Because of the nature of trail running, a more aggressive grip is required to ensure stability through the trails and anything else you might encounter.
Protection is also a key point. Many trail running shoes offer a stiffer sole and protective toe to prevent injuries.
To determine the best trail running shoe suited to your needs, there are many things to consider.
Typically, the lightest shoe available for rough conditions; these shoes are similar to sneakers but tend to be constructed to last. They will usually have a better tread pattern, as well as a more durable outer.
There are many variations of trail running shoes these days and as the sport continues to grow, we expect manufacturer’s to continue to offer more options. Waterproof shoes are important and will keep your feet dryer for short runs through shallow puddles and short wet grass.
These shoes are designed for any trail runner. The cushioning and feel of road shoes with the protection and grip you need for the trails.
Designed with agility protection and grip giving you confidence on rugged trails and steeper terrain.
Salomon, The North Face, Inov-8, and Merrell carry footwear specific for all types of trail running.
Vibram FiveFingers are a type of minimalist shoe manufactured by Vibram, originally marketed as a more natural alternative for different outdoors activities (sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and as a camp or after-hike shoe). The footwear is meant to replicate being barefoot and has thin, flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the human foot, including visible individual sections for the toes.
Shoe manufacturers have recently designed footwear to mimic the barefoot running experience, maintaining optimum flexibility and natural walking while also providing some degree of protection. The purpose of these "minimalist shoes" is to allow one's feet and legs to feel more subtly the impacts and forces involved in running, allowing finer adjustments in running style.
As Vibram puts it, Free your feet to perform at their best. The benefits of running barefoot have long been supported by scientific research. And there is ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and farther with fewer injuries.
No footwear comes closer to recreating this natural sensation than Vibram FiveFingers®. It allows you to land on your forefoot, directly below your center of gravity, resulting in optimum balance, increased stability, less impact and greater propulsion. Running in FiveFingers delivers sensory feedback that improves agility and equilibrium and allows immediate form correction. In addition it stimulates and strengthens muscles in the feet and lower legs.
In FiveFingers, you get all the health benefits of barefoot running combined with our patented Vibram® sole that protects you from elements and obstacles in your path.
As with any new sport or activity, Vibram recommends you consult your physician or a medical professional to see if natural running in FiveFingers is right for you.
How will you be using the shoe?
For faster runs or more casual runs? How will I most often use these trail-running shoes?
If you trail run occasionally we recommend a similar shoe to what you road run in. There are usually matching shoes in a road running and trail running version.
For steep, difficult terrain, more structure, support and protection are desirable.
For wet, muddy conditions look for widely spaced lugs that release mud easily.
Should I get a shoe with a waterproof/breathable liner?
In general, the more moisture you anticipate, the more waterproof/breathable liners - such as Gore-Tex® or eVent™- make sense. Of course, there are always exceptions. Some people prefer shoes without liners, especially in hotter or drier climates, because of the increased breathability and quicker drying times.
Fit: Fitting a shoe is the most important factor.
Shoes of the same size made by different manufacturers vary. The goal is to find a shoe that comes close to your foot’s natural form and shape. If the shoe feels like it was ‘made to fit’, that’s the best indication that you’re in the right direction.
Feet get larger with age. We recommend you measure your feet or have them measured once a year.
The vast majority of returns are because the shoes ordered are too small. Running shoes traditionally fit at least a half size smaller than your dress shoes, which means you should go up in size for your running shoes. Running in shoes that are a tad too large is superior to running in shoes that are a tad too small. Your left and right foot may differ by as much as a full size. Fit the larger foot. Women's feet may become a half size larger or more during and after pregnancy. Feet tend to get longer with age.
Make sure you try on your new shoes in the type of socks you'll wear with the shoes. Different socks may alter the fit. Feet swell during the day. Try on your new shoes later in the day, when your feet are their largest.
The heel should fit snugly with no slippage. The mid-foot - the area under the arch and over your instep - should fit comfortably snug but not too tight. The toe-box should have enough room to wiggle your toes. Because feet swell during a run, allow a thumbnail's width between the length of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
Moving from the ankle forward, the material of shoe around your foot should go from fitted, to relaxed, to loose around the toes. The material should not be taut around the ball of the foot. If it is taut, then you need a wider shoe.
Give your feet time to adjust to new shoes - walk around the house casually for a bit before working out in your new shoes. A good rule of thumb for running shoes - if they hurt in your living room, they will definitely hurt on the road or trail.
Typically for this type of activity - one would a base layer and mid layer of a synthetic layering system with a soft-shell jacket. This will provide optimal warmth and wicking capabilities and once body temperature has risen, the de-layering process can begin - removing the mid layer to allow the wicking procedure to happen more quickly.
The base layer system here remains the same however the jacket will change here from a soft-shell to a hard-shell - typically an Active shell, which will provide the maximum breathability. Sweat is very quickly conveyed away from the skin and transported out through the textile in the form of water vapour, while moisture produced by rain, snow and wind has no chance of penetrating.
On long trail runs energy snacks and gels and important fuel to ensure you stay nourished.
Water bottles or hydration packs are essential to ensure proper hydration.
Hat with visor: A great accessory to ensure to keep the sun out of your eyes.
Sunglasses: Besides offering sun protection, trail running poses other hazards such as stray branches that can cause damage. We recommend you always wear some type of eye protection when running - many brands carry glasses with interchangeable lenses - clear for nighttime, yellow for dim conditions and dark polarizing for bright conditions.
Sunscreen is always wise to have on as UV rays are present. Many clothing companies now have UV protection clothing (either weaved or pre-treated).
Gaiters: Gaiters are a great idea. They will keep dirt and rocks outside of your shoes - reducing the chance of blistering or other discomfort. Trail running gaiters are constructed with thin, breathable, stretchable material that doesn’t impede movement and minimizes heat.