If you prefer hitting the trails to pounding the pavement, a good pair of trail running shoes is essential. Fortunately, there's no shortage of options on the market that promise to support your feet no matter how tough the terrain is. Regardless of whether you're hunting for a nimble pair of runners for smooth trails or something burlier for more technical challenges, you'll find something to suit in our guide to the 20 best trail running shoes money can buy.
20. Altra Olympus 4.0 Running Shoes - $170
Long-distance trail runners will find little to complain about with the Altra Olympus 4.0 Running Shoe. With 33 millimeters of cushioning, it offers superb comfort. A wide toe box along with a nipped-in lock at the midfoot combines roomy comfort for your toes with a snug, secure fit. Thanks to the sticky Vibram Megagrip outsole, the shoe provides excellent traction across a wide range of terrains.
19. La Sportiva Jackal Running Shoes - $140
The La Sportiva Jackal is an excellent all-rounder, combining ample cushioning and a wider than average toe box designed for long-distance runs with a Vibram FriXion rubber outsole and a rock plate suitable for peak bagging. If you're hunting for a versatile option that will tackle any kind of terrain with ease, it makes a very solid choice.
18. Hoka One One Torrent 2 Running Shoes - $125
Hoka One One enjoys an excellent reputation among the running community, and for very good reason. Although they're best known for their burly, max-cushioned options, they've taken a different approach on the Torrent 2, resulting in a low-profile shoe with plenty of ground feel and a fast, responsive quality. Nimble, versatile, and with excellent traction, it's a solid all-around option with a very reasonable price point.
17. ASICS Gel-Kahana 8 Trail Running Shoes - $85
Named one of the best trail running shoes on the market by 10reviewz.com, the ASICS Gel-Kahana 8 Trail Running Shoe is designed as an all-conditions road shoe, making it an extremely versatile choice that will be as happy pounding the pavement as hitting the trails. A dual-density gel and foam midsole delivers exceptional comfort and support. The stability features (which include a post under the arch to support overpronation) are a welcome touch. The deep tread improves traction, while the light web mesh upper does an excellent job of keeping grit out.
16. New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Running Shoes - $140
A good-looking shoe with excellent versatility and some impressive technical chops, the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Running Shoe is a solid choice for runners who like to divide their workouts between the trail and the road. Zonal TPU threads on the uppers deliver added support, while the laser perforations cut across the mesh uppers offer excellent breathability and protection against water-logged shoes. The ample cushioning delivers comfort with every stride.
15. Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Running Shoes - $170
If you cover a lot of mountainous terrain on your workouts, you won't regret splashing out $170 on a pair of Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Running Shoes. Described by gearjunkie.com as a grippy, tenacious running shoe, it's ideal for dirt to rock ascents, incorporating a ground-hugging design with a Megagrip outsole, a streamlined toe box, and a climbing zone underneath the big toe. Although better suited for average to narrow feet than wide footed runners, the moderate cushioning, superb protection, and unbeatable grip are hard to fault for peak-bagging and country scrambles.
14. The North Face VECTIV Enduris Running Shoes - $139
The North Face has only recently started to make inroads into the trail running scene, but even if it took them some time to get off the starting block, the VECTIV Enduris was worth the wait. Specifically designed with long-distance runners in mind, the TPU midsole offers a forgiving, cushy bounce that will keep you comfortable for days on the trail. Although it takes a little time to break-in, the accommodating fit, breathable mesh upper, superb build, and unique rocker design are worth a little patience.
13. Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Running Shoes - $160
The Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Running Shoes are a lightweight, comfortable option that, as the name suggests, are built to go fast. Incredibly agile, they come with an explosive combination of Boost midsole and Lightstrike cushioning, an impressive roster of innovations, and a gritty Continental rubber outsole that holds up well against wet, hard surfaces. Ideal as a transition shoe that will take you from the road to the trail, they make a great choice for short-distance runners with a need for speed.
12. VJ Ultra Running Shoes - $170
At $170, the VJ Ultra might be one of the most expensive options on the market, but they promise a huge bang for your buck. A lightweight option with ample cushioning, they deliver superb traction on both wet and dry trails, with 4mm, chevron-shaped lugs that bite down on even the slickest, most jagged surface. They can get a little sticky on the road, but if grip is what you're looking for, there's nothing quite like them. They also make a great choice for ultra long-distance runners, offering enough cushioning underfoot to keep things comfy.
11. Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Running Shoes - $145
A reliable, trustworthy shoe with just enough technical features to keep things interesting, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Running Shoes makes an excellent choice for runners looking for a roomy, comfortable option that won't let them down. The wide toe box is ideal for long-distance athletes prone to blisters, offering sufficient room for the toes to breathe while still delivering superb stability on rocky ground. Other key features include a sticky Vibram Megagrip sole, balanced cushioning, and a locked-in waist for comfort.
10. Merrell Moab Flight Running Shoes - $109
Merrell Moab might be one of the most popular names in the hiking world, but their running options have never gotten much attention. Which is a pity, as not only do they come in at an incredible price, but they're of exceptional quality too. Take the Flight, a sturdy, reliable model with a bouncy FloatPro midsole, excellent protection underfoot, and an incredible amount of cushioning. If you prefer a lot of ground feel, the burliness might be a problem. If you'd rather not feel stones poking through the midsole, consider them your new favorite running companion.
9. Altra Lone Peak 6 Running Shoes - $140
If you're in the market for a zero drop trail runner with superb levels of comfort, the Altra Lone Peak 6 Running Shoe won't disappoint. Designed to keep the foot in a natural, flat position, it's a roomy model with a wide toe box that's ideal for runners who like space for their toes to breathe. The lacing system offers a superbly secure fit, ensuring excellent stability on rocky terrain. A robust toe guard guarantees excellent durability. Zero drop shoes aren't for everyone, but if you're already a signed-up member of the fan club, this makes an excellent choice.
8. Brooks Divide 2 Running Shoes - $99
Despite the relatively small price tag of $99, the Brooks Divide 2 Running Shoe has some impressive technical chops. The BioMoGo DNA midsole has won rave reviews for its cushioning, while the lacing system is wonderfully secure. A rock plate built into the forefront offers excellent protection against rocks and roots. Designed (as its name suggests) for runners who like to split their sessions between the trail and road, the Divide 2 is a trustworthy, reliable companion that won't blow a hole in your budget.
7. La Sportiva Bushido II Running Shoes - $130
Climbing specialist La Sportiva is something of a perennial favorite among trail runners. Considering the quality of the Bushido II Running Shoes, it's for very good reason. A FriXion rubber outsole and toothlike lugs offer outstanding traction, coping as well with softer ground as solid terrain. The protective toe cap is a handy feature, while the durable upper, rock guard underfoot, and cushioned midsole combine to create a very impressive, exceptionally versatile shoe that's ideal for a wide variety of on and off-trail terrains. Expect to part with around $130 to get your hands on a pair.
6. Saucony Men’s Switchback ISO Trail Running Shoes - $140
When it comes to running on soft terrain, few shoes match up to Salomon Speedcross 5. Designed with a full rubber outsole with substantial, trail-eating lugs, they offer superb traction on wet leaves, snow, sand, and mud. Throw in a thick stacked midsole and an easy, single-pull lace system, and it's easy to see why so many trail runners are happy to part with $140 to get their feet into a pair.
5. Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoes - $130
As baldingbeards.com notes, Salomon is a very well-known brand among trail runners, and it's not without a reason. Like all of their shoes, the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoe combines superb durability with an impressive list of features designed to improve comfort and stability. V-shaped lugs on the sole offer superior grip on uneven surfaces, making them an excellent choice on mixed terrain or rocky and muddy surfaces. The solid cushioning is superbly responsive. A Gore-Tex lining provides excellent waterproofing. The quick lacing system is a particularly handy feature, letting you quickly and easily adjust the tightness to suit your preference.
4. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Running Shoes - $145
If you're looking for standout comfort and traction in a lightweight package, slip your feet into a pair of Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. At $145, they're not the cheapest pair of trail running shoes on the market, but they work hard for their money, delivering an optimal balance of responsiveness, weight, comfort, and protection. The outsole features hefty lugs, blown rubber, and tacky Vibram Megagrip rubber for superior grip. The thick midsole, meanwhile, offers superb comfort and protection regardless of the terrain.
3. Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 Running Shoes - $160
The original TerraUltra G 260 was a great, no-nonsense trail runner, but many long-distance runners found the hard heel and harsh forefront cushioning less than ideal. Fortunately, Inov-8 has fixed the problem with their latest iteration, using a Max version of its EVA-based Powerflow foam that boasts more TPU for a springer, more forgiving bounce. The wide toe box is ideal for athletes who like a roomier fit, particularly ultra long-distance runners prone to picking up injuries and blisters. An adaptable mesh top adds an extra layer of comfort. With welded overlays, a mesh upper, a graphene outsole, and zero seam issues, the shoe scores highly for durability. If you're looking for a minimalist shoe that offers excellent ground feel but without the durability issues often encountered in similar options, the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 makes a very solid choice.
2. Salomon Sense Ride 4 Running Shoes - $120
These are a cult favorite that works for a lot of different runners, from beginners to longtime trail racers, the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is an excellent option with an affordable price tag. A two-layered cushioning system provides superior comfort regardless of distance, while the moderate heel-toe offset provides equally excellent support. Combine that with a durable mesh upper to keep dirt out, a sticky grip that will cope with any kind of terrain you throw its way, and a soft cushion, and it's easy to see what makes them such a popular choice.
1. Brooks Catamount Running Shoes - $160
If you're searching for a lightweight, comfortable, highly functional trail running shoe, you'll have to keep on hunting to find one as good as the Brooks Catamount Running Shoe. The shoe has been specifically designed to help you move faster on changing terrain, delivering ultra-lightweight cushioning that offers a springy return without weighing you down. As t3.com notes, the DNA Flash midsole brings its A-game here, providing just the right amount of bounce to make each stride comfortable. The TrailTack rubber outsole offers superior grip on both wet and dry surfaces, while the Ballistic Rock Shield offers advanced protection against any terrain. A TPU Mud Guard made from quick-drying material with slits along the upper midsole prevents water from seeping into the shoe and causing blistering.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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