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Running on differed and testing trails is a much needed reprieve from the repetitiveness of beating asphalt (or far more atrocious, the belt of a treadmill). Even better, trail running is a gigantically simple game to get into. The following are our top trail sprinters of 2019, from adaptable and lightweight shoes for smooth trails to extreme and stable structures for handling specialized or rugged territory. In case you're requiring any foundation data on shoe types and highlights, see our trail-running shoe examination table and purchasing counsel underneath the picks. Furthermore, for a more extensive take a gander at the market including some of our preferred street sprinters, see our article on the best running shoes.

Best Overall Trail-Running Shoe
1. Saucony Peregrine ISO ($120)
Category: All-around
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 4mm
What we like: Excellent mix of traction, comfort, and weight.
What we don’t: A bit too flexy for highly technical terrain.

Saucony's Peregrine has been a most loved of our own over numerous ages, and the new "ISO" doesn't go astray much from the triumphant equation. Basically, the shoe exceeds expectations in the majority of the classes that issue: footing, padding, insurance, and weight. We adore its mark trail-eating, teeth-like track that holds anything from wet rocks to hardpack soil, and the premium padded sole is responsive and agreeable even on high-mileage days. For 2019, Saucony has included their ISOFIT binding framework, which incorporates progressively considerable "wings" at every eyelet to give a more sock-like feel. The progressions aren't progressive however should make it somewhat simpler to tweak the fit on the ISO contrasted and the old Peregrine 8.

What are the weaknesses of the Peregrine? Like its antecedent, the new model isn't a go-to shoe for exceptionally specialized territory as the padded sole supports long-separation padding and adaptability over solidness (a stiffer plan like the La Sportiva Bushido underneath is better in those conditions). So, the ISO is a solid entertainer on everything except the nastiest rough and rooty trails. What's more, its blend of solace, sensible 21-ounce weight (in a men's size 9), and excellent materials all through gain it our top spot for 2019.

Best Trail Shoe for Rugged Terrain
2. La Sportiva Bushido II ($130)
Category: Rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Cushioning: Light/moderate
Drop: 6mm
What we like: A superb technical shoe with awesome traction.
What we don’t: Overkill and stiff for easy trails.

La Sportiva is an ascending organization at its center, so it should come as meager shock that their Bushido trail sprinter is most at home in the mountains. With a semi-hardened stage and beefy drags, the Bushido is our preferred shoe for specialized trails: it's responsive, grasps surprisingly well, and is steady over testing landscape. What's more, not normal for a vigorously padded model, the La Sportiva holds superb trail feel (this can be a drawback, notwithstanding, in the event that you incline toward a great deal of detachment from unforgiving effects). The Bushido was gently refreshed to the "II" for spring 2019 with another EVA padded sole, elastic toe top, and moderate lift to the toughness of the upper. Critically, its certainty motivating and quick moving character remains.

One thing to remember with such a genuine mountain sprinter is that the La Sportiva is stiffer than a standard trail shoe. It's planned for long runs where you'll need to climb and slip for expanded stretches, and on a smooth way this additional help is pointless excess and less agreeable than an inside and out model like the Peregrine above. Be that as it may, on the off chance that you handle the soaks and need a dependable accomplice, we profoundly prescribe the Bushido. Its exhibition fit and significant levels of steadiness and footing really make it stick out.

Best Cushioned Trail-Running Shoe
3. Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 ($140)
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 trail-running shoeCategory: All-around/rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.
Cushioning: Maximum
Drop: 4mm
What we like: Lightweight with fantastic cushioning. 
What we don’t: Very thick midsole minimizes trail feel in technical sections.

Hoka One One has become synonymous with max-cushioned shoes, which feature very thick midsoles for fantastic comfort on just about any trail. From their lineup, we like the Speedgoat 3 best: it’s almost exactly the same weight as the popular Altra Lone Peak below, but the shoe’s thicker stack height (32mm vs. 25mm at the heel), rockered sole, and quality foam give it a more energetic feel. Further, the Speedgoat has an aggressive lug pattern with Vibram’s Megagrip compound—an upgrade in stickiness from the Lone Peak—which we’ve found holds very well on a variety of surfaces.

The Speedgoat 3 is Hoka’s technical trail offering, and the thick cushioning does inspire a lot of confidence while running over roots or sharp rocks, but the tall stack height has its downsides. When foot placement is very important, such as when descending steep switchbacks, the shoe lacks the precision of a low-slung design like the Bushido above or Arc’teryx’s Norvan VT 2 below. Hoka did make some small tweaks to the fit with this updated version, including a new integrated tongue, but the shoe isn’t as nimble as a true off-trail model. For a lighter and toned-down alternative for mixed road and trail use, check out Hoka’s Challenger ATR 5.

Best Trail Runner With a Wide Toe Box
4. Altra Lone Peak 4.0 ($120)
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 trail-running shoeCategory: All-around
Weight: 1 lb. 4.4 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate/maximum
Drop: 0mm
What we like: Cushioned and very comfortable.
What we don’t: Not everyone will love the wide fit.

Altra quickly progressed from an unknown to a go-to brand in the trail-running community, and much of their rapid ascent can be attributed to the Lone Peak line of zero-drop shoes. The most recent model retains Altra’s signature wide toe box and moderate cushioning, but notable changes include a grippier, more durable outsole and a shaped rock plate that adds flexibility in the forefoot. Furthermore, the 4.0 brings big changes in the upper—the Lone Peak is now made with a more durable mesh, and they’ve also incorporated two drain ports on either side of the toe.

What are the downsides of the Lone Peak? First off, its wide toe box is not for everyone. If your feet have a little too much room, it can lead to a sloppy feel over technical terrain. The shoe also has a slightly more sluggish feel than the Peregrine and Speedgoat above, and isn’t as capable in off-camber sections of trail. As with most running footwear, however, one person’s downside is another’s benefit. If a cushioned, comfortable ride is a priority and you like a roomy toe box and zero-drop design, the Lone Peak 4 is a winner. For an all-weather version of the shoe, see Altra's Lone Peak 4.0 RSM (rain, snow, mud), which includes a water-resistant eVent fabric.
See the Men's Altra Lone Peak 4.0  See the Women's Altra Lone Peak 4.0

Best Minimalist Trail-Running Shoe
5. New Balance Minimus 10v1 ($115)
New Balance Minimus 10v1 trail-running shoesCategory: Easy trails
Weight: 14.8 oz.
Cushioning: Minimum
Drop: 4mm
What we like: Ultralight and comes in multiple widths.
What we don’t: Rough trails can lead to foot soreness.

The ultralight shoe craze has come and gone, but there still are a number of compelling options for those that want to maximize trail feel and minimize weight. One of the stalwarts is New Balance’s Minimus 10v1, which is equipped with Vibram rubber, a stretchy and breathable upper, and an all-in weight of 14.8 ounces. At 5 to 7 ounces less than a typical trail runner, the difference is immediately noticeable and gives the shoe a sprightly and fun performance feel. Along with its modest 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, the Minimus has a neutral ride that is a great match for fairly smooth paths and short to moderate distances.

As expected, there are some compromises in trail running with a minimalist shoe like the 10v1. To start, the very thin cushioning can lead to foot soreness over rough trails and long distances. In addition, the fairly short lugs and generous amount of mesh in the upper favor dry conditions and struggle on wet, muddy days. Durability also falls short of a more serious option like our top-rated Peregrine ISO. But if you prioritize weight and a glove-like feel, the Minimus is well worth a try.
See the Men's New Balance Minimus  See the Women's New Balance Minimus

Best of the Rest
6. Salomon Speedcross 5 ($130)
Salomon Speedcross 5 trail-running shoeCategory: All-around/rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 6.6 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 10mm
What we like: Truly excellent traction in soft ground.
What we don’t: Less stable than the Bushido II above.

Salomon has been in the trail running game for a long time, and the updated Speedcross 5 packs in all of their well-known features: a single-pull lace system, supportive fit, and sturdy but still reasonably light chassis. What sets the Speedcross apart is its massive 6-millimeter arrow-shaped lugs (most trail shoes are about 4mm), which offer best-in-class traction over soft ground like dirt, mud, and even snow. The performance-oriented and narrow fit isn’t for everyone, but the Speedcross’s thick midsole and new, more supportive upper material makes it a capable, mountain-ready design.

We rank the Speedcross 5 below the La Sportiva Bushido II, however, due to its less stable ride over sketchy stretches of trail. Whereas the Bushido sits low and is planted, the tall stack height of the Speedcross can feel tippy and prone to rolling over, particularly on rock. Nonetheless, the Salomon is a beast in terms of traction and should be at the top of the list for those that head out in rough conditions or participate in adventure races like Tough Mudders. As with previous models, be on the lookout for a waterproof version of the Speedcross 5 (due to be released in fall of 2019).
See the Men's Salomon Speedcross 5  See the Women's Salomon Speedcross 5

7. Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 ($130)
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 trail-running shoesCategory: All-around/easy trails
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 4mm
What we like: Nike’s proven road-running technology tailored for trail use.
What we don’t: The Peregrine ISO above has a better outsole design.

Nike puts most of their efforts into road-running gear, but their Terra Kiger 5 is a quality cushioned option for trail work. The updated 2019 model is built around a number of familiar features: Nike’s Flymesh upper breathes well and offers good foot hold, and the React foam in the midsole is bouncy and very responsive. Combined with a rock plate, sturdy toe cap, and revamped outsole that grips particularly well in hardpack dirt and rock, the Terra Kiger amounts to a solid all-rounder.

In many ways, the Nike Terra Kiger is a direct competitor to the Saucony Peregrine ISO above. They both weigh about 10 ounces per shoe, have a 4mm offset, and provide a similar mix of cushioning, flexibility, and on-trail performance. We give the edge to the Peregrine for its superior outsole that lasts longer and grips better in muddy and wet conditions, but both are great shoes that are equally adept at short- and long-distance runs. For a beefed-up alternative to the Terra Kiger for rough terrain, check out Nike’s Air Zoom Wildhorse 5.
See the Men's Nike Terra Kiger 5  See the Women's Nike Terra Kiger 5

8. Brooks Cascadia 14 ($130)
Brooks Cascadia 14 trail-running shoeCategory: All-around/rugged trails
Cushioning: Moderate
Weight: 1 lb. 5.4 oz.
Drop: 8mm
What we like: New model is lighter and more capable.
What we don’t: Even with the changes, it’s still not a fast and nimble shoe.

After a string of disappointing updates, Brooks has righted the ship with the latest Cascadia 14. Their leading trail shoe is now lighter by a notable 2 ounces per pair, more comfortable with a streamlined and revamped upper, and extra grippy thanks to a new tread and rubber outsole. Importantly, it hasn’t lost its way over rough terrain with a stable chassis, reinforced mud guards, and locked-in fit and lacing system. Taken together, the new-for-2019 Cascadia 14 has reclaimed its place as our favorite trail runner from the Seattle-based brand.

Where does the Cascadia fall short? Unlike our top-rated Peregrine or Salomon’s Sense Ride 2 below, it’s less of an all-rounder and falls mid-pack in terms of responsiveness. We wouldn’t go as far as calling the shoe slow, but it’s also not peppy or fast, and particularly over mellow terrain. Further, the Brooks’ reinforced upper does make it run warmer than mesh-heavy alternatives like the Peregrine or Sense Ride. All that said, our overall impression of the Cascadia still is very strong, and we’d once again put it high on the list for trail runners looking for a tough and capable shoe.
See the Men's Brooks Cascadia 14  See the Women's Brooks Cascadia 14

9. Salomon Sense Ride 2 ($120)
Salomon Sense Ride 2 trail-running shoeCategory: Easy trails/all-around
Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 8mm
What we like: Salomon quality at a friendly price.
What we don’t: Stability and cushioning fall short on rough, technical terrain.

Marketed as a “quiver killer,” the Sense Ride 2 aims to be a do-everything trail shoe that’s equally at home on an ultramarathon as it is clinging to wet rocks and roots. This model does a solid job in most categories: comfort, protection, and grip. Updated for spring 2019, Salomon made some tweaks to the upper material to better lock your feet in place while allowing the shoe to flex more naturally (it also breathes well). The rest remains largely the same, and with the quality build and lacing system we love from the French brand, the Sense Ride 2 adds up to a well-rounded design at a reasonable price.

But is it really a one-shoe-does-it-all model? No, although that is a pretty tall order for a trail runner. The flexible build is too soft for our liking on technical sections, and its 3-millimeter lugs can’t match the all-out grip of the Speedcross 5 above in soft ground. That said, the generous cushioning and thin layer of thermoplastic in the forefoot do help lessen the sting when running on rocky trails. As for sizing, be forewarned that the toe box is roomier than most other shoes from Salomon... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon Sense Ride 2  See the Women's Salomon Sense Ride 2

10. Topo Athletic MTN Racer ($140)
Topo Athletic MTN Racer trail-running shoeCategory: All-around
Weight: 1 lb. 2.6 oz.
Cushioning: Maximum/moderate
Drop: 5mm
What we like: Lightweight, comfortable, sticky Megagrip sole.
What we don’t: Narrow feet will swim in the wide toe box.

Topo Athletic might be an unfamiliar name to many trail runners, but don’t let that fool you. Founded by the former CEO of Vibram, this company knows what goes into making a good running shoe, and the new MTN Racer is our favorite trail-specific model in their quiver. All Topo Athletic shoes feature a wide toe box and locked-in waist and heel, fitting similarly to a design like the Altra Lone Peak. But in contrast to the zero-drop Altra, the MTN Racer features a 5-millimeter drop, slightly firmer cushioning, and a small decrease in weight. All in all, we’ve found this makes for a very comfortable trail shoe for cruising long distances, whether we’re trail running or speed hiking.

For truly rugged trails, we’d recommend a less cushioned and more protective shoe, like the La Sportiva Bushido II or Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2. That said, the MTN Racer holds its own on rocks and roots alike, with deep lugs, sticky Vibram Megagrip rubber (a blend often used in climbing-specific approach shoes), and a relatively stiff build. And while it doesn’t come in a Gore-Tex model, the MTN Racer is designed with minimal bulk and drainage ports, meaning that when your feet do get wet, they dry quickly. In the end, Topo Athletic doesn’t yet have the extensive track record to be considered on par with brands like Altra and La Sportiva, but the impressive MTN Racer shows they’re making solid strides in that direction.
See the Men's Topo MTN Racer  See the Women's Topo MTN Racer

11. Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 ($170)
Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2 trail-running shoeCategory: Rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 6.6 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 8mm
What we like: Very capable over steep and technical terrain.
What we don’t: Narrow fit; too specialized for most runners.

Arc’teryx jumped into the trail-running-shoe market a couple years ago with the mountain-ready Norvan VT, and this year they’ve released the updated “2.” The new VT (“vertical”) maintains the original shoe’s aggressive intentions, but does so with a more traditional feature-set. Most notably, Arc’teryx eliminated the approach shoe-like lacing system that extended to the toes, updated the midsole for more cushion and shock absorption, and removed the sock-like liner for a boost in breathability. What remains is the ultra-impressive Megagrip outsole, which offers excellent traction on rock, mud, and even snow. All in all, it’s clear the Norvan VT 2 was built for terrain like the often wet and technical trails surrounding Arc’teryx’s headquarters in North Vancouver, BC.

Over rough ground the Norvan VT excels, but it’s overkill on anything tame. The very stable ride and reinforced upper that make it easy to run confidently over rocks and roots became stiff and a little heavy when we took the shoe over smooth dirt singletrack and rolling hills. As a result, the Norvan is a specialized shoe best for mountain-specific running. For a more cushioned and flexible option from Arc’teryx that’s comfortable on moderately technical terrain, check out their Norvan LD. And as with all Arc’teryx shoes, keep in mind that the Norvan VT is on the narrow side—one of our wide-footed testers found the toe box to be prohibitively tight.
See the Men's Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2  See the Women's Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2

12. La Sportiva Akyra GTX ($160)
La Sportiva Akyra GTX trail-running shoesCategory: Rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 11.4 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 9mm
What we like: Rugged shoe for rugged terrain.
What we don’t: Heavy, sluggish, and in many cases, overkill.

La Sportiva continues to churn out quality shoes built for serious mountain environments, and the Akyra GTX is no exception. This trail runner is a stable and durable choice for fastpackers and runners who often venture off trail. In terms of protection, you can’t do much better. With a toe bumper, reinforcement on the inside of the toe box, a stiff midsole, and burly, sticky lugs, the rough and tumble Akyra feels a lot closer to a light hiker than a trail runner.

However, the Akyra is the heaviest shoe on this list (its non-GTX version is only a few ounces lighter) and certainly not for everyone. If you’re accustomed to a lightweight trail runner, the inflexible midsole and aggressive lugs will feel sluggish on your feet. And Gore-Tex trail runners are a specialty choice: they’re great if you run in the cold or venture into wet terrain, but generally unnecessary otherwise. But in the right environments, the Akyra is a high performance and bombproof trail runner. For those who want similar traction and stability without waterproofing, we recommend the La Sportiva Bushido II above.
See the Men's La Sportiva Akyra GTX  See the Women's La Sportiva Akyra GTX

13. Brooks Caldera 3 ($140)
Brooks Caldera 3 trail-running shoeCategory: All-around
Weight: 1 lb. 2.6 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 4mm
What we like: Responsive and cushioned ride.
What we don’t: Pricey and only moderate stability.

When Brooks launched their all-new Caldera in late 2016, we quickly put it to the test while training for and completing a 50K trail run in North Carolina. By and large, the Caldera proved to be an excellent choice for this type of distance work. The shoe has substantial and springy cushioning, grippy lugs, and a breathable yet protective upper. Brooks did forgo the type of underfoot protection you get from the popular Cascadia line, but the benefit is a much faster shoe that weighs less than 10 ounces each. 

In addition to the occasional sharp impact that may be felt through the cushioning, the Caldera’s other weakness is its rollover protection. Similar to the Altra Lone Peak above, the thick midsole and wide footbed occasionally can result in lightly rolled ankles on uneven ground. But unlike the Lone Peak, the Caldera’s midsole doesn’t diminish trail feel and responsiveness (which may partly explain the $20 difference in price). And with their latest update, Brooks dropped just over an ounce per pair while upping traction with a new, very sticky outsole. Overall, we think the Caldera hits the right mix of performance and comfort for extended runs.
See the Men's Brooks Caldera 3  See the Women's Brooks Caldera 3

14. Inov-8 X-Talon 212 ($115)
Inov-8 X-Talon 212 trail-running shoesCategory: Rugged trails
Weight: 15 oz.
Cushioning: Light
Drop: 6mm
What we like: Super lightweight with incredible traction on loose and soft terrain.
What we don’t: Not protective or particularly comfortable.

With its origins in British fell running, Inov-8 is no stranger to steep terrain, cross-country travel, and the wettest of conditions. It’s here that their superlight and aggressive X-Talon 212 excels. The 8mm lugs bite into soft and slippery ground, making this shoe a favorite of obstacle course racers and fell runners the world over. And with a DWR coating and thin, water-wicking upper, the X-Talon is prepared to keep your feet dry through mud and streams.

Year after year, the Inov-8 X-Talon and the Salomon Speedcross top the list for the adventure racer’s shoe of choice. While similar in many respects, the X-Talon is about 8 ounces lighter per pair and sports even longer (8mm vs. 6mm) lugs. For those who appreciate feeling the ground underfoot, the X-Talon offers a more responsive ride, but the Speedcross certainly is more protective and comfortable. We prefer Salomon’s version as the better all-rounder, which is more bearable over long distances and slightly less overkill on packed dirt.
See the Men's Inov-8 X-Talon 212  See the Women's Inov-8 X-Talon 212

15. Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic ($135)
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic trail-running shoesCategory: All-around/rugged trails
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 6mm
What we like: Durable, great traction, and stable.
What we don’t: Poor ventilation and heavy.

Made for rough terrain and inclement weather, the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic is a serious, mountain-ready trail runner. The aggressive Continental outsoles share a lug pattern with a mountain bike tire, and we’ve found them to be sticky and grip well in rock, mud, and snow. A low stacked height and semi-stiff platform contribute to a stable feel over technical terrain, but what impressed us most was the all-around nature of the build. These shoes are comfortable on both steep and flat trails, and we’ve even used them on a number of occasions as a hiking or fastpacking shoe.

The downsides to the Terrex Agravic are a slightly heavy feel that makes them less fun on long runs and poor ventilation in hot conditions. Otherwise, the Agravic gives the La Sportiva Bushido a real run for its money as our favorite shoe for rough trails. And with their cushioned ride, the Terrex Agravic has better isolation from sharp rocks... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Adidas Terrex Agravic  See the Women's Adidas Terrex Agravic

16. Merrell Trail Glove 4 ($100)
Merrell Trail Glove 4 trail-running shoe (2017)Category: Easy trails
Weight: 1 lb.
Cushioning: Minimum
Drop: 0mm
What we like: Light and low.
What we don’t: Minimal protection and stability.

Like the New Balance Minimus above, Merrell's Trail Glove 4 is another holdover from the minimalist shoe craze. What stands out about this design is its low profile, zero-drop shape, and superior trail feel. It’s one of the lightest shoes to make our list at 16 ounces but manages to retain modest trail performance with a close fit, rock guard, and Vibram outsoles. Overall, the Trail Glove is a good choice for the minimalist runner that sticks to easy trails and short distances.

Like other specialized shoes, it’s important to consider the inherent compromises in the barefoot design. First, the thin construction doesn’t offer nearly the same degree of protection and rollover stability as the shoes above. Further, it will take some time to get used to the zero-drop ride if you’re transitioning from a traditional shoe or are a heel striker. But if the minimalist style works for you, few shoes out there can match the Trail Glove’s barely-there feel.
See the Men's Merrell Trail Glove 4  See the Women's Merrell Trail Glove 4

17. Vasque Constant Velocity 2 ($120)
Vasque Constant Velocity 2 trail-running shoesCategory: All-around
Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 8mm
What we like: Great do-everything shoe from a time-tested company.
What we don’t: Heel and toe are lacking in traction.

Vasque has been making hiking shoes for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that they released a lineup of trail running shoes. Of the available models, which range from ultra cushioned to ultra light, the Constant Velocity is our middle-of-the-road favorite. With a nice balance of rigidity and cushioning, this shoe is a good choice for the majority of runners who fall into the moderate terrain/medium distance category. And as we would expect from Vasque, the durable rubber sole provides reliable traction on rock and packed dirt.

What are the shortcomings of the Vasque Constant Velocity 2? Simply put, these shoes don’t excel in the extremes. For highly technical or soft terrain, their 4mm lugs are no match for the aggressive sole of a shoe like the Salomon Speedcross. And for long distances, we’ll be reaching for a more cushioned shoe like the Brooks Caldera. Further, the upper could use some tweaking to be more durable as the miles add up. But for moderate distances on moderate trails, the Constant Velocity is a comfortable shoe with the quality build that we’ve come to expect from Vasque.
See the Men's Vasque Constant Velocity  See the Women's Vasque Constant Velocity

18. Asics Gel-Venture 6 ($70)
Asics Gel-Venture 6 trail-running shoesCategory: Easy trails
Weight: 1 lb. 6.4 oz.
Cushioning: Moderate
Drop: 10mm
What we like: Affordable road shoe that can hold its own on dirt and rock.
What we don’t: Not intended for technical trails.

If you plan to stick mostly to smooth trails or want to mix in some road miles, the Asics Gel-Venture 6 makes a lot of sense. The Gel-Venture will outgrip and offers better lateral stability and support than a road shoe without overdoing it with a large toe cap, thick materials, or massive lugs. But with a mesh upper, the Gel-Venture has the light and airy feel of a road runner. For the right person, it’s the best of both worlds.

It’s important to note that with the emphasis on easy trails, the Gel-Venture shouldn’t really be cross-shopped with the options above. If you’ll be running steep terrain or over rocks, roots, or other rough ground, the stability, grip, and underfoot feel will be a disappointment. But for light trail use, the Venture is a solid choice and a nice value.
See the Men's Asics Gel-Venture 6  See the Women's Asics Gel-Venture 6

Trail-Running Shoe Comparison Table
Saucony Peregrine ISO $120 All-around 1 lb. 5 oz. Moderate 4mm
La Sportiva Bushido II $130 Rugged trails 1 lb. 5 oz. Light/moderate 6mm
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 $140 All-around/rugged trails 1 lb. 4.6 oz. Maximum 4mm
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 $120 All-around 1 lb. 4.4 oz. Moderate/maximum 0mm
New Balance Minimus 10v1 $115 Easy trails 14.8 oz. Minimum 4mm
Salomon Speedcross 5 $130 All-around/rugged trails 1 lb. 6.6 oz. Moderate 10mm
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 $130 All-around/easy trails 1 lb. 4 oz. Moderate 4mm
Brooks Cascadia 14 $130 All-around/rugged trails 1 lb. 5.4 oz. Moderate 8mm
Salomon Sense Ride 2 $120 Easy trails/all-around 1 lb. 3 oz. Moderate 8mm
Topo Athletic MTN Racer $140 All-around 1 lb. 2.6 oz. Maximum/moderate 5mm
Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2 $170 Rugged trails 1 lb. 6.6 oz. Moderate 9mm
La Sportiva Akyra GTX $160 Rugged trails 1 lb. 11.4 oz. Moderate 9mm
Brooks Caldera 3 $140 All-around 1 lb. 2.6 oz. Moderate 4mm
Inov-8 X-Talon 212 $115 Rugged trails 15 oz. Light 6mm
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic $135 All-around/rugged trails 1 lb. 8 oz. Moderate 6mm
Merrell Trail Glove 4 $100 Easy trails 1 lb. Minimum 0mm
Vasque Constant Velocity 2 $120 All-around 1 lb. 6 oz. Moderate 8mm
Asics Gel-Venture 6 $70 Easy trails 1 lb. 6.4 oz. Moderate 10mm

Trail-Running Shoe Buying Advice
Trail-Running Shoe Categories
Heel-to-Toe Drop
Toe Protection
Rock Plates
Hiking and Backpacking in Trail-Running Shoes

Trail-Running Shoe Categories
Easy Trails
For tackling local trail networks or maintained paths that aren’t very technical or steep, a shoe in our easy trails category is best. Compared with a standard road-running model, these shoes are defined by a moderate increase in traction, stability, and toe and underfoot protection. They also should outlast those pavement pounders with a more durable construction and beefed up tread design. Among the larger trail running market, these are the most flexible, prioritizing comfort over all-out grip and support. If you’ll be covering serious miles or heading into mountainous terrain, it may be worth upgrading to a shoe in the all-around or rugged trails categories. But for cruising dirt or bark paths, shoes like the Salomon Sense Ride, Merrell Trail Glove, and Asics Gel-Venture are great options.
Brooks Caldera trail-running shoes (maintained path)
Smooth trails don't require overly supportive shoes

The majority of trail runners choose a shoe from the all-around category. The reason is simple: they are the most versatile designs that offer the right balance of performance and comfort. A model like our top-rated Saucony Peregrine provides fantastic grip in dirt, mud, or over rock, and keeps your feet protected and comfortable. It won’t feel stiff and overkill on easy-going singletrack, but has the chops to handle a race like the Leadville Trail 100. The main reason not to choose an all-rounder is if you need a more focused design (for example, a shoe like the La Sportiva Bushido that excels on demanding, mountainous terrain). Otherwise, we recommend most people start and end their search here.

Rugged Trails
Trail-running shoes intended for rugged terrain are the most specialized of the bunch. While the specific designs can vary from a soft-ground specialist like the Salomon Speedcross to the Arc’teryx Norvan VT’s approach shoe-like grip, common features include a durable construction, stiffer build for long climbs and tricky descents, and fit systems that aim to keep your feet solidly in place. They’re often heavier than an all-around or easy trails shoe, so they’re overkill and not a good choice if you stick to maintained trails. But if your runs feature steep inclines, rocks and roots, mud or soft grass, and potentially snow, a rugged trails shoe is best.
Trail Runners (La Sportiva Bushido II)
The La Sportiva Bushido II is excellent in mountainous and technical terrain

We put a high priority on weight when considering a trail-running shoe. Lighter shoes are faster, feel less cumbersome, and allow you to cover more ground with less fatigue. But we also like a balanced design that doesn’t sacrifice too much in the way of comfort and trail performance. For 2019, our favorite trail runners weigh a little over 1 pound per pair (measured in a men’s 9 or 10). This typically gets you enough protection and support for long distances without feeling sluggish.

On the extreme ends of the spectrum are minimalist shoes like the Merrell Trail Glove 4 (1 lb.) and burly waterproof models like the La Sportiva Akyra GTX (1 lb. 11.4 oz., or nearly double). The Merrell feels extremely light on your feet while the La Sportiva is super tough and built for off-trail exploring. Not surprisingly, each design has compromises. Both are best for short distances—the Merrell due its lack of protection and the La Sportiva because of its extra weight—and lack the versatility of an all-around shoe that weighs just over a pound.
Altra Lone Peak 3.0 trail-running shoes (weight)
As the miles add up, the weight of the shoe becomes more important

The rugged rubber outsole on a trail-running shoe is one of its defining features, but performance can vary widely between models. In general, the level of traction provided will closely follow which of the above categories a shoe falls into. Shoes for easy trails offer the least grip, particularly over difficult sections with slippery rocks, roots, and mud. All-rounders are balanced and fare well in most conditions, while those built for rugged trails often stand out in a specific environment (including mud, snow, or steep and loose inclines/declines).
Trail-running shoes (Peregrine 8 splash)
We love the all-around grip from the Peregrine's outsoles

Looking closer at the nitty gritty of traction, an outsole’s rubber compound, tread depth, and tread pattern all play a role in maximizing grip. Starting with rubber compound, shoes that have sticky, approach shoe-like rubber like the La Sportiva Bushido II or Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 excel on rock, while others that have a softer and more pliable feel often do better in mud. Secondly, tread depth (or lug depth as defined by the height of the lugs in millimeters) isn’t listed by many manufacturers, but you can get a good idea of the size by looking at an image of the sole. Tall lugs like you’ll find on the Salomon Speedcross or Saucony Peregrine provide excellent bite in loose ground, but in the case of the Speedcross, the raised profile has a negative impact on stability. Finally, the tread design should be considered: widely spaced, tall lugs with a soft compound will outperform tightly spaced, short lugs, and sticky rubber in mud, and the reverse is typically true over rock or hardpack.
Trail-running shoes traction
The Salomon Speedcross has exceptional traction for running on muddy trails

An area where manufacturers have tried to differentiate themselves is the amount of cushioning provided by their shoes. Known as the “stack height,” which is the measured height from where the foot sits inside the shoe to the ground, trail running models range from very thin (11.5mm for the Merrell Trail Glove) to heavily cushioned (32mm for the Hoka One One Speedgoat 3). Minimalist designs like the Trail Glove only have a small amount of EVA foam in the midsole, which makes them extremely nimble and provides a close feel of the terrain. But the downside is the potential for some really sore feet as the miles pound on. On the other end of the spectrum are maximum cushioned shoes from brands like Hoka One One and Altra. These remind us a lot of a fat bike: the ride is smooth and you barely notice the ground underneath, but there is more of a disconnect between you and the trail (and their tall heights can make them prone to rolling over).
Trail-running shoes (Hoka profile)
Hoka One One's Speedgoat has a very tall stack height

Both minimalist and max-cushioned styles have their merits—and loyal fans—but in the end, most runners are happiest somewhere in the middle. Shoes like the Saucony Peregrine, Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger, and Altra Lone Peak are soft and springy to keep your feet happy on rough terrain and for long distances, but don’t sit too tall to compromise stability and confidence. It’s no accident most of the shoes we have listed above offer a moderate amount of cushioning.

Heel-to-Toe Drop
As the name indicates, the heel-to-toe drop is the difference in shoe height, where your foot sits, from the heel to toe. This spec was barely on the radar of folks outside the hardcore running community until the zero drop fad hit a few years ago. Many of the shoes in our all-around category have a drop in the range of 4 to 8mm, which can work well for both heel and midfoot strikers. True zero drop shoes have a 0mm difference, encouraging a mid or forefoot landing point. And many models for rugged trails have the most dramatic drops, often 8 to 10mm.

Our take is that drop is a matter of comfort and personal preference more than anything else. Many people like a moderate drop in their trail-running shoes, while others prefer a zero drop design. The trend is toward lower drops for running shoes in general, although the performance and injury prevention science are hotly debated. The key is that you don't make a major change to an extreme end of the spectrum and then head straight out for a long run. Instead, if you're interested in a zero-drop design, try it out by easing in and developing confidence on the trail. This will reduce the chance of injury and ensure that it's the right choice for you.

Trying to move fast over rough terrain in a pair of lightweight low-top shoes may seem like asking for an injury (and it can happen), but today’s trail-running shoes do offer a stable ride that is resistant to ankle rolls. It starts with a solid platform, which is wide and rigid enough to sustain hard impacts on uneven ground. The chassis, which is the perimeter of the base of the shoe, is beefed up with trail runners to create that solid base. In addition, some shoes include a shank, which is a semi-rigid piece of plastic or nylon that’s been slid in-between the midsole and outsole for added stiffness. Finally, some manufacturers create what amounts to a partial plastic exoskeleton around the heel cup for added structure and rollover protection.

The relative stiffness and stability of a shoe will most often correlate with its intended use, or as we’ve defined it, the trail-running shoe category. A race or mountain-oriented shoe like the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 is stiffer and has more of a structure, while easy trail options are more flexible and comfortable out of the box.


The most widely recognized waterproof structure for trail-running shoes is made by Gore-Tex, and comprises of a waterproof and breathable covering that is embedded between the external texture and the shoe's inward coating. The additional layer adds a little weight—normally around 2 ounces aggregate—and makes the shoe feel less sporty than a non-waterproof alternative. For those hoping to go light and quick, waterproofing is most likely not the best choice, yet for running in the downpour in chilly climate or in slushy day off, found a Gore-Tex coating works superbly avoiding solidifying toes.

Trail-running shoes (water)

The La Sportiva Akyra GTX is the main shoe with a Gore-Tex coating to make our rundown

A waterproof shoe like the La Sportiva Akyra GTX bodes well when the additional glow (for example less ventilation) is something worth being thankful for, for example, during the shoulder seasons or winter. Summer runs, regardless of whether you'll be crossing a stream or two, are as a rule still best in a couple of work non-waterproof shoes that channel sensibly rapidly. Another situation where waterproofing may prove to be useful is on the off chance that you utilize your trail sprinters for all year climbing. For this situation, you may run warm in the center of the mid year yet have some additional security from the wet.

Wet climate running

Indeed, even in wet conditions, we for the most part incline toward a non-waterproof shoe


A sweat-soaked foot is an awkward foot, which is the exact opposite thing you need to consider while wheezing your way up a precarious ascension. In that capacity, the ventilating capacity of a shoe is one of the most significant variables for sprinters. Nylon work is a typical material utilized in trail-running shoes for the undeniable advantage of expanded breathability. To hold solidness, numerous producers utilize a blend of a tight weave and slight texture to both oppose tears and lessen the boundaries to air and dampness stream. What's more, as we've discovered, some are more cultivated than others. In contrasting a couple well known shoes, the Brooks Cascadia and Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5, we've discovered the work overwhelming structure of the Terra Kiger to be better for long keeps running in the warmth of summer, while the Cascadia's increasingly significant manufactured upper material can get warm.

Toe Protection

Trail running normally places you in territory unmistakably more testing and conceivably dangerous than what you'll discover around town. In that capacity, you get some additional assurance in the shoe's development. Nearly no matter what, trail-running shoes have some type of toe insurance. It's generally an elastic toe watchman or top that is equipped for retaining direct hits entirely well. Due to the lightweight plan of a trail sprinter, the toe assurance isn't as generous as a climbing shoe, yet it ought to keep your toes from turning beat up should you inadvertently kick a stone or root on the trail.

Trail-Running Shoes (rough trails)

Strong toe insurance gives you a ton of certainty on rough trails

Shake Plates

Much similarly that a defensive toe top detaches you from a sharp shake or other trail garbage, lightweight shake plates are embedded between the padded sole and outsole on many trail shoes. These plates change in thickness, inclusion, and materials, running from meager and adaptable ESS froth under the bundle of the foot to a hardened TPU shank. How much insurance is required will fluctuate dependent on close to home inclination and the territory you'll be running over (more miles on unpleasant trails will justify burlier security), however by and large, we see shake plates as an extraordinary element. They're unpretentious, downplay foot irritation, and just include a modest quantity of weight.

Binding Systems

Bands are barely noticeable yet assume an essential job in shoe comfort. Most go through a standard ribbon strategy, yet Salomon and Adidas are accomplishing things somewhat better: both element a solitary draw fast trim framework on their trail-running shoes. We cherish the structure on the Salomon Speedcross 5 for its usability and speed. It just requires a solitary force, and after that you can conceal the abundance binds and disregard them. We've discovered that the bands hold incredibly well—superior to some conventional sets actually. There is a potential drawback, be that as it may. For those with finicky feet that need to tweak the fit around specific pieces of your feet, there isn't generally an answer with the snappy trim structure. The bands will fit similarly tight around the sum of your foot. As needs be, we suggest maintaining a strategic distance from fast bands on the off chance that you frequently mess with your bands to get the fit perfectly.

Trail-running shoes (Salomon Quicklace)

Salomon's Quicklace is a lot quicker to use than a standard binding framework

Climbing and Backpacking in Trail-Running Shoes

It's normal for trail-running society to begin going to their trail-running shoes for their day climbs. On most day undertakings you're not pulling a great deal of weight, so the additional lower leg bolster isn't as significant. Furthermore, as long as the trail isn't excessively awful, a trail sprinter is an extraordinary pick. With an adaptable vibe yet strong footing, a trail-running shoe can serve the quick moving end of the week warrior very well. In any case, in case you're conveying an overwhelming pack and need extra help, a lightweight climbing shoe or even an all out climbing boot may wind up being the better decision.

As of late, trail-running shoes have completely taken off as a go-to decision for fastpackers and through explorers. Also, it bodes well: through climbers are putting genuine miles on about each and every day, and a lightweight shoe can enable them to make more progress with less exertion. In any case, there are various evident issues. One is toughness. It's improbable you'll get the same number of miles out of your trail sprinters as you would a climbing shoe or boot, which makes it essential to plan out your substitutions (and mail drops) en route. In spite of some potential drawbacks, trail sprinters appear to be digging in for the long haul as a well known through climbing alternative. We've addressed various PCT through climbers who changed from boots to trail sprinters mid-trip and they've had only beneficial things to state about their degrees of solace and agile feel—if they kept their pack weight down.

Wearing Trail-Running Shoes on Pavement

Because of the one of a kind structures for both trail and street shoes, it's hard to attempt to utilize one single shoe for the two exercises. Frequently, it can really be excruciating to keep running with a trail-running shoe on asphalt or visa versa for long separations. There is the incidental shoe that can make an alright showing of traverse, yet we wouldn't make a propensity for utilizing a solitary shoe only for long keeps running on both soil and asphalt. On the off chance that you need to get you a short stretch before hitting earth, we've discovered both the Hoka One Challenger ATR and Asics Gel-Venture are appropriate half and half choices.


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Best Overall Downhill Ski Boot
1. Lange RX 120 ($600)
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Hoka One One Sky Toa
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