For those that are new to trail running, there are so many questions and considerations when it comes to choosing the best trail running shoes. These will include:
- Purpose – what will you use them for – short distance, long distance, racing, easy running?
- Brand – do you have a favoured brand that suit you in a road shoe, would you better sticking with same brand of trail shoe?
- Budget – how much do you want to spend, how much trail running do you do?
- Model – how does the shoe compare to the previous model – are they the same, do you want a similar shoe to a previous pair?
- Special Requirements – do you have wide feet and need a wider fit trail running shoe?
- Season – we wear different shoes in the summer on dry trails than we do when its wet and muddy
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 every one 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 Best Trail Running Shoes 2022:
- 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 some of the more popular trail shoes and have given a brief overview of what they are best for. Our recommendations will take you to the complete selection within the range including the male and female version of each shoe.
Best in Test 2022
Hoka Speedgoat 5
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 has been 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 it’s predecessor.
- Dynamic sandwich mesh
- Lay Flat gusseted tongue
- Double jacquard recycled content engineered mesh
- Extended heel pull
- Recycled polyester lace
- Protective toe rand
- Molded EVA sockliner
- CMEVA midsole
- Late stage Meta-Rocker
- Vibram® Megagrip with Traction Lug
- 5mm lug
Best Technical Trail Shoe
Saucony Peregrine 12
Like it’s namesake, this shoe is designed for speed over the trails. Light, fast and comfortable, this shoe provides grip and traction for the most technical terrain. lightweight with a durable mesh, there are many features that make this shoe a favourite among many avid trail runners including:
Best Wide Fit Trail Shoe
Altra Olympus 4
If you are a keen trail runner, chances are you have been tempted to run an ultra, if you haven’t already. Perhaps you are considering signing up to one, maybe you are already an ultra runner but looking to up the distance? For those of you that are keen to try a 50, or even a 100 mile race, then you need to check out the Altra Olympus 4.0. It scores very high in many reviews, among many runners and, in our opinion, is an extremely well cushioned shoe for tackling the more serious distance.
This beast of a shoe has a very generous amount of cushioning at 33m and can offer comfort and support all day long (and into the night). Of course, you don’t just have to be a serious ultra runner to feel the benefits of this shoe – it also makes a great long run or recovery shoe. If your feet have taken a pounding, get out in this pair for some easy miles.
Altra, if you weren’t aware are renowned for their wide toe box so if you find yourself struggling to find a shoe that doesn’t squish your toes, it’s a good idea to check these bad boys out.
Terrain wise it will deal with everything – rocks, mud, gravel and more. You certainly won’t want to take them off – the Vibram sole is the best. Looking for a shoe that can go the distance? This is it.
Great For Long Distance
TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max
This particular shoes 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 too however, it does tend to make the shoe heavier but there are plenty of features to counter this.
Additional features include 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.
Most Stable Trail Running Shoes
For uneven surfaces, you want to ensure that you wear stable trail running shoes. Extra cushioning and support make for a stiffer shoe which offers greater support on uneven surfaces. Of course, you will be running on so many different surfaces, you will want to choose the type of shoe that will suit the majority of your runs.
Brooks Cascadia 16
Brooks Cascadia is a supportive shoe providing comfort and stability on the trails. Great for those who want support on rigid and rough terrain, the shoe isn’t a bouncy cushioned shoe but it is lightweight, grippy and flexible with a Ballistic Rock Shield which includes vertical grooves to provide side-to-side adaptability and a design that protects you from slipping.
Great shoes on technical trail where unpredictably is often the case, you can cover the change in terrains, the downhill descents and the uneven surfaces with confidence. If you’re not a fan of the low profile trail shoe, the 8mm heel to toe drop of the Brooks Cascadia 16, is preferred by those that are less enthused by low profile shoes.
Asics Fuji Trabuco
These particular shoes seem to be getting rave reviews from a number of sources at the moment. A lightweight shoes that was designed with three time UTMB winner, Xavier Thevenard, the focus is on weight and drainage. The shoe features a flexible plate underfoot which allows runners to move quickly over rough terrain.
La Sportiva Akasha
A good choice for off road running, La Sportiva Akasha is one of the best trail running shoes for stability, the shoe features great shock absorption, and is specifically designed for longer trail runs and ultra marathons. The Dual Mix FriXion XT improves the flexibility, grip and traction of the shoe on multiple trail surfaces.
Low-Profile Trail Running Shoes
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 really does depend what you are looking for.
Inov-8 Terraultra G260/G275
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. It’s 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 X Talon 235
One look at the lugs on the Inov-8 X Talon 235 and you can see they have been designed for the muddier trails. Like so many of the Inov-8 range, they have a lower profile to help you skip over the trails with less of a risk of rolling an ankle.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Low Mesh Trail Running Shoes
The Altra Lone Peak was designed to take runners back to their natural running state, hence the zero drop design. The improved drainage hole system will remove any water efficiently and effectively with a breathable upper mesh. The footshape toe box allows the foot to spread naturally improving performance. The addition of a heel loop allows you to carry them easily indoors after a muddy run, something that we think is a handy feature. EVA midsole is responsive offering protecting and rebound and the Stoneguard shield offers protection from rocks. A lightweight shoe suitable for multiple terrains, these are popular with off road runners who like the more natural feel of a shoe.
Salomon Speedcross 5
There is no doubt that the Salomon Speedcross 5 is a popular choice among trail runners and you will find it on most review sites billed as the most popular trail shoe of all time however it’s not for everyone and there are many of us that have our own favourites. That said, it is a decent trail shoe for those that are serious about trail running and the more hardy runner that seeks protection from the elements. You can read more about the Salmon Speedcross 5 in our honest and frank review.
Best Road to Trail Shoes
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Trail 3
For us this 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 3 is a major contender.
The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 has the same cushioning and comfort along with the 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.
Inov-8 Parkclaw G280
The ultimate road-to-trail running shoe, endorsed as such by many experienced trail runners and reviewers, these shoes are designed for adventure from the door to the trail. The Parkclaw G 280 with Graphene allow you to turn off the road, escape the grey and unearth your wild side.
Waterproof Trail Running Shoes
Now, we don’t go much for waterproof trail shoes because if the water can’t get in, it also can’t get out. Imagine stepping in a puddle that’s deep and the water going in through the tops of your shoes. Once it’s in, it’s not getting out. Most trail shoes drain pretty well however if waterproof is important to you, you could try these:
Asics Fuji Trabuco GTX
Designed to deal with steep and rocky paths, the Asics Gel-Fuji Trabuco trail running shoes deliver a blend of lightweight cushioning with rugged outdoor protection. They are especially grippy on wet rocky surfaces. With a Gortex exterior, they are designed to keep out the water.
Saucony Excursion GTX
The GORE-TEX membrane of the Saucony Excursion GTX means that the water can’t get in when you hit the wet and muddy trails. The shoe also allows moisture to escape for a warm, cool and comfortable feel. The ruggedness of this shoe is built to deal with harsher terrains however we can’t vouch for how much comfort they provide.
Wide Fitting Trail Shoes
And finally onto the best wide fitting trail shoes. Now, as we have covered each of these individually above, we won’t bore you with all of the details again but particularly good for wide feet are the Altra Olympus 4 (king of the wide shoe) Salomon Speedcross, the Hoka Challenger, the Hoka Speedgoat and the Brooks Cascadia 16. You can discover more here in our in depth review.
Choosing the Best Trail Running Shoes
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 ind 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.