After 12 hours of research evaluating 80 products, we picked ASICS Men's GEL Venture 5 Trail Running Shoe as our top choice.
Trail running is a wonderful challenge for guys who want to push themselves to the limits of their endurance! Between the rough terrain, the uphills and downhills, and gorgeous outdoor environment, you've got everything you need to feel like a bad-ass.
Trail running requires a very specific pair of running shoes. You don't want to use the running shoes you use in the park, on the treadmill, or at the track. They just don't have what it takes to keep up with rugged runs!
So what do you need?
A good pair of trail running shoes, of course! The best trail running shoes are designed specifically for trails, offering better traction, more stability, (sometimes) more cushioning, and greater durability than you'd get with regular running shoes.
Want to know the best part?
We've done the research to find the best trail shoes for guys of any and all shoe preferences and running styles. Whether you want comfortable, supportive, stable, or minimalist, we've got a pair of trail shoes for you!
Thick cushioning, roomy toe box, solid lacing system, lightweight, amazing protection, and very comfortable. In addition, these shoes offer excellent stability, secure fit, good ventilation, and great traction on a wide range of terrains
Lacking durability and on the expensive end of the spectrum.
If you're a heavier runner that needs more cushioning, you'll love these shoes. They offer the thickest cushioning of any trail running shoe on the market, but they're surprisingly lightweight. You can run for hours without feeling like they drag at your feet.
The shoes offer good stability and arch support, but it's the traction of the outsole that's the real selling point. The outsole isn't versatile or flexible, but a thick, sturdy platform that will keep you solidly on your feet no matter how wet, muddy, snowy, icy, or gravelly the terrain.
However, be warned: a lot of users have complained that the shoes aren't as durable as they'd like, with quality control issues that lead to rapid breakdown.
The thick midsoles of these shoes aren't the most versatile, but they're ideal for adding extra arch and midfoot support. The thick cushioning built into the heel and forefoot of these shoes reduces joint impact. Despite the heavy-looking construction, the shoes weigh just 19 ounces.
The toe box is roomy (narrow fit was a complaint with the previous model), but the fit is secure enough that you won't have to worry about your feet sliding around.
At $130, these are some of the priciest shoes on our list. They're worth it, though, if you want maximum cushioning and a design compatible with any terrain.
Lightweight, slim profile, minimalist sole made of durable rubber, comfortable, grip your feet firmly, breathable mesh upper, Vibram outsole, zero heel drop, machine-washable, and can be worn without socks.
Potentially too thick for minimalist runners.
If you're a minimalist runner, these shoes are must-haves for trail running. The durable Vibram outsole offers you excellent traction and a bit of protection for your feet, preventing scrapes and injuries on rocky, rugged terrain. However, the design of the sole is minimalist, so they won't interfere with your natural "barefoot" running form.
The shoes are made to be worn with or without socks, and they're fully machine-washable. They're a beautifully long-lasting pair of trail runners, but made with lightweight materials that won't drag on your feet. All in all, an amazing choice for minimalists and trail runners—one that's also 100% vegan-friendly!
Built with Vibram rubber for the outsole and a breathable mesh-and-thermoplastic polyurethane upper, these shoes are ideal for minimalists who want comfort as well as protection from the elements. There is no heel-drop or cushioning in the shoes, encouraging the most natural stride possible.
The lacing system is simple but grips your feel tightly, ensuring you're always securely in your shoes whether you run in socks or barefoot. The antimicrobial agents used in the footliner will reduce odors and bacteria.
On the downside, some uber-minimalists prefer their shoes with less padding than you'll get in these bad boys.
Starting at $50, these shoes are a tad on the pricier side of life, but worth it if you're a minimalist planning to hit rough and rugged trails.
High quality design, highly durable, flexible, water-resistant, great traction in snowy and muddy conditions, Quicklace lacing system grips your feet tightly, and solid rubber sole feels sturdy without being too heavy.
Narrow fit and some quality control issues.
For those who want to run anywhere, anytime, these are the shoes to try. They're built with trail running in mind, but they're versatile enough to use on tracks and treadmills as well. Thanks to their durable rubber outsole, you will be as comfortable on a snowy road as on a muddy trail or a sweaty treadmill.
The shoes are fairly lightweight, but they feel solid and sturdy as you run. They offer decent cushioning and excellent support, with a stable platform that will keep you upright and running no matter how rocky or uneven the terrain.
The shoes aren't without flaws, sadly. Users have reported quality control issues: fragile inner padding, sole defects, etc. They also fit narrow, so men with wider feet will feel uncomfortable.
The upper is made with an Anti-Debris textile that is also water-resistant. It's not fully waterproof, but you can run in rainy and snowy conditions without worrying about getting your feet soaked. The rubber sole is highly durable, with a design that offers great traction in snow, mud, and gravel-laden conditions.
The Quicklace lacing system is the total "plus" of these shoes. They make it easy to slip the shoes on and off, but they pull beautifully tight to keep your feet solidly in place. No slipping and sliding with these bad boys once they're laced up!
Starting at a little over $70 and rising as high as $300, these are definitely on the pricier side of things. However, given their versatility, comfort, and durability, they're a shoe worth having if money is no object.
Zero-drop design, wide toe, excellent cushioning, incredibly rugged design, great for hiking as well as running, not too pricey, comfortable, feel solid on your feet, sturdy lacing system, and great support from the EVA midsole.
Wide toe box may feel too roomy for some, and these bad boys are on the heavier side.
For those who want a pair of running shoes that can handle even the roughest mountain trails, you'll love the Altra Lone Peak 3.0. Altra's latest upgrades include a highly durable upper and a solid outsole that offers superior traction on even slippery surfaces. However, the 3.0 retains the cushioning and wide toe box that made the Lone Peak 2.0 such a great choice for trail running.
The shoes are highly durable, with a heavyweight design that feels solid and rugged with every step. The cushioning feels luxurious without reducing grip and versatility on rocky trails. The solid platform—durable rubber and EVA midsole—makes each stride comfortable and stable. Thanks to the excellent support, the shoes will protect your feet from the pounding of trail running.
The wide toe box is one of the most controversial features of the Lone Peak. It's a bit too wide for men with narrow feet (leading to a sloppy, slippery feel), but men with larger, wider feet will love the roominess of the shoe. The wide footbed also gives better stability when running downhills.
The shoes are terrain runners, but they are designed to be used for thru-hiking and trekking as well. The Velcro tab on the back of the shoes makes them easy to attach to gaiters, ideal for running in wet conditions. With the durable, tight-fit upper, your feet will be comfortable, secure, and well-ventilated as long as you run.
At $70, these are a bit on the pricier side. However, given their durability, you'll find they will outlast most of the other trail runners on our list.
Lightweight, slim profile, stylish, excellent traction, comfortable, great fit for wide and long feet, improves balance, sturdy, good protection for your feet, breathable, cushioning to reduce joint strain, and offers good versatility.
Limited upper protection, and the sole is a bit too thick for some runners.
For those who want to run in style and comfort, look no further than these Nikes. Not only do they have a thick rubber outsole, but they have an EVA sockliner and the Zoom Air cushioning system. Together, these three things help to cushion impact and reduce wear on your joints. The rubber outsole may be a bit thick for runners who want a more responsive shoe, but it will prevent sharp edges and rocky terrain from hurting your feet.
The shoes offer neutral arch support, and they're lightweight and beautifully breathable. What the upper lacks in durability, it more than makes up for in ventilation. The slim profile makes these shoes stylish, and you'll love the supportive nature of the flyweight mesh upper.
The Zoom Air cushion built into the shoes gives you more rebound with every step, plus reducing joint impact. For muddy and slippery surfaces, you'll find the lugged sticky outsole offers better wet surface traction than most trail runners.
The upper is built to hug your feet, with Flywire cables integrated into the synthetic material. The design of the shoes will prevent slipping around, improving stability and preventing blisters. With the exaggerated lugs in the outsole, you'll always be on solid footing no matter where you run.
At $125, these are some VERY expensive shoes. However, given the durability and reliability of Nike's manufacturing, you can trust they'll last for a long time. If you want shoes built for experienced runners, they're worth the price.
Excellent traction, decent durability, comfortable, supportive, wonderful heel cushioning, good arch support, stable on most trails/roads, well-priced, stylish, excellent midfoot cushioning, and encourages more natural stride.
A bit narrow and reduced stability on very rocky terrain.
If you want a high-performance pair of trail running shoes at a great price, you won't find much better than these ASICS Gel shoes. Starting at $40, they're a fairly lightweight option that won't drag on you as you run long distances. However, thanks to their design, they offer durability and comfort as well.
Made with a synthetic upper and durable rubber outsoles, these shoes provide excellent traction on dusty, muddy, and gravel-covered surfaces. You'll find the platform is a bit narrow for very rocky terrain, but for the average trail, track, or treadmill, they're an excellent choice. They can be used indoors, outdoors, on the road, and up any mountain. Thanks to the thick cushions in the midfoot and heel, you'll be comfortable for hours of running.
The GEL cushions built into these shoes are to die for! They reduce impact on your joints (ankles and knees), prevent heel fatigue, and encourage better pronation. With the durable rubber outsole, they're a long-lasting pair of shoes that offer amazing comfort. The reversed traction lugs built into the sole will keep you steady on the trail.
The synthetic and mesh upper is lightweight and breathable, keeping your feet cool as you run. They're not a bulky pair of trail runners, but the slim profile and simple design make them a good choice for beginner runners. And thanks to their cushioning, even heavier runners will be able to go the distance in these bad boys.
Starting at $40, these are one of the best-priced trail running shoes around. They offer good durability, a steady platform, great stability and cushioning, and supreme comfort. Definitely what everyone looks for in a good pair of trail shoes!
Starting the year off with a renewed commitment to personal fitness can be a daunting task for many, especially if your chosen activity is trail running. But don’t worry—we got you covered! From choosing the right trail running shoes based on midsole cushioning to tips on how to properly maintain and store your shoes after your run, we’ve got the ultimate guide for you.
Trail running is no doubt a very challenging activity that requires hours of training and specialized equipment. Trail running develops strength, speed, and endurance--especially because you immerse yourself in both challenging terrains and weather. Road running is an equally challenging sport because it develops speed and cardiovascular health.
While trail running shoes have more rigid and pronounced lugs on their soles, road running shoes have shorter lugs. But that’s just the beginning, really. There are a lot of things you have to consider especially if you’re committing yourself to the adventurous sport of trail running. So you better read on to make sure you buy the right pair of trail running shoes for you.
Before going out to buy your first (or next) pair of trail running shoes, there are two main things you have to consider: first, the condition of your feet and what it needs and second, what kind of trail you run.
In buying any pair of shoes, you first have to be aware of your foot condition. Do your feet tend to overpronate? Do you have wide feet? If you’ve been running for a while, you may already have a preference. But if you’re just starting out, it’s good to pattern the fit and comfort level of your new pair with your most comfortable athletic shoes.
On the other hand, you also have to determine the trail you plan to run. Is the trail more technical than smooth? Are there any steep slopes you hope to scale? Is there any chance you might encounter creeks or rivers? These things will help determine the kind of protection and stability features incorporated in the shoe you’re about to buy.
Trail running shoes have different parts made of different materials. No two shoes are the same since features and materials may vary from brand to brand. Take a look at the anatomy of a trail running shoe and what features you should look out for:
This includes everything above the sole. Its traditionally made with layers of fabrics and mesh, and for shoes designed for really rugged trails, this part is usually waterproofed.
Look for: An upper that’s shaped like your feet. The upper shouldn’t chafe or scratch your feet within the shoe.
This is the part of the shoe opening that holds the heel down in place. Some manufacturers use thick padding for this part.
Look for: Padding that interacts comfortably with your ankle and fits snugly around your Achilles tendon.
This is the semi-layered cup inside the rearfoot that supports your heel. This provides support and stability during landing. Minimalist shoes usually don’t include this part.
Look for: Something that allows easy and comfortable ankle motion.
This is the area around the instep or the arch around a person’s foot between the ball and ankle. This part of the shoe interacts with the laces to hold the shoe firmly on the foot. This also guards the foot against debris from getting inside the shoe.
Look for: A saddle that doesn’t allow slippage and allows the natural doming of the arch of your foot.
This is located at the upper front of the shoe that extends from the eyelets to the end of the shoe. The toebox is usually reinforced with a toe bumper. This part may include toe guards hidden underneath for protection from roots and rocks.
Look for: A toebox that allows your foot to flex and spread out naturally.
This is the part of the shoe that’s in contact with the trail. The outsole is formed in a way to provide stability, traction, and durability. The grooves on the outsole are called lugs. It’s usually made of carbon rubber (the most durable; same material as tires) or blown rubber (more flexible and cushioned, but not as durable.
Look for: Outsoles made out of materials that provide traction without being too stiff.
These are grooves under the ball of the foot which allow the foot to roll as it strides.
Look for: A shoe that flexes or rolls easily as you want to move.
This is the foam material that lies between the outsole and the upper and it’s designed to cushion the feet from impact. This part is usually made of varieties of EVA (Ethylene-VInyl Acetate) or Polyurethane. The former provides foam-based cushioning, while the latter provides more durable cushioning. Shoes with polyurethane midsoles weigh heavier, though.
Look for: Midsole thickness and material that feels right for your running speed and terrain.
Some shoes use a crash pad or a rounded outer heel to smoothen your landing.
Look for: Balance between cushioning, stability, and ground feel.
This part of the shoe should reduce the impact of the stride that occurs at the forefoot.
Look for: Balance between cushioning comfort and firmness after pushing off from the platform.
This is the difference between the height of the heel to the toe. It’s generally agreed upon that changing your drop should occur gradually to keep the biomechanics of the foot stable.
Look for: A shoe that feels right throughout the whole stride.
These include medial posts, dual-density foams, guide rails, wider shoe geometries. These extra features should keep the foot stable. These features can also help people who tend to overpronate.
Look for: Shoes that allow comfortable and natural movement.
This is the removable foam pad inside the shoe that cushions the contours of your foot.
Look for: How the shoe feels on the run. Softer isn’t necessarily better.
1. Be realistic in your goals and make sure you’re sticking to them once you start.
2. Try on several pairs to see how they fit and feel your feet.
3. If trail running is a long-term goal of yours, buy several pairs of the same shoes because manufacturers update their designs regularly.
4. Consider the shoe last (foot form) before buying. Your new trail running shoe should have a similar last to your own feet.
5. Trail running shoes for a men’s size 9 shouldn’t go over 12 ounces. Otherwise, it’ll be too heavy on the trail.
6. If you need to change your heel-to-toe drop, you need to do it gradually to avoid messing up your biomechanics.
7. Consider waterproofing for trails with creeks or rivers, or for wet and cold weathers. But it might not be ideal for every runner as it encourages the feet to sweat a lot.
1. Online shopping is always the most convenient option, and it’ll always give you the most diverse selection. But if you’re iffy about buying shoes that might not fit perfectly, go to a specialty running shop to buy trail running shoes.
2. Take along socks, paddings, and inserts you’ve been using during shopping.
3. Trail running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles (500-800 kilometers)
4. To care for your shoes, look for the manufacturer care instructions first.
5. After running a particularly muddy trail, remove the insoles and immediately rinse your shoes with water.
6. Dry in a warm, shady spot.
7. Stuffing your shoes with newspaper will help keep its shape while drying.
8. Do not clean your trail running shoes in washing machines or leave to dry on dryers or electric heaters or under the sun as these might compromise the shape and the material of the shoes.
9. You can re-spray waterproofing on your waterproof shoes 1-2 times a year, or depending on its use.