10 Trail Running Shoes to Help You Break Away from the Pavement
Time to Hit the Trails
Want to take your run off the road and onto softer, more entertaining territory? There are some serious perks to hitting the trails for your miles instead of pounding pavement. It's time to trail run.
That said, your typical running shoes are no match for what you'll find on most trails: gravel, roots, rocks, dirt, mud, sand, and sloping surfaces. To adequately tackle trail running (and feel good while doing it) you'll need to invest in a solid pair of trail running shoes.
How're they different? Road running shoes are designed to be lightweight and speedy, while trail running shoes offer extra traction, stability, and durability to protect your feet. They also have lugs on the bottom (think: sneaker-cleat hybrids) so you can lock into whatever you're running on. Some are even waterproof, so if you slide into a puddle or muddy section, your toes will stay dry a chafe-free.
Good news: Once you grab a pair trail running shoes—like these 10 solid options—you're ready to set off into the woods. Check out some of the best trail running sneaker picks below (and maybe read up on these trail running tips if it's your first time).
Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX
Support and comfort—two important elements of all good trail running shoes. This Brooks pick has both key features with the added bonuses of a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane and a 3D Rubber Print Mud Guard for on-the-go protection from trail debris. We'd say that's a win-win-win-win.
New Balance Summit Unknown GTX
Hit the trail in these cool New Balance kicks, complete with waterproof fabric and spike-like lugs on the bottom for superior grip. This lightweight pair is ready to give you a smooth ride on your next off-road adventure—without the chunkiness of other trail running sneakers.
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic XT GTX
Sending much praise your way, Adidas. These trail running shoes take the cake for style, comfort, and functionality. The GORE-TEX membrane helps keep your feet dry in any conditions, while the BOOST foam gives you the same great cushion as their fan-favorite Ultra Boost road running sneakers. (One Shape editor wore them on her first trail race, a back-country half marathon in Aspen, CO.)
Under Armour Charged Bandit Trail GORE-TEX
Run like a bandit in the tough-looking and tough-on-the-trail running shoes from Under Armor. They have—you guessed it!—GORE-TEX so your feet stray dry even on days as grey as their color.
The North Face Women's Endurus TR Trail Running Shoes
Hit the trails with the company that has made getting outside cooler than ever. These TNF trail runners feature a Vibram XS Trek sole and wide heel base for extra foot comfort and support.
Saucony Women's Grid Excursion TR12
The bottom of this Saucony sneaker—made with heel-grid technology—looks just like a hiking boot for a reason. Feel the grip on every inch of the trail while scoring some moderate cushioning, so you're not just floating over the terrain but really feeling it. (Related: 5 Surprising Things I Learned During My First Trail Race)
Merrell Agility Synthesis Flex Trail Running Shoe
You can trust legendary hiking boot company, Merrell, to make a pair of sneakers ideal for off-roading. Bonus: This pair feels just as smooth on the road too.
Salomon Sense Ride Trail Running Shoes
Ditch your loose-lace worries with Salomon's Quick Fit lacing system: Just pinch and slide the lace eyelet as tight as you'd like, and slip the leftover laces inside the designated pocket. Then, say goodbye to sticks stuck in your laces and mud-drenched lace tips forever.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail
If you've run in the Nike Pegasus on the road, then this is the perfect side-step into trail running shoes. The trial iteration of their classic running shoe offers a slightly roomier fit and extra lugs on the outsole so you can grip like hell on the uphill. (Read these other beginner trail running tips if you're new to the trails.)
Vasque Velocity AT
Trail performance footwear brand Vasque knows a thing or two about rough terrain. (They make some of the best hiking boots and shoes out there.) These super-cushioned trail sneakers feature an ESS plate to protect against rocks and other sharp objects and are ideal for rugged, loose trails. (All that crazy terrain is worth it for the benefits of trail running.)