More and more runners are taking their running off-road and it's easy to see why. With less impact on your joints and a beauty that you just don't find on the roads - trail running is awesome!
While you might get away with your normal trainers on easier terrain, if you're planning on really getting off the beaten path then you'll need a pair of specialist shoes. In today's post, we take a look at the best trail running shoes for both men and women before looking at which brands makes the top trail running shoes.
2017 Best Trail Running Shoes For Women
- La Sportiva Bushido - stable, comfortable & lightweight
- Altra Lone Peak 3 - Women's - zero drop, wide fit & great traction
- Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's - amazing traction, great fit & seamless
- Saucony Peregrine 6 - Women's - lightweight & quick drying
2017 Best Trail Running Shoes For Men
- Salomon Speedcross 4 - great traction, amazing protection & lightweight
- HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 2 - lightweight & comfortable
- Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 - fantastic fit, protective & lightweight
- ALTRA Superior 2.0 - zero drop, lightweight & tough
What To Look For In a Trail Running Shoe
Unlike a conventional road running shoe, there are certain things that you should look for in a top trail running shoe:
As you might expect, when running off-road there's a good chance that your feet are going to get wet! Originally, off-road running shoes were made of leather as this was seen to be rugged and help to keep feet dry. In recent years there's been an explosion in waterproof trail running shoes as more and more manufacturers begin to use new materials such as GORE-Tex.
The majority of trail shoes will also have small holes drilled in the soles. While this does help with breathability, the main reasons that these holes are here is to help the shoe drain when feet become wet.
When you're running off-road weight matters. Being able to effortlessly jump and skip over obstacles saves you energy and means you don't lose your rhythm. It's also a huge advantage when mud starts sticking to your shoes. A little bit of mud might not make a huge difference to a lightweight trail running shoes, however, to a heavy shoe it can really sap energy from your legs and slow you down.
I'll just get straight to the point; Your Nike Flyknits aren't going to last a minute on any technical trail! The combination of undulating ground, hidden tree roots, stones and even rocks simply destroys traditional road shoes. A good trail trainer will not only have tougher outersole but it might also have a rockplate, a piece of plastic that prevents sharp stones from spiking your foot or a reinforced toebox which gives you a bit more protection should you bump your toe
Another important feature to look for in good trail shoe is traction, the amount of grip that the shoe provides you.
On a standard trail run you're likely to encounter mud, gravel, grass, tree roots and even loose scree. To keep you on your feet, you want to look for a sole with deep 'lugs' and a stickier than normal sole.
Top Womens Trail Running Shoes
We've reviewed over 30 pairs of trail running shoes to bring you the top pairs for both women and men.
Women's La Sportiva Bushido
We'll be honest, the La Sportiva Bushido was a new one to us and when we opened the box we sort of said "meh". We hadn't previously heard of the brand however after one run in them Sarah was HOOKED!
The Shoe has a robust, 6mm drop, low profile design but it's the traction that really impressed us - the sole of this shoe is awesome.
If you're looking for a shoe that's going to grip no matter the terrain and that will last, then this is the shoe for you.
Women's Altra Lone Peak 3
Altra have become known for designing low profile shoes and fans of the brand will be pleased to know that this carries through with the Lone Peak 3. The shoe has a huge toebox making it probably one of the best wide trail running shoes on the market.
In recent years the Lone Peak 3 has become the footwear of choice for many leading ultrarunners. The reason is obvious - these are some seriously comfortable trail shoes.
Women's Salomon Speedcross 4
The first thing that you notice about the Salomon Speedcross 4 are the 8mm multi-directional lugs - yes, 8MM! They're so deep that they remind us of tank tracks.
Nothing can stand in your way when you're wearing these shoes.
They grip so well that you'll go out of your way to run up the steepest, loosest technical trail.
Women's Saucony Peregrine 6
Like a few of the other shoes on our list, the Saucony Peregrine 6 features a low profile (just a 4mm heel-toe drop) with great cushioning.
Unlike, say, the Salomon Speedcross 4, the Peregrine 6 could easily be used on sections of road. So while this shoe may not be suitable for an out and out technical trail race, it's a great option for those runs that start on the road, take in a little trail before finishing on the road.
Top Mens Trail Running Shoes
So now onto the mens trail shoes...
Pearl iZUMi Trail EM N2 V3
For 90% of my trail running the Pearl iZUMi EM N2 V3 are the shoes that I pull on before I head out the door.
The new EM N2 V3 takes everything that we loved from the previous version and adds in a dash more cushioning and slightly deeper lugs. These changes all create a shoe that is extremely comfortable to run in no matter the terrain.
Salomon Speedcross 4
Look around the start line of any trail race and you'll soon spot just how popular the Salomon Speedcross range of shoes are.
This shoe combines an insane level of traction with perfect balance and a good level of protection. The long awaited update of the Salomon Speedcross 3 will please fans of the previous version as it takes all that was good and refines it.
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 2
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 is a serious trail racing shoe!
This lightweight trail racing shoe (just 269g) offers an astonishing level of cushioning with great traction and a secure ride.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that these shoes are only for racing - this is a solid high-miler that's comfortable enough to run in every day.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3
I'll be honest, the first time I pulled on a pair of Nike trail shoes I wasn't expecting much.
Nike belong on the road or track not on the trail I thought.
I was wrong!
The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 is a fantastic trail shoe that's ideal for everyone from weekend trail warriors right through to ultramarathon runners. The high level of traction grips and grips while the underfoot protection makes it comfortorbale, even when running on scree!
ALTRA Superior 2.0
You may have heard of ALTRA - they make some of the best minimalist trail running shoes around.
The ALTRA Superior 2.0 is a seriously low drag, minimal, lightweight trail running shoe. We love this shoe for its responsiveness and surprisingly comfortable ride.
Trail Running Documentries
As if trail running wasn't legendary enough, in recent years a whole bunch of truly epic trail running documentries have cropped up such as the one below from The Ginger Runner which will truly make you want to leave the boring roads behind forever!