The 10 Best Trail Running Shoes to Buy in 2018

Stay comfortable and safe no matter the terrain

Taking to the trails for a run is a lot different than pounding the pavement. Not only is the scenery vast and varied, but the ground you're covering is full of twists, turns, roots, branches, and rocks that you’re typically not going to find running through your local neighborhood or on a track. To safely and efficiently run on trails, you need the right pair of trail running shoes.

Trail running shoes differ from traditional running shoes in that they typically offer more protection from the tougher terrain as well as soles that help you grip a variety of surfaces beyond asphalt such as mud, rocks and roots. They’re built to quite literally take you off the beaten path and provide support while you’re there.

Not all trail shoes work for all runners though. The right shoes depend not only on the type of terrain you plan to tackle, but also what type of foot you have. From those for runners with wide or narrow feet to those with conditions like plantar fasciitis, there’s a trail shoe for everyone, no matter what distance you plan to cover. Here are some of the best trail running shoes.

1

Best for Women: Salomon Women's Speedcross 4 W Trail Runner

If you know much about trail running, you probably know about Saloman shoes. They make a variety of styles that trail running enthusiasts constantly give top marks. The Speedcross 4 W Trail Runner is the fourth generation of one its most popular styles.

With a tough lug pattern on the sole, they’re meant to tackle even the toughest trails and help you accomplish your goals through dirt, mud and even snow. They’re lightweight, have ample cushioning and come in a ton of great color choices. They also have a special single-pull lacing system that makes them easy to take on and off and adjust for your comfort. Trail hikers and trail runners alike sing the praises of these shoes for comfort and great traction.

2

Best for Men: Adidas Outdoor Mens Terrex Two Boa Shoe

Trail runners say these Terrex Two Boa shoes can’t be beaten in tough terrain. They have a unique closure system that allows you to adjust them to the exact fit that’s best for you via a dial on the side of each shoe. Not to mention the fact that they’re super easy to take on and off. With mesh uppers, they offer great breathability, and they’re lightweight enough that they won’t weigh you down.

The soles are thick and cushy in the middle for comfort with a grippy bottom that provides tons of traction in wet or dry conditions. Customers say they have a wider toe box and run a bit big, so you may want to size down to get the right fit.

3

Best for Plantar Fasciitis: ASICSWomen's ASICS GEL-Venture 6 Trail Running Shoe

Plantar fasciitis can be a nightmare for runners, with pain that shoots through the bottom of the foot and heel. The right shoes are key to help relieve and prevent that pain, and for many, these ASICS GEL-Venture running shoes fit the bill.

They contain ASICS’ special GEL, which provides solid support and shock absorption, which is exactly what you need when you suffer from plantar fasciitis. They also come with a removable sock liner, which you can take out if you need to add an orthotic to help even more. The soles have reverted lugs, which provide traction for uphill, downhill and wherever you else you find yourself going. They come in a variety of widths, and with a price tag just under $70, they’re relatively affordable too.

4

Best for Narrow Feet: Arc'teryx Mens Norvan VT GTX

When you have narrow feet, it can be tough to find a shoe that fits snug enough to give you the support you need, especially for trails with tough terrain. The Arc’teryx Norvan VT GTX not only runs on the narrow side, but it also forms to your foot, making it a secure and comfortable shoe. It also has a lacing system that allows you to thread the laces in the ways to make the shoes fit as snugly as you like and also seamlessly switch from climbing to running mode with a single pull.

Light and flexible yet built tough, the upper shoe is made of durable, air-permeable stretch mesh, and GORE-TEX liner technology makes them both breathable and waterproof. Trail runners say these are secure shoes that give them confidence, providing traction even on loose gravel and rocks. Women with narrow feet are in luck too, as they also make this shoe in women’s sizes.

5

Best for Wide Feet: New Balance Women's Leadville v3 Vibram Trail Running Shoe

Runners with wide feet can often feel like they’re busting out of the side seams with some pairs of shoes. These New Balance Women's Leadville v3 Vibram Trail Running Shoes run wide—particularly in the toe box—for that perfect amount of extra room. They’re wide enough to accommodate medical orthotics if you need them, and they’re also great for people who may have average-sized feet but find them swelling during long runs.

With plush N2 cushioning technology, they’re made to go the distance on trails or off. Customers say they provide great support, are comfortable and perform well no matter the terrain.

6

Best for High Arches: Altra AFM1859F Men's Olympus 3 Trail Running Shoe

Altra is a newer name in the running shoe game, but the company’s devotion to proper fit has quickly made them a go-to for runners. The Altra AFM1859F Men's Olympus 3 Trail Running Shoe features the same Zero Drop platform they’re known for, which keeps the heel and forefoot the same height from the ground. Not only does this help align the body for less impact but it also helps strengthen the Achilles and lower calf muscles over time.

The cushioning is balanced throughout the length of the shoe with a flexible and responsive midsole, and the soles are made of the company’s Vibram Megagrip™ material, which promises unparalleled traction on the roughest of surfaces, wet or dry. They also come with hook-and-loop tabs that let you attach gaiters to your trail shoes to keep out dirt and other debris. Customers rave about them and say this version of the shoe is the best yet.

7

Best Budget: Merrell Men's Glove 4 Trail Runner

Coming in just shy of $100, the Merrell Glove 4 Trail Runners offer many of the same features and functionality of more expensive trail running shoes. They’re “barefoot” shoes—which makes it feel like running without anything on your feet—yet they provide a layer of protection against the environment and gripping technology to keep you secure. They also feature a zero-drop from the heel to the toe, which many believe is the smartest way to run.

These aren’t the shoes you’re going to want to turn to for particularly treacherous terrain, but for light to moderate trails, these shoes are a great choice. Runners rate them high all around, saying they’re comfortable and perform well.

8

Best for Flat Feet: adidas Performance Men's Thrasher 1.1 M Trail Running Shoe

Those with flat feet need to choose trail running shoes with particular care especially for arch support. The Adidas Performance Thrasher 1.1 M Trail Running Shoes offer the support and structure they need. Not only do they fit more comfortably for people with flat feet, but they also help correct any overpronation (when the foot rolls inward) that often occurs with flat feet.

Runners say this shoe offers all the performance and quality you’d expect from Adidas, and is comfortable for hiking as well as running. It also gets high marks for traction and durability. Many note, however, that these shoes run small and say you should size up at least half a size from your regular running shoe size.

9

Best for Long Distance: The North Face Ultra Endurance Running Shoe

When you’re going for distance, you need a shoe that will keep up with you. These North Face Ultra Endurance Running shoes are designed to do just that. The EVA cushioning is supportive without being too soft, and Vibram™ outsoles provide solid traction on dirt, rocks, mud and even snow. They also include ESS Snake Plate protection in the front to protect your feet from rocks and other bumps along the way, but are still lightweight enough to make you feel nimble.

This style comes in both men’s and women’s sizes and in several colors. Some runners note that these shoes can be a bit stiff out of the box, but say they loosen up over time and provide a comfortable fit.

10

Best Lightweight: New Balance Men's MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoe

When you want to be light on your trail running feet, it’s hard to beat New Balance MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoes. As lightweight as they are, they’re still built tough to support your foot and the Virbram™ outsole provides traction on trails no matter what conditions you encounter.

Overall, runners rate these trail shoes high. “These shoes want to make your feet happy,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon, “My feet have rarely felt so good without being barefoot on soft grass.” The company notes that this shoe does run small and suggests you order up a half size larger than your regular New Balance shoes.

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