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Trail running shoes are for people who run off-road on uneven surfaces. This type of running shoe comes with features that include protection against sharp objects and soles with extra grip. A person can consider the fit and the type of terrain they will be running on before purchasing a pair of trail running shoes.

This article explores what trail running shoes are, what to look for in this type of running shoe, and some products that are available for purchase online.

Trail running shoes are for running on rocky or muddy surfaces. A person may find that trail running shoes offer more stability than road running shoes when running on uneven ground.

A person may also benefit from rock plates in some trail running shoes. These are plates between the midsoles and outsoles that protect the feet from sharp objects.

Before committing to a purchase, a person may wish to consider a few of the advantages of trail running shoes, which include:

  • Trail running shoes are lightweight and breathable.
  • They offer protection from sharp stones and rocks.
  • They are suitable for running on a range of surfaces.

Disadvantages may include laces that loosen and a firm fit that may be uncomfortable for people who run long distances.

A person can consider the following factors before buying a pair of trail running shoes:

  • Lug length: People can choose trail running shoes with a short lug pattern on the sole if they plan to run on stones and hard dirt. A deep lug pattern can be helpful for muddy or soft surfaces.
  • Shoe width: People with wide feet or those who wish to run long distances can choose shoes with a wide forefoot. However, these may not be the best option for individuals who have narrow feet.
  • Shoe weight: Companies sometimes display the shoe weight on their product pages. People may find this helpful, as they can make sure the shoe will not be too heavy or uncomfortable after long periods.
  • Price: Trail running shoes often come with a one-time purchase price, but some brands also accept monthly payments.
  • Padding: A person can look for shoes that come with a padded collar and tongue. These provide support and can prevent the collar and tongue from rubbing on the feet. This can be beneficial if a person plans on running for long periods.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Hoka One One Men’s Evo Mafate 2

Hoka One One’s trail running shoes come with a lightweight and secure fabric and a breathable vamp for an improved fit and soft, flexible feel.

Other features include:

  • a 5-millimeter (mm) Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole
  • a sculpted arch pod that supports medial control
  • cushion for support
  • a weight of 10.03 ounces (oz)
  • sculpted lugs
  • a thick, rubberized foam midsole that provides a soft landing

The shoes have a rubber composition that can be beneficial for gripping on wet rocks.

Customers can choose between two color combinations: black and poppy red or cyan and citrus.

The price at time of publication is $170. People can choose to pay for the shoes in four installments.

The company offers a 30-day return policy for refund or exchange.

Inov-8 Women’s Roclite 290 Trail Runner

These trail runners are designed for women and built for multi-terrain running. They are made from synthetic materials and have a rubber sole. The company claims the shoe’s design is flexible and suitable for fast running speeds.

Other features that a person may benefit from include:

  • a 4 mm drop
  • a cushioned ride for shock absorption
  • a weight of 11 oz
  • a y-lock system that holds the heels in place

People can choose from a range of colors and sizes.

At time of publication, the price of the Inov-8 Women’s Roclite 290 trail running shoes ranges from $42.54–$117.60.

Altra Men’s Lone Peak 5

The Altra Men’s Lone Peak 5 trail running shoes have a rubber sole and a stack height of 22 mm.

The company claims its MaxTrac outsole provides traction and makes the shoe ideal for any type of terrain. There is also a StoneGuard rock plate for protection against stones and sharp terrain.

The shoes also feature:

  • a balanced cushioning platform that supports form and alignment
  • Altra EGO foam for added energy return and a soft and comfortable feel
  • quick-dry air mesh uppers

This product comes in different sizes and color combinations, such as dark slate and red, khaki, and gray and orange. They weigh 11.01 oz.

At time of publication, the price of these shoes ranges from $120–$179.95.

Brooks Catamount

According to the company, the Catamount men’s trail running shoes are suitable for people who enjoy trail running and racing.

These shoes include the following features:

  • ultralight cushioning
  • flexible protection
  • sticky traction for traveling uphill or downhill

The Catamount men’s trail running shoes are available in different colors and sizes and weigh 9.3 oz.

The price of these shoes at time of publication is $160.

The company offers free shipping and returns.

Salomon Speedcross 5

The Salomon men’s trail running shoes feature large lugs. The company claims this helps a person grip when pushing off and braking on any type of surface.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 shoes offer several features, including:

  • a multidirectional grip that can improve traction
  • OrthoLite insole for added cushioning, breathability, and durability
  • Quicklace lacing system
  • a rubber outsole

According to the company, the shoes have a tight mesh that does not trap debris between the foot and the footbed.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 is available in different colors and sizes. A person can use the company’s size guide to help them choose the right fit.

The price at time of publication is $130. A person can also pay for these shoes in monthly installments.

Nike Pegasus Trail 2

According to the company, while the Pegasus Trail 2 running shoes are for women, variations are also available for men.

The Pegasus Trail 2 includes the following features listed by Nike:

  • a perforated tongue that resists water and increases drainage
  • a midfoot cage that keeps the foot secure
  • toe fangs that increase traction
  • synthetic and textile materials

The shoes weigh 9.54 oz.

Nike states that a person can use these shoes for rocky terrains.

The price of the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 at the time of publishing is $130.

Nike offers free shipping and a 30-day return policy.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a safe running shoe should include the following characteristics:

  • Minimal heel-to-toe drop: This is the difference in thickness between the cushioning at the heel and the toe. The ACSM recommends shoes with no drop or a drop of 6 mm or less.
  • No motion control or stability components: Extra components can interfere with natural foot motion.
  • Lightweight: Running shoes should be 10 oz or less for men’s shoes and 8 oz or less for women’s shoes.

According to the ACSM, a person should avoid the following shoe characteristics:

  • high, thick cushioning
  • high heel-to-toe drop
  • extra arch supports or orthotics

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that when preparing in a gym or another training facility, a person should engage in exercises that mimic the trail’s conditions, to prevent injury when they head outdoors.

The ACE explains that running affects more than just the legs and feet, as the force of hitting the ground while running has an impact all the way up to the neck. It states that good mobility and stability in the ankles, knees, and hips are essential for staying safe while running on varied and uneven trails.

Trail running shoes are for people who run on uneven surfaces. They can offer extra grip and provide stability and toe support. Some designs include additional protection against sharp objects, such as rocks, sticks, or roots.

A person may wish to consider their overall fitness before choosing a trail, to make sure it will suit their fitness level and be safe for them. They can also consider their foot shape and any health considerations before buying trail running shoes.

A person can research and purchase trail running shoes online and explore features that will be suitable for them before buying a pair.