Some people say you can trail run in any running shoe. The truth is though, just like you wouldn’t play basketball with a soccer ball, you shouldn’t run through the wilderness with a shoe made for the road; it’s not what it was made to do. You have a huge chance of injuring yourself, especially when it comes to technical trail running, if you choose the wrong shoe.
The way to choose the best trail running shoe is to understand the point of each main characteristic that makes it up. Below, we’ve outlined some of the main details and points you need to consider for an ideal trail running shoe in terms of what’s in it, as well as what you will be using it for to help you find the perfect type for you.
In the shoe – what to look for in the best trail running shoes
This refers to the amount of support your feet and ankles receive from the shoes. In trail running, you want to have some level of stability in your shoe (so you do not roll your ankle) but at the same time, a level of freeness to allow for footfall to adapt to uneven terrain below.
Rocks and twigs and stones (oh my). Sole stiffness has to do with two main factors: the main one is protection (from all the things you’ll step on when trail running) and the second is give, meaning how much spring the sole packs. While protection is important, if you’re looking for speed on the trail, a shoe with springy elements not only makes for a faster run, but often a more comfortable one at that.
The amount of padding technology the shoe provides on impact is often tied together with stability. The more cushioning, the less impact on the body and often more comfort the shoe provides the wearer. In trail running, cushioning is most needed on the decent, protecting against repeatedly hard foot strikes.
Fit is how close the shoe sits to the foot enclosed within it. Ideally for trail running, the overall fit should be tighter than that of other running shoes, sitting quite close in the heel and wider in the toe area (to allow for motion and stability on varied terrain.