What are the best waterproof trail running shoes and are they worth investing in?

We take a look at a selection of our tried and tested favourites and offer up our guide to the best waterproof running shoes for running off-road in wet conditions and answer some of your questions including:

  • Do I need waterproof trail running shoes?
  • Choosing the right pair to suit you
  • GTX Trail running shoes explained 
  • The positives of waterproof trail shoes
  • And the negatives!

Updated 02/04/2024

Do I need Waterproof Trail Running Shoes?

Let’s start by answering this important question.

If you run long miles in all weather, the chances are, during the wet season, you are going to have a lot of water and mud to contend with. Enormous puddles, ditches that have filled up with water, tracks that have become streams and lots of standing water and boggy fields.

Waterproof trail shoes will stop the following:

  • Cold toes
  • Numb toes
  • Wrinkly feet 
  • Horrible brown toes and toenails 

But do you really need them?



 

Whether or not, you need them or not is another story. Yes, we have had what feels like months of rain and you cannot find a dry trail without puddles anywhere but does that mean we should all rush out and buy a pair of waterproof trail shoes for the wet season? We would need some convincing to trade our normal trail shoes for waterproof shoes. While there is a market for them given how many are produced and sold, we just prefer our usual shoes. 

Waterproof trail shoes might keep your feet warm but they will make your feet sweat. Your usual shoes should drain the water away quite quickly – OK your feet may get a bit cold and you might have toes that look like you have spent too long in the bath but the alternative is hot and sweaty feet. 

 

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. 

Waterproof trail running shoes keep your feet warm – The nonbreathable 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 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). 

They keep grit and small stones out – Have you noticed how, when you are wearing normal trail shoes, 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 has a high ankle gaiter to stop water and debris from getting in. You can purchase ankle gaiters to offer greater protection if you are running through small rivers and streams. 

Negatives of GTX Waterproof Trail shoes

Water won’t get out – Waterproof trail running shoes won’t stop the water from 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 from getting into the shoe (unless you wear gaiters). 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.  

They make your feet sweaty – As we mentioned above, the best waterproof trail running shoes do keep your feet warm however, if you start in the cold early morning and it warms up during a longer run, come to the end you are going to have hot sweaty feet – uncomfortable, like to cause blisters and other issues.

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. 

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 a brand of material that is used to make the shoe waterproof. Most brands choose Gore-Tex, so look for the label to ensure you get the genuine article. 

gore-tex running shoes

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 for men and the best waterproof trail shoes for women and give our verdict! 

Hoka Speedgoat GTX

hoka speedgoat 5 gtx

Hoka Speedgoat 5 GTX are an extremely popular waterproof trail running shoe. Not only do they wear well off-road, they are also a great road-to-trail shoe. These shoes are the perfect solution when you want to race over wet trails and snowy roads however and will certainly keep your feet warm and dry when you want them to be. 

However, do take heed of our warning about wearing them in hot weather. 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 rate them, especially in winter but my goodness don’t they make your feet extremely hot in the warmer weather!” 

Considering a pair of Hoka Speedgoat 5 GTX? You can purchase them directly from the Hoka website (linked below). If you sign up for their newsletter, they offer a discount too for first orders. 


 

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

nike trail waterproof shoes

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX is a shoe designed to keep your feet dry in the wettest conditions. While they aren’t made for speed, they are made for comfort. The bounce will help to negate the rocks and tough terrain underfoot. With a high ankle gaiter, 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.

In search of a shoe that excels in traction, especially in wet conditions? This shoe boasts high ratings precisely for its exceptional grip. Featuring responsive Nike React foam, it seamlessly transitions from road to trail without interrupting your stride, delivering a smooth and comfortable ride ideal for autumn and winter adventures.

The shoe maintains a true-to-size fit and offers impressive durability. However, it’s worth noting the inherent trade-off – being a
non-breathable waterproof trail shoe, you might experience warmth, a common consideration with this type of footwear. 

Looking to invest in a pair of Nike Pegasus GTX? You can purchase them from Nike who offer an excellent returns policy – trust me, we have known a number of people return shoes with no quibble if they aren’t quite what they are looking for. 

Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX

The Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX represents a pinnacle in trail running footwear, catering to the demands of off-road enthusiasts with its cutting-edge design and advanced features. Engineered with the renowned Gore-Tex technology, the shoe provides exceptional waterproofing, shielding the feet from wet and challenging terrains. Its aggressive lug pattern on the outsole ensures superior traction on a variety of surfaces, offering stability and confidence in every stride.

SensiFit™ construction and Quicklace™ system contribute to a snug and secure fit, while the lightweight design enhances agility during dynamic trail runs. With a durable and protective build, the Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX stands as a reliable companion for trail runners seeking performance, comfort, and weather-resistant capabilities in a single, high-performance package

 

mens salomon speedcross 6 gtx

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Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX

The Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX is a versatile trail running shoe designed to provide traction, durability, and protection in various outdoor conditions. Featuring a Gore-Tex membrane, it offers waterproofing and breathability to keep your feet dry and comfortable in wet or muddy environments.

The shoe’s aggressive outsole with multi-directional lugs ensures reliable grip on uneven terrain, while the rock plate provides underfoot protection from sharp rocks and debris. With a comfortable yet responsive midsole, the Peregrine 13 GTX delivers a balance of cushioning and responsiveness, making it suitable for long-distance runs or shorter, more technical trails.

Overall, it’s a dependable choice for trail runners seeking performance and protection in challenging conditions

While the above shoes are our top three tried and tested shoes, you may also want to try any of the following:

Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX

The Roclite 315 GTX is a trail running shoe that is designed for a variety of terrain. It has a cushioned midsole that provides comfort and a grippy outsole that provides traction on wet and dry surfaces. The shoe features a Graphene-enhanced G-GRIP outsole that provides excellent traction, a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane that keeps your feet dry, a flexible rock plate and front-end bumper that protects the underfoot and toes and a cushioned POWERFLOW MAX foam midsole that gives more energy return and bounce.

The Roclite 315 GTX is a good choice for runners who are looking for a comfortable, versatile, and durable trail running shoe that is also waterproof and breathable. It is also a good choice for runners who want a shoe that provides good traction on a variety of terrain.

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. 

Asics Gel-Trabuco 9 

The Gel-Trabuco 9 is a trail running shoe that is designed for a variety of terrain. It has a cushioned midsole that provides comfort, and a grippy outsole that provides traction on wet and dry surfaces. This shoe features a Gel cushioning system that absorbs shock. It also features an ASICSGRIP outsole that provides traction, and a rock protection plate that protects the foot from rocks and roots. The Gel-Trabuco 9 is a good choice for runners who are looking for a comfortable and versatile trail running shoe. It is also a good choice for runners who want a shoe that is durable and provides good traction.

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.

Salomon Supercross Blast GORE-TEX Trail Running Shoes

The Supercross Blast GTX is a versatile trail running shoe that is designed for a variety of terrain. It has a responsive EnergyCell midsole that provides cushioning and support and a Contagrip TD outsole that provides excellent traction. The shoe features a Gore-Tex membrane that keeps your feet dry, a Sensifit upper that provides a snug and comfortable fit, and a Quicklace system that makes it easy to put on and take off. A good choice for runners who are looking for a versatile and comfortable trail running shoe. It is also a good choice for runners who want a shoe that is waterproof and breathable.

waterproof trail shoes - Salomon

GTX Trail Shoes for Running in Soft Mud 

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

La Sportiva Tempesta

Interested in a pair of La Sportiva Tempesta? Check out the link below

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Key Features to Consider

When selecting waterproof trail running shoes, it’s essential to consider key features that will enhance your performance and keep your feet dry. Here, we’ll discuss the important elements that you should prioritize before making a purchase.

Water Resistance – The primary feature to look for in waterproof trail running shoes is their water resistance. Ensure that the shoes have a reliable waterproof membrane or coating that can withstand damp conditions. Look for technologies like Gore-Tex or eVent, known for their exceptional waterproofing capabilities.

Breathability – While keeping your feet dry is crucial, it is equally important to ensure breathability in your waterproof trail running shoes. Look for models that have breathable mesh inserts or ventilation channels to allow for air circulation, preventing excessive moisture buildup and maintaining comfort during long runs.

Traction – Adequate traction is vital when running on wet and slippery trails. Look for shoes that feature deep and multidirectional lugs on the outsole, as they provide excellent grip and traction on various terrains. This feature will help you maintain stability and prevent slips and falls.

Durability – Investing in durable waterproof trail running shoes is essential to ensure they withstand regular use and harsh trail conditions. Look for shoes made from high-quality materials and reinforced with protective overlays in areas prone to wear and tear. Additionally, check for well-constructed seams and sturdy shoe construction to enhance the durability of your shoes.

“The right features in waterproof trail running shoes can significantly improve your performance, comfort, and overall running experience on wet trails.”

Disclaimer: Our posts often 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.