Looking for the perfect pair of trail running shoes?
You know...shoes that will help you:
There's more shoe brands than ever playing in the dirt now than ever.
Which means you've got more trail running shoes to choose from than ever.
That's a good thing. But how do you know what to look for to find the right trail running shoes for you?
In this article, we're going to show you 7 factors to consider when you're shopping for trail running shoes.
A huge difference between road shoes and trail shoes is the outsole or tread on the bottom of the shoe.
The tread on trail shoes is known for being more rigid and typically have an assortment of lugs, which function like cleats to grab and hold onto the soil as you run.
Depending on the type of terrain the shoe is designed for, these treads and lugs can change considerably.
Even in trail running shoes, cushioning comes in all shapes and sizes.
Runners have gone back and forth for ages on how thick cushioning should be on a trail running shoe.
On the flip side, thinner cushioning works great on softer trails where dirt and terrain are not packed down. They can also be beneficial for short runs.
There’s also a school of runners who prefer a more minimalist approach to feel the earth as they run...
This is simply the distance between the bottom of your foot and the ground.
It’s the combined thickness of the tread and the cushioned material in the shoe.
A lot of stack height can provide you with extra protection underfoot for trail running.
But some runners steer clear of trail running shoes with massive stack height because you lose some ground feel and may feel unstable at times.
If you want maximum protect from rocks, roots and gnarly terrain, look for trail running shoes with a rock plate.
The extra layer does add some weight, and it can make trail running shoes stiffer.
Trail running shoes without a rock plate tend to be more flexible.
All the material above the outsole and cushioning is part of the upper.
If possible, choose trail running shoes with a single-fabric design as they offer more durability.
Depending on your terrain, you may want a breathable design or waterproof upper made of GORE-TEX material like the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GORE-TEX.
For a long time, there was only one lacing system for trail running shoes.
You know...flat or round laces that thread through the eyelets of a trail running shoe that you lace up and tie.
It's still the standard lacing system for a lot of trail running shoes.
But now a growing number of trail running shoe brands are using alternative lacing systems.
Heel-to-toe drop (sometimes referred to as just 'drop') wasn't talked about much until a few years ago.
Ten millimeters is a pretty standard number on trail running shoes, meaning the heel sits an extra centimeter off the ground compared to the toe. Runners who land on their heels and roll forward onto the toes favor this design.
A lower drop number promotes landing in the middle of the foot.
It’s usually advisable to pick a heel-toe drop that closely matches what you’re used to in a road running shoe.
Fun fact: Altra Running built it's brand on designing zero-drop shoes. But it recently made a transition of it's own: "Every Altra shoe is built on a Balanced Cushioning™ platform that positions the heel and forefoot an equal distance from the ground. This natural foundation aids in optimal alignment, cultivates better form, and encourages a low impact landing."
This has less to do with actual trail running shoes, and more to do with where you plan to be running.
It's a good question to ask. Why?
Use these 8 factors to pick trail running shoes to help you narrow down your choices.
The put a few pair to the test. Try them on at a local running store, and run 50+ miles in the shoes.
A few more tips to find the perfect trail running shoe:
There’s a lot to consider. But using these 8 factors will help you pick a trail running shoe that works for you.
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