If you’ve ever perused the trail running section of your local outdoor store, seen all the cool looking running kicks, and wished you could use them for hiking, we have good news for you! Trail running shoes make a fantastic option for most hikers and are often the perfect “do it all” shoe for both on and off the trail adventures. In fact, many hikers prefer trail running shoes over hiking shoes or boots simply because they are lighter and more nimble than their beefier cousins! These babies can be used for just about anything. While they obviously excel at trail running, they are also pretty great for hiking, road running, and even walking around town. Their unparalleled versatility also makes trail running shoes a great option for travel for those who want to travel light!
- 1 Trail running shoes versus hiking shoes?
- 2 Factors to look for when selecting a trail running shoes
- 3 Five best trail running shoes for women – our picks
In this article we’ll help you decide whether trail running shoes are right for you, give you some ideas on things to look for when choosing a pair, and tell you about some specific models that make the cut for us!
Trail running shoes versus hiking shoes?
There are a lot of benefits to hiking or running in trail running shoes, but there are also some things you should consider before making the jump. While trail running shoes are generally rugged enough to take on most things a trail can throw their way, they do pay the price for all that wear and tear. A good pair of hiking shoes or boots can last for many years but a pair of trail running shoes typically reaches the end of its lifespan at around 500 miles. If you can deal with replacing your shoes a little more regularly, trail runners are great for their light weight and grippy traction. Another benefit of trail running shoes is that they are usually very comfortable straight out of the box and typically don’t require the breaking in period that more rigid hiking shoes and boots often need.
Now that you’ve decided that trail running shoes might be the best choice for your off the pavement adventures, lets talk about some things you should consider in making your purchase.
Factors to look for when selecting a trail running shoes
New Balance WT610’s Multi-directional Lugs
One of the big reasons you’re choosing trail running shoes over regular running shoes for your off the beaten path outings is because you want your shoes to help you stick to the trail, no matter what mother nature throws your way. When you’re going up and down steep and loose terrain or clambering over slippery rocks and roots, good traction can make all the difference in the world. Shoes with outsoles made of large, multi-directional lugs will help keep your feet where you want them and dual-density rubber will further increase your stick-to-it-ness. Look for shoes with thick, well-designed lugs for maximum sticking power.
To waterproof or not to waterproof? That is the question.
All trail shoes are made to keep your feet dry but how they accomplish this task varies by model. Some shoes are designed to let water out as quickly as possible while others are made to keep your feet from ever getting wet in the first place. Gore-Tex has long been the gold standard in waterproofing technology but there are some things you should consider before adding it to your “must have” list. While it’s true that Gore-Tex is both waterproof and breathable, it’s not true that it’s as breathable as other fabric options and nothing will keep water that goes over your shoes from making its way in. In other words, your feet have a better chance of staying dry in shoes with Gore-Tex in the uppers but in the event that they do get wet, they will also take longer to dry. So pick your poison carefully!
Stability, heel drop, and the other things you’ve heard murmurs of
Ever since “Born to Run” hit the bestseller’s list people have been throwing out their built up trainers in favor of far more simple shoes. And a lot of people have been getting hurt doing it. The truth is that low drop, minimalist shoes work really well for some people and not well at all for others. Unless you’ve been running or hiking in minimalist shoes for a while you’ll probably want to stick with trail running shoes that have a little bit of lift in the heel and offer some guidance for your foot. This means that, in general, you’re probably going to want to look for shoes with a drop of 8mm or more. Of course, if you’ve been running or hiking in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers for years, you may like a lower drop.
With all that in mind, here are some trail running shoes that we think are downright awesome!
Five best trail running shoes for women – our picks
Salomon Speedcross 3
Salomon’s Speedcross 3 is a versatile trail runner designed for light weight, exceptional comfort, and incredible traction. The cleat-like tread on these babies will keep your feet firmly stuck to rocks, roots, and anything else the trail can throw your way. These shoes handle slippery snow and mud masterfully well! Salomon’s Quicklace system keeps these shoes nice and tight on your feet and makes putting them on and taking them off a breeze. The soles of the Speedcross 3 are flexible enough to give you a good feel for the trail while also being protective enough to keep your feet from getting sore. And did I mention that these shoes are light? If you’re used to hiking in heavy hiking boots, throw on a pair of the Speedcross 3s and be ready to cover some ground!
New Balance WT610
The WT610 by New Balance is a lightweight trail running shoe with tons of potential to be your perfect piece of hiking footwear. With 12mm of drop, these shoes are high in the heel, making them comfortable for people with foot and ankle problems. The breathable mesh uppers offer tons of circulation while the cushioning in the midsole provides ample shock absorption. Like many trail running shoes, the WT610s feature a removable footbed so that you can dial in the fit with custom orthotics or your favorite over the counter footbed. The big, multidirectional lugs on the outsole will give you plenty of traction in all sorts of conditions while the oversized break pad on the heel will help absorb some of the shock that the trail can throw your way. And the best part is that all these features come at a great price!
Asics Gel-Venture 4
If you’re a trail runner or hiker with high arches and a neutral gait, the Asics Gel-Venture 4 might be the perfect trail running shoe for you. These rugged shoes feature Asics’ popular Gel cushioning in the rearfoot to help make all those miles on the trail a little easier on your body. And with these shoes coming in at around $50 a pair, they’re easy on your wallet as well! The sticky multidirectional lugs on the outsole give you great traction going both up and downhill in a variety of conditions and the mesh uppers will help keep your feet cool and dry when the going gets hot and wet. And while appearance should never be the determining factor in your technical shoe selection, its worth noting that if you decide that these shoes are right for you, you’ll have a wide array of eye-popping colors to choose from!
Salomon XR Mission
Yup, we’re putting another Salomon shoe on the list. It’s hard not to, when their trail running shoes are just that good! The XR Mission shoes are designed to be both super tough and super comfortable. These shoes have rubber bumpers on the toes and heels and loads of strapping to help secure the sturdy rubber mesh, making them virtually impermeable to sticks thorns, and other things that may try to work their way in. The soles of these babies feature two different kinds of Contagrip rubber to help keep your shoes stuck firmly to the trail, and like the Speedcross 3’s we talked about above, they feature the Quicklace system for a dialed in fit. These shoes tend to run a bit big so if you are in between sizes, we recommend sizing down.
Keen A86 TR
The A68 TR by Keen is a fast and flashy trail running shoe designed to carry you over many miles of rugged terrain. Don’t be fooled by these shoes’ sleek look! These puppies are loaded with foot saving features that will help keep those piggies comfortable for many miles. These shoes feature mesh uppers for ultimate breathability and an ultralight midsole to keep the weight way down. Like all Keen kicks, these shoes have a prominent front bumper to spare your toes the pain of being stubbed on rocks or roots. These shoes are designed for folks who don’t like a ton of cushioning so if extra squishy shoes are what you are after, you may want to try one of our other recommendations, but if you like to feel the trail under your (very comfortable!) feet, you should seriously consider giving these babies a go!