Trail running shoes are growing in popularity and not just among the trail running crowd. The beauty of trail running shoes is that you can do almost anything in them. They are obviously great for trail running but they can also handle road running and almost any kind of hiking you can throw their way. They offer the comfort and support of a traditional running shoe with some additional features that allow them to easily take to the trail. They are light, exceptionally nimble, and completely capable of handling all but the most strenuous of hikes. They also tend to come in colors other than the standard white of traditional running shoes, making them better to wear as casual shoes for travel. Are you planning on going on a big, active trip and wanting to take only one pair of shoes that will take you from your hike to your trail run to dinner and back? Take a pair of trail runners.
- 1 Factors to look for when selecting a trail running shoes
- 2 Five best trail running shoes for men – our picks
Read on to learn about some things to consider when shopping for a trail running shoe and get some suggestions on some of our favorites!
Factors to look for when selecting a trail running shoes
Support and stability
One of the most crucial things in determining which trail running shoes (or any running shoes, for that matter) are right for you is to have an idea of what your feet and ankles tend to do when you walk or run. If your ankles stay nice and straight, you’re among the lucky ones who can choose from the vast selection of neutral shoes but if you pronate (your ankles roll in) you’ll probably want to look for a shoe with stability or motion control features. If your pronation is corrected with custom orthotics that you plan to use in your trail running shoes, you will want to stick with neutral shoes to prevent overcorrection of the problem. Just because foot and ankle injuries are far more common in runners than in hikers doesn’t mean that they can’t happen in hikers as well. Whether you’re running the trails or taking them at a more leisurely pace, using the right shoes for your personal biomechanics will go a long way towards stopping injuries in their tracks!
Heel drop is the difference in height between your heel and the front of your foot and it’s more important than you think. “Drop” in trail running shoes is measured in millimeters and ranges from 0mm to 10mm or more. Trail runners who are mid or forefoot strikers or those who subscribe to the barefoot running movement tend to love “low” drop shoes but folks who have spent their lives hiking or running in shoes with built up heels tend to do best in shoes that give their heels a little more lift. How much drop you want is largely a matter of personal preference but thinking about your past injuries can help in the decision making process. Hikers or runners with a history of issues like Achilles tendonitis will appreciate shoes with a higher heel.
The cushioning in trail running shoes ranges from barely there to big and beefy and which one you choose will largely depend on what you like. Hikers that are considering a pair of trail runners as their primary hiking shoes will likely want at least a little bit of cushioning but just how far you want to go in the cushioning department is up to you. While the barefoot running practitioners tend to shy away from cushioning, the truth is that for most hikers and trail runners, a little bit of cushioning can go a long way towards keeping your feet, knees, and legs comfortable as the miles go by.
Waterproofing and breathability
Almost all trail running (and hiking, for that matter) shoes are designed to keep your feet dry but the way that they accomplish this task differs from model to model. Some shoes are designed to keep your feet dry by keeping water out entirely. Some shoes are designed to keep your feet dry by letting what water does get in to quickly escape. Most trail running shoes fall into the latter category. If full waterproofing is a big deal to you and you never want to feel even an ounce of moisture in your shoes, look for a shoe with uppers made from Gore-Tex or something similar but remember that all the Gore-Tex in the world won’t help if the water comes up to your ankles!
Now that we’ve give you some things to think about, it’s time to introduce you to some of our favorite trail running shoes for men!
Five best trail running shoes for men – our picks
Salomon Speedcross 3
Salomon makes great hiking and trail running shoes and the Speedcross 3 is one of their best. These babies are light in weight but heavy in features. The aggressive tread pattern will help keep your feet firmly stuck to the trail while the QuickLace system helps keep the shoe nice and secure on your foot. These shoes are sleek, light, and provide just enough cushioning to take the sting out of those rough miles. The Speedcross 3’s feature 11 mm of drop from heel to forefoot, making them an excellent option for people whose feet and ankles appreciate having some lift in the heel. While these shoes are designed for the fast moving trail running crowd, hikers will love also love how light and fast they feel with these shoes on their feet!
Saucony Excursion TR7
Saucony has been one of the leading running shoe companies for a long time and there’s good reason for it! Saucony makes a lot of high quality running shoes that come in at a very reasonable price and the Excursion TR7 is no exception. These babies offer many of the bells and whistles of their trail running counterparts at a really great price point! These neutral shoes have a 8mm drop, which places them right in the sweet spot for a lot of people. They have enough lift in the heel to give some of the benefits of a higher drop shoe but they’re not so high as to dramatically change the average runner or hiker’s gait. The lugged soles provide excellent traction on slippery terrain and the comfortable uppers will hold your foot in place while keeping dirt and other debris at bay. And with their understated look, no one will bat an eye if you use these shoes to conquer the wilds of the concrete jungle when your hike is done!
New Balance MT910
Hikers and trail runners looking for a neutral trail running shoe with a moderate drop and lots of cushioning will love the New Balance MT910. Thanks to New Balance’s RevLite cushioning technology, these shoes offer loads of cushioning while also being nice and light. The MT910s tend to run a bit roomy in the toe box, which will be appreciated, by runners and hikers with wider or higher volume feet. While this shoe is not waterproof it does have ample ventilation, allowing it to dry quickly in wet weather. Runners and hikers who like the cushioning, width, and light weight of this shoe but prefer additional waterproofing are in luck because the MT910 also comes in a Gore-Tex version.
Asics Gel-Kahana 6
The Asics Gel-Kahana 6 is designed for neutral runners or mild pronators that are looking for an affordable and comfortable trail running shoe. These shoes are slightly heavier than some of the others on our list but the average hiker probably won’t notice the difference, especially considering the price! These shoes offer a moderate level of cushioning, ample foot support, and lots of protection from rocks. The rear foot Gel cushioning system helps to absorb impact to keep your feet and legs happy as the miles go by. If you are looking for the lightest and most cushioned trail running shoe on the planet, the Gel-Kahuna might not be it but if you are looking for a great all around shoe that will carry you in comfort without costing you a fortune, you will love the Gel-Kahuna 6!
Keen A86 TR
Keen has been making really great hiking shoes, boots, and sandals for a while now and their entry into the trail running arena is pretty great too. These shoes are really light, really comfortable, and really likely to make your feet happy for a really long time. The outsole’s 3-mm multidirectional lugs provide excellent traction on even the gnarliest terrain and the breathable mesh uppers help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Like all Keens, these shoes feature a prominent front bumper to protect your toes from any unintended impact, which both hikers and trail runners will appreciate! And the best news of all is that all these features come in at a really affordable price! Because this style tends to run a bit small, Keen recommends that you size up approximately half a size.
We hope this article has helped make your next shoe shopping experience just a little bit easier. Happy trails!