shoe may be completely different to your other running buddies. We try and help you see through some of the jargon and help you make a more informed decision. 

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Trail Running Shoes:

  • Cushioning
  • Support
  • Wide fit
  • Zero drop/low profile
  • The type of terrain – rocky, muddy, boggy, wet, dry?
  • Distance – Are you training for an ultra or do you run shorter distances?
  • Waterproof – are they the best choice of shoe and what are the benefits?

To help you make the best decision, we have selected ten of our favourite trail shoes that are all great for different reasons. Have a browse and see what works for you.

Updated 04/08/23 

Best All Round Trail Shoe – Hoka Speedgoat 5

The Hoka Speedgoat 5  was coined the Best in Test 2022 and we have to say we are inclined to agree. A forerunner in the world of trail running shoes, the Hoka Speedgoat is designed to cope with technical terrain including high-altitude, remote and rugged trails. with Vibram® Megagrip and Traction Lug for upgraded grip and braking power on loose soil, this version of the Speedgoat is 15 grams lighter, than its predecessor. 

We might also add, that we are not alone in voting this shoe our best of 2024. irunfar.com have echoed this sentiment.

Pros:

  • Cushioning and support
  • Good on road-to-trail
  • Suitable for most terrains
  • Grea
  • Available in wide-fit

Cons:

  • Not the lightest of shoes
  • Not great in proper mud

 

HOKA SPEEDGOAT 5

Read our full review here

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Best Technical Trail Shoe – Saucony Peregrine 13

The Saucony Peregrine 13 is a trail running shoe that is designed for all-around performance. It is a good choice for runners who are looking for a shoe that is comfortable, cushioned, and grippy. The Peregrine 13 features a number of improvements over its predecessor, including a new midsole, a more breathable upper, and a grippier outsole.

Overall, the Saucony Peregrine 13 is a great trail running shoe for all-around performance. It is a good choice for runners who are looking for a shoe that is comfortable, cushioned, and grippy.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Saucony Peregrine 13:

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Cushioned
  • Grippy
  • Breathable
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Not as fast as some other trail running shoes

If you are looking for a comfortable, cushioned, and grippy trail running shoe that can handle a variety of terrain, the Saucony Peregrine 13 is a great option. However, if you are looking for a fast trail running shoe, the Peregrine 13 may not be the best choice.

peregrine 12

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Best Trail Shoe for Beginners – Brooks Cascadia 17

The Brooks Cascadia stands the test of time as a classic choice. Having established its legacy since the early 2000s, Brooks discovered a winning formula with the Cascadia and has been a popular choice for over 20 years. If you are a new trail runner with no prior experience and not much idea about what sort of trails you will run then this all-round shoe is a safe bet.

Why? This trail shoe excels across various trail conditions, offering a smooth transition when used on pavement as a road-to-trail shoe. Moreover, the Cascadia’s 8-millimetre heel-to-toe drop ensures its suitability for a broad range of runners, making it accessible to most, even those who aren’t exclusively low-drop enthusiasts.

Pros:

  • Versatile on various terrains
  • A good road to trail shoe
  • Good cushioning and support
  • Durable
  • A well-reputed shoe that has stood the test of time

Cons:

  • Heavy compared to some
  • Some say a narrower toe box
  • Not ideal for minimalist runners

brooks cascadia 17

 

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Best Wide Fit Trail Shoe – Altra Lone Peak 7

The Altra Lone Peak 7 is a trail running shoe that is designed for all-around performance. It is a good choice for runners who are looking for a shoe that is comfortable, cushioned, and grippy. The Lone Peak 7 features a number of improvements over its predecessor, including a new midsole, a more breathable upper, and a grippier outsole.

The midsole of the Lone Peak 7 is made of Altra’s EGO midsole, which is lightweight and responsive. This makes the shoe feel fast and agile, while still providing plenty of cushioning for long runs. The upper of the Lone Peak 7 is made of a breathable mesh that helps to keep your feet cool and dry. The shoe also has a gusseted tongue and a heel counter to help keep debris out of your shoe.

The outsole of the Lone Peak 6 is made of Vibram Megagrip rubber, which provides excellent traction on a variety of surfaces. The lugs on the outsole are also slightly larger than those on the previous version, which helps to improve traction on loose terrain.

Overall, the Altra Lone Peak 7 is a great trail running shoe for all-around performance. It is a good choice for runners who are looking for a shoe that is comfortable, cushioned, and grippy.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Altra Lone Peak 7:

The Altra Lone Peak 7 is a popular trail running shoe that is known for its comfort, versatility, and traction. Here are some of the pros and cons of the Altra Lone Peak 7:

Pros:

  • Natural foot alignment
  • Wide toe box
  • Cushioning
  • Durability
  • Quick-drying

Cons:

  • Not as protective as some other trail running shoes
  • Not as fast as some other trail running shoes
  • Not as good in snow or ice as some other trail running shoes

If you are looking for a comfortable, cushioned, and grippy trail running shoe that can handle a variety of terrain, the Altra Lone Peak 7 is a great option. However, if you are looking for a fast trail running shoe, the Lone Peak 7 may not be the best choice.

Here are some additional details about the Altra Lone Peak 7:

Lone Peak 7 is a legendary trail runner with a lightweight upper, MaxTrac™ outsole, and EGO™ midsole.

  • Weight: 11 oz / 314 g
  • Midsole: Altra EGO™
  • Outsole: MaxTrac™
  • Cushion: Moderate
  • Stack Height: 25 mm
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh

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Best for Narrow Feet – La Sportiva Bushido

The La Sportiva Bushido is a popular trail running shoe known for its aggressive traction and stability. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Traction
  • Stability
  • Durability
  • Responsive Cushioning
  • Lightweight  Cons

Cons

  • Narrow Fit
  • Stiffness
  • Break-In Period
  • Limited Cushioning
  • Price

Overall, the La Sportiva Bushido is a high-performance trail running shoe favoured by many for its traction, stability, and durability, but it may not be suitable for everyone due to its narrow fit and stiffness.

best trail shoe for narrow feet

 

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Great on Tough Terrain – TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max

This particular shoe has a sizeable piece of cushioning in the midsole which offers more comfort and protection over longer distances. The graphene-enhanced foam has previously only been used in the outflow however, now it is been adapted and used in the midsole too. The BOOMERANG insole boasts a 40% increase in energy return versus the previous footbed of the Terraultra 270.

Designed for hard trails, the TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max also offers great grip in the mud however, it does tend to make the shoe heavier but there are plenty of features to counter this.

Additional features include a thin, strong gusseted tongue that holds the top of your forefoot firmly without producing problems if you choose to snug up the laces tightly. The material around the ankle and Achilles tendon is well-contoured and finished to reduce any gaps that might catch dirt and grit. This is great if you get fed up stopping to remove a bit of grit, or a stone from your shoe. 

If you like a light shoe that will fly over the trails, this is probably not your pick however, if you need something that can deal with tougher situations then this is up there with the best. 

inov-8 trail fly

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Most Sustainable Trail Shoe – Merrell’s Moab Speed Trail Shoes

While it’s hard to find a truly sustainable, carbon-neutral shoe, many brands are now taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and look at ways of making their shoes an eco-friendly choice. 

Not only are Merrell’s Moab Speed trail shoes made with 100% recycled mesh lining and laces, the company the company also recently launched its ReTread exchange programme, which aims to keep footwear out of landfill. The program entails reclaiming a considerable number of shoes across several countries in Europe, including the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Finland. 

After restoration and enhancement, the shoes are available for purchase at half their original cost, repurposed for manufacturing new merchandise, or recycled. Incentivising participants, those who submit their unwanted footwear are eligible for a £20 discount on new Merrell shoes worth £80 or more.

 

mens merrell moab speed trail shoe

 

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Great for Wet and Muddy Trails – Salomon Speedcross 6

The Salomon Speedcross 6 is a trail running shoe that is designed for muddy conditions. It has a Contagrip outsole with deep lugs that provide excellent traction, even in wet and slippery terrain. The upper is made of a breathable mesh that keeps your feet cool and dry, and it has a SensiFit construction that provides a snug and secure fit. The Speedcross 6 is also available in a Gore-Tex version for added waterproofing.

Here are some of the features of the Salomon Speedcross 6:

  • Contagrip outsole with deep lugs for excellent traction in mud and wet conditions
  • Breathable mesh upper with SensiFit construction for a snug and secure fit
  • Gore-Tex version available for added waterproofing
  • EnergyCell+ midsole for cushioning and responsiveness
  • Protective toe cap for durability

The Salomon Speedcross 6 is a great choice for trail runners who need a shoe that can handle muddy conditions. It is comfortable, durable, and provides excellent traction.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Salomon Speedcross 6:

Pros:

  • Excellent traction in mud and wet conditions
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • SensiFit construction for a snug and secure fit
  • Gore-Tex version available for added waterproofing
  • EnergyCell+ midsole for cushioning and responsiveness
  • Protective toe cap for durability

Cons:

  • Can be a bit heavy for some runners
  • Pricey

Overall, the Salomon Speedcross 6 is a great choice for trail runners who need a shoe that can handle muddy conditions. It is comfortable, durable, and provides excellent traction.

 

SALOMON SPEEDCROSS 6

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Low-Profile Trail Running Shoes – Inov-8 Terraultra G260/G275

A low-profile shoe allows you to feel what is going on beneath your feet making you nimbler over uneven ground with less risk of rolling an ankle. These low profile or zero drop shoes are very popular hence why there are so many suggestions. Personally, we prefer a low-profile shoe but it does depend on what you are looking for. 

Billed as the world’s toughest shoe for running the world’s toughest trails, the latest model of the Terraultra was awarded Trail Shoe of the Year in 2020. Its revolutionary graphene-enhanced rubber delivers the world’s toughest grip, with next-generation underfoot technology striking the perfect balance between comfort and responsiveness.

inov-8 terraultra award winning trail running shoes

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Best Road to Trail Shoes – Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Shoes that work best on road to trail is an important consideration. We are often on trails that are accessible by roads. Our favourite route starts a mile from the front door – a mile of road to get on the trails. As fans of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus for roads, it seems that the trail version – the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is a major contender. 

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 has the same cushioning and comfort along with the familiar design of the classic road Pegasus look. With tough traction, it will help you stay steady on rocky terrain. More support around the midfoot helps you feel secure on your journey.

nike pegasus trail 4 

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It is also worth mentioning the Hoka Speedgoat 5 again here. We wore them recently for what was meant to be a trail run which ended up with 8 miles of road in it. I was concerned that I was wearing the wrong shoes but the Speedgoat held up really well! A great road-to-trail shoe! 

Read our full review here

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Choosing the Best Trail Running Shoes 2024

As you can see from the above, there is a lot to consider when choosing the right trail running shoes for you. While we appreciate this is not an exhaustive list of the best trail running shoes, we hope that you have found the above information useful. The truth of the matter is, everyone is different. While one person may love the ions-8 brand, another will prefer Salomon. Once you find the right pair of shoes though, the chances are you will own a few pairs of them at some point. We certainly do. 

Got a favourite trail shoe? Share it with us. We’d love to hear your feedback. 

Disclaimer: Posts may contain affiliate links. We earn commissions if you shop through the links on this page. We never recommend anything that we haven’t tried or researched ourselves and all our reviews are designed to help you make a more informed decision.