Warmer weather calls for hitting the trails and taking your running off-road. Instead of dodging traffic and dancing through intersections, running trails offers a refreshing escape. But once you decide where you’re heading, you’re going to need the best trail running shoes to do it.
How to Choose to Right Trail Running Shoes
For an optimal experience out on the trails, choose a sneaker that best matches the terrain and type of running you engage in most often. For sloppy trails, you’ll want a knobby outsole. For rocky routes, opt for a model with a sticky rubber outsole. And if you’re running long distances, your feet will thank you for wearing maximally cushioned shoes.
Here’s a run-down of the best trail running shoes available this summer.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
The Lone Peak is an amply cushioned shoe with a moderately aggressive outsole conducive to running on a wide range of trail surfaces. What sets it apart, like all Altra shoes, is that it’s built on a “zero-drop” platform (a.k.a., flat or level, without a slightly raised heel like most shoes) and a wider toe box to allow your feet to move and flex naturally, similar to when you’re barefoot.
(10.5 oz., 0mm heel-toe offset)
[$120; altrarunning.com]Get it
ASICS FujiTrabuco Lyte
A featherweight shoe with exceptional traction, the FujiTrabuco Lyte serves up a smooth, agile ride similar to your favorite road running shoes. It lacks excessive structure and protective elements, making it ideal for running fast and free on mild trails without challenging technical features.
(8.8 oz., 4mm heel-toe offset)
[$120; asics.com]Get it
Hoka One One TenNine
The gargantuan TenNine is a mountain running shoe with an oversized platform and a huge extension off the back of the heel. Its extraordinary size and shape offer maximal ground contact like the tires of a fat bike, allowing a runner to surf downhill trails over loose rocks and gravel with ease. It feels surprisingly light and nimble going uphill, too.
(12.7 oz., 4mm heel-toe offset)
[$250; hokaoneone.com]Get it
La Sportiva Jackal
A protective, durable trail running shoe in a surprisingly lightweight, airy package, the Jackal is ideal for running a wide variety of terrain in hot conditions. It has a sticky rubber outsole that helps it feel secure on dry, wet, and sandy terrain, while reinforced sidewalls and a durable toe bumper offer for protection on rugged, rocky routes.
(10.5 oz., 7mm heel-toe offset)
[$140; sportiva.com]Get it
Merrell MTL Skyfire
Do you feel the need for speed? The race-ready MTL Skyfire was designed to run footloose on both smooth and rugged surfaces. It’s lightweight, agile, and low to the ground, but it also has a tear-resistant upper, trail-specific protection, and an aggressive, grippy outsole to conquer the gnarliest of terrain.
(9.0 oz., 6mm heel-toe offset)
[$100; merrell.com]Get it
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5
With bold, paint-splatter graphics and abundant cushioning, this shoe is as comfortable as it is eye-catching. But it’s also adept at running on a wide variety of trails, thanks to a grippy, sticky rubber outsole, a protective toe cap, a supportive upper, and a soft, comfortable interior.
(11.3 oz., 8mm heel-toe offset)
[$135; newbalance.com]Get it
Nike Wildhorse 6
A shoe designed to run wild on gnarly trails, the thick-cushioned Wildhorse 6 combines a protective rock plate and an aggressively lugged outsole with a subtly reinforced upper and a padded tongue that wrap around your feet. It feels durable and secure on rugged terrain, but offers a soft, springy ride on smoother surfaces.
(10.5 oz., 8mm heel-toe offset)
[$130; nike.com]Get it
Salomon Sense Ride 3
Salomon has blended technical mountain acuity, trail-specific protection, and resilient, vibration-damping cushioning into the Sense Ride 3. That combination has resulted in a versatile shoe that’s capable of running comfortably on flat suburban trails, even though it’s right at home tackling mountainous terrain with rocks, roots, and gravel.
(10.5 oz., 8mm heel-toe offset)
[$120; salomon.com]Get it
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