7 Best Trail Running Shoes

Rilor Staff
Update: October 9, 2021
Table of Contents

The best trail running shoes are essential for people who want to hike at a brand-new level. Trail running is a trending outdoor activity today, and it is not only popular for outdoor enthusiasts but also urban sprinters. It comes with a lot of challenges, but the benefits and satisfaction it brings are simply irresistible. 

Trail running shoes are crucial for this particular endeavor. You need the right footwear so that you can elevate your performance without worrying about injuries and accidents while running off-road. 

Here are some of the top-rated trail running shoes that you should check out:

7 Best Trail Running Shoes

 Heel Drop TypeGender
Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes 10mmRugged trailWomen’s 
La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoes 6mmRugged trailMen’s
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 Trail Running Shoes 8mmLight trailWomen’s
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 GTX Trail-Running Shoes 5mmLight trailMen’s
Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 Trail Running Shoes 11mmOff trail Men’s
Saucony Peregrine 11 ST Trail Running Shoes 4mmOff trailWomen’s
La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoes 12mmRugged trailMen’s

1. Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail-Running Shoes - Men's


If you are a constant entity in rugged terrains, I recommend that you check out the Salomon Speedcross 5. This one offers superb grip to the ground and stability while on the stride. This pair of shoes has fully welded uppers integrated with SensiFit arms; it allows the shoe to move together with your feet as naturally as possible. The "arms" cradle your feet to the midsoles and laces for a snug and secure fit. 

Meanwhile, the shoes feature proprietary Contagrip rubber outsoles. The latter features deep and sharp lugs that provide guaranteed adhesion and durability. These lugs ensure that you remain on track, regardless if the ground is wet, slippery, and uneven. With their bouncy midsoles, the shoes efficiently negate impacts. You'll experience sufficient cushioning on this footwear so that you can complete your adventure. 


  • Upper - Nylon mesh/welded synthetic material
  • Midsole - Injected EVA
  • Outsole - Contagrip rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 1 pound (pair)
  • Fit - Men's

2. La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoes


The La Sportiva Bushido II is highly responsive and stable footwear for lady trail runners. One of its notable features is its ability to withstand rugged terrains, making it a highly reliable option for women who enjoy the challenge. It comes with a slip-on design to wrap your feet without discomfort or compressions. With its brand-new heel construction, its fit and level of comfort have been improved as well.

Furthermore, the La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoes include breathable and comfortable tongues. They are gusseted so that they won't move out of place. With the shoes' FriXion XT V-Groove2 outsoles, it provides exceptional grip, regardless of the condition of the terrain. Moreover, the lugs of the outsole are attached to the shoes' midsole to provide more stability and traction.


  • Upper - Thermal microfiber/welded ripstop overlay/air mesh
  • Midsole - LaSpEVA/MEMlex/dual-density compressed EVA
  • Outsole - FriXion XT V-Groove2 rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 17.6 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Women's

3. New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 Trail Running Shoes


One of the most "powerful" women's shoes for light trail running is the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6. This particular footwear offers a rugged architecture without compromising its weight. It is reliable to be taken on various terrains. It remains comfortable to your feet, even if you are going to move for extended periods. This pair of shoes has TPU threads that have been integrated on its mesh upper for added protection and support. There are also small perforations on the upper to optimize breathability. 

Interestingly, the Hierro V6 features an internal bootie design for a snug and secure fit. Meanwhile, its Fresh Foam midsoles induce a cushioned experience while you are using this shoe. It removes the excess weight in your feet so that you can run with utmost bounce and responsiveness. The shoe has Toe Protect panels that act as shields for your toes while improving the gear's overall durability. 


  • Upper - Mesh/synthetic
  • Midsole - Fresh Foam EVA
  • Outsole - Vibram Megagrip rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 19.8 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Women's

4. HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6 GTX Trail Running Shoes


It's impossible to miss the Challenger ATR 6 GTX. It is one of your best options for trail running shoes. It helps you traverse arid and jagged summers, as well as frigid and watery winters. It offers impeccable waterproofing on its upper, thanks to its Gore-Tex membrane. There's also another layer of water-resistant mesh so that you can wear this regardless of the atmospheric condition. You'll also find its TPU toe reinforcements useful in rocky trails. These panels enhance the durability of the footwear while facing unfavorable trails. 

Meanwhile, the midsoles of the Challenger ATR 6 GTX are ultra-comfortable due to its CMEVA/EVA foam construction. It provides a convenient and hassle-free trailing experience to the user. This gear integrated the Early-stage Meta-Rocker component, which moved the transition zone of your feet to the back of their metatarsal heads. With this design, runners will be able to execute speedy forefoot transitions wherever they are.  


  • Upper - Gore-Tex/water-resistant mesh
  • Midsole - CMEVA/EVA foam
  • Outsole - Rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 21.8 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Men's

5. Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 Trail Running Shoes


For off-trail applications, the Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 is a reliable choice. This one features exceptional grip to the ground with its proprietary Contagrip we compound outsoles. The traction that it offers lets the footwear trudge wet and muddy trails without toppling you over. This property lets you focus on the run and nothing else. The shoe also has a moderate cushion, which strikes the perfect balance between feel and responsiveness. 

Moreover, the Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 has a seamed SensiFit upper for a secured fit. There are also OrthoLite footbeds on the shoe's midsole so that you'll relish performance and comfort at the same time. Speaking of, this unit uses an EnergyCell midsole and 3D chassis for optimal stability while you are riding on your feet. 


  • Upper - SensiFit
  • Midsole - EnergyCell
  • Outsole - Contagrip rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 14 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Men's

6. Saucony Peregrine 11 ST Trail Running Shoes 


The Saucony Peregrine 11 ST excels on slippery and muddy trails. It is a dependable set of footwear for women who want to run off-trails. It offers riveting responsiveness without losing a bouncy feel, thanks to its moderate cushioning. Moreover, it affixed deep lugs on its outsole; the latter are spaced adequately so that the mud and dirt won't stick to it. Also, this pair of shoes is rigged with rock plates for added protection and durability. 

It is also notable that the Saucony Peregrine 11 ST has reinforced uppers and overlays on its tongues. Because of this dynamic design, debris and dirt will not be able to breach inside the shoe. The patented PWRRUN cushioning system of this Saucony shoe elevates its responsiveness and comfort level; it lets you traverse uphills and downhills as efficiently as possible. 


  • Upper - Mesh
  • Midsole - PWRRUN EVA
  • Outsole - PWRRUN rubber
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 10.1 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Women's

7. La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoes


This trail running footwear from La Sportiva is a deserving option for every neutral runner out there. This one highlights an impressive cushioning system so that it can conquer a number of trail paths with fierceness and durability. Its upper has a highly breathable nylon mesh for efficient ventilation while you are galloping the track. And while you are on the move, its thermoplastic urethane stabilizers ensure enhanced heel support. 

The La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoes has a superb tongue architecture; specifically, the tongue of the shoe has been integrated into lacing harnesses seamlessly. In this way, you can guarantee that this equipment remains conformed to your feet. There are also mesh linings on the tongue that add moisture-wicking capabilities to the shoe. You'll also find its Sticky FriXion AT outsoles extremely reliable on soft and snowy grounds. 


  • Upper - Nylon Mesh
  • Midsole - EVA
  • Outsole - Sticky FriXion AT
  • Footwear height - Ankle
  • Weight - 25 ounces (pair)
  • Fit - Men's

How To Choose The Best Trail Running Shoes

Have you ever wondered which pair of shoes you should get for trail running?

For new runners, such a question is a difficult question to answer. For one, it doesn't have to do anything about the brand, aesthetics, and price. Trail running shoes are not for styling and sporting off, after all. Instead, it is meant to make your feet ultra-safe and comfortable throughout the expedition. 

Hence, there are technicalities that you need to understand here. But in a nutshell, you simply have to remember that functionality should always be your priority when choosing these shoes. 


The first thing that you need to mind in selecting a trail running shoe (or any type of shoe) is fit. In fact, I consider this one as the most important. You see, you can't really benefit from highly ergonomic, top-performing footwear if it doesn't fit you. 

Look for a pair that is not too tight or too loose for you. It should be snug. 

Moreover, keep in mind that the fit is not just about the width and length of your feet—other intricate factors such as foot volume and arc length matter, too. 

As a tip, look for footwear that has the same "last" as your feet. The term "last" refers to the form of the shoes. Essentially, if there's a matching "last," there's a guarantee that the shoe will fit you. 

Also, you may need to refer to the sizing charts provided by the shoe manufacturer. It is a good thing that you counter check it with the size of your feet. And just don't assume that you know your shoe size already. Keep in mind that your feet change in structure as you grow older. 


It's crucial that you inspect the outsole of the footwear. Specifically, you need to take a look at the lugs. The lugs are the crevices and patterns in the bottom part of the shoe. 

If you are using a casual shoe, you don't need to have excessively aggressive lugs. However, for trail running and other off-grid applications, you need footwear that can provide extra grip to the ground. 

If you are going to run on a trail that has a lot of dirt and stones, you need footwear that has a shallow lug pattern. Meanwhile, if you intend to run in muddy terrains, you need deeper lugs on the shoe's outsole. 

Don't Get A Waterproof Shoe

Many think that waterproof shoes are the ideal choice for trail running. Guess what? It's not. 

But why?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. You see, waterproof footwear is suitable for hiking and backcountry trips. After all, it is expected that you are going to encounter things like precipitation and moisture. 

But for trail running shoes, waterproofing might be useless. The waterproof material integrated into the shoe will never be able to absorb all the sweat that your feet produce while you are running. Of course, there are exemptions, such as if you are trailing watery terrains. 

In normal circumstances, the ideal pair of footwear for trail running is breathable. 


The cushioning of footwear may define the level of comfort and performance that it can provide. However, keep in mind that preference also counts here. Some people like it bare because it gives them a better "feel." Others want extra padding so that their feet won't hurt at all from the stings that they might encounter along the way. 

The ideal cushioning for trail running shoes should be at least moderate. Not too much and not too less. In this way, you will be able to run comfortably without the fear that you'll get hurt when stepping on rocky and harsh trails. 

Drop From Heel-to-Toe

One of the measurements that are related to the height of the shoe cushioning is the heel-to-toe drop. Specifically, this term refers to the height difference between the heel and forefoot. Most barefoot footwear has 0mm drop, while maximalist footwear offers an extensive range of drops. 

But why is this important?

The heel drop essentially influences the kinetic mechanisms of your body when running. A low drop provides enhanced cadence. It also ensures forefoot and midfoot strike. Those who suffer from keen pain and gluteal overuse syndrome may also benefit from a low heel drop. 

Meanwhile, a high heel drop provides the rearfoot a better ground strike. It helps you handle strong impacts when running. If you suffer from calf injuries and plantar fasciitis, you will need a shoe with a high heel drop. 

In Summary

The best trail running shoes are possibly one of the finest investments that you can get, especially if you are into this sport. This gear alone ensures that your feet can operate as efficiently as possible, regardless of the terrain that you are in. In a nutshell, you should pick footwear that suits the shape and size of your feet. Moreover, check the materials and construction, as well, to ensure that you can get the most comfortable gear for your feet. 

That's it for now. If you have inquiries, feel free to ask me in the comment section below.

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