How to Choose the Best Trail Running Shoes

by | Aug 22, 2023

Whether you’re running through fields or exploring new hiking trails, one necessary item you definitely need is a pair of high-quality trail running shoes. Your road runners won’t do since you’re going beyond the pavement and need an added grip, sturdier construction, and adequate foot protection. All of this will allow you to enjoy your trail running experience and ensure you’re both confident and fast. This blog will guide you how to choose trail running shoes for your individual needs.

How to Choose Trail Running Shoes

There’s no one ideal pair of trail running shoes. The best trail running shoes are those that fit your needs and are suitable for the trails you plan to frequent. Keep the following aspects in mind, so you make an informed decision when buying your brand-new pair of trail running shoes.

Shoe Type

Depending on the type of trails you’re planning to visit, you’ll have to choose between three categories – light trail, rugged trail, and off-trail shoes.

Light Trail Shoes

If the trails you’re going to visit are mostly uniform, light trail shoes are the perfect choice for you. Gravel paths and uniform hills can be easily explored in these shoes, which are similar to regular road running shoes.

Rugged Trail Shoes

Rugged trail shoes are more sturdy than light trail shoes and are suited for harsher terrain. Their construction and protection ensure safety from brush and thorns, and there’s enough cushioning to absorb shock.

Off-Trail Shoes

You’ll need off-trail shoes if you’re planning to visit varied and rocky terrain. These shoes are made for rugged trails and are extremely resilient.

Lug Length

One of the biggest advantages of trail running shoes is grip. However, lug patterns are unique in different types of shoes and should be chosen carefully. If you’re mostly on hard dirt and stone, opt for a short lug pattern. Alternatively, if you plan to run on soft surfaces or muddy trails, a deeper lug pattern is the way to go.

Size and Fit

One of the most common queries is how to size trail running shoes. Many people are confused about the fit they’re supposed to get and whether they should get their exact size or size up. This is understandable since size and fit are the most important aspects of purchasing trail running shoes. However, this goes beyond the width and length of the shoe – it encompasses factors such as arch length and foot shape.

Instead of just assuming your size, always get fitted before buying a pair of trail running shoes. You should also purchase them later during the day since feet swell as you walk and run, and you’ll need to account for that. Try on your shoes before buying them since even minor fitting problems will be magnified when you’re on trails. Ensure your shoes fit snugly without being too tight and leave a small space at the toe for maximum comfort.

Stack Height or Cushioning

Stack height or cushioning is one of the essential features to consider when choosing the best trail running shoes. These range from barefoot, no-padding shoes to a ton of cushioning in the midsole for maximum support. This depends on preference since some believe that less cushioning allows for better biomechanics and a better feel for the trail. In contrast, others think padding is essential for shock absorption and comfort.


Now that you know how to choose trail running shoes, you can buy the best pair for your needs!