10 Best Trail Running Shoes for Women, Tested by a Personal Trainer

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is our top choice, with a grippy sole for tough terrain

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Best Trail Running Shoes

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Trail running can be an invigorating and restorative way to experience a cardio workout. It’s no wonder why some runners prefer to venture off-road—running in clean air and green spaces can actually boost your motivation to run and make the experience even more restorative. But, for an enjoyable and safe workout off-road, it’s important to find a pair of shoes that can offer enough traction, cushioning, support, and protection for unmanicured trails.

Tested & Approved

Our top overall pick is the Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Running Shoe for its excellent traction, protection, durability, reliable stability, and speed. We also recommend the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 for its versatility, comfort, and great energy return.

“Trail running shoes are designed to withstand the toughness of off-road running, where sharp rocks, jagged roots, and gritty dirt are common,” Timothy Lyman, CPT, PES, and director of training programs at Fleet Feet in Pittsburgh, PA, says. When choosing trail running shoes, look for pairs with deep, grippy soles, stiffer midsoles, and a wider forefoot. Other shoes may have protective plate elements to help keep you stable and pain-free on loose or wet ground, inclines, and descents. “Some trail runners also have additional features, such as a gaiter attachment or waterproofing,” Lyman adds. 

To find the best trail running shoes on offer, our tester spent several weeks running in each shoe at home on real trails for four to eight miles at a time. Each pair was tested for at least 15 miles total. Then, we evaluated each shoe on a scale of 1 (would not recommend) to 5 (highly recommend) for its cushion, support, stability and traction, protection, comfort, and overall value.

Based on our test, here are the best trail running shoes on the market.

Best Overall: Saucony Women's Peregrine 12

4.7
Saucony Women's Peregrine 12

Amazon

Pros
  • Made from recycled, vegan materials

  • Great traction

  • Durable rock plate and gaiter

Cons
  • Lacks cushioning for long runs

  • Stiffer sole

Who else recommends it? Runner's World and TripSavvy both picked the Saucony Peregrine 12.

What do buyers say? 84% of 100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This popular trail runner is our best overall pick, thanks to its versatility, comfort, and speed on almost any trail. Saucony’s Peregrine 12 features 5-millimeter lug traction that can handle wet or dry terrain and a flexible rock plate that protects against debris underfoot. These lightweight sneakers incorporate a recycled, vegan mesh upper into a streamlined design, with a locked-in fit that hugs the foot. 

This pair is a great choice for tempo runs, because it yields balanced energy return on the trail, which is why it scored a 5 out of 5 for responsiveness. For anything longer than a couple of hours, however, the comfortable but firm shoe may lack the necessary padding and cushioning for some, especially runners with foot or ankle sensitivities. Our tester also noticed that this shoe has a  shallow toe box and a fitted, slightly narrow midsole, which might not work well for wide feet. 

During our test, we noticed that the high profile of the back ankle collar sometimes dug into our skin upon full plantar flexion (the extension of your back foot when pushing off). Despite this, we highly recommend the Peregrine for most trail runners due to its minimal profile, reliable stability, protection, durability, and speed.

Materials: Recycled mesh upper, rubber outsole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Weight (one shoe): 8.35 ounces | Lugs: 5 millimeters | Rock Plate: Yes |  Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop: 4 millimeters | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“The Saucony Peregrine 12 is a well-rounded and reliable shoe that’s great for running on a variety of trails and distances. I was impressed by its locked-in fit and comfort, not to mention how light and protective it was.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Budget: New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi Trail GTX

4.8
New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi Trail GTX

New Balance

Pros
  • Light, sensitive ride

  • Waterproof

  • No break-in period needed

Cons
  • Minimal cushion and stability

  • Weak traction on loose, downhill terrain

If you’re on a budget or new to trail running, we recommend the Fresh Foam Arishi Trail GTX. Our tester was impressed by this shoe’s water-tight protection, considering how breathable and lightweight it is (thanks to a mesh upper and foam midsole). We love that it is highly flexible and comfortable right out of the box, scoring a 5 out of 5 for comfort and responsiveness. This comes at a price though, as the shoe sacrifices cushion and stability for a featherlight feel, earning it a 3.5 out of 5 for both our cushioning and later stability categories. 

While the shoe generally has great traction, our tester found that the modest lugs of the Arishi Trail GTX aren’t as aggressive on loose ground. However, the dual-use tread stick rubber outsoles perform great in wet conditions. The sole doesn’t feel as protective as other lightweight shoes with a rock plate that we tested, but it does offer some protection with a reinforced toe tip. Our tester also noted that the round cord laces can come untied if they aren’t double-knotted. 

Aesthetically speaking, the no-sew construction and neon colors make these among the most stylish and streamlined all-weather trail shoes we tested.

Materials: Mesh upper with Gore-Tex laminate, foam midsole, rubber outsole | Cushioning: Minimal | Weight (one shoe): 7.3 ounces | Lugs: 2  millimeters | Rock Plate: No | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  8 millimeters | Sizes: 5-11

What Our Testers Say

“For a super-fast and comfortable wet-weather racing shoe or a beginner's shoe, these are a great pair to spring for.”Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Road to Trail: Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Running Shoes

5
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Running Shoes

Nike

Pros
  • Stable

  • Comfortable cushioning 

  • Durable

Cons
  • Weak traction on technical terrain

The Pegasus is designed to be light and quick, with features that can handle versatile landscapes. The sole’s traction, modeled after tire treads, transitions well from paved road to trail, making it our top recommendation for both road and trail runs.

With shallow lugs, compared to the other shoes on our list, our tester wouldn’t recommend it for super technical treks, but it otherwise navigates diverse terrain with ease. During our test,  the flared, grippy outsole enhanced traction on inclines and maintained control on descents, even in slick conditions. Our tester didn’t experience any issues with stability, rating it a 4.5 out of 5 for our lateral stability attribute, even for a shoe with one of the highest heel-to-toe drops we tested. 

The Pegasus keeps the foot snug and locked down, while its wide toe box and flexible upper mesh gave our tester a smooth, gliding ride. This slipper-like shoe scored a 5 out of 5 for upper comfort because of the cozy ride from start to finish.

Materials: Mesh upper, foam midsole, rubber outsole  | Cushioning: Moderate | Weight (one shoe): 9.8 ounces | Lugs: 4 millimeters | Rock Plate: No | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  9.5 millimeters | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 is one of my new favorites for hitting the trails. The pair felt so comfortable from when I slipped them on to when I finished my route. They were locked in and had great energy return that propelled me for miles. I honestly can’t wait to put them on again!”Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Cushioned: Brooks Caldera 5 Trail Running Shoe

4.4
Brooks Caldera 5 Trail Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Great for plantar fasciitis

  • Springy and responsive cushioning

  • Good traction on wet surfaces

Cons
  • Heavier than other options

  • Higher heel stack is less stable

For runners who need a softer ride, we recommend Brooks’ Caldera 5. Often compared with plush Hokas, the Caldera sports a lightweight experience and a BioMoGo DNA foam midsole, which alleviates pressure and prevents pounding. Our tester found that this shoe’s high stack made it feel a bit unstable on rough terrain, but otherwise thought it provided an excellent cushioned and protective ride, scoring it a 5 out of 5 for cushioning.

The built-in partial sock lining under the mesh overlay connects with the tongue to wrap the foot in additional support and shock absorption. Our tester also thought the tongue’s pull-tab lace garage loops were handy, effectively securing her laces on runs. Similar to its trail sister—the Brooks Catamount—the Caldera’s velcro gaiter tabs let you add an extra barrier when running in messier conditions. The sticky traction grips well on wet surfaces and loose debris despite a modest lug height.

Considering all the cushion, the Caldera’s sole is relatively flexible and springy—we also recommend it for those with plantar fasciitis, normal to high arches, and moderate supination.

Materials: Mesh upper, EVA foam and rubber outsole | Cushioning: Maximum | Weight (one shoe): 9.4 ounces | Lugs: 4 millimeters |  Rock Plate: No | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  4 millimeters | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“I would recommend this shoe to anyone who prefers a cushy ride. It's especially great for those with plantar fasciitis. I wouldn't, however, recommend it to anyone with extremely high arches and supinators, since it lacks some arch support and flexibility.”Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Long Distance Running: Brooks Catamount Trail Running Shoes

4.5
Brooks Catamount Trail Running Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Flexible

  • Durable

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Not as cushioned as other options

A swift companion for the long haul, we recommend the Brooks Catamount for extended runs. The winning combination of a flexible forefoot and a moderately firm midsole sets this lightly cushioned, stable trail runner apart from others we tested. 

The Catamount is streamlined and comfortable with a locked-in fit that works well for normal to wider feet, earning it a 5 out of 5 for fit and upper comfort. Our tester loved the concealed tongue and the airy laces, which stayed tied for miles, particularly when tucked into the lace loop. Like the Caldera, the Catamount features a built-in partial sock liner that wraps and supports the arch, but it is thinner and less supportive. 

The Catamount also has a sticky outsole that performs slightly better than some of the other shoes we tested, with multidirectional lugs that resemble the tread of a tire. Our tester noted that the soft, gummy grip worked well from road to trail running, especially on wet and gravel surfaces. Finally, we love that this lightweight trail shoe has a protective rock plate and a reinforced toe, like many other of our top picks.

Materials: Mesh upper, EVA foam and rubber | Cushioning Level: Minimal | Weight (one shoe): 9 ounces | Lugs: 3.5 millimeters | Rock Plate: Yes | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  6 millimeters | Sizes: 5-13

What Our Testers Say

“The Brooks Catamount is streamlined and comfortable for longer distances on light to moderate trails. I found it firm and responsive, so it definitely would work well for runners who want a neutral and stable shoe. It doesn’t offer a lot of cushioning, but it will keep you light on your feet and protected.”Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best All Terrain: Salomon Sense Ride 4 Trail Running Shoe

4.5
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Trail Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Customizable fit

  • Wide toe box

  • Durable

Cons
  • Runs a half size large

  • No rock plate

  • Lace system takes getting used to

For taking on a variety of trail types, we recommend Salomon’s Sense Ride 4, which can handle all kinds of conditions and terrains. Be it slick stone, gravel, mud, or grass, the pair’s sticky Contragrip outsole pattern grips shed debris to help you cover miles. 

The Sense Ride navigates uneven ground well and excels at descents. Comfortable right out of the gate, it has a footbed that cradles the heel and an arch that wraps the foot for neutral, balanced support. Moderate cushioning and a firm toe promote responsive push-off and stable landings, earning it a 4.5 out of 5 for lateral stability. 

The Sense Ride 4 runs about a half size large with a roomy toe box that accommodates for natural foot splay. Our tester also found that the lace system takes a minute to get the hang of, but ultimately customizes the fit and stays nicely secured. 

Overall, we recommend this shoe for runners who want a neutral, cross-terrain option that is comparable to the Peregrine in durability, grip, and price, but with a more sensitive ride.

Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole  | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Weight (one shoe): 9.8 ounces | Lugs: 4 millimeters | Rock Plate: No | Closure: Quick lace system | Heel-to-toe Drop:  8 millimeters | Sizes: 5-12

What Our Testers Say

“The Salomon Sense Ride 4 is a trail runner with a great balance of cushioning and responsiveness. It felt stable, grippy, and protective (despite not having a rock plate), and I liked how secure and supported my heel and arch felt. It tends to run big, so I’d recommend sizing down a half size.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Splurge: The North Face Flight Vectiv Running Shoe

4.5
The North Face Flight Vectiv Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Breathable

  • Reflective

  • Good arch support

Cons
  • Higher heel stack is less stable

First off, our tester was impressed with the craftsmanship of this shoe. The interior contains lush padding and curved, molded insoles for optimal blister protection, a cradled heel, and enhanced arch support. The Vectiv’s wide toe box helped it score a 4 out of 5 for blister protection. With the lowest lugs of any shoe we tested,  our tester was also surprised by the shoes’ impressive grip and protective toe caps.

Since it has a higher heel stack like the Caldera, the Vectiv has similar stability issues on uneven terrain, but it is firmer and features a more responsive energy return. Our tester also liked the upper, which secured her foot even without a tongue. Meant for speed, our tester found these shoes to be light, quick, and supportive, with a subtle, bowed bottom that promotes a smooth roll through the foot. 

We love that this pair is breathable and has reflective details for added safety.

Materials: Mesh upper, carbon fiber plate midsole, rubber outsole | Cushioning: Moderate | Weight (one shoe): 8.64 ounces | Lugs: 3.5 millimeters | Rock Plate: No |  Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  6 millimeters | Sizes: 5-11

What Our Testers Say

“I love the design aesthetic of this shoe—it’s very cool-looking and of excellent quality! Your foot feels secure and locked in from the tongueless, bootie-like upper. It would be a great choice for anyone wanting a fast, protective race shoe with a roomier toe box.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Wide Feet: Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

4.7
Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Good traction on hills

  • Breathable 

  • Flexible

Cons
  • Not waterproof

  • May not have enough arch support for some

For runners with wide feet, orthotics, or feet that swell, we recommend the Altra Lone Peak 6. Designed to allow your feet to relax and splay out naturally, this spacious shoe generally runs wide, but also comes in wide sizes.

A “zero-drop” trail runner, the Lone Peak has no offset between the heel and the toes, making it our pick for runners who want a light, springy, and minimalist shoe. Our tester liked how the moderate, pillowy cushioning in the midsole offered good shock absorption on mid- to long-distance runs. 

This shoe does lack arch support, but the rock plate offers plenty of protection. We also like that the quick-drying, tightly-woven mesh keeps feet cool and free from debris. 

The sole’s multi-directional lugs are strategically placed underfoot to provide exceptional grip and balance. Our tester found that they stayed stable and clung to the trail on the steepest hills and downslopes, scoring the Lone Peak a 5 out of 5 for lateral stability and grip.

Materials: Synthetic and mesh upper, rubber outsole | Cushioning Level: Moderate | Weight (one shoe): 8.5 ounces | Lugs: 4 millimeters | Rock Plate: Yes | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop: 0 millimeters | Sizes: 5.5-12

What Our Testers Say

“This shoe would be an excellent choice for the wide-footed runner, someone who doesn't need lots of arch support or motion control support, or anyone needing extra room for orthotics or feet that swell on long, hot trails. It's designed to allow your feet to relax and splay out naturally and can help with natural foot movement and stride.”  Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best for Narrow Feet: La Sportiva Kaptiva Trail Running Shoes

4.5
La Sportiva Kaptiva Trail Running Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Good arch support

  • Lightweight

  • Slip-on

Cons
  • Not as cushioned as other options

For runners with narrow feet, we recommend the Kaptiva, a solid, locked-in trail shoe that can take on almost any kind of outdoor run. A molded upper and structured insole wrap the foot with a tailored fit. This pair also provides excellent arch support and stability on uneven ground, earning it a 5 out of 5 for both lateral stability and support.

The low-profile, cleat-like Kaptiva has a minimalist feel, conquering challenging ground with ease, thanks to sticky and sporty lugs. It’s also very protective, from the mesh upper to the rock guard and toe cap.

We like that the Kaptiva has a precise fit, especially where the arch hits, but they lack the cushioning and shock absorption that other shoes we tested have. They also feature a sleek design and bright, stylish colors that stand out.

Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole | Cushioning Level: Minimal | Weight (pair): 7.9 ounces | Lugs: 3.5-4.5 millimeters | Rock Plate: Yes | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  6 millimeters | Sizes: 5.5-11

What Our Testers Say

“This is an excellent shoe for anyone with slender feet or high arches, or anyone wanting a slightly more minimal shoe with lots of structure, protection, and cleat-like grip.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Minimalist: Merrell Trail Glove 6 Trail Running Shoes

4.7
Brooks Cascadia 16

Amazon

Pros
  • Made from eco-conscious materials

  • Anti-odor protection

  • No break-in period needed

Cons
  • May not have enough cushioning for some

  • Sizing runs long

Considered a “semi-barefoot” trail shoe, the minimalist Glove is aptly named. Running in minimalist shoes using the right stride technique has been shown to encourage a lower-impact gait, helping to alleviate and prevent runner’s knee. Our tester did find that this low cushion shoe made her more aware of her stride, resulting in a comfortable, natural ride. 

The Glove also has a zero offset and is designed to mimic the natural shape and movement of the foot, but it’s narrower with good arch support, earning an impressive 5 out of 5 score for comfort, support, stability, and responsiveness.

We like that the Glove has durable outsoles on the sides of its midfoot and a rock plate that still leaves the shoe feeling soft and flexible. The deep, triangular lugs offer good traction on stone, wet, and loose surfaces. 

With an array of colorful but earthy palettes, the Trail Glove is a stylish shoe that is made using eco-conscious materials, like the Hoka Zinal.

Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole | Cushioning Level: Minimal | Weight (pair): 7 ounces | Lugs: 3 millimeters | Rock Plate: Yes | Closure: Lace-up | Heel-to-toe Drop:  0  millimeters | Sizes: 5-11

What Our Testers Say

“This is a great shoe for transitioning to minimalist running and a step toward barefoot, but with more protection.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Final Verdict

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is our top overall pick because of its excellent traction, protection, stability, speed, and sustainable construction. For a versatile option that can easily take you from road to trail, the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Running Shoes offer speed, slipper-like comfort, and a wider toe box for an improved fit.

How We Rated the Trail Running Shoes for Women

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best trail running shoes we tested. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These trail running shoes are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great trail running shoes, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These trail running shoes are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend trail running shoes with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

How We Selected and Tested the Best Trail Running Shoes for Women

To make our list of the best trail running shoes for women, our expert—a certified personal trainer—spent several weeks running on trails, testing each shoe on varying terrains, conditions, and training intensities. We tested each shoe with an easy run, tempo run, and long-distance run on the same trail while wearing the same socks. Our tester also ran up at least one hill to determine how incline affected the comfort, fit, and grip of the shoe. She also paid attention to each shoe’s performance in key areas of cushioning, lateral stability and support, responsiveness, upper comfort, fit, grip, blister protection, durability, and overall value.

We also spoke with experts to gather insights about which features a trail running shoe needs in order to succeed outside and protect the wearer. To be selected as our top pick in each category, each pair had to perform according to high standards of technical specifications and expert insight for the best trail running shoes.

What to Look for in Trail Running Shoes for Women

Cushioning

Just like other running shoes, the cushioning level, or stack height, also varies in trail running shoes. Levels range from barefoot to minimal, moderate, and maximum cushioning, and you’ll want to choose your stack according to the running experience you want on the trail. A plush cushion will feel soft, while other shoes can provide a more responsive ride that lets your feet feel the ground. 

“Nice buffed-out trails are perfect for higher-stack well-cushioned trail shoes,” says Thomas Neuberger, competitive runner and founder of Believe in the Run, Baltimore, MD. “Distance is also a factor. Long miles where you are on your feet for more than an hour might call for more cushioning.” Those who run long distances on trails or who have had foot issues in the past might want to look for more cushioning to counteract all the pounding on uneven ground. 

Not sure where to start? “First-time runners or runners new to the trails should always gravitate to higher cushion to help protect their feet,” Lyman says.

There’s also trail safety to consider, says Neuberger. When running on “technical trails where you will need to be nimble to avoid roots, ruts, and gravel, you might want a more nimble shoe with less cushion and a more aggressive outsole,” he says.

Support and Protection

Since running on trails involves a shorter, more varied stride, trail running shoes should be stiffer than regular running shoes to prevent excessive foot rotation. Look for a rigid outsole for protection and a firm toe box. “If you have ankle instability, a mid-rise or high-top running shoe is a good idea,” podiatrist Ami A. Sheth, DPM, FACFAS, says. 

If your feet have a tendency to roll in as you run (overpronation), look for a higher stability or motion-control shoe with extra midsole support and thicker edges on the outsole. Those with higher arches or who roll out as they run (oversupination) might look for a cushioned shoe with a more flexible midsole that wraps and supports the arch. 

Consider a pair with a rock plate for extra protection against roots and rocks. If running in inclement weather, a waterproof shoe will keep your feet dry and warm.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

The heel-to-toe drop, or offset, of a shoe is the measurement difference between the height of the heel and the toe. The drop can indicate the level of support, stability, and/or cushioning your shoe provides and can even affect the overall biomechanics of your stride. A more subtle drop can give you more control and balance when navigating uneven trails. But a lower drop isn't for everyone, and it takes time to transition to this kind of shoe to prevent injury. 

A higher heel-to-toe drop typically has more cushioning for a heel strike, whereas a low heel drop provides stability while encouraging a mid- or forefoot strike, but it will work your Achilles tendon more.

Grip

Different from road shoes, trail running shoes have a more aggressive tread with deeper, longer lugs for improved traction. They also have a high-grip rubber outsole to help you stay safe while running on slippery surfaces and wet conditions. “Something with a little more ‘teeth’ is helpful in maintaining your balance,” Sheth says. Our experts suggest shoes with outsoles made of a durable and versatile rubber or something comparable that will withstand miles of running on dirt, rocks, wood, and stone without wearing out.

For running in wet conditions, opt for a shoe with a stickier rubber bottom and a spaced-out tread pattern with shorter lugs that can handle soft, muddy surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are trail running shoes good for hiking?

    Trail runners can be used for hiking, but they usually aren’t durable or comfortable enough for walking on excessively rugged trails. They will be fine for light to moderate day hikes, but for anything more intense, our experts recommend opting for a supportive, off-trail shoe with an outsole that’s made for taking on challenging terrain.

  • How should trail running shoes fit?

    Trail running shoes should fit differently from road running shoes. They should be comfortably snug around the midfoot for a locked-in fit to maintain control. “This is essential for keeping your shoes in place over uneven terrain,” Lyman says, “while a wider forefoot allows your toes to splay out and grip the trail’s varying surfaces.” The heel should also be secure to avoid blisters, slipping out in stride, and letting in dirt and debris.
    “Runners may consider going up a half size for additional length in the shoe for going down frequent or steep descents where the foot moves forward inside the shoe,” Lyman adds. This might also be a good idea if you need room for orthotics or if your feet have a tendency to swell as you run, which is common on hot or long runs. Generally, there should be about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

  • Are trail running shoes OK to use for pavement?

    Our experts agree that it’s best to avoid wearing trail shoes on man-made surfaces, like concrete or asphalt. “The abrasive pavement can wear down the rubber lugs on the shoe's outsole, which can compromise your grip when switching back to the trails,” Lyman says. “Doing so can also be incredibly uncomfortable–the stiffness of the midsole and tread on the outsole is not meant for hard surfaces, so you might experience pain on the bottom of the foot.” To preserve the longevity of your trail runners and to steer clear of injury, stick to the trails.

  • Can I wear trail running shoes on a treadmill?

    As with pavement, it’s recommended that trail shoes be reserved for nature. Lyman offers the following three-shoe rotation advice: Wear a pair of trail runners for taking on technical trails, high-cushioned trainers for running on man-made surfaces, and moderately cushioned shoes or racing flats for treadmills, gym floors, or rubber tracks.
    These guidelines will help you preserve your shoes, avoid injury, protect your treadmill or gym floor, and make runs more enjoyable.

  • How long should trail running shoes last?

    It’s best to replace your trail running shoes about every 300 to 500 miles, when cushioning and shock support at the midsole start to break down and can no longer fully protect your body from impact. If you start feeling pain or see visible signs of uneven wear or low treads on your shoes, you may be close to needing a replacement.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A certified personal trainer and trail-runner, Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT, researches and reviews fitness gear for Verywell Fit, but she also owns several pairs of trail running shoes herself. She favors eco-conscious brands that promote size, gender, and race inclusivity in their products, and she is dedicated to reporting authentic content for her readers.

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