When I first started running, I didn’t know one running shoe from another. All I knew was that some looked more appealing than others, and so I made the mistake that many newbies make in choosing a shoe based on looks alone. Sure, I read the shoe description… it said “trail shoe”. But to me, that classification alone didn’t mean much.
If you’re interested in getting into trail running, you should know that the reason there are trail shoes is because they are designed with features that road running shoes don’t have. So what features make a trail shoe a trail shoe? Though not all trail shoes have the same features (not all trails have the same features!), if the shoe you are looking at has one of the following attributes, chances are it is made for running trails.
Trail Shoes Features
Tear resistant upper – When you’re hitting the trails, rocks and branches and other natural debris are hitting you back, and many trail shoes are built with tear resistant uppers that are more durable to withstand anything the trail might throw at your shoe.
Lugged outsole – Like treads on a tire, the outsole of your shoe helps determine what kind of grip you’ll have on the surface you’re running on. Trail shoes typically have deeper lugs on the outsole than road running shoes, which add more traction between your foot and the ground. Lugs vary in size, shape, and depth. For a harder trail, you’ll want shallower lugs, and for softer trails, you should go for deeper lugs.
Toe bumper – To help protect your toes from any rocks or debris your feet may encounter on your run, shoes are built with reinforced material at the front of the shoe. Trail shoes may have a larger or more durable toe bumper than road shoes.
Rock plate – Some trail shoes contain a rock plate which may add a bit of stability and stiffness to the shoe, but more importantly helps to protect your foot from getting bruised by rocks you may run over.