Best Trail Running Shoes in 2020

Text by: Cierra Loflin

Arc’teryx, Brooks, gore-tex, Hoka One One, Inov-8, Merrell, Running, Salomon, Saucony, The North Face, trail running, winter running. Best Trail Running Shoes in 2020

Are you shopping for the best trail running shoes for your next run? Having the right running shoes is the most vital part of racing and trail running. 

We considered many shoes and tested the best eight in this guide. We found the Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running shoes to be the best overall. 

Whether you’re looking for the most affordable, cushioned, or the best waterproof shoes—this guide is going to get you out on the trails faster than ever. 

Best Overall Trail Running Shoes

Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX

Speedcross 5 GTX - Salomon

Speedcross 5 GTX – Men

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Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX - Women

Speedcross 5 GTX – Women

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The Salomon Speedcross 5 trail-running shoes are an innovative shoe with state-of-the-art technology. Equipped with an updated Contagrip formula, you’ll have maximum grip on any uneven surface. The GORE-TEX waterproofing will keep your feet dry and comfortable. Lastly, Sensi Fit provides a snug, customized fit all around the foot. 

The Speedcross 5 running shoes are versatile. Whether you’re going for a run along a muddy trail or slick roads, these shoes are a great choice. These trail running shoes are our Best Overall choice because of their high traction, waterproofing, and comfort.

Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX trail running shoes

Pros

  • Gore-tex waterproofing
  • Great cushioning 
  • Renown grip 
  • Precise fit  

Cons

  • A bit of an investment

 

Best Affordable Trail Running Shoes

Innov-8 Parclaw 240

Parclaw 240 - Innov 8

Women

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Parclaw 240 - Innov8

Men

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If you’re looking for an affordable road-to-trail shoe, look no further than the highly versatile Inov-8 Parkclaw 240 running shoes. The cleat-style pattern is great for trails, while also being smooth and stable enough to use on roads. 

The POWERFLOW midsole offers superior protection for the foot. Compared to standard midsoles, the Parkclaw gives 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return. 

Like the Salomon Speedcross 5s, the Parkclaw 240 shoes are also ideal for a variety of terrain. Durable antimicrobial materials will last for a long time and keep out odours. 

Innov-8 Parclaw 240 trail running shoes

Pros

  • Affordable 
  • Versatile grip 
  • Antimicrobial fabric

Cons

  • Fits a bit small

Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoes

Brooks Cascadia GTX

Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX

Women

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Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX - Men

Men

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The Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX is designed to keep your feet protected in a variety of terrain. This is thanks to the GORE-TEX waterproof technology. As these are our best waterproof shoes, your feet will stay dry in snow, rain, or icy roads. 

The four-point pivot system gives excellent stability on uneven surfaces. It matches the position of your foot to keep you stable as you run. 

Also, the TrailTrack rubber outsole will provide excellent traction. These features make the Brooks Cascadia an excellent choice for colder and wetter weather conditions.

Brooks Cascadia GTX trail running shoes

Pros

  • GORE-TEX waterproof technology 
  • Additional traction with TrailTrack rubber 
  • Shock absorbent

Cons

  • Not as much bounce as other running shoes

 

Best Cushioned Trail Running Shoes

Hoka One One Speedgoat 5

Speedgoat 4 - Women -  Hoka One One

Women

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Speedgoat 4 - Men - Hoka One One

Men

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If you’re looking for highly cushioned trail shoes, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 shoes might just fit your bill. Named after HOKA athlete Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the Speedgoat 4’s are top-notch in performance. 

The Vibram Megagrip outsole is perfect for gripping onto wet or dry surfaces. This is the fourth edition of the Speedgoat, and it has better traction, higher durability, and a more precise fit than the last iteration. 

The midsole foam provides extra cushioning for your run. This is Hoka One One’s area of renown and expertise, and these do not disappoint. Also, the toe-box is bigger, providing a more comfortable fit.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 trail running shoes

Pros

  • Breathable mesh 
  • Raised 3D soles 
  • Highly cushioned

Cons

  • Some may find the shoe heavy 
  • Slightly bulky for flat trails

 

Best Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

Merrell Trail Glove Eco 5

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The Merrell Trail Glove Eco 5 trail running shoes offer a barefoot feel and live up to their minimal moniker. Our best minimalist shoe is full and square-shaped at the toes for a more natural fit. They are very lightweight and fun to use as trail running shoes. They are absolutely packed with recycled materials as well, lessening your carbon footprint.

Thanks to the Vibram outsole, the Merrell trail glove shoes have a good grip on any surface. However, they might be slightly uncomfortable if you’re not used to a thin midsole. For more cushioning, look to the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 shoes.

Women’s Merrell Trail Glove Eco 5 trail running shoes

PROS

  • Easy set-up
  • Well-ventilated
  • Well-insulated
  • Spacious vestibule 
  • Zone Pre-Bend construction
  • Price 

CONS

  • Not excessively light 
  • Packs large

 

Best Road to Trail Running Shoes

Arc’teryx Norvan SL

Arc'teryx - Norval SL - Men

Men

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Arc'teryx - Norwan SL - Women

Women

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The Arc’teryx Norvan SL Trail Running Shoes are stylish and lightweight. They are perfect for road racing and transitioning to the trail. The top mesh layer of TPU is water-resistant and paper-thin, but rugged enough for the trails and whatever nature throws your way.

These trail runners also provide excellent grip thanks to the Vibram outsole with its crampons. Since these shoes are so light, they make great travel companions as well—bring your workout with you!

Arc’teryx Norvan SL trail running shoes

Pros

  • Ultralight model 
  • Suitable for trail and road running
  • TPU forefront provides foot protection
  • Vibram outsole gives extra grip

Cons

  • A bit thin for rocky terrain

 

Best Hiking Trail Running Shoes

The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack II

The North Face - Hedgehog Men

Men

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The North Face - Hedgehog

Women

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Check out the North Face Hedgehog Fastpack II WP if you’re searching for comfortable shoes to run the hiking trails. Your feet will stay dry, thanks to the DryVent technology with an outer waterproof membrane. The shoes will also grip tightly to any surface with the sturdy Vibram outsole

The CRADLE heel also provides extra protection to your foot and stability on uneven terrain. These are great autumn or winter trail running shoes.

The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack II trail running shoes

Pros

  • Waterproof outer material
  • Excellent grip from Vibram outsole 
  • Extra stability with CRADLE heel

Cons

  • A bit stiff

 

Best Winter Trail Running Shoes

Saucony Peregrine Ice+

Saucony Peregrine Ice + - Men's

Men

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Saucony Peregrine Ice + - Women

Women

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Surpass icy weather with a pair of the Saucony Peregrine Ice+ trail running shoes. They are specially built with an ARTIC GRIP rubber sole from Vibram. If you’re running through snow or even hit some icy patches, this is an excellent shoe for you. Although they aren’t waterproof, they’re incredibly water-resistant due to the upper material. 

They are also equipped with a PWRFOAM midsole and an EVERUN upper sole. These technologies provide superior cushioning and warmth.

Saucony Peregrine Ice+ trail running shoes

Pros

  • Great for icy weather 
  • Extra cushioning for rough downhills
  • Water-resistant upper blocks moisture

Cons

  • Not waterproof

What to look for when buying trail running shoes

Sizing 

Keep in mind that sizing will differ with each style (or even brand) of shoe. For example, shoes with a larger toe box will often require going up a size. On the other hand, some shoes run small. 

The best thing is to order multiple shoe sizes to see which one fits best. Altitude Sports offers quick and easy returns to accommodate you, and the no-hassle returns make buying shoes online easier than ever. 

Weight 

The weight of the shoe will be relevant based on your intended uses. If you’re planning on using the shoe for some road racing as you work your way to the trails, it’s better to have a more lightweight shoe. Alternatively, if you’re going to use the shoe in the winter, you want a more sturdy, cushioned shoe. 

Weight also depends on your personal preferences. Some might prefer the barefoot feel, while others might like a thicker and sturdier shoe. 

Soles & Traction 

When you’re running on different terrains, traction is an integral part of the shoes. You might also consider deeper, self-cleaning, multi-directional lugs if tearing through the mud is your idea of fun. 

Innovative Vibram grip makes for a sturdy base on both wet or dry surfaces. 

Waterproofing 

GORE-TEX technology ensures your feet stay dry no matter the weather. However, there are different types of water-resistant and waterproof technologies. If you’re going to be running in a wet climate, it may be worthwhile to invest in something with either GORE-TEX technology or another waterproof system. 

Cushioning 

The foam of the midsole and footbed greatly determine the amount of cushioning. Thinner soles can also provide comfort, but it depends on how much support you need. Maximalist midsole cushion is increasingly popular—with a noted shift in the other direction for those who prefer a more grounded feeling in their stride. 

Drop 

Drop is essentially how much higher the heel is than the forefoot on the shoe. Some shoes have higher or flatter heels. This is important, depending on the intended use of the shoes. Most running shoes have a 10 mm drop, but you can also use a higher or lower drop. Neutral drop (or zero-drop) shoes are also available, like the entire Altra line of running shoes. 

Lacing Systems 

A high-tech lacing system can provide superior fit and comfort. Unlike traditional laces, these lacing systems consist of shorter straps that connect at more points. This way, they are more precise in how they tighten, loosen, conform to your foot shape and, ultimately, fit. 

FAQs for Trail Running Shoes

Why trail running shoes?

Your road running shoes may be able to take on relaxed, hard-packed gravel trails. However, trail running shoes are useful when the terrain gets wilder. Think mountains, backcountry, and forests. Think obstacles, uneven terrain, shifting surfaces. Think trail running shoes. 

How are trail running shoes different?

Trail running shoes have better grip and traction than road running shoes. You can also find waterproof technology like GORE-TEX. This comes in handy for when the weather gets nasty. In icy, muddy, or rainy weather, you won’t slip and fall like you would in road running shoes. They also add protection like toe caps in case of debris. 

How should trail running shoes fit?

Trail running shoes should fit very snug. This is because you might hit rocky terrain where debris could get lodged in your shoes. They should feel tight but still breathable. 

Can you use trail running shoes on the road?

Yes, there isn’t a rule that says you can’t use trail running shoes as road running shoes. However, keep in mind using shoes for their intended purpose can be safer. What gives you more stability on the trails – deeper lugs, toe caps – might be unnecessary, or even mess with stability on flat, paved surfaces. 

Can you use trail running shoes for hiking?

If you want to maximize ankle support, it’s better to get hiking boots. But if you have strong ankles or are on a short hike, trail running shoes are usually a safe choice. 

Can I wear trail running shoes on a treadmill?

Yes, as long as your trail running shoes don’t have crampons, lugs or studs that might damage the equipment. However, if you’re planning on using your trail running shoes mostly on the road or treadmill, it may be better to buy road running shoes. 

Conclusion

We hope this comprehensive guide to the best trail running shoes helps to inform your purchase. We selected the Salomon Speedcross 5 trail running shoes as our top choice. 

Many factors go into buying trail running shoes, but we hope this guide helps you find ones that suit you in comfort, price, and durability. 

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Read also:

Finding the Perfect Running Shoe

6 Ideas To Get You Running This Spring

 

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