Trail running shoes are essentially running shoes, but they’re designed to protect your feet from the many things you’ll encounter on the trail like rocks and pebbles, roots, mud, little burrows, ruts, and more.
Regular running shoes can be worn on well maintained trails, but for more rugged paths, trail running shoes will provide better tread for improved traction, better toe protection, and gusseted tongues to help prevent dirt from getting inside.
There are many options of trail running shoes. Many major running shoe manufacturers make trail runners, but so do some great hiking boot companies like Vasque and Salomon.
Most importantly, focus on fit, and try to find a pair with good tread so you don’t slip down sandy and rocky slopes (I’ve seen it happen many times to people who wear regular running shoes on the trails)!
What to Know Before You Buy Trail Running Shoes:
If you shop at a good running shoe store or reputable outdoors store, you will hear fancy terms about the bio-mechanics of running. If you aren’t already familiar with these terms, read on so you can be educated and buy trail runners that are best suited for your feet. If you walk with wet feet on a paper bag, do you footprints look similar to the images below? Use them to help you identify which type of trail running shoes you should buy.
- Pronation: This is the normal method of how our feet land when we’re running – they land slightly inward to helps alleviate any pressure on our joints and knees. If you pronate, you should look for trail running shoes that have just a moderate amount of cushioning.
- Overpronation: A lot of people overpronate, which means that your foot rolls inward when it lands on the ground. Human feet naturally roll inward, but overpronation can lead to knee pain and other injuries. This means you’re better off with a stiffer shoe, rather than a heavily cushioned shoe. If you walk with wet feet on a paper bag, do you footprints look similar to this? If so, you overpronate.
- Supination: Very few people supinate, but if you do, it means that your feet roll outward.
Women’s Trail Running Shoe Shopping Tips:
Check out Hiking Lady’s 10 Tips for Mastering Hiking Boot Shopping! All of these tips are very relevant, except you most likely will only be wearing one pair of socks with your trail runners! Liner socks plus hiking socks would be too bulky.
Also check out my video: How to Clean Trail Running shoes, so you know how to keep them in tip top shape for all your runs.
Hiking Lady’s Favorite Women’s Trail Running Shoes:
|Salomon XA Comp 4 GTX Trail Running Shoes: Waterproof, rugged, and lightweight. Plus like most Salomon trail running shoes, you’ll get to enjoy the one pull secure lacing system.|
|Salomon XA Comp 4 Trail Running Shoes: Similar to the Salomon XA Comp 4 GTX’s, but they are not waterproof. If you don’t run in the mud or in rainy conditions, waterproof shoes are unnecessary, and your feet tend to sweat a bit more.|
|Vasque Blur SL GTX Trail Running Shoes: These are the trail running shoes I wear and love. Read my detailed perspective on my Vasque Blurs here. They are very supportive, and have an excellent sole. You’ll appreciate that as you run down hill or in slippery conditions.|
|Keen Genoa Park Trail Running Shoes: These trail running shoes are very popular because they provide a nice mix of stability and comfort. They are lightweight, and the waterproofed version is great for fall and spring trail running.|
- Boots Overview