When you have the best trail shoes, you can go anywhere and do anything.
Differentiating between trail running shoes and road running shoes involves several major factors. The outsoles of trail running shoes are made with sticky rubber compounds and aggressive lugs to provide traction and stability on uneven terrain. Added underfoot and upper protection from roots and rocks is standard in trail shoes.
Last but not least, most trail shoes have drainage holes or mesh to let water escape after crossing streams (if you're looking for a way to completely prevent water from entering your shoes, read our guide to the best waterproof shoes).
With the rise in popularity of trail running, many shoe manufacturers now provide multiple trail options where once only one or two were available. These days, manufacturers of trail shoes cater to a wide variety of runners by creating models that mimic the functions of traditional road running shoes.
We've narrowed our recommendations for trail running shoes to five distinct types: best everyday trail shoes; best long distance trail shoes; best trail racing shoes; best all terrain shoes; and best hiking trail shoes.
We chose the best trail shoes for everyone, from novices to ultramarathoners.
The Top Trail Running Shoes:
Long-Distance Trail Running in the Best Shoes:
Trail running's best footwear:
Top-Rated Shoes for Running on Any Surface
The Hiker's Guide to the Finest Trail Running Shoes:
- The Olympus 5 by Altra
- The HOKA of Anacapa
- Over in the Clouds
Thousands of trail runners, hikers, and explorers rely on Fleet Feet's over 250 locations and 40 years of experience to find the best trail running shoes for their needs. In order to guarantee that we are recommending the optimal trail shoes for each and every circumstance, we consult with shoe manufacturers, put them to the test, and take into account the feedback of our valued customers.
This piece is a part of Fleet Feet's 2023 Running Shoe Buyer's Guide. Here you will find an extensive selection of the best running shoes on the market today. ]
Your physical and mental well-being can both benefit greatly from a trail run in the great outdoors. Because different muscles are used and the routine is changed up, even a few trail runs mixed in with your road training can help improve your fitness.
If you like to get in a few miles of trail running after work or on the weekend, we've compiled a list of the top trail running shoes for everyday use. These shoes are not only great for walking, but also for hiking.
Wanting a bit more padding Consider purchasing a pair of the top-rated trail running shoes for long distance races.
If you're looking for a trail running shoe that's a little different from the rest, look no further than the Altra Lone Peak 7.
The Lone Peak is a trail running shoe that provides a natural, one with the ground feel without sacrificing cushioning or protection. The zero-millimeter drop of Altra's shoes promotes a neutral gait, while the shoes' balanced AltraEGOTM cushioning provides a comfortable, responsive ride.
On the trail, nothing is more important than feeling secure in your footwear. The MaxTracTM outsole of the Lone Peak offers superior traction whether you're climbing a slippery slope or braking quickly on a downhill run. The modernized StoneGuardTM offers superior protection from trail hazards like roots and rocks, regardless of the terrain you're tackling.
The Altra FootShape toe box is particularly roomy, making them one of the best trail shoes for wide feet, and is therefore ideal for long days spent trudging through dusty trails. Because of its design (and the availability of a wide width), your toes will have plenty of room to spread out inside the shoe.
A no-brainer if you have trouble finding shoes that fit your feet comfortably, the Altra Lone Peak 7 is a versatile trail shoe for hikers and trail runners.
The Altra Lone Peak 7 is reviewed here.
The updated Brooks Cascadia 16 is full of bounce and foot protection thanks to the brand's signature DNA Loft v2 foam and Ballistic Rock Shield.
The special grooves in the sole and midsole adapt to the roughness of the trail, ensuring your stability and comfort. In our review of the Brooks Cascadia 16, the traction was praised by all of our runners.
The Cascadia 16 has a knit mesh upper and a reinforced toe cap for durability and ventilation, keeping your feet cool and safe on hot days. To keep your feet toasty and dry even when jogging in the snow or rain, there is a GTX model that is watertight.
The Cascadia 16 is a versatile trail running shoe thanks to its padded heel collar that secures your foot and keeps out debris. In addition, wide widths are available for both men and women if you have a wider foot or prefer to wear thicker socks on your runs and hikes.
The Saucony Peregrine 12 is a fantastic shoe for any level of trail runner. This updated version of the Peregrine from Saucony boasts a lighter build, improved comfort, and increased protection from trail hazards.
You can confidently tackle technical terrain thanks to Saucony's PWRTRAC multidirectional, rubber lugs, which provide traction on virtually any surface. The upper has been updated with a tighter weave that keeps out debris like roots, and a new lacing system that uses fabric eyelets that provides a more secure fit. Our review of the Saucony Peregrine 12 found that reviewers were impressed by the shoe's improved fit and feel.
PWRRUN cushioning offers a responsive ride mile after mile, while a flexible rock plate safeguards your feet from sharp stones and tough roots on the trail.
Take the Topo Athletics Ultraventure 2 and go on an adventure.
The anatomically roomy toe box in this shoe from Topo lets your toes splay while still keeping your midfoot and heel in place. The Ultraventure 2's internal microfiber belt and removable TPU heel counter keep your foot locked in place regardless of the terrain.
The Vibram® XS Trek EVO outsole features aggressively spaced lugs to keep you stable on wet, muddy terrain. A cushioned ride and subtle directionality are provided by the three-piece injected EVA midsole.
The upper is made of a breathable mesh material and has minimal overlays to keep water out and to let air in when you run through puddles or across streams. The Topo Ultraventure 2 can handle anything from cruising singletrack to balancing on ridgelines.
The HOKA Torrent 2 is a fast and light off-road running shoe.
The PROFLYTM midsole material used in the HOKA Torrent allows for soft landings and explosive acceleration. The signature HOKA Meta-Rocker is ideal for both uphill hiking and cruising downhill. The outsole is designed to provide traction and durability on varied surfaces.
When it comes to regular trail running, this is one of the lightest choices. The HOKA Speedgoat 5 offers a bit more cushion and is a fantastic choice for regular trail runs.
We seek out trail shoes that instill a sense of security in our every step, especially on more technical or steep terrain. The On Cloudventure is one of our favorite trail running shoes due to its exceptional ground-feel, or your ability to react and push off the trail.
Excellent traction for both ascending and descending steep slopes is provided by a sticky rubber outsole, making rock scrambling as easy as walking on a carpet.
On's Cloudtec is topped with a layer of soft, lightweight Helion foam, creating a responsive, cushioned ride suitable for long runs and multi-day hikes. The split-design Speedboard in the middle of the shoe's midsole adds responsiveness and pliability, and also serves as a rock plate for increased protection.
On reworked the forefoot shape and incorporated an airy upper that is durable enough to withstand snags from roots and sticks to create a shoe that is both comfortable and practical.
The Cloudventure is the ideal trail shoe, whether you're hiking in the Swiss Alps or just down the street.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7 will make you feel like you're floating as you hit the trails.
This trail shoe from New Balance incorporates their popular Fresh Foam technology into a durable outsole. The extra height in the stack provides cushioning for longer trail runs.
The deep lugs and tacky Vibram® Megagrip rubber outsole give you confidence on slippery rocks, mud, and steep descents. Also, the upper is airy, so your feet can breathe while you run around on the trails. Those who are rough on their footwear will appreciate the durability of this trail shoe.
These are some of the best trail running shoes out there, whether you're training for an ultramarathon, hoping to compete in Western States, or just want to spend a day running through the woods. If you plan on running for long periods of time, these are the best shoes for you because they offer more cushioning and a little more grip than the others on this list.
The Brooks Caldera 6 is a trail running shoe built for comfort.
The Caldera features Brooks' DNA LOFT v3 foam, which is plush and lightweight for long distances off-road while still providing a responsive ride. Our reviewers of the Brooks Caldera 6 were very impressed by the new foam.
Your feet will feel safe and supported thanks to the internal midfoot saddle and the elevated midsole foam. The outsole's sticky traction rubber and multidirectional lugs work together to provide exceptional uphill and downhill traction on any surface.
The On Cloudultra's dual CloudTec cushioning systems ensure a comfortable ride even on the roughest of trail runs. The Speedboard provides you with thrust during takeoffs, while the On Helion foam cushions you from the bumps in the trail.
You can take on any trail with confidence thanks to the Missiongrip outsole's three separate traction patterns that work together to provide all-terrain grip. In addition, the sock-like upper construction keeps debris out and supports your foot on uneven ground.
We built the On Cloudultra to last.
The HOKA Speedgoat 5 is one of the best trail shoes ever made because it excels on both technical terrain and fast singletrack.
The fifth iteration of this highly regarded sneaker, dubbed the "Speedgoat 5," features a new double jacquard mesh upper for a lockdown fit and increased durability. In our HOKA Speedgoat 5 review, we found that wearers were very satisfied with the updated fit and feel. The late-stage Meta-Rocker helps you glide over uneven terrain, and the newly engineered lightweight midsole foam cushions your feet.
Be fearless in any weather, wet or dry The Speedgoat 5's Vibram Megagrip outsole with Traction Lug system ensures maximum traction on any trail surface. The cherry on top is the improved traction and stability provided by the redesigned multidirectional lugs and zonal rubber placements.
The Timp 4 was upgraded by Altra to handle marathons. The latest version is cushioned and responsive thanks to the EGOTM MAX midsole material used by Altra. The signature wide FootShapedTM toe box of Altra footwear allows your toes to splay naturally, improving your stability on rough ground.
Since the Timp 4 is equipped with Altra's MaxTracTM outsole, you can run uphill and sprint downhill with ease thanks to the shoe's multidirectional lugs and increased grip. The forefoot also has drainage ports, so you can confidently wade through puddles and creeks.
Saucony designed the Xodus Ultra to be a long-distance trail runner's dream shoe; it's lightweight, cushioned, and responsive. They used a PWR frame to keep their super-squishy PWRRUN PB foam stable enough for the trails.
The three-piece PWRTRAC outsole of the Xodus Ultra provides grip and traction to handle uneven and slick surfaces, while an improvised rock plate protects your feet from sharp rocks and roots. For fans of the Saucony Endorphin Series who want to branch out into long-distance trail running, this is a fantastic option.
The New Balance More Trail v2 is a trail running shoe that is built to last. The New Balance Fresh Foam X in these shoes provides a cushioning so soft and springy that you'll feel like you're running and hiking on pillows all day. The upper's pliability also allows your feet more room to move around within the shoe.
You'll feel like you're riding on a rocker as you pedal through the trails with the More Trail v2. Having a Vibram outsole means you won't slip in muddy puddles or on wet rocks. Long-term support for off-road use is provided by the New Balance More Trail v2.
There are many brands of trail racing shoes that are designed to give you an advantage on race day, just like there are brands of road racing shoes. These shoes can help those who are trying to improve their times by shaving off precious seconds or even minutes. These shoes will help you cross the finish line in record time thanks to their ultralight construction and carbon-plate reinforcements.
This is because HOKA's top-tier trail racing shoe has two parallel carbon plates that deliver a powerful ride on any terrain. In our HOKA Tecton X review, we found that the plates, in conjunction with the ProFly-XTM foam, produced a responsive and enjoyable ride.
You can take on the roughest terrain with confidence thanks to the Vibram® Megagrip outsole and Litebase construction. The upper is constructed with a breathable jacquard engineered mesh that offers a secure lockdown and is comfortable for long days on the trails.
Trail races of all lengths, from a 5K to an ultramarathon spanning multiple days, are no match for the HOKA Tecton X.
The Altra Mont Blanc is built for high-velocity performance over extensive distances. Soft cushioning is provided by the EGOTM MAX midsole foam in Altra running shoes. It is lightweight and flexible. Altra's trademark FootShapedTM toe box allows your toes to splay naturally and promotes better balance on uneven terrain while the upper is ultralight and breathable.
The Vibram® LiteBase outsole is equipped with micro and macro lugs for superior traction on various surfaces without the need for additional weight. When designing this ultralight trail shoe, Altra focused on the areas of the foot that need the most protection while running, leaving out any excess.
Where Cloudventure Peak 2 Is For shorter to intermediate distances on the trail, a shoe with a zero rating is an excellent choice for competition. The MissiongripTM technology is a robust grip pattern that is at home on challenging terrain. Upper Swiss engineering includes On's durable Ultralight Ripstop fabric, which offers protection, breathability, and a comfortable stretch.
This trail shoe is designed to be worn with ease along the trails due to its low weight and aggressive construction. The new Speedboard TM has a split forefoot design that improves performance by increasing torsion, allowing for responsive agility over uneven ground. The On Cloudventure Peak 2 was designed for top-notch speed. Having a starting point of 0 will make you a more efficient runner.
North Face's Flight Vectiv brings cutting-edge trail-running technology to the mountainous
The Flight Vectiv's 3D carbon-fiber plate, fused into the dual-density EVA midsole foam, allows for responsive propulsion without sacrificing comfort. In our review of The North Face Flight Vective, we found that reviewers were impressed by the shoe's responsiveness and how well it returned energy over challenging terrain thanks to the carbon-fiber plate.
The rocker sole design and the supportive, variable-density midsole work together to encourage a healthy, natural gait and forward propulsion. To keep your foot centered on the carbon-fiber plate, a new Matryx upper made from Kevlar provides the necessary support. For extra protection on rough terrain, the toe cap has been reinforced in the upper.
Don't restrict yourself to just one type of running terrain. You can choose to run on roads, trails, or both. There is no place you can't go with an all-terrain pair of shoes.
There are a few key distinctions between road and trail footwear. While still capable of going off-road, these hybrid running shoes resemble a road shoe in fit and have less aggressive lugs than traditional trail running shoes.
No matter where your run takes you, an all-terrain shoe will keep your feet happy.
The HOKA Challenger 7 is the all-terrain shoe you've been searching for, ready to go wherever your day takes you.
The extremely adaptable Challenger 7 is resilient and provides seamless transitions. More foam was added to the midsole by HOKA to further cushion your steps and safeguard your foot. While the redesigned lug pattern maintains the same great traction for the trails, it is even more refined for street use.
The Challenger 7's lightweight upper is constructed from Unifi Repreve recycled yarn, and it is tied with recycled polyester laces, making this shoe an eco-friendly choice for any runner on the trail.
Learn more about the HOKA Challenger 7 in our in-depth review.
The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is a lightweight trail and road running shoe.
Nike's latest Peg Trail has responsive springiness thanks to the company's React cushioning technology. The upper is airy and supportive where it's needed, and there's a band across the foot to keep your foot in place on rocky ground.
A new traction pattern on the outsole provides grip when it's needed while still allowing for a smooth walk on hard surfaces. This is an excellent lightweight trail-to-road shoe.
The Craft ADV Nordic Speed 2 is a versatile running shoe that provides the protection, durability, and traction of a trail shoe while still providing the convenience of a road shoe. The outsole features a triangular tread pattern that provides traction for the trails and pliability for the streets.
Craft's Ar foam, an EVA-based foam with chemical compounds that give it a plush feel and also provide energy return for a plush ride, is used in the midsole. Nylon mesh is durable and permeable, allowing your feet to breathe when it's hot outside or water to drain after a creek crossing. A TPU toe guard will keep your foot safe from trail hazards like roots and stones.
With the Altra Outroad, you can go where the breeze takes you. The EGOTM midsole in this hybrid model ensures a comfortable and responsive step. The Outroad has Altra's signature zero-drop design, so your toes can splay however they please.
The MaxTracTM outsole is equipped with multi-directional lugs that make traversing trails a breeze while maintaining a smooth, pain-free ride on paved surfaces. The Outroad's upper is extremely thin and light, making it feel more like a road shoe than a traditional trail shoe.
Our Altra Outroad review has more details.
As well as being suitable for trail running, many trail running shoes are also suitable for day hiking, moderate hikes, and even short backcountry excursions.
While hiking boots are designed to be worn for several days (or months) in a row and provide additional ankle stability when carrying heavy backpacks, trail running shoes typically weigh less and allow for greater mobility on the trails.
These days, if you want a little extra stability on the trails, many of the top brands of trail running shoes also come in high-top versions that go above the ankle. When the trail calls, these are the hiking shoes to wear.
The Altra Olympus 5 is a great hiking shoe because of its cushioning and support.
The premium EGOTM MAX midsole from Altra is both lightweight and cushioned, while providing you with a little extra bounce. More stability is provided by the zero-drop heel-to-toe cushioning and roomier toe box in these shoes, which is especially useful when carrying a load.
The outsole has been redesigned by Altra with Vibram® MegagripTM, a high-performance rubber that is both durable and sticky, making it ideal for use on both wet and dry surfaces. To improve stability, the designers made minor adjustments to the sidewalls, which are also useful when hiking. The Altra Olympus 5 is an excellent all-day trail shoe. It's available in two heights—low and mid—to provide extra stability for your ankles.
While out on the trails, the HOKA Anacapa will provide you with the company's signature marshmallow-like cushioning.
This shoe's compression-molded EVA midsole foam absorbs shock and cushions your step, no matter the terrain. In addition, the Vibram® MegagripTM outsole provides exceptional grip on both wet and dry floors.
The GORE-TEX upper on these hiking shoes is what sets them apart from the rest of our picks; rain and mud won't stand a chance against the PFC-free waterproof construction. You can choose between a low and a mid cut version of this shoe.
You won't have to worry about anything holding you back on your adventure thanks to the On Cloudridge's lightweight and flexible construction.
CloudTec and Zero-Gravity foam from On, combined with a hiking-specific Speedboard®, make every step feel like a breeze. In addition, the trails will be no match for the grippy and adaptable MissiongripTM outsole.
Cloudridge's upper is made from ultralight ripstop fabric that lets your foot breathe even when the weather is hot and humid. Quickly lace up with the FlexLock® speed lacing system and hit the trail, or customize the fit and feel of the ankle support with the classic wrap-around lacing.
The On Cloudridge is a luxurious way to travel to and from your destination, thanks to its Swiss-engineered design.
The best running specialty store in the United States is Fleet Feet. We've scanned the feet of over 4 million unique runners and walkers so far, and we serve over 3 million people annually at over 250 different locations. We want to make sure you get the right shoes, clothes, and equipment to achieve your goals.
We're not just a shoe store; we'll go for runs and hikes with you in the shoes we sell. A huge number of runners and walkers take part in our annual training programs, group trail runs, and other events. We have offices, workers, and runners in every state, so no terrain is too difficult or extreme for us to traverse, whether it be a rocky mountain, a forest, a muddy field, or a sandy When compiling these guides, we also conduct our own reviews of footwear to ensure that you have access to the most accurate and helpful information possible
We compiled this list of the best trail shoes by analyzing sales data, consulting with shoe manufacturers and designers, and soliciting input from our resident runners and hikers. Many of the products are tested and reviewed by us to ensure their efficacy. This guide is regularly updated so that you can make an informed decision about which trail shoes are best for you.
Using this information, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the top trail running shoes in terms of:
- Purpose By way of analogy with apples
- Performance Just how well does it perform its function
- Practice-based evaluations We actually ran them to see how they performed.
- Price Is it within my price range Do its benefits outweigh its price?
- Sales There's a reason why popular products sell so well.
- the fit id® database Insights into shoe size and width from our 4 million foot scans.
- Availability If it's not readily available, it won't do you any good.
- Talks with the Designers For answers, we turn to the creators themselves.
- Reviews written by actual buyers help us gauge how well products fare in the real world.
We believe these to be the finest footwear for exploring off-road, but we recognize that individual feet and tastes vary. That's why we offer a Guaranteed Perfect Fit. You can take your new shoes out for a spin on the trails for an entire month if you're not completely satisfied with the way they look, fit, or perform. We also guarantee the lowest prices, so you'll never overpay for a new pair of trail shoes here.
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