Best Trail Running Shoes of 2021: Our Top Picks

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Running on trails can be challenging, but it can provide a much-needed break from the repetition of pavement or a treadmill. Even better, trail running is easy to get into. In order to start, you will need to look for the perfect shoes.

You will want an adaptable and lightweight shoe with a stable structure for handling difficult and fluctuating terrain. That seems like a lot to look for, and you may already be feeling overwhelmed.

You needn’t worry, though, as we have sifted through thousands of options available and found five of the best trail running shoes. We know that, amidst our choices, you will find one that will meet your requirements.

We are going to take a look at these running shoes so that you can make the best decision for you and your budget to get you out on the trails, running in no time. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Comparison Chart

51MkFQQavzL. SL160
ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes
417EYkHgBML. SL160
New Balance Men’s 510 V4 Trail Running Shoe
31Xn+na+nPL. SL160
Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes
31tCVfHdgGL. SL160
WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Trail Runner | Wide Toe Box | Barefoot Inspired
414GKeKN77L. SL160
ALTRA AFM1855F Men’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe

Best Trail Running Shoes Reviews

1. ASICS Gel-Venture 6

51MkFQQavzL

Our first entry is a men’s running shoe that was thoughtfully crafted to offer everything a runner needs to hit the trail.

Review

Running puts a lot of stress on your feet, and that means that the shoes you put on those feet need to account for that. With that being said, there are features and attributes that need to be included in the design of a good pair of running there. This is especially true if you are running on all types of terrain.

The team at ASICS optimized their Gel-Venture 6 by including the following:

  • Crafted with a high-grade rubber sole
  • Shaft measures low-top from the arch
  • Built-in GEL cushioning in heel
  • Designed with a removable sock liner
  • Constructed with reversed lugs
  • Outsole constructed in high abrasion rubber
  • Available in a wide range of colors and sizes

When you are running on uneven ground, there are two things that become very important: safety and traction. This trail running shoe is designed to give your foot the reinforcement it needs to protect it from potential injury. On top of that, the sole is constructed with reversed lugs, which help enhance the traction.

Though built for extra protection, the shoe still offers flexibility. Plus, it is durable, and that means you will be able to benefit from this amazingly designed shoe for a long time to come.

There are a few features that may detract a bit from the overall advantages spoken of above. The biggest is probably the lack of the needed level of impact protection. It is a moderately cushioned running shoe, which means that you may feel a good deal of the impact as your foot hits the ground.

Other than that, the weight of the shoe seems to be a concern, as well. If you want a lightweight shoe when running, this is definitely not the one for you.

Pros

  • Has more reinforcement than similar models
  • Doesn’t slip – good traction
  • Premium materials used for extra durability
  • Offers good flexibility and motion

Cons

  • A little heavy for some people
  • Lack of needed impact absorption

2. New Balance 510v4

417EYkHgBML

This shoe comes to us from one of the most well-known, budget-friendly options in the athletic shoe business, New Balance. It is a women’s trail shoe that is cushioned in all the right places.

Review

New Balance has been delivering quality athletic shoes for decades, and all of that experience is seen when you look at their designs. Understanding the needs of their customers, the running shoes that come from this company all use high-quality materials. However, each has its own unique features that help make your running experience better.

With the 510v4, this includes:

  • Designed with a premium-grade rubber sole
  • Shaft measures low-top from the arch
  • Built-in ACTEVA midsole
  • Crafted with a shock-absorbent heel
  • Comes with NB comfort insert
  • Patented outsole – AT Tread
  • Constructed with toe protection
  • Available in multiple colors and sizes

This is a shoe that is not only good for the trail but the gym and the streets, as well. That gives it a leg above the rest, as this means that, no matter where you are, you will be fitted with the perfect shoe. There are many reasons for this functionality.

There is a supportive platform that gives you comfort while supporting your foot no matter the terrain or how hard you are running. That, coupled with the amazing traction of this shoe, ensures that you have better protection from potential injuries.

Then, there is sweat. We all do it when we exercise, and this can cause discomfort and a stinky foot when all is said and done. With the breathable upper, you won’t have to worry about that too much.

If you have ever dealt with any New Balance shoe before, you know that one of the issues with darn near all of them is the sizing. This shoe does not escape that issue. These running shoes tend to run small, so be sure to go up one size if you want the right fit.

Though not a deal-breaker for some, there is one other major issue – the aesthetics. These are not pretty shoes, so if you’re looking for fashion, you may want to take a look at one of our other options.

Pros

  • Versatility in function
  • Comes with a supportive platform
  • Designed with a breathable upper
  • Offers a good amount of traction

Cons

  • Issues with sizing – runs small
  • Not very pleasing to the eye

3. Salomon Speedcross 4

31Xn+na+nPL

Our next entry is another men’s trail shoe. This one comes from a shoe company that has been dedicated to bringing quality footwear to the masses for over half a century. Salomon certainly does that with the Speedcross 4.

Review

Salomon has fine-tuned its designs over the last 50+ years. Doing this meant paying attention to the fine details, starting with the materials used in the construction of their products. Once that was done, the fine detail work of the features becomes easy to lock onto.

With the Speedcross 4, the designers decide that the following features were needed to optimize this shoe:

  • Designed with a high-quality, rubber sole
  • Shaft measures low-top from the arch
  • Crafted with a superior traction system
  • Built-in, quick-lace technology
  • Molded sock liners included in the design
  • Comes with a lightweight midsole
  • Available in a wide range of colors and sizes

There is a lot to love about this running shoe. Perhaps the best thing about it, though, is its lacing system. Designed to wrap around your ankle snugly, the system is easy to adjust and gives your ankle a little extra support.

Then, there is the superior traction system. This system is designed to maximize the grip you have, no matter the terrain, to protect you from potentially falling or rolling your ankle.

The mesh upper is nice, as well. Included in the design to help with airflow, this will keep your foot cool and dry for long periods of time. What this all boils down to is that this is a nicely designed running shoe.

There are, however, a few issues that we would be remiss without mentioning. The toe box of this shoe is a bit small. This makes it a poor choice for those with wide feet.

Pros

  • Easy to use lacing system – secure and adjustable
  • Offers the runner great traction
  • Breathable and durable mesh upper
  • Nicely designed running shoe

Cons

  • Toe box is a bit snug
  • Issues with fit – narrow

4. WHITIN Minimalistic Trail Runner

31tCVfHdgGL

If you are into running barefoot, then this next entry is for you. Designed by the eco-conscious team at WHITIN, these men’s minimalist runners are just what you need for that natural feel.

Review

Everything about the design of this shoe is right. This goes from the materials used in its construction to the features and attributes included in the design. WHITIN designers have chosen to elevate the performance of this running shoe by including the following:

  • Designed with a premium-grade, rubber sole
  • Built with a wide toe box
  • Eco-conscious and cruelty-free materials used in construction
  • Insole is removable
  • No heel to toe drop
  • Available in a wide range of colors

When you look closely at this shoe and notice all the care that went into its construction, it is easy to see why it is one of our favorite choices. Crafted with premium materials that lead to improved durability, you will be able to benefit from this investment for years. It offers nice flexibility and great protection.

Those two important pieces of the puzzle, combined with the fact it has a wide toe box, deliver a flexible and comfortable running shoe. What else could you ask for?

The answer to that question comes in the two following flaws. These two issues are all about the sizing. The first is that there are no half sizes. This could lead to a fit that is a little too big or too small, either of which is not great for running. In regards to sizing, the shoe also tends to run large. You can adjust this flaw by purchasing one size down.

Pros

  • Crafted from premium materials
  • Offers a good level of protection
  • Has nice flexibility and movement
  • Wide toe box – super comfortable

Cons

  • Issues with sizing – runs large
  • Shoes do not have a large range of half sizes

5. ALTRA Lone Peak 4

414GKeKN77L

Our last entry is for the lady runners. It is a moderately cushioned running shoe that was designed to offer ultimate comfort and functionality.

Review

Trying to make a shoe that is perfect for women runners is a little different than for men. Let’s face it, we are built differently. Therefore, we have different needs. That means focusing on the way a woman’s body is built can change the features needed to create a high performance running shoe. The team at ALTRA decided that they could do just that with the inclusion of the following attributes:

  • Constructed with a high-grade, rubber sole
  • Built with a wide toe box
  • Stack height of 25mm
  • Designed with no heel-toe drop
  • Crafted with a hook and loop tab
  • Canted lugs used for improved traction
  • Stone guard built into the design

For a more natural feel when you run, you need a few things. Many of those are encompassed in the design of this shoe from ALTRA. The lack of drop from the heel to the toe is one of these.

This design allows for smooth running even on the bumpiest terrain, which will optimize your performance and lessen the strain on your legs. Traction is another key factor. With canted lugs built into the sole, you will be able to have a good grip on almost all surfaces.

When it comes to comfort, notice the cushioning that is built-in. Also, the use of a wide toe box in the construction has been included to deal with that factor.

There are a few areas where this shoe could be improved. The first, and possibly the most impactful, is the arch support, or should we say the lack thereof. With no arch support, you may feel extra strain and pain in your feet after a long run. Other than that, the traction is great but doesn’t work the best when it comes to wet surfaces.

Pros

  • Wide toe box makes them comfortable
  • Good level of traction no matter the terrain
  • Absolutely no heel to toe drop
  • Built-in cushioning for better comfort

Cons

  • Not a lot of arch support
  • Issues with grip on wet surfaces

Final Thoughts

When you are jogging through the beautiful trails, you will want to have a good pair of shoes above all else. That is why we have curated this list of the five best trail running shoes for both men and women.

Paying attention to traction, comfort, and protection, we have chosen these shoes and know there is an option for everyone on this list. Now, lace up those shoes, and let’s get out onto those beautiful trails.

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