Trail running is perhaps among the healthiest activities you could take part in, both physically and mentally. While the many benefits of casual jogging are well-established, it is generally accepted that trail running is healthier by some magnitude, mostly due to the fresh air and climate. There is no denying that running in nature has a lot more benefits than your casual jog around the block, especially if you’re living in an urban environment. If, however, you’re thinking about going trail running, you should make sure to use quality gear for the job, mainly in terms of footwear. To help you in this regard, we put together a list of the ten best trail running shoes the market has to offer right now.
Best Trail Running Shoes – Reviews
8Nike Men’s Air Max Tavas
No better way to “Just Do It” other than with Nike’s sublime running shoes, a quality you can expect from their Air Max series as well. This men’s laid-back design sneaker brings an easy-going style for making you shine on any ground. It is flexible to adhere to your foot shape, providing an excellent fit and comfort. Moreover, its approximately 3-inch shaft from the arch ensures optimal foot safety. The shoe comes in several color choices to give you the freedom to select your very favorite for the trail action of your choosing.
7Merrell Men’s Bare Access 4
Merrell’s Bare Access 4 means your optimal comfort and freedom on the trail. This is a high quality men’s trail running shoe designed to make you perform better on long distance races. Again, it delivers reliable comfort even on challenging terrain. Its hyper-responsive quality insole offers excellent control and stability, while the upper has reflective details for increased visibility for your safety when running through low light settings. Among other features, as well as a shock absorbing midsole, this great shoe incorporates a breathable mesh lining.
6ASICS Men’s Gel Kahana 8
Asics is a renowned top brand in the sports shoe industry, with their Gel-Kahana 8 ranking among the best men’s trail running shoe today. Sturdy and long-lasting, this trail runner boasts a rugged design that integrates gel cushioning system to offer unbeatable support and comfort. It, therefore, absorbs shocks perfectly, keeping your foot safe in any terrain you run on. Moreover, the shoe has DuoMax Support System that enhances your overall stability and support.
5Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 3 Minimal
The Trail Glove 3 Minimal is a men’s trail running shoe by Merrell that offers 100% satisfaction. It has a breathable quality mesh lining that is M Select Fresh-treated for odor dissipation. It further boasts Merrell Omni-Fit lace system for a perfect, glove-like fit. Its rugged lugged quality sole improves both the overall performance and durability. Furthermore, you get to feel free and natural when you hit the trail with the Glove 3 Minimal, mostly due to its quality stitching and breathable design.
4New Balance Men’s 510v3
For dedicated athletes who look forward to better performance, the New Balance 510v3 men’s trail running shoe is a top pick. Thoughtfully crafted, this shoe can support you met all your running needs. Additionally, it comes in several color options to choose from, featuring a memory top insert for maximum comfort—especially if you take your action to unfriendly terrains. Other great features include an IM ethylene vinyl-acetate midsole and AT tread outsole for added stability, flexibility and comfort.
3Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2
Your run gets better with the unbeatable Merrell Vapor Glove 2. A top-grade men’s trail running shoe, its quality mesh upper conforms to your foot shape to provide unmatched convenience, comfort for a natural feel during your regular trail runs. Moreover, this shoe model is available in a range of great colors to suit different persons’ tastes. It also boasts a lace-up vamp to ensure an ideal fit, while its quality rubber sole is guaranteed to last you a very long time.
2New Balance Men’s MT410V4
New Balance ranks among the best brands in the industry and understandably so. Their MT410V4 men’s trail running shoe, for instance, is a top performance model featuring an all-terrain quality outsole for the best comfortable experience. It further features an XLT performance foot-bed designed to conform to the contours of your foot to deliver maximum comfort. Furthermore, its padded tongue has a logo lace keeper to up your style, not to mention the various action-inspiring colors to choose from.
1Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4
Lightweight yet properly cushioned, the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Runner is a shoe to rely on for improved performance. It provides the much-required comfort no matter the terrain, supporting even your prolonged run. Its Contragrip technology combines compound, geometry, and density to offer unmatched performance on all surfaces. Moreover, it has a Sensifit technology for an ideal fit and extra comfort. Overall, it is perhaps among the most comfortable trail running shoes out there.
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What To Look For In Trail Running Shoes
Finding a pair of trail running shoes shouldn’t be too difficult, not unless you’re completely unaware of what the market has to offer. Big brands often put out exquisite running gear, be it trail running, jogging, or track running, so you shouldn’t have too many issues finding a pair to best suit your needs. That said, let it be known that not all these shoes are made to meet the same standards, neither in terms of comfort or durability. For you to find a pair to meet your demands, you’re going to have to consider the following:
It is generally advised that you take the time and consider the trail you will be running on regularly before making any investments gear-wise. If you’re a regular runner, you’re going to have to invest in a pair of trail running shoes designed for durability and comfort. For performance running, you might want to invest in a pair that offers grip and flexibility. In fact, here are the three common types of trail running shoes:
Light Trail Running Shoes – Designed to be used mostly on flat surfaces, light trail running shoes are perfect for gravel paths and rolling hills. Taking the country road approach to running is still a healthier alternative to running in the city, especially if you’re running in a very remote area. On average, these shoes offer a somewhat modest protection against rocks but make up for this by being very lightweight and flexible.
Rugged Trail Running Shoes – Like the name suggests, these type of running shoes are designed to be used on hiking trails. Versatile by nature, these shoes usually have toe guards up front and hidden plates underfoot to provide good protection from rocks and sharp roots. They are also very resilient by nature, along with having supportive uppers and diverse lug patterns to provide a good grip and stopping power at any running speed.
Off Trail Running Shoes – If you plan on running where there aren’t any trails or roads, then you should perhaps invest in a pair of off-trail running shoes. These shoes are made from highly resilient materials and enjoy a construction that offers a much higher torsional rigidity than regular running shoes. As such, you can expect these shoes to be a lot sturdier than most, albeit at the cost of being heavier and more rigid.
The only way to judge the comfort levels of a trail running pair of shoes is to consider their cushioning. Also referred to as ‘stack height’, cushioning levels are used to determine the standard of comfort a pair of trail running shoes can provide. Interestingly enough, some of the best trail running shoes performance-wise are the ones with minimal cushioning, mainly due to the flexibility and control they provide to the wearer.
Barefoot Cushioning – As the name would have you believe, some trail running shoes have so-called barefoot cushioning which provides a deep ‘feel’ of the road when running. The main appeal of these shoes is the way they allow you to focus on your own biomechanics and to give you a much better control of your running, especially at high speed. Needless to say, these shoes provide virtually no padding, at least when compared to regular shoes.
Minimal Cushioning – A nudge better than barefoot cushioning, trail running shoes with minimal cushioning shouldn’t be expected to provide comfort when running but a rather moderate protection against damage and pretty much it. These type of shoes are aimed at runners who want a better feel for the trail but who do not yet possess the control and experience of riders who go almost barefoot when running.
Moderate Cushioning – Often seen as traditional trail running shoes, these type of shoes offer the most generic feel one can experience when trail running. Equipped with a thick enough cushioning to protect you from sharp roots and rocks, these shoes are ideal for anyone who is unsure of the terrain they’re running on. Furthermore, their increased level of comfort makes them perfect for almost any type of terrain, either hard, mushy, or soft.
Maximum Cushioning – Understandably so, trail running shoes equipped with ample cushioning are somewhat slower and heavier than the rest, yet much more comfortable and protective. They usually involve a lot of padding in the midsole to reduce fatigue by cushioning the joints. That said, we should point out that these type of shoes are very far from what seasoned runners prefer, mostly because of how bulky and slow they are.
Last but not least, do not assume that trail running shoes your size will fit you just as well as casual footwear. This is because your feet tend to swell when you run, even more so if you’re running on uneven terrain that stresses your feet all-around. A good way to avoid any potential issues is to buy a pair that is one size larger than what you regularly wear, or to somehow try out the shoes before making a purchase.