Making a list with “the best running shoes” is always complicated because it depends not only on the shoes but also on who will use them and how they will use them. If we talk about “the best shoes for trail running” the subject is further complicated because it adds a new key variable: the ground on which they are going to be used.
However, do not worry because in this article we have taken that into account and we have prepared a list of suggestions grouped by categories or typology and within each one of them you will have at least a couple of options that we think are worth taking into account when looking for your next travel companions.
As always, all the ones we quote are linked to their corresponding technical files so that you can delve into the details of them.
Multipurpose shoes for trail running
Even in the hypothetical case that we could have a closet with twenty pairs of different trail running shoes, each dedicated to a concrete and specific use, before going for a run we would have to think about what we are going to do, how the route is going to be, how long and the kilometers, … what a drag!
But, don’t worry because there are now a lot of sneakers that are able to perform very well in a variety of situations and that can become shoes for (practically) everything, both to go out one day at quiet paces on easy terrain and for the days of doing a few kilometers at a lively pace on technical grounds.
In fact, in many cases not only have nothing to envy those shoes more technical but they are able to give even better result in many facets and, if you do not believe me, try a New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v3 that, above all, will make you feel the center of attention for their semi ankle-boot that makes them look like a sock.
In this third version, it has been reinvented and has been a bit more technical than its predecessors but still a great option for those who want to have a single shoe: cushioned, good fit, excellent grip and tread, comfortable… By the way, I would also like to take a look at the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v2 (the previous version) that we liked so much in 2017 and that can now be bought at interesting prices..
As a second option I would propose the Saucony Xodus ISO 2 although, in this case, please, take a little care of the terrain where you use them and do not do too much crazy about aggressive ground because they are not designed for that. If you do, it will happen to you like many of those who disintegrated the sole of the first Saucony Xodus ISO.
Better to enjoy them with terrains of medium technicality, long and hard tread and you will enjoy some incredible treads that will never fail you.
Sneakers for technical and hardcore trails
In this category it is difficult to stay with “the best” because, if we want to nit-pick, the technicality of a downhill with rocks in an ultra is not the same as the short and explosive climb of a vertical kilometer but, thinking of trail running shoes “Technical and hardcore but versatile”, I begin by suggesting the Dynafit Alpine PRO which is difficult to find its limit. You have to be very good and skillful to put them in trouble and they resist a lot so you can give them all the hardcore you want.
You can give a lot of movement to a New Balance 910v4 that has become more technical than its predecessors and thanks to a robust design which is more aggressive and higher protection, now endure much better and that is not an obstacle for them to continue behaving well in somewhat simpler terrains.
If in addition to technicality you want to be very treaded, the Sportiva Mutant can help you here, some shoes that you will not find many negative opinions and that you will see on the feet of many who like to roll along for a lot of time and that do not shy away from any technical difficulty. Blunt, durable, comfortable, safe, … the ones that try them, stay with them.
Sneakers for fast running
If we talk about running fast down the mountain, what most comes to mind are Kilian Jornet footwear we have in two “flavors”, the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 6 for compact terrain and the Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG for greasy or loose ground (SG = Soft Ground). Both are such flying shoes that could rival the response offered by the competition shoes for asphalt and, although its price is high, the durability is better than expected and also, these are usually what many choose to compete and it is worth making a good investment. If you are a virtuoso of trail running and you like to fly low, do not hesitate, try some and you will see.
The New Balance Vazee Summit was a surprise when I tried them because they were practically asphalt flying shoes with aggressive trail running soles. But the surprise came in seeing that they were more versatile than I thought and that they were capable of performing great in all areas, both easy and aggressive, in fact, I came to say that I found them the most versatile and balanced sneakers. In their successors, the New Balance Vazee Summit v2 have improved everything that could be improved so I keep what has been said, the very best that you can wear, no doubt.
Footwear for greasy and loose grounds
If you like to get into the mud, enjoy it like a pig does and do not hesitate a second to leave when it’s raining, try some Inov-8 X-Talon 212 or one of the X-Talon family. Their aggressive padding us legendary and there are so many hardcore options, practically minimalist and somewhat more treaded although, perhaps the X-Talon 212 is a very interesting intermediate point that can give you a lot of game. They are pretty hardcore but we talk about going for quagmires so you should not worry but on the contrary, it is an added value. It will be like putting claws on your feet.
And, of course, the Salomon Speedcross 4 that have been in the catalog for about two years and are still as young as the first day. It seems incredible how they have become, with only four versions, a whole reference but when you go out to run with some you understand why: forceful, protected, they grab great in loose terrains… there are many who compete with them. In addition to the “normal” version you have some with waterproof membrane (Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX) and others with repellent treatment (Salomon Speedcross 4 CS) that would be halfway between them and that may be enough for many of those who go out running when it rains. In addition, they are in many colors so as to win over the public.
As a bonus in this category I propose two of the ones that came out at the end of 2017: the Asics Gecko XT that will make your feet able to hold onto any surface as if you were Spiderman and the Saucony KOA ST, with a sole that almost makes you afraid to touch because of how aggressive their grips are, they look like nails!
Minimalist shoes and natural running
If the terms “trail running” and “minimalism” appear, it is essential to name the Merrell Trail Glove 4, possibly the shoes most representative of minimalism outside the asphalt and one of the most beloved by many because they are capable of performing great even on asphalt. It is clear that you have to have a fairly decent technique to wear them and, for those who enjoy it, they are a model that should be worn at least once in life, especially in this fourth version that has improved a lot.
For those who do not have that refined technique but like natural running, low drops, etc. there are no options like for example, the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 that, although they have zero drop like all the Altra, offers a great dose of cushioning under the feet. Extremely soft and comfortable, excellent grip on all surfaces, very broad and comfortable… They are one of the most versatile and polyvalent options of the American brand and one of the most sold, it must mean something!
Shoes with good price / quality ratio
With a bit of luck you will surely find bargains and offers in the Runnics catalog but there are a large number of shoes that already have a very nice starting price so you would not even need to wait for that offer to come up. Obviously, we speak of “good” sneakers, so much so that they often have nothing to envy from brand models and that they are even able to get the colors out of their sisters within the same brand and “steal” users who opt for them as they are great value for money.
Within this group, I have a predilection for the Adidas Kanadia TR 8.1 that have made a great leap in quality and that, in fact, many use as ultra-competitive shoes for the points of agility, lightness and comfort that they have. It seems unbelievable how much they have been able to evolve and the price they have that makes you wonder if you are buying some “top of range” shoes or “not two” Kanadia because, if the lowered price, almost gives you a “two for one”.
Of course, talking about quality / price is talking about Joma and, for a few years now, Joma has a well-stocked catalog for trail running with the versatile Joma Sierra 3 score very well and are perhaps the most technical, the Joma Claw that have prevailed a little more in the competitive area and have a grip for greasy and broken grounds or the Joma Trek that are the least technical of all but perhaps the most suitable for easy terrains or for those who want to start in the running scene without investing much money.
“Door to Trail” and “All Terrain” Footwear
To finish, a couple of suggestions with shoes called “All Terrain” or “Door to Trail”, that is, those that are trail running but do not want to completely get away from the world of the asphalt or, at least, perform fairly well in both areas. In fact, they can be a great alternative for those who make the most of their kilometers in tracks, ravines and similar.
Some of the most surprising lately have been the Adidas Ultra Boost ATR because few would have imagined that you could focus on the philosophy of shoes as comfortable and cushioned as the Adidas Ultra Boost from the perspective of “All Terrain”. How could it be otherwise, the fit is excellent, like a sock and, in fact, take it to the extreme with that ankle and collar that are tight and prevent sand, pebbles or stones from entering. In addition, the upper has a DWR treatment that prevents them from getting soaked through. They are not for undertaking a complicated trail but, for everything else, you will love them, for sure.
Within this category, we could not miss a Hoka One One, possibly the non-purist brand of trail running that has most ATR models in its catalog. Many of their asphalt shoes work perfectly for this type of terrain but we will stay with the Hoka One One Stinson 4 ATR that offer a huge amount of cushioning and with which you will roll along until you get bored. They are very high but its stability is surprising and, for those who like to run on soft, once the proof is no longer leaving a mark.
As I said at the beginning of the article, it is difficult to make a selection with the best trail running shoes, not only because of the large number of options but because it depends largely on the use to be made of them and the preferences of each individual but I think that in this selection there are enough options to cover a wide range of uses and that can serve as a starting point to look for your next shoes.
However, if you are still not convinced, if we are missing some or you are not able to find the one you need, do not hesitate in visting Runnics full list of trail running shoes.