When it comes to wearing trail shoes for dry conditions, there are various schools of thought as well as personal preferences. Ask us and one of us will opt for road shoes every time while the other will wear a reliable pair of inov-8 Roclites 290’s no matter how dry the trails. The reason for this? We wear what is the most comfortable. As the one that prefers to wear the Roclites, my main justification is the comfort. Being able to wear these for 30 miles I find more comfortable than attempting to wear my road shoes for the same distance. My running buddy however prefers the comfort of his road shoes.

We recently took a trek up the Black Mountains. It was a beautiful day and there were a bunch of us. When changing into our trail shoes, one of them stated he was going to wear his roads. It was dry after all and it was. On the face of it the ground seemed extremely dry. What we hadn’t accounted for was the fact that we have had lots of rain recently which hasn’t yet trained away in the shaded, wooded areas or on some of the boggy ground. I did ask if he was still glad he had worn his road shoes as we came down the side of a hill trying not to grab onto gorse for support! There were a couple of technical descents too where trails would have offered more grip and support. For the most part, the road shoes were fine.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of wearing road shoes vs trail shoes for dry conditions:

Pros of Road vs Trail Shoes

Comfort – if you are used to wearing road shoes and spent the majority of your time running in them, they are going to be more comfortable. There are some trail shoes that don’t offer the same comfort as a reliable pair of roads. They may have deep lugs, a rock plate and feel heavier than your road shoes.

Lightweight – a good pair of road shoes often wear less than trail shoes. They don’t have the added weight of the rock plate, the protective toe cap or the other sole lugs. That said, there are a number of lightweight shoes now that offer considerable comfort.

Cost – if you don’t want to spend a fortune on different trail shoes for different conditions, using your old road shoes to get more wear is one way to save money.

Cons of Road vs Trail Shoes

Less protection – if you come down a rocky path and kick a rock (we have done it and it hurts), you have little protection in a road shoe. You are going to feel it more than a reliable pair of trail shoes.

Less grip – if you do happen upon a muddy trail that hasn’t dried out (and we have experienced a few), you aren’t going to have the type of grip that you get in your trail shoes. Also, your lovely road shoes are going to get dirty (always make sure you wear an old pair)

Not designed for the terrain – remember that road shoes are designed for roads. They aren’t built to cope with multi terrain. as a rule, we will wear road shoes out for shorter summer runs but I always use my trails for serious training.

Risking injury – Just make sure you don’t do it to the detriment of your feet or risk getting an injury. Wearing old shoes that have already done lots of miles, is not always the best idea.

They don’t prepare you for the real conditions – if you spend your time running off road in road shoes, when it comes to a race when you don your trail shoes, you aren’t going to be as prepared as you would in the right shoes. If you don’t wear in your trail shoes on those longer runs, how are you going to build up the resistance to those bits that rub or get used to running in that particular shoe?

Lightweight Trail Shoes

These are just a few of the potential options when it comes to lightweight trail shoes for dry conditions. Worth a look to see if there is something here that is suitable for you.

Inov-8 Roclite 290

Our particular favourite. You can find our full review here. Personally, I wouldn’t wear anything else for my really long miles. I have worn these for a 50 miler and not had a single blister. Plus I trained for the entire event in nothing else.

Buy Inov-9 Roclite 290

Salomon Sense Pro 2

Popular shoe and extremely lightweight – once worn but the winner of the Western States 100. Supreme support and precise fitting.

Buy Salomon Sense Pro 2

Inov-8 Trail Talon

Another light trail running shoe from this popular brand. The Powerflow midsole technology means you get a cushioned ride and maximum comfort with a breathability in the upper shoe to allow ventilation keeping your feet cool and dry in hot conditions.

Buy Inov-8 Trail Talon 

Do What Suits You

There is no rule book when it comes to the shoes you wear. There are those that prefer barefoot running, or simply don’t give a fig about what is on their feet and there are those that have eleventy billion pairs of shoes in several different colours. Do what suits you and what you find comfortable. Me? I will be sticking with my Roclites because, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?