Best Trail Running Shoes: 12 Expert Picks to Help You Churn Dirt

Are you looking for new trail running shoes to hit the trails, 

  • Trail running is a great way to break up the pounding of the roads. 
  • No two trails are the same, which means there is no shortage of trail running shoes. 
  • In the last few years, trail running has become a bigger piece of running, with many new people getting into the sport.

πŸƒβ€β™€οΈReady to churn dirt in 2024 and keep your feet happy?
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I've helped more than 1,000 runners find the perfect shoe for roads, trails, training and racing.
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πŸ‘ŸCheck out my top 12 picks for trail running shoes to try this year...

πŸ‘ŸRoad shoes vs. trail running shoes

❓Why get trail running shoes over road running shoes?

  • It's true that you can use many road running shoes for the trail. But getting specialized trail running shoes is going to help you run further and faster on rugged terrain.

❓What's the difference between trail running shoes and road running shoes?

  • Protection. Due to debris on the trails, trail running shoes protect the feet more than road running shoes. Some trail running shoes even include a rock plate to protect your feet from rocks and roots coming through the shoe.
  • Upper material. The upper might be thicker and stronger to withstand debris or even to keep your feet dry with stream crossings.
  • Traction. Typically, trail running shoes are stiffer with more aggressive traction. The lugs are much deeper, many with tacky rubber, so you can run through mud. It also allows you to climb mountains or rigorous terrain. 

πŸ‘ŸReady for my top 12 trail running shoes to try this year?
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Let's do this...

πŸ‘ŸBEST ALL-AROUND

Salomon Sense Ride 5
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $140
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Drop: 8mm

The Salomon Sense Ride 5 is a great all-around shoe. It's a great option for those who run on several different types of trails, including:

  • Mountains
  • Cross country
  • Rails to trails, and even...
  • Climbing rocky or technical terrain

It has a wide toe box with an adequate amount of cushioning which makes it great as an all-around trail shoe.

Hoka Speedgoat 5
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $155
  • Weight: 10.2 oz
  • Drop: 4mm

If you've heard of trail shoes, you've likely heard of the Hoka Speedgoat 5. 
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The Speedgoat is one of the most universal trail shoes out there. 

  • It has a TON of cushioning, making it great for your longest long runs on the trails. 
  • Plus, it's great if you are injury prone and prefer the extra cushion and protection. 
  • You can take the Hoka Speedgoat 5 on almost any trail, which makes it a great all-around trail shoe.
Altra Lone Peak 7
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $150
  • Weight: 11 oz
  • Drop: 0mm

We know Altra makes their shoes "foot shaped," and the Lone Peak 7 is no different. 

  • The Lone Peak is one of the best trail running shoes for those with wider feet. 
  • It has a foot-shaped toe box allowing your feet to splay. 
  • The zero drop might take some time for those to run well, but it allows you to run more naturally.
Saucony Peregrine 13
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $140
  • Weight: 9.2 oz
  • Drop: 4mm

A couple of years ago, Saucony dove headfirst into the trail scene and never looked back. 

  • The Peregrine is a great all-around trail. 
  • It's a good option if you are new to trails or have no idea what you want. 
  • This year, they've made the Peregrine slightly softer for a better in-step feel.
361 Futura
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $150
  • Weight: 8.6 oz
  • Drop: 5mm

If you are looking for a trail running shoe that feels like a road running shoe, look no further than the 361 Futura. 
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Everything about the 361 Futura was designed to feel like a road running shoe, but with...

  • Thicker lugs, and...
  • A more durable upper to protect you from almost any trail.

πŸ‘ŸMADE FOR SPEED

Brooks Catamount 2
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $170
  • Weight: 9.7 oz
  • Drop: 6mm

In 2023, Brooks really beefed up their trail lineup. The Brooks Catamount 2 is lightweight and made for running fast. 

  • If you are running short distances on the trails and want to go fast, this is a great option. 
  • Despite being so light, it has great traction and protection.
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3
  • Price: $190
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Drop: 8mm

The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 is designed for experienced trail runners. 

  • It's not super plush, but it's great for experienced runners. 
  • If you love feeling the ground under your feet and are looking for something fast, consider the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.
Hoka Torrent 3
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $130
  • Weight: 8.7 oz
  • Drop: 5mm

The Hoka Torrent 3 got a fairly large update this year and has made its way as more of a lightweight, shorter distance trail shoe. 

  • If you like a lighter weight model and feeling the ground more, this is a great option. 
  • This isn't a super plush shoe and is not recommended to run an ultra.
  • But if you're looking for something for shorter distances, consider the Hoka Torrent 3.
Hoka Tecton X2
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $225
  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Drop: 5mm

With a carbon plate, the Hoka Tecton X2 is made for speed. 

  • The thing about carbon plates on the trails...is that a carbon plate is only as fast as the amount of rocks. 
  • The more rocks and technical the terrain, the less fast the carbon plate is. 

So why even have a carbon plated trail shoe?
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The carbon plate allows for more energy return and more speed. Those looking to run their fastest should consider the Hoka Tecton X2.

πŸ‘ŸTrail Running Shoes for Every Type of Terrain & Runner

Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra

There aren't a lot of trail shoes that excel on gravel, but the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra is one of them which is why it made this list. 

  • A lightweight and versatile shoe, ideal for gravel roads and easy trails. 
  • It's not the most durable, but it's great for experienced runners.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II
  • Price: $165
  • Weight: 1 lb. 4.5 oz.
  • Drop: 9mm

If you run up and down mountains, consider the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II. 

  • It has good traction for technical and rocky terrain (think East Coast trails). 
  • It might feel heavy on the feet for less technical terrain, but it shines for climbing up steep terrain and obscene amounts of vertical.
Speedland GS:TAM
  • πŸ‘‰Review here
  • Price: $275
  • Weight: 10.7 oz
  • Drop: 7mm

With a price like $275, you have to wonder, is the Speedland GS:TAM good?
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The answer is yes, it's very good. 

  • Made for experienced trail runners looking to run fast, the GS:TAM is the cream of the crop when it comes to trail shoes. 
  • You're able to change the midsole to your liking, and there are very few running shoes you can do that with.

πŸ‘ŸWhat's your favorite trail running shoe?

  • Choosing trail running shoes depends on your feet, the trails, and what you are looking for. 
  • The trail running movement is growing, and brands are creating more and more trail running shoes to meet people's needs. 
  • The right trail shoes can definitely make the difference in running well or worrying about sliding around.

πŸ‘ŸWhat are your favorite trail running shoes?
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Tell us in the comments.

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Hollie S
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Mojave Desert, CA
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Hollie has worked in run specialty for 8+ years and fit over 1000 people for shoes. Her favorite distance is the half maratho...

Comments

Michael Young Great list! I obviously love the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, the link is to my review, but as far as mountain shoes go I prefer the La Sportiva Akasha 2 over the Raptor 2. I prefer a little more breathability over the extra protection of the Raptor. A few of these shoes are getting updates later this year. I'm excited to see how they run in once they come out.

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