If you’re running on trails, it may be a good idea to invest in a pair of trail running shoes. Using your retired pair of road shoes doesn’t count (they are retired for a reason), even if you don’t mind getting them dirty. Trail shoes are built differently than road shoes to protect your feet and help you navigate varied terrain.
Finding a pair of trail shoes that suits your needs can make your offroad running experience that much better. Below, choose the type of trail running you’re doing and check out what you should look for in a trail shoe.
I run mostly roads, with a little bit of fire road thrown in the mix.
If your off-road running is limited to fire roads, in many cases you’ll be able to get away with running in your road trainers. But a shoe that can handle both roads and trails will offer you more traction and stability when you’re running on dirt. Several “trail-ified” versions of popular road models provide a bit more grip while still remaining fluid and flexible during road duty. As a couple of examples, look at the Asics GT 2000 Trail or the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9.
I run fire roads and well-maintained trails.
You’re running on trails, but none of it is too technical. The type of trail shoe you should look for really depends on the running experience you’re seeking. If you want a more minimal shoe with a closer feel for the surfaces you’re running on, then check out the Brooks PureGrit 2 or the Altra Lone Peak.
If you want a traditional running shoe experience with plenty of protection from the ground and a more substantial upper, then lace up the Asics Gel Scout or Brooks Cascadia 8. Since your foot will encounter more ground angles over varied terrain and you are more likely to be up on your toes as you navigate trails, trail shoes typically have less pronation support than their road-specific counterparts. If you wear a max support road shoe, don’t fret if you can’t find a trail shoe with exactly as much support.
I run technical, uneven trails with mud, loose rocks and debris.
When you head out the door, your goal is to tackle the toughest trails you can find. You don’t shy away from hills or loose, rocky approaches. You need a shoe that can keep up with your adventure-seeking soul. In this category, you want to look for a trail shoe with intense lugs, and a secure fit. The lugs will help you mountain-goat your way through tricky terrain and the secure fit will help you feel more stable and confident in your shoes. For this type of running we like shoes such as the Salomon Speedcross 3 and Inov-8 Mudclaw 300.