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 scenic territory? There are some serious perks to hitting the trails for your miles instead of pounding the pavement. It's time for a 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. (Related: 8 Essential Safety Tips Every Trail Runner Should Know)
How are trail running shoes 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 of trail running shoes — ya know, like one of 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 15
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 Nitrel V4
Hit the trail in these cool New Balance kicks, complete with breathable fabric and durable 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 TR GORE-TEX
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 EVA midsole foam gives you great cushion and shock absorption. (Related: Meet the Endurance Runner Who Started a Community for Women Hitting the Trails)
The North Face Women's Ultra Fastpack III Futurelight
Hit the trails with the company that has made getting outside cooler than ever. This trail shoe is the newest innovation from The North Face (it just launched in January!), and was designed with input from the brand's team athletes. It features an abrasion-resistant upper, reinforced toe, lugs for rugged grip, and reflective details for enhanced visibility. Also cool: It optimizes energy return and reduces impact by 10 percent, making it a lightweight, fast, responsive trail runner that you can count on mile after mile.
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)
On Running Cloudventure Waterproof
Run like a bandit in the tough-looking and tough-on-the-trail running shoes from On Running. They have — you guessed it! — a waterproof membrane, so your feet stray dry even on days as grey as their color. The outsole combines multiple grip patterns to keep you steady and upright on the trail, the heal clouds absorb impact on inclines, and the elastic loop on the tongue keeps your laces from tripping you up or dragging over wet ground.
Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe
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. (Related: How Trail Running Is Different from Road Running)
Nike Pegasus Trail 2 GORE-TEX
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, a waterproof design, 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 Breeze LT Low GTX
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 are made with waterproof GORE-TEX and feature a Vibram sole to grip wet surfaces and protect against rocks and other sharp objects. (All that crazy terrain is worth it for the benefits of trail running.)
Altra Lone Peak 5
This trail shoe from top-notch running brand Altra features foam and cushioning for better foot alignment, form, added energy return and low-impact landing. It also has a grippy outsole with rugged lugs for better traction on slippery or rocky terrain, laser-cut drainage holes if you happen to get soaked, and the brand's signature Footshape design with a wider toe box, which allows your foot to sit naturally with more dedicated space.